Survival Guide: Flying alone with a toddler and a baby

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We’ve traveled quite a bit with our kids. It’s always been all together though. I have flown with Rowan by myself twice but never both of them. The thought of being out numbered by kids on an airplane has had me totally freaked me out. When the chance to go to Florida came up though, I bit the bullet and decided to conquer my fears. All in all it wasn’t too bad. Finley was pretty fussy to be honest but I just found out she has a double ear infection so I think that had something to do with it. The lovely folks over at Lily Jade just send us this gorgeous designer diaper bag and it totally saved my life on this flight. When traveling by yourself the less you have to carry the better. It will make it so much easier and make you less stressed if you don’t have tons of bags to drag along. Because lets face it, you are already going to have your hands full with the kids. The fact that this bag can be worn as a backpack was seriously the biggest help on this trip. Plus, the inside is HUGE. I was able to pack everything I needed for our day of travel for both kids in there.

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Here are some other tips I found really helpful when traveling by yourself with your kids…

1. Bring a stroller. The stroller was essential for getting everyone around the airport. Especially between connecting flights. We seriously had a Home Alone moment (running top speed to make connecting flight) and if I didn’t have the stroller we never would have made it. We have a double Maclearn. We LOVE it!!

2. When we first got to the airport and checked in at the desk, we asked if Kev could get a special clearance ticket to go through security to help me with the kids. Did you know you can do that? I never knew that until a few years ago. Not having to go through security by yourself is so helpful. Besides, then he gets to stay with us until the moment we get on the plane.

3. Plan your flight (if you can) for when your kids will be well rested. I use to think it would be helpful if it was around nap time because then maybe they would fall asleep on the plane. HA! Chances are (well, with my luck), they won’t and then you are left with an over tired, extremely fussy baby. It’s better to have a happy, rested little one to play with.

4. Just give yourself a break. It will be tough and it will be stressful. Just know you are doing the best you can. The calmer you can stay the better everything will go. Forget if you can, that you are on a plane with other people. I know it’s so hard! As soon as Finley would start crying I could feel my blood pressure rising. Just remember not everyone is annoyed they are crying. I know when I hear a baby crying I just feel sympathy for the parents and well, most of the time I don’t even notice.

5. Snacks, toys and activities. Here is everything that I fit into my Lily Jade bag for the trip. 1. Mini Eggs (these were for me!) 2. Coloring and activity books for Rowan 3. Headphones and iPad for Rowan loaded with new games and movies 4. Her little toys she picked out for the trip (cheetah, my littlest pet shop pony and Cinderella) 5. A few toys for Finley. She doesn’t “play” with much, just gets into everything that isn’t a toy 6. Her bottle 7. Snacks 8. Teddy 9. My iPhone and charger 10. Aden and Anais swaddle blanket 11. Diapers, wipes and kleenex 12. Hand sanitizer 13. YumEarth Organics Vitamin C gummy bears and lollipops

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*A Lily Jade bag is definitely an investment piece but their quality and function will last you well beyond the baby years. I have the Caroline bag and it’s on sale at the moment! A must have for your baby registry.

OUTFIT DETAILS:
Dress: Old Navy
Sandals: Sam & Libby from Target
Scarf: Target
Watch: Michael Kors
Madeline Bag: c/o Lily Jade

On Rowan:
Dress: gift from Little Hip Squeaks
Floral Crown: gift from The Wishing Elephant

On Finley:
Shirt: Gap
Shorts: Gap
Scarf: gift from Little Hip Squeaks

Down in Florida

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Welp. In a very last minute decision, we jumped a plane and headed south. We are spending the week in Florida at my parents. It just so happened that both my sisters were coming down to visit and I didn’t want to be the odd one out. We haven’t all been together as a family in almost 2 years. It’s been super laid back so far. Lots of boat rides, sitting by the dock, late night walks, hot tubs, dinners around the kitchen island and good ol’family fun. Being with family and by the water is just good for my soul. I just wish Kev could be here too. There is pretty much nothing I love more though than being on a boat. I mentioned this on instragram, but being on the water just seems right. It makes life seem simple, easy and beautiful. It slows things down. The wind in your hair, the warm breeze, it all holds so many childhood memories for me. I love that when we come down here, Rowan gets to be part of this too. I hope she grows up loving being on the water as much as I do.

Here are just a few pictures from our first 2 days here. (All pictures were taken by my talented sister Amy).

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A Sweet Potato Stamped Library Tote Bag

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We have been going to the library a ton lately. We’ve also been trying out ALL the libraries in the area. Seriously, we are trying so hard to not go crazy this winter. Every time we check out at the library I think “why did I not bring a bag to put all these books in?”. I must look like a crazy women with Finley on my hip, holding hats, gloves, books, movies, my giant purse, and trying to hold Rowan’s hand through the parking lot. One day I put the books quickly on the hood of the car as Finley started slipping. I opened the car door, got everyone buckled in and drove off. Totally forgetting about the books. I luckily remembered 2 seconds later, but I had to search around the slushy parking lot for the books. Doh!

