We JUST started back-to-school last week! I was READY! I know, I know.. preschool is just a few days a week, for just a few hours a day. But being on this schedule saves our family, ya’ll!

Ari is currently enrolled at the YMCA (where I work) for preschool. He attended two-day preschool last year, so this year I bumped him to 3-days. And, even though it’s *just* preschool, it’s important to make sure we’re all prepared for a change.

A backpack. Ari needs to take his swim trunks and a towel to school with him, but even if he didn’t, he would take a backpack. Preschoolers are always coming home with art projects and letters from teachers explaining what they did that day. It’s just the easiest way to keep all of that in one place until preschool pickup.

PS. Ari picked out his own backpack — this Skip Hop unicorn backpack. One of the many reasons I love this kid so damn much! 

Reusable snack bags. No, Ari doesn’t get ‘snack time’ during school; but as soon as school is over, that kid is hungry! I mean, aren’t you after you spend a morning learning your face off?? Haha! 🙂 So these snack packs come in handy!

A Water Bottle. Honestly, what is it about preschool that makes kids so dang thirsty!? If I forget Ari’s water bottle, he will chug all of the water from mine. So I always have his water bottle full for him so he can drink up as soon as I pick him up.

We happen to love this Contigo Autoseal kids water bottle! It works perfectly and is the absolute perfect size for my little guy.

Dry erase lapboard. This lapboard is key, y’all! One thing that amazed me from Ari’s first year of preschool was how quickly he learned his letters and how to write his name. Like, for months the only thing he would say when someone asked him how to spell his name was “A – R – I… Ari!” 🙂 But that is because we practiced — a lot!

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Age appropriate flash cards. Knowing that preschoolers learn by playing, Ari and I make games out of flash cards. He already knows his colors, shapes, and numbers; but this year we’re working on sight words so he’s ready for the next step (ahhhh!! kindergarten!!).

New shoes! I’m not team #AlwaysNeedsNewClothes. In fact, we buy so many of our children’s clothes gently-used from a local consignment shop. I always find Gap jeans and Gymboree clothes (with tags on!) for, like, three bucks! Heck yes! But one thing I never skimp on is shoes. Our children stand, play, jump, and run, nonstop. It’s so important that they have support. So I have actually purchased several sizes in these Stride Rite shoes so that I can just have them on hand for when he grows!

So if you’re a mom of a preschooler, what would you recommend to have for preschool-readiness?? Did I miss something?

If you’re not yet to the preschool years, Pin this post for later!

{ 7 comments }

Monday Mantra //

September 11, 2017 in #MomLife,mantra

It’s been a while, but I’m bringing back the Monday Mantra, friends. Last week was a doozy. Like, a real test-your-patience, make-you-question-everything, kind of a doozy!

I fully expected last week to be crazypants. But it was the worst kind of crazypants. See, we were starting our new family-schedule last week — Ari went back to school, my hours and schedule changed, and my husband was on-call for work. An adjustment, yes, but nothing that we can’t handle.

Ari’s first morning of school came and went. He was happy. There were no tears (there are never tears with this kid), and all was fine.

And then, on that same first day of school, just before bed, he started vomiting uncontrollably.

OMG. NO.

Those were the only words that came to my mind as Chad and I froze from shock, watching him get sick. See, we’ve been through this before; but the last time, just 9 months ago, we ended up in the hospital from severe dehydration (after passing around the stomach bug for 3.5 weeks, Ari’s little body just couldn’t handle it anymore).

We spent the next 24-ish hours in a semi-quarantine, trying to keep the sickness away from the rest of us, but somehow still managing to take care of Ari. It was hard, friends. Really, really, hard. Of course Chad actually got called into work several times, in the middle of the night, throughout this process. So I was flying solo for most of it. Sure, he helped when he was home; but how much can a person running on zero sleep possibly help?? It was so rough!

