Loving Lately: Toddler Edition

I made another video and you have no one to blame but yourselves. That's what you get for encouraging me. Sorry!

I'm talking toddler stuff today and if you just want to click back on Monday because tear free shampoo and sippy cups aren't your thang, it won't hurt my feelings. Not even a little bit. 

Have an awesome long weekend!

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, Maine, it's been fun. We'll be back for Christmas but until then, I'm packing up my toddler, all the goldfish in the world and headed back to good 'ol Texas. 

I've got my fingers crossed for an on time flight, an iPad that has properly downloaded every conceivable episode of Daniel Tiger, and ample patience.

See you tomorrow for another video...oh yeah, that's right. I made another one.

Guest Post: Fun with Food

My attempts at crafty mom often fall short, but thank goodness for Instagram and its ability to let me live vicariously through moms who've mastered the art of fun food. Bree started as an Etsy customer, turned insta-friend who has the sweetest babe just about Olivia's age. After seeing some of her fun and healthy breakfast creations, I asked her if she'd guest post for me so you all could be inspired by her, rather than bored by me. Thankfully, she said yes.

Hi everyone! I'm Bree, momma to a sweet 22 month old babe named Peyton and blogger over at stucklikepbandj.blogspot.com

I'm so honored that Megan asked me to guest post about some of my favorite breakfast ideas for little ones.

Whoever said you can't play with your food doesn't live in our house ;) When it comes to feeding Peyton, I try and make meal time fun for her/us. She is one busy little toddler who enjoys building with blocks, loving on her baby dolls and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse; breakfast better be worth taking a break from playing!

Most of the meals and snacks I make are from ideas that I've found on Pinterest. I still can't believe people ever lived without it. I will usually change up a few foods depending on what P prefers and what we have in the kitchen.

Simple & easy is my style. We all know how fast a hungry toddler can get you moving! Here are five of our favorite 'fun' breakfasts. They take just a few minutes to put together.

Sunshine: An orange slice, Kix cereal, blueberries & a strawberry

Ice Cream: A waffle, slices of bananas & a raspberry on top ;)

Peanut Butter Bear: Whole wheat toast, peanut butter, bananas & blueberries (I've also seen it made with oatmeal)

Watermelon Slice: White toast, strawberry spread, raisins & green grapes - we cut them up before eating

Fruit Flag: Watermelon, bananas & blueberries (perfect for Labor Day weekend!)

These fun breakfasts are worth every second of making when you see your little one's face light up (and a plate that's fully cleared) Everyone wins in my book! ;)

You can also follow us on Instagram (breegale) Thanks so much for letting us share, Megan!

Our Own Traditions

With our time in Maine coming to a close I'm thinking about the months ahead before we come back. We'll have visitors and really love living in Texas, so it's not as though I'm dreading going back, but it's got me thinking about living away from family and what that means. 

This first year was kind of a blur and I felt like our families really made the effort to fly down, spend a lot of time with us, and help us adjust to our new life, so it's just now really hitting me that we're as far away as we are. Not entirely sure why I'm having such a delayed reaction, but oh well.

Fall being just around the corner is playing a part too. It's my favorite season and it's a little weird that I won't see my family for my birthday, go apple picking with my cousins, or to think about how they won't get to see Olivia in her Halloween costume. I used to carve pumpkins with my grandparents and head over to their houses on Halloween every year, so I'm thinking about what traditions we'll start with our own little family now that we live away.

My little elephant last year.

We'll pick pumpkins, paint or carve them, drink apple cider, and trick or treat and all that, but I'm just kind of thinking about things we can do to make the seasons special and what traditions she'll remember when she grows up. 

My ideas so far:

Yeah. I need to get Pinteresting. Any suggestions for favorite Fall activities that you loved as a kid? Also, if you're in Houston and know of some great places to visit for petting zoos/pumpkin picking/corn mazes, etc. please let me know!

Weekend Photos

Thanks so much for all the nice comments on Friday's post and my first video! I think I'll do another one - it was fun and I think it's easier to review products that way sometimes, so stay tuned.

Our amazing photographer kicked my weekend off right with this little family photo preview on Friday:

I texted her something like "I'm having a stroke" which she knows by now is my calm way of saying I liked them, they were fine, I guess they're ok. I posted another one on Instagram if you want to check that out over there, but I'll try not to spam you with more than a couple recycled photos today!