Needless to say, when this little DIY Tote bag package arrived from our friend Phoebe of El Sage Designs. I knew exactly what we were going to make with it. A library bag for Rowan!! It comes with everything you need! It has instructions, an organic tote, black ink, and ideas on how to make polka dots. Phoebe suggests you use a carrot to create polka dots all over the tote. Wouldn’t that be so cute? We decided to use some sweet potatoes and cut out a heart and an “R” for Rowan. It’s a super simple craft, with super cute results. I decided to add some embroidery to ours after Rowan was done stamping.

I am pretty happy with how it came out. I love that it took a team effort!

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Thanks Phoebe!

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Tips for Surviving the Winter with your Kids

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Don’t get me started on the 3ft+ of snow outside. It’s beautiful, yes, but I get to a point mid January when all the fun of Christmas and New Years wears off. All that I’m left with is the bleak outlook that winter is still another 2.5 full months (sometimes if we are lucky). That’s the Northeast for you. I would like winter to be around 1.5 months tops. Spring and Fall could be stretched out in my book. The hardest part about having little kids during winter months is not all going stir crazy. The winter blues are real and can get out of control if you let them. Here are some practical tips that help us all stay sane.

1. Get out of the house everyday! I have to get out of the house at least once everyday or I go crazy. Try and plan some fun activities. Find when story times are, find a local gymnastic gym that has open play, find a Mom’s group, etc… Even if it’s just to go to the post office. The act of getting dressed and getting everyone out of the house is super helpful.

2. Search Pinterest for easy activities to do at home for toddlers. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS ON PINTEREST TO DO. You don’t have to be super creative either to do a lot of them. You and your toddler will have fun trying something new to do at home. Did you see this idea on A Cup of Jo?

3. Play outside. I know. I know. Getting everyone bundled up in winter/snow gear takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R! But even though Rowan will last about as long as it took to get everything on her, it’s always worth the fresh air and rosy cheeks.

4. Mailing lists. Does your town or county have a website of local events going on? Usually they have mailing lists you can sign up for. I am on a mailing list around here that sends out an email every Thursday of the weekend happenings and what events are good for the kids. It’s great. Keeps me up to date on festivals and fun things that I wouldn’t have thought of doing otherwise.

5. Playdates. It is easy to become a hermit during the winter. Invite some friends and their kiddos over (even if it means your place will look like a bomb went off). Trust me. It will be worth the adult conversation while your kids play together.

6. On the weekends when you all get to be together, really try to get out there and do something a little extra adventurous. Take a small road trip, explore a new town, or bring the kids to disney on ice. It helps make the weeks not feel sooo long when you have something to look forward to.

7. When all else fails… build a fort!

Here are some super random photos from the last few weeks as we’ve tried our very best to enjoy these cold, grey days.

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IMG_1964 ^^both girls loving the new spring headbands from Little Hip Squeaks

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^^ the cutest family portrait from the talented and lovely Linda over at Though Very Humble. Thanks Linda!!

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Untitled ^^We’ve been drinking so many smoothies in our house. My favorite at the moment is zest and juice of 1 lime, 2 cups packed spinach, ice, half cup of water, scoop of plain greek yogurt, one green apple, large scoop of ground flaxseed, banana, and a little squeeze of agave nectar. Mmmmm

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^^Art project, art projects, and more art projects. We went on a cold winter walk one day before the snow dump and collected things to make a nature study with.

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IMG_2224 ^^sometimes I take pictures of the girls and can’t believe how big they are. Finley’s shirt is from Geo Fox Apparel, Rowan’s cute dress is from Little Hip Squeaks.

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^^Aww little Fin. I thought I was ready to wean her, but we both aren’t ready yet. I’ll take the sweet moments with her as long as I can.

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Untitled^^ we had a little valentines day party for Rowan and her girlfriends last friday. It was chaotic but lots of fun! And there was for sure a Frozen sing-a-long that took place for a good 45 mins.

Ok, you ready to see what happens when Kev is bored by Olympic Ice Dancing and decides to make ridiculous pictures in photoshop instead? Here is the original… He’s always wanted to try to take a picture of Finley when he tosses her up because she always has the biggest smile on her face. He was on the bed with her and I was sitting on the ground looking up. That is why it looks like she is way high, although she isn’t at all. This picture is funny enough by itself.

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and now this….

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OMGOSH. I can’t even. It cracks me up so much. I literally choked on my tea when Kev showed me last night.

Ha! I am pretty sure this winter is turning us all crazy.