And the hours stuck in the house with a vomiting 4.5 year old and a very curious toddler are the most difficult hours of all time. Remy Bea wanted to be near the living (where Ari happened to be in quarantine) nonstop. So I had to block her off. At one point Ari said “No Remy! Stay there! I don’t want to get you sick!” and my heart melted into a million tiny pieces.

He recovered. Well, he’s at least recovered for now. And, at this moment, the rest of us have been able to keep it at bay.

So for this week my mantra is simple and to the point…

This too shall pass.

Because it’s what I want need to be reminded of right now. I’ve made it through tough mama times before and I can do it again.

The incessant laundry and cleaning; the tremendous worry and watching; and the exhausting weight of all of it; it will pass. I know it will. I just have to keep reminding myself of this.

Happy(ish) Monday? Yeah. Happy Monday. Cause this too shall freaking pass, y’all. 

{ 15 comments }

We returned from our first big vacation as a family of four just over a week ago. We travelled over 11 hours to get to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where we met up with my mom and dad (Mimi + Poppy), and my sister and her family. So there were 6 adults, two babies, and one Ari. 🙂

I had never before been to HHI, and neither had my husband. And, to be honest, I did very little planning (if any) whatsoever! I meant to plan out some adventures ahead of time, but Summer got so busy with all of the normal day-to-day stuff… it just never happened! My sister, on the other hand, had done some planning. But life with babies rarely — if ever! — goes as planned.

One thing that was set well in advance was our condo for the week. We stayed at Seacrest Villas, directly on the North Forest Beach, and just steps away from Coligny Plaza.

Our condo was beautiful. It was three-bedrooms, 3-baths, and had a full kitchen and dining room — plus TWO balconies! It was truly gorgeous! And part of me — the super mom part of me — could have had just that and nothing else for an entire week. No responsibilities; not our house; no laundry and cleaning — just that for a week.

But there was so much to do!

Annie O’s Kitchen. We discovered this place by pure chance. We found ourselves upon a child-free evening and had not at all planned it out. Where would we go alone!? Well, a google search later and the results… showed a bunch of other places. But I happened to see the description of this restaurant — their meats, dairy, and eggs, are all-natural and cruelty-free. There are no antibiotics, no preservatives, no pesticides, and sustainable. Basically, totally our wheelhouse.

I had the Chicken and French Toast (what a fun play on chicken + waffles!) and Chad got the flash-fried whole flounder with collard greens.

We absolutely loved the atmosphere and the vibe from the staff. They were incredibly hands-on — the chef even came by to deliver our meals to the table. The cornbread? Bomb. The sweet tea? SO bomb. The desserts?! OMG I can’t even!

After our dining experience, we convinced the whole family to join us for a ‘last hurrah’ dinner at Annie O’s. And the whole family — Mimi, Poppy, my sister and brother-in-law — we all said, hands down, best food we had during the whole trip!

TIPS:

If you dine between 3:00 – 6:00 PM, the majority of their entrees are 50% off!

And make reservations!

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Somewhat.

The atmosphere is less appealing to children, but the waitstaff and other employees were super friendly to the kids.

Coligny Splash Pad. The beach, the pool… they can be… exhausting for parents. There’s just so much sand and ‘stuff,’ that kids need. This splash pad was a perfect break for all of us. Located near Coligny Plaza, the splash pad is just off the beach and easily accessible.

Our kids had a blast running in and out of the fountains — and even made a couple of friends! I suggest hitting the splash pad first thing in the morning, before the sun really starts beating down on the kids. But, in case you find yourself there a little later, just know that it does have a little overhead shade, thanks to the awesome trees!

TIPS:

Have the kids where some sort of water shoes to avoid stubbed toes.

Arrive first thing in the morning for the least crowding.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

100%!

Skull Creek Boathouse. My sister insisted that we go here. We were having a rough day with the kiddos and I didn’t have even a second to check out the menu ahead of time. But I’m so happy that I put all of my trust in her with this restaurant decision!