We had a really fun and busy weekend that left us both feeling a little worn out but it was the most fun we've had in a long time, so no regrets over here.

Ryan's best friend got married on Saturday and he was in the wedding, which left me to get ready with the girls, which was such a nostalgic blast. Totally brought me back to college, minus the Freshman 20 I carried with me all four years.

A little highlighting/contouring action with my most awkward smile and fancy top knot. Whenever I highlight, Ryan says I look like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Try hard not to envy the glam, ok?

The wedding guests included nearly all our best friends from college, who came from all over, and that really just made it for us. That and the gelato station.

After a late night, Ryan caught an early flight back to Houston on Sunday morning and Olivia had me up early for some breakfast and chalk.

We spent the rest of Sunday at the lake, taking Liv for her first boat ride, eating blueberry pie, digging in the sand, and soaking up our last weekend in Maine.

Her wild, crazy lady hair is my favorite thing these days.

As ready as I am to get back to my own bed and my own routine, it's going to be hard to say goodbye to most of our families until Christmas in a few days. Silver lining of flying solo with a toddler, though? Doesn't leave much room for grieving. 

Have an awesome week!

Loving Lately: An Experiment in Embarrassment

I did really poorly with taking photos this week, so I'm throwing up my first video ever....cringe.

Actually it was fun and hopefully you'll give my novice video making self a pass on the quality of this.

Also, I really want to apologize about the thumbnail image. It's scary.

Have a great weekend!!

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Dating My Husband

Don't worry, this isn't a relationship/marriage advice post. I'm fairly certain I'd be terrible at that. Almost as terrible at that as the mini golf I was embarrassed by yesterday, but that's another uninteresting story. 

We dropped an enthusiastic Liv off with her equally enthusiastic grandparents yesterday and managed to sneak away for a whole day together. I think it's been a year since we had more than a meal child free and we needed it. Not the break from her, per se, but a chance to have uninterrupted conversation, take a long car ride, and sort things out.

Life's a little crazy these days, a little stressful (because welcome to life), and sometimes we don't always feel like we're playing on the same team. It's hard when we don't really understand what the other person is actually doing all day and we don't always have enough time/patience/silence to catch up the way we need to so we can feel like we get what's going on with each other. Understanding = more empathy, patience, helping. You get the point. What I'm painfully aware of is that we ain't seen nothing yet in terms of tough times, so that's good perspective. 

Long story short, we caught up. It felt good. I hope we can do it again soon.

We drove to Bar Harbor, had a long lunch that was only interrupted by about 17 work emails and one 15 minute call (wish I were exaggerating but I'm not), and then some mini golf and ice cream. I felt like we were 18 again, because our dates looked exactly like that when we were first dating,  just with fewer stretch marks, no smart phones, and not a clue.

Irish nachos. Yep.

Why is the best ice cream (and probably Listeria) always at little dive shops along the road?

So, we each gained a pound or two and we're both back on Team B with some better understanding and recharged marital batteries. 

Totally worth the snug waistband.

Dressing for Photos

You all know we had family photos done for my parents' 50th birthdays on Monday and while we don't like to do the whole matchy matchy thing, we like to coordinate. Since you're dying to know, we did mint and navy this time.

I literally wince (and not just because of the acne and braces) when I see photos of all my cousins and me as kids in our matching shirts photo after photo. We all hated it, and I'm sure our parents didn't have a great time sourcing a pink shirt to match, or ordering a special sweater, whatever. I tend to be the one who sets up our photos, so I try not to torture everyone with having to buy new clothes or put on something they aren't comfortable with. It's enough for my dad to show up and walk on the beach and smile when he'd rather be golfing or fishing, so we try not to press our luck.

We usually pick a color palette and let people wear whatever they want within that and it always looks nice and put together without being forced. I've put together some ideas for family photos (especially kids) just in case any of you have some coming up! With Fall around the corner and holiday cards (I hate myself for just mentioning that) to be considered, hopefully you'll find this helpful! 

A general rule for me is that we try to avoid words on shirts, feel free to play around with different shades of the same color, and mix up some solids and patterns. 

For a family photo:

I love these colored chambray shirts and I've ordered Olivia the checked dress (thanks to 40% off at Gap right now!). My husband wears boat shoes anytime he isn't at work and they can be a great casual shoe that look put together. 

