Survival Guide: Flying alone with a toddler and a baby

IMG_2336

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.

IMG_2338

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

IMG_2365

IMG_2321

IMG_2331

IMG_2345

IMG_2355

IMG_2361

IMG_2357

IMG_2383

*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

Tips for Surviving the Winter with your Kids

Untitled

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.

Untitled

FinleyLHS

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

IMG_0974
^^ the cutest family portrait from the talented and lovely Linda over at Though Very Humble. Thanks Linda!!

IMG_0989

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

IMG_1117

Untitled

^^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.

IMG_2207

IMG_2213

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.

Untitled

Untitled

^^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.

Untitled

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.

IMG_2050

and now this….

finley_explosion

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.

Weekly Parenting Ups & Downs

IMG_1208

“The days are long but the years are short.”

I am tired. I am very tired. This quote has been ringing in my ears a lot. I’ve also been wearing this sweatshirt a lot lately too because it makes me laugh at how true it is. It’s like a sad, sad joke. After a month of vacation and holiday travel we’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get in our groove at home. That especially means with sleep. We have been neck deep in sleep training with Rowan and well, it just is not going well. She got a little to use to sleeping all together (most nights in the same bed) and doesn’t want to stay in her room. We’ve made a few advances here and there but then something comes up… like more travel. Having 2 kids that are literally up every half hour all night long is wearing. Physically and emotionally. I swear if it’s not one, it’s the other. I can’t even imagine what a full night of sleep feels like. It’s been over a year that’s for sure. I am continually praying that I can find wisdom and have patience over it all. 3 year olds are smart little creatures. Much smarter than we give them credit for. Rowan knows exactly what to say in the middle of the night to get me into her room. I try to resist but then my mom guilt gets me. I start thinking “what if she really is thirsty? What if her poor little throat is dry and I am denying her a drink? I’m so terrible”. Ha! Oh man the inner struggle. I know she’s bested me when I bring her that drink and she throws it to the side without even taking a drink. Then says something like “but my back is so scratchy now”. Oh the excuses.

It’s true. Some days on this journey called parenthood are long. They can be very long. But you know what else is true? The years really are short. When I think back to Rowan being a baby, I really don’t remember the struggle all that much. I know it was there. But where there was once frustration and anxiety over being a first time mom, its now filled with lots of sweet memories that overpower any of the bad. So with that perspective in mind I am whispering to myself with each middle of the night wake up call… “This is just a stage, this is just a stage”. I know this too shall pass. Soon enough (and really it can’t come soon enough) they will both be back to a good sleeping schedule and we will all be sleeping through the night. Until then though, I will try to embrace the tired and keep wearing my sweatshirt as a warning to others.

NOTE: I am currently in a hotel room in Chicago all by myself. ALL.BY.MYSELF! After an extremely long day of a bunch of canceled flights, I am left all alone in a city I wasn’t supposed to be in. I WILL SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT TONIGHT! I am super pumped about it, even with a 6am wake up call. Get this though! It’s almost too quiet. When you are surrounded by chaos all day, everyday, when you get a chance to be alone it’s almost too quiet. Why is that? I am sure that thought will pass in about 2 seconds when my head hits the pillow and I get 6 glorious, uninterrupted hours of sleep.

I miss my babies though.

I digress. Anyway. Whatever your parenting struggle is right now. I hope you can find comfort in remembering it’s a short road on this long journey. It will pass. You will look back on the years and remember the great joys, the struggles will be but a distant memory.

IMG_1175

IMG_1178

IMG_1239

IMG_1218

IMG_1233

IMG_1251

IMG_1180

Finley’s scarf from Little Hip Squeaks
My sweatshirt from Hello Apparel
My glasses are from Bonlook

Our Ultimate Baby Guide

babyguide

I am not an expert by any means, but 3 years have passed since I first became a Mom and we have tested, used, returned, and fallen in love with a lot of baby products. When you are pregnant with or adopting your first it’s so over whelming with all the things you “think” you need. See the key word there? Think. Babies really don’t need a lot. Don’t let the hype of buying stuff take over. You will spend way too much money on items that will sit in your closet and clutter your home. A tip I learned is to ask for gift cards for your shower other than some of the basics items. Then once the baby arrives and a need presents itself, you can go buy the item. That way you know you will really use it. I thought I could share the items that we can’t live with out in our household. Over the past 3 years a few of these items have be gifted to us, but I want to make sure you all know this is NOT a sponsored post. I did not have to write about any of these products. They are what we truly use day in and day out. We really do own and love everything pictured in this post.