When we arrived shortly after 5PM, the place was already packed with an hour wait for outside seating. As much as we wanted to sit outside, we were also dealing with a time limit thanks to the kiddos bedtimes! Instead we opted for an immediate high-top table inside. Believe it or not, they have highchairs for the high-top tables, so they could easily accommodate two infants.

Our meals were delicious! I ordered the fried fish and chips and a big side of hush puppies (because, yum!). And Chad ordered a lobster rice bowl that tasted amazing.

My sister and her husband loved the lowcountry boil — and I had some serious food envy of them!

After our meal, we headed to the dock to check out the views. On the other side of the dock there is a beautiful outdoor beer garden with picnic tables, sandboxes for kids, and giant connect four games. The live music was a young guy playing guitar and singing up on stage. It was the perfect way to spend an evening!

TIPS:

Arrive early and be prepared to wait if you are looking for outdoor seating.

But also enjoy that time in the beer garden while you wait!
The restaurant will text you when your table is ready!

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Really family-friendly! Each child will get to pick a prize from the treasure box after the meal.

The outdoor beer garden is the perfect place for parents to spend a relaxing evening with young kids.

Java Burrito. We stopped here, first and foremost, for the Java. But I was so impressed by the food setup that I had to come back later in the week to try it out. It’s nestled in a business park on William Hilton Parkway, so you almost have to go searching for it; but I promise it’s worth it!

Their coffee bar is definitely high-end, specialty coffee, with a huge clientele that prefer a pour over (hello!? LOVE pour overs!). But they also offer cocktails for those customers who are going to hang out in the cool café for a bit!

As far as the food, they offer Mexican-style burritos and bowls with ingredients that are locally sourced, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yep – they do breakfast burritos with farm-fresh eggs!

I opted for a burrito with chicken, rice, beans, queso and guacamole. As someone that frequents other fast-casual burrito places, I can tell you that this was far superior to the rest of them. The freshness is something that you can taste!

TIPS:

Take a look at the menu online ahead of time so that you have an idea of what you want to order.

Definitely order coffee, too!

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Yes, for a quick family meal. But not for lounging around.

Duck Donuts. So I realize that this is a franchise location and not a native Hilton Head Island thing… but for those of us who do not live near a Duck Donuts, checking this out while we’re on the island is KEY.

See, I have a love affair with donuts. I like them fancy and I like them plain — I don’t discriminate! Ha!

These donuts are served up fresh out of the fryer! We customized our order of a dozen and a half so that we could basically try all of them. Somehow a single plain old fashioned donut ended up in our pack. And I swear to you that is the best darn old fashioned, plain ol’ donut, I have ever had!

(Good news, Ohio friends — there is a Duck Donuts on Polaris Parkway in Columbus!)

TIPS:

Prepare to wait in line.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Very! The kids have fun watching the donuts being made.

Frosty Frog. This little dive of a frozen cocktail bar is located in Coligny Plaza and features about 25 different frozen daiquiri combinations such as a Hurricane, Grape Danger, Sex on the Peach, Piña Colada, and Jungle Juice! Real Talk: They put all of their drinks, daiquiri or not, in styrofoam to-go cups — whether you’re eating in or taking food to go. Also, you’re allowed to walk with the open container anywhere within Coligny Plaza.

We took our daiquiris to go and walked around the plaza a few nights. They were so delicious! My favorites were Jump Start and Grape Danger.

After several visits, we decided to give their pizza a shot. And OMG it’s delicious! Like, really good and the slices are, as Ari would say, GINORMOUS! 🙂

TIPS:

If there are more than 3 of you ordering daiquiris, save yourself a few bucks and order a gallon to-go.
It’s the most cost-effective way to sip some frozen yummies!

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Not very.
We saw a lot of children there with their parents, but it’s really more of a bar than anything else.

A Lowcountry Backyard. Located in Palmetto Dunes, this gem of a restaurant serves up local cuisine with some serious lowcountry flair! We arrived just before 4:30PM, which is when they open for dinner service. We were quickly greeted with two other families awaiting the dinner ‘bell’! Great minds (and early bedtimes for babies — likely)!