For kids (because they're the most fun) I love all these as well:

The little hoodie is adorable and even though it's in the boys department, I'd totally get it for Olivia. The mustard pin tuck shirt is a color I wouldn't buy for Liv (or myself) but I think it looks really great on a lot of people and it's such a sweet little flutter sleeve top. Again, I wouldn't wear it because you need to pay attention to things like shaving with sleeves like that, but fortunately Olivia's not too worried about that. 

I love these for photos because they aren't too busy or complicated if they're patterned and they don't lock you into a seasonal "look" as much as vests or jackets or skinny strap dresses would. We had some photos done in the snow and I love them but sometimes wonder if they look a little off hanging on our walls during the Summer. As you can tell, I have big worries. Big.

If you all have any tips for photo outfits, I'd love to hear them! I'm always planning the next one in my head....

Around These Parts

Greetings from Maine! 

Today's post is just a little update on some goings on around here. A state of the blog address, if you will.

I'm excited to be teaming up with Amazon in the next few weeks to give away some amazing beauty products, so stay tuned for that! I'm having a blast testing them out and torturing my poor husband into taking my before and after photos. Here's a little sneak peek:

Clearly loving manual mode on my camera still and feeling accomplished that something's blurred in the background. Baby steps.

Olivia's talking more and more, and it's taking me a while to figure out what she's saying. For days she'd stack puzzle pieces or layer on necklaces and finally I realized she was saying "one, two, three".  I applauded so vigorously when I finally got a clue that it sort of completely startled her.

We had our family photos taken last night and we had so much fun! Olivia just kind of ran wild on the beach and our photographer just let her and captured some great candid moments with all of us. 

She sent me this little back of the camera pic and I'm in love already.

We stopped for a lobster roll afterwards. I'll never get sick of 'em. Never.

We're reading like crazy over here. Not me so much as my mother. Olivia really prefers when she reads to her and they've been going through books like crazy. We recently bought the board book version of my favorite book ever

I bought this book the day I went into labor with Olivia and I cry every time I read it. I have a large version stored away with a photo of her and her birth stats on the inside front cover to give her as a gift when she's older.  

Having time off from the shop has been so nice, but I'm anxious to get back to work and start sending out some adorable Fall items. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying a slower pace and having lots of hands to help with Olivia. 

I'm also spending time with friends and family I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like. You know, the kind of friends who will go to Target with you and take photos of you picking up the 19072389 goldfish your toddler spilled because you foolishly (oh so so so foolishly) gave them a full open bag. 

I swear, one of these days I will smarten up about things like open bags of goldfish, smoothies in the carseat, and bubbles in the playroom and my life will be so much easier.

Finally, for more blog news, I have another great giveaway lined up with Trendy Cuts Shop in early September that I'm really excited about! 

Thanks so much for all the love you've been throwing my way lately and for stopping by my random little corner of the internet on a daily basis! It means so much to me and I'm so grateful for blogging and how much it's helped me connect with other ladies during a tough transitional year for our family. A little sentimental, but needed to throw it out there!

Weekend Photos

After a whirlwind weekend of celebrating birthdays and engagements, I'm hoping for a mellow Monday morning that involves sweatpants until lunchtime. Dream big, right? The festivities were all so fun and it's been so nice having Ryan in Maine with us, since I have a little bit of guilt when I leave him sweltering in Texas while I'm up here...plus you know, we like him.

So now I'm writing this practically horizontal with the laptop on my chest and a bag of popcorn to my right. Exactly the kind of sophisticated online image I'm trying to cultivate. 

Friday afternoon my sister and soon to be brother in law came home for the weekend where we fulfilled our ALS ice bucket challenge obligations. 

Olivia made sure we had enough ice. We had plenty, trust me.

Saturday morning was a 5K walk/run for a local cancer research fundraiser and Olivia had a blast. It was nice to walk off the donuts we'd had and she got to stretch her legs and get loads of attention, which is her favorite. 

Sunday morning we had an engagement brunch for my sister and her fiancĂ© at one of our favorite local brunch spots. Buffets are the best for our toddler toting group, so all went smoothly and it was so fun to have an excuse to dress up for once! 

I wore this simple chambray shirtdress from Old Navy and really loved what a simple look it was. I wish I had a better photo, but I didn't do my best work photo wise at brunch. Serious blogger fail.

We then hit up a family birthday party, visited with my in laws, and then headed to the lake for a spaghetti dinner for my sister's birthday.