Marriage | Staying Friends and Choosing Love

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This post has been on my heart for a while and it seems only fitting with Valentine’s Day on Friday that I get it out there. Not that you need one specific day to tell someone you love them but… On our 5 year wedding anniversary Kev and I headed off to Paris for a few days (Wow! Almost 3 years has passed already!). Rowan was only 9 months old at the time and stayed with her Grandparents while we were traveling. She, of course, loved it! It was the most wonderful trip – LIKE, EVER. It was so magical, romantic and just a whole heck of a lot of fun. During the trip I got an email from a women who was very angry that we had taken the trip without Rowan. She said something like “You shouldn’t have had kids if you were going to be so selfish and leave them to do what you wanted to do.” I was very hurt by the email back then. What a blow to a new parents self esteem. Times passed and well, I haven’t thought about that email in a very long time. However, it popped into my head a few weeks ago and I just laughed. I felt sad that whoever that was couldn’t have seen why I would want to go away with my husband. That her and her husband didn’t have that kind of relationship where they could value that importance.

Long before we ever had kids, my husband was there. He was first. When I got back from Alt Summit a friend asked if I was able to have a good time being away from the kids. Truth is, I can. I can be in the moment and appreciate the small break away as an adult. I miss them every second of the day, but you know who I miss the most? Kev. I have the hardest time being away from him.

Kev will always come first.

Our relationship will always be top priority because I love my kids.

However, that doesn’t mean the kids get neglected. They are not second rate in any respect but it does mean that it’s ok for Kev and I to make it a priority to go out on date nights, to get away every now and then and to make sure they know how important our love is for each other. I think the best thing we can do for our children and our home is to have a happy, healthy relationship. In doing so, I always want him to be my very best friend. It’s an aspect of our relationship that we choose to nurture. Before we started dating, we were friends. I don’t think that is the way it has to happen, but for us it worked. We hung out a lot as friends in college. Lots of late nights up in the art studio cramming to get projects done. We shared so many interests in common: Art, music, cats, strong bad (jk), love of adventure, hockey, being silly, etc… Slowly (or not so slowly for someone – cough, cough, Kev) friendship turned to love. Now 8 years later our love is greater than ever but it’s still based on friendship. There is no one I would rather be with than him. I don’t care what we are doing, where we are or what our circumstances are. If we are together, then I am home. He truly completes who I am. I am still my own self, but in him, I am a better version because he is my strongest cheerleader and my encouragement. He listens to my dreams, my fears and my struggles. He knows every part of me; the good and the bad. He is my truest friend.

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Now, not everyday is dreamy. I don’t want to give off a false picture. I will always love him, but somedays it’s easier to love him than others and I know it’s the same for him. Everyday I wake up and I choose to love him though. In the beginning, being in love is so easy. Everything is new and awesome. Unfortunately, life goes on and the beginning butterflies can fade. 8 years later you are left with a household that is nonstop with kids, chores, responsibilities, and very little time for each other. It could be very, very easy to settle in the routine of life. To accept the way things are. Let’s face it, we are tired. Very, very tired. It would be so much easier to put the kids to bed, turn on the tv, watch all night and then go to bed with very little real conversations. I won’t accept that though. I choose to love him more than that. I choose to make an effort to show him that he means the world to me. I choose to make sure he knows I love him more now than I did 8 years ago. I choose to make him feel special, loved and respected. I am not always great at it, and I fail a lot (most) of the time but I pray that God will show me how. God is the greatest example of love and I am constantly in prayer that our marriage can mirror that. I want out marriage to be selfless, grace filled and deep.

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You don’t have to travel or go out to stay connected with your husband. Because lets face it-certain stages in life aren’t the easiest for you to be away from your kids (nursing being one of them). We honestly don’t get to go out very often. Are closest relative lives 3 hours from us. Sometimes we have “date nights” at home. We plan them. If you don’t, chances are they won’t happen. When Kev gets home, we play with the girls, I get them dinner, they eat and off to bed they go. Afterwards, we cook a nice dinner for ourselves. We sit down together with no distractions and eat and talk. We drink a glass of wine. We sit on the couch together and actually share things with each other. Like real conversation, not just 2 sentences that get interrupted by kids. We might work out together, we might just continue to talk, we might do something creative together. Whatever we do, it’s together and it’s not watching tv. I have nothing against tv. Sometimes it’s super fun to watch something together, but don’t let that be the only thing you do together.

I encourage you to find new things to do together as a couple. Find new hobbies to share with each other. If you don’t have interests in common, pick something to try together that you can agree on. When Kev started running with me this past year it seriously brought us even closer together. I may have dragged my feet a little because running has always been my solo thing. I do still enjoy getting out there by myself but doing it together has seriously been so fun. Running a marathon together was way better than running it by myself. For Valentine’s Day we decided to find something to do together instead of just going out to eat. We found a candlelit hot yoga class on Friday night and signed up. We’ve never done it before and I am a bit nervous but at the same time I know it will be so fun. Even if it’s awkward and I suck, I know I will be there with Kev. At least we can laugh about it after. Or maybe we will be yoga experts and love it so much that we keep going. Who knows!

p.s. Have you ever tried the Love Dare challenge?
p.p.s I had way too much fun looking through old photos. Sorry there are a lot.

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
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