The atmosphere in the outdoor seating area is awesome. There’s giant Jenga, a hillbilly golf set, a giant porch swing, and a stage for the nightly solo performances.

Our food did not disappoint. Between the fried green tomatoes, the shrimp and grits, crab dip, and grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, we left… satisfied very full.

TIPS:

Arrive right when they open to avoid a wait.

Sit outdoors.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Very.
There is so much to keep the kids entertained, between the games, the music, and the mason jars with lids as sippy cups!

Pirates of Hilton Head. Chad took Ari on this adventure without me and Remy Bea, which was fine. The Pirates of Hilton Head is an excursion in Harbour Town (near the lighthouse!) on The Black Dagger! The kids, which range in age from 3-10, in groups of about 20 children (max), learn to speak like pirates, get tattoos, and take down Stinky Pete with water cannons! Ari had such an amazing time and came home with enough gold doubloons to last him a lifetime! We will definitely be hitting this up with every visit.

TIPS:

Check Groupon to see if they have any deals first (they did for us!).

Make sure you plan to spend some time in Harbour Town because there’s a $6 fee to be in the area,
but you have in-and-out privileges all day.

Wear a small backpack and bring plenty of water and snacks.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY RATING:

Very much so! Especially for kids 3 and up!

We will certainly be making Hilton Head our go-to vacation spot from hereon out. I can’t wait to visit all of these places again! Make sure you pin this for later! xo

 

 

 

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End of Summer Health + Fitness Update | and a BIG announcement!

August 31, 2017

Guys, I am proud to say that I didn’t let the hustle and bustle of Summer get me off track with my health and fitness journey. Wooo hooo! Weight Watchers Update  // I’m at my lowest weight since Remy was born. Not my goal weight, but significantly closer. I’m down 30.5 pounds since I started WW […]

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Our Summer in Pictures

August 28, 2017

Guys – something amazing happened this Summer — we had fun — and I stepped a bit away from this here blog. I did, however, start posting all kinds of photos to my Instagram stories as a way of ‘photo-blogging’ my way through the summer months! In case you aren’t following me on Instagram (which, […]

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Explore Ohio // Put-in-Bay

August 18, 2017

One of the perks of living on the “North Coast” is that we have islands and beaches nearby. For those not located in the Midwest, the “North Coast” is Lake Erie, or whichever of the Great Lakes you happen to find yourself south of. And if you have never actually seen the Great Lakes, you would […]

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Day Tripping // Louisville, Kentucky

August 14, 2017

Life has been hella crazy lately. I’d like to say we’ve been busy travelling the globe, but that would be semi inaccurate. I mean, we have been travelling the midwest rather thoroughly. 😛 😛 And one of the great things about living in the Midwest is that we can travel a few hours and be […]

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The Blogger Burnout.

August 9, 2017

I have a confession: I’m a little burnt out. I realize my writing and posting has gotten further and further apart (like, often times a week to ten days), but it’s not for lack of ideas. Oh no, I have plenty of ideas and plenty of half-finished blog posts… …it’s for lack of enthusiasm. I’m. […]

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When Breastfeeding Ends // a story of grief and pride

August 4, 2017

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating for only breastfeeding babies. Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision. I believe fed is best. Period. I’m just sharing my personal adventure with breastfeeding. This week is World Breastfeeding Week. And, if I’m being honest, my heart is hurting a little. See, I’m doing extended breastfeeding with Miss Bea. And, while I […]

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7 Tips for Safe Car Travel with Kids

July 31, 2017

With Summer nearing it’s end our vacation season is officially starting. That’s right — we’ve had several trips (one day trip, one weekend trip, and one week-long beach vacation) planned for quite some time. And with that comes quite a bit of travel anxiety. Well, atleast for me it does. I wasn’t always this anxious […]

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