Do Olivia's skinny jeans not kill you? They kill me. These are also from Old Navy and on sale right now. These are super super fitted so I'm going to get her another pair in the next size up, but they are just the best.

Finally, there were times this weekend where the temps dipped into the 50's (such a Maine problem) so chunky sweaters and hot coffee were needed - not something I'm at all ready for. It's just darn cold and I'm just a darn wimp.

We've got family photos tonight including my parents and sister and I'm super excited for those! Both my parents turned 50 this year and these photos are my gift to them. I hope they'll love having an updated family photo and that Olivia will turn on the charm and not just shout "NO" or "shoes!" at the photographer...her two favorite words lately.

A Special Friday

Happy Friday, Friends!

I don't have anything lined up today, other than to wish you a happy weekend!

We have lots planned for this weekend, most importantly, celebrating my baby sister who got engaged yesterday and is turning 24 today!

Engagements are so fun and it has me feeling nostalgic about my own. 

I can't wait to celebrate with everyone (which means lots and lots of eating), teach Olivia how to say her new uncle's name, and help my sister start brainstorming wedding ideas.

Enjoy your weekend!

Quality vs. Quantity

Want to talk about motherhood?

Ok, great.

If this isn't a great time for a vintage Olivia snap, I don't know what is.

Last week I wrote about how Livia and I sometimes do breakfast in bed or snuggle in the mornings and as I was writing it I had to select and delete this huge rambling paragraph about how special that time is for me.
Well, it was a Friday and it seemed a little heavy for a day that's usually reserved for Starbucks photos and shoe selfies. Also, I figured I could dedicate a whole post to it. Are you psyched?

I think the breakfast in bed thing got me rambling, because it's one of the only times during the day I feel like I'm as present as I should be. I mean, it seems like we should be doing this kind of stuff (reading together, playing little games, laughing) all day long, since I'm home with her all day, right?

Well, it's not really how our day goes.

After we've grocery shopped, gone to the post office, picked up paper towels because we forgot the first trip, made lunch, made dinner, cleaned goldfish off the floor for the 1,000th time, and used a handy magic eraser to remove the mural from the living room wall, I stop to think about how we haven't had any "quality" time that day. 

Beyond that, I'm often on my phone or the computer in a technology time suck or I'm distracted by a dozen other things that aren't important. I might be trying to respond to Etsy messages or photograph new pieces, or something else so I'm not always "there". I sometimes feel a little guilty that while we have a lot of quantity time together, it's not always quality time. Have I lost you yet?

I was babbling on about this to my mom recently (as I do about so many topics that don't make it on to the blog) and she brought up the quantity vs quality point and reassured me it wasn't some weird thing. The more I think about it,  I think all parents are trying to balance, trying to do your best, and (for me) wondering if you're doing it all right, which I often do.
In a snapshot world of Instagram and brief blog posts by parents who are so crafty, celebrate what seems like every minute of every day, and appear to love every single minute spent with their children, it's easy to feel like I'm falling short. Falling short for not soaking up every minute of the day with her, or not making enough "special" memories with her, not enjoying motherhood enough, just wanting to watch Dr. Phil and paint my nails, whatever. Then I get into the internal debate about what's "enough" which makes me a little crazy and ain't nobody got time for that.

If your Etsy order is messed up, now you know why.

Overthought? Totally.

So back to my point: quantity vs. quality

I'm hoping to use this trip home as a way to reset my thoughts about what I could and should do and just focus on having some more quality times with her. Setting down the phone, turning off the internal dialogue, and enjoying her - whatever that means. It doesn't all have to be Instagram worthy, it doesn't have to be special or celebratory, it can be totally average, boring, stacking blocks. So long as I'm "there".

Now that I think about it, this is heavy for a Thursday...but I'd be willing to bet so many moms feel this way. Right? Please don't leave me on mom island over here.

More Maine

Thrilled to get two more weeks in Maine with my little lady and all our loved ones? Yes. Psyched that it's topping out around 68 the next few days? Brrr.

Oh well, it's home and we love it.

We had a really good flight, minus a stomach rolling descent and my enormous arsenal of toys/activities plus some pre-flight strolling and sipping helped us keep it together. For everyone who travels solo with more than one kid, you have my utter admiration. That stuff's no joke, especially for a wimp like me.

We also like to add our fingerprints to the large collection on every single window in our terminal.

The next few days will be lots of catching up, hopefully some lake time, and a little bit of prepping for some family photos on Monday.