toys

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

TOYS: I am a simple toy kind of Mom. I don’t like all the hoopla out there. I am a big, big fan of all Haba toys. About 90% of all our baby toys are Haba. They are bright, mostly wooden, cute and well made. We have some great silicone teethers that Finley has loved. Especially the one up there that looks like an empty diamond ring. As soon as she could hold things it was nicknamed “her favorite toy”.

cozy

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

COZY THINGS: I LOVE Aden and Anais. Best products ever. I mentioned before in my nursing post my obsession with their swaddle blankets. They are the #1 item I would recommend for a new mom. You can’t have enough. I seriously use them for everything- burp cloths, nursing cover, swaddle, blanket, etc… They are soft, light weight and perfect. Aden and Anais also has other great products. We love like their Dream blanket and crib sheets. I don’t think there will ever be a cuter doll for kids than blabla dolls. We have quite a few and every time they make new ones I want those ones too. Rowan was obsessed with “hootsie” when she was younger. She lost it and we had to quickly replace it with a copy before she noticed. I know everyone and their mother has the Pia Wallen cross blanket but truth be told it really is a great blanket. The perfect weight for cold weather and don’t get me started on the adorable patterns over at Little Hip Squeaks.

carriers

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Carriers: We love baby carriers. We have a good assortment because some are better than others for different situations. We love our Deuter Kid Comfort hiking backpack. This thing is legit for hiking. We have 2 Ergos. They are the best all round carrier. You can hike with them (the performance one) or travel easily with the travel series. For slings you can’t get anything better than a Sakura Bloom sling. So awesome! When Finley was little she lived in our Solly Baby wrap. So comfy for both you and baby.

bath

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

BATH TIME, SOAPS & LOTIONS: There are a lot of baby products out there. Not all are created equal though. Our hands down favorites are The Honest Company, California Baby, Burt’s Bees and Mum+Bub (made by Aden and Anais). All of them smell great, work great and have ingredients you can feel good about putting on your little one. I am particularly fond of the tooth paste and sunscreen from Honest, the bubble bath and hair conditioner from California Baby, and the soothing ointment from Mum+Bub. 4 Moms has this awesome faucet cover that tells you the water temperature as it comes out. At first I thought it would be totally novelty, but it actually is really awesome and we use it every time. I have found numerous occasion where it was quite helpful in keeping the girls safe. Such a great safety item to have in the bathroom.

STROLLERS

1 | 2 | 3

STROLLERS: I’ve become mildly obsessed with strollers. In my mind you can never have enough but obviously you don’t need your garage looking like a stroller parking lot. The first stroller we bought when I was pregnant with Rowan was an Uppa Baby Vista. I still to this day LOVE this stroller. My favorite part is hands down the basket. It is HUGE! Like you could go grocery shopping with it. The child seat can go forward or backwards. There is a basinet and you can add a double seat or scooter board. It’s a tad wide in the back wheels but it turns and moves so well- it’s totally worth it. We now also have the 4Moms origami. Man, Oh Man this stroller is great. The convenience of pressing that button and having it open and close on it’s own it pretty darn awesome. It also charges your phone and has lights on it. For running we have a Bob Reveloution Duallie and it’s pushes like a dream. We have logged countless miles running with that thing. We have survived pushing 13 miles runs with the kids sitting comfortable in there. That says a lot. I am still on the look out for the perfect lightweight, compact double stroller. I am thinking either a Phil & Ted Dot, Maclaren Twin Techno or Twin Triumph. We need something that travels really easy.

products

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

OTHER ITEMS: Here are a few other things that have gotten a lot of love in our house. Our 4Moms Breeze Playard is so easy to set up and travel with. Great for trips to Grandparents house. We also LOVE our Angelcare video monitor. It comes with a movement sensor helping relieve those “oh my gosh are they still breathing?” panics you have with newborns. Finley slept in our 4Moms Mamaroo for weeks when she was first born. Whatever works right? We also love our glass Life Factory bottles.

clothes

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

CLOTHES: We aren’t all that fancy with clothes. Babies grow fast and are kind hard on clothes, especially when they start crawling. I do like what I like though. I think both our parents would call me picky about what I like to put the girls in. I don’t like overly girly, covered with cheesy animals, carter’s matching playsets kind of things. No offense to anyone else, it just isn’t for me. I love mixing and matching from all different stores, from both the girl and boys sections. My favorites are H&M, Target, Old Navy and my hands down most favorite is the Gap. Oh, Baby Gap can do no wrong in my book. I kind of hoard their velour one piece jammies. Seriously, these are the best. They are thick, warm and oh so cozy. BEST PJS EVER! I am a really good Gap sale shopper. Their regular price items are still hard to swallow sometimes for a baby. Other than basics from those stores, I like to support our friends who have online shops. Our favorites are Of One Sea, Hello Apparel, el Sage Designs, Mamacase Prints and of course Little Hip Squeaks. I am one of those people that think baby shoes are silly on babies. They are adorable and all, but they never seem to stay on and end up being more annoying than anything. Have you tried a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins though? AMAZING! They stay on, keep socks on, don’t have hard soles so they don’t look weird on a baby and the color choices!! Oh, the color choices!! Other than socks, they are the only thing I will put on Finley’s feet.

A Big Imagination…

IMG_4249

IMG_4255

It’s funny how as you grow up you forget about how wonderful an imagination is. As an adult it’s almost painful to play dress up or make believe- it stretches you. An imagination is a magical thing though. Over the past few months Rowan’s imagination has grown leaps and bounds. It is amazing to me to watch and listen to her. She is constantly talking to herself these days. Making up stories and scenarios in her head. She doesn’t even need toys half the time! Kev and I secretly listened to her for like 10 mins yesterday as she just sat spinning in his work chair talking about all sorts of things. It’s cute because she tends to make up stories based on things that have happened to her that day (of course with a princess twist). She loves playing dress up. Most of our errands are done these days with her wearing a princess crown. Any kind of raised platform instantly becomes a stage to her. She loves putting on shows! Especially ballet shows. She will twirl, leap, and walk on tippy toes pretending to be a real ballerina on stage.

I am pretty obsessed with this quote…

imagination

so true, right? I love seeing Rowan’s imagination grow. As her parent, it’s something I want to help foster in our home. I hope that as she grows up it evolves to seeing things in a creative way. And that doesn’t mean just towards art like her parents. Whatever her passions will be, I hope that she can think outside of the box. That she wont limit herself to what she can achieve. I want so badly for her to know the sky is the limit.

But for now, I will let this almost 3yr old little girl dress up in her princess costume and run around making up stories about adventures with a purple dragon.

The Birth Story of Finley James

birth

It has been 6 weeks since Finley came into this world. In a lot of ways it feels like she has been part of our family forever. In other ways it feels like it was just yesterday that I was down on all fours in the midst of labor. After Finley was born I wasn’t sure I was even going to write a birth story. It seemed too raw, too personal and too real to share. I had grand plans of making a video (we took some over the shoulder footage of Finley’s birth) and talk about all the details of our home birth. After it happened though, I just wasn’t sure.

When Rowan was born I felt like super women. Like no matter what life threw at me from then on, I could knock it out of the park because I had given birth to her. In the weeks leading up to Finley’s birth, I held on to that strength. I wasn’t scared. I remembered Rowan’s labor being hard, but I remember feeling strong throughout and digging deep to find strength to get through. As I starting getting closer to my due date with Finley my courage starting slipping. My due date came and went and fear starting creeping in. Going past your due date is a very emotionally tiring thing for most women, at least for me it is. I was tired, anxious and loosing confidence that I wouldn’t be able get through having a home birth. I don’t know why I let it get the best of me. I knew I was stronger than that. Labor is a funny thing though. It really is one of the most life changing moments you experience and you have absolutely no control over when it’s going to happen. Yes, you have a ballpark but being a ticking time bomb really does a number on your mental state.

I am not going to go into all the details of her birth but here’s the quick little story… It was Saturday the 5th. I wasn’t feeling all that well. Kev drew me a bath and then