I don't have a clue what I'm wearing, but I know Olivia's wearing this. 

Gingham gets me every time.

If you're not already, feel free to follow along on Instagram (@willowcrowns) for a look at some of our Maine shenanigans. By shenanigans I mean photos of coffee, Olivia, and my shoes. I'm just really original that way. 


Happy Hump Day!

Toddler Travel: Lessons Learned

We're flying again today and I'm unusually nervous about it. Not because I'm afraid of flying, but because Olivia was such a hot mess on our last flight that I'm a little traumatized.

I wrote a post last month about my traveling tips with toddlers and I'll admit I was a little smug as I wrote it. I've flown solo with Olivia over a dozen times and never had a problem. I foolishly chalked this up to my being so prepared and skilled at flying with a little one. 

Well Karma learned me good.

Long story short, but Liv didn't get much sleep the night before or during that day so she was incredibly cranky, wouldn't nap on the plane, and more or less cried for the 4 hour flight. Poor little lady.

So I'm coming to you today, tail between my legs, with some revisions to my toddler travel spiel now that I've had some experience with rough travel times. 

My bottom line is that I'm bringing more stuff. Not so much more that I'm like a bag lady in the airport, but more to keep her entertained. Part of the problem on the flight from hell was that she got so bored with the same 3 things, that nothing was interesting enough to stop the crying. I was dumb to think that the iPad would be enough so I won't be making that mistake this time. 

Yes, that's candy you see. I'm going to save that for a seriously desperate situation. Judge away, I can't say I blame you, but I'm not taking any chances this time. I know that sugar could will probably totally backfire, but when the decibel level ramps up, I'll do anything to buy 10 quiet minutes. Let's just hope I can keep that buried at the bottom of my bag until we hit Boston.

There are a couple cool things I'm packing this time that we didn't bring last time, that I'm hoping will  keep her happy and a few things that have stayed the same. I still highly recommend a linen blanket for diaper changes, cool planes, etc. and diapers and wipes obviously. The iPad is coming with us like last time, but with some new apps. Disney Jr. has a free app that has most of the popular shows on it, so if you get a flight with wifi, that could be really fantastic.

Crayola has a dry erase travel kit (the blue square thing) that comes with 4 dry erase crayons you can color and then erase for mess free entertainment. We're going to give that a try and it's really thin so it fits perfectly in this ($1!) tote from Target. 

The Water Wow pad is Melissa and Doug and has a little paintbrush with an empty handle that gets filled with water. When it touches the paper, it turns into watercolor and after drying, goes back to blank. I think this will be a favorite and I love that it's a mess free way of painting, since coloring isn't anything new.

Sticker books, regular books, all old standbys. These Magformers were kind of a gamble, though. I'm not sure if she's going to go for them or not, but they're something she's never seen or played with before, so at least they'll be new and different.

Finally, I threw some chapstick and hand sanitizer in there because she loves them and the chapstick has been known to turn into a snack when my back is turned. They'll be a small distraction in desperate moments, just before the candy comes out. I'm also packing a ton of snacks, plus our favorite spill proof sippy cup in my bag.

I think I mentioned this in my last post, and I believe it more than ever: make friends with the flight attendants. They'll let you hang out near the front of the cabin sometimes, bring extra cups (somehow those are wildly entertaining), and just generally be really nice to you. They rock.

I also found that trips to the bathroom for hand washing, looking in the mirror, playing with a couple squares of toilet paper, etc. were also good distractions and provided some temporary relief. This is when I should add that Lysol wipes aren't a terrible thing to bring with you. 

I also tried to remember that she sounded loudest to me, though I did absolutely cringe when the man in front of us took out his hearing aide

BUT. It ended. It didn't last forever, and I've learned a trick or two, so not a total loss. Any other tips are more than welcome, because I now know that no matter how much you fly with kids, it's a crapshoot and I'm probably never going to be an expert on this, so send your strategies (and happy travel vibes) my way!

If you don't follow on Instagram, you don't know that Olivia whipped off her diaper from under her dress (even with a diaper cover on somehow) when we arrived in Boston last month and peed all over the floor of the baggage claim area before I had any idea what she was doing. Probably my proudest parenting moment to date and her greatest victory. The current theory is that she was marking her territory like "Hey, I was born here. This is my town". Regardless, let's hope for a dryer touchdown in New England this time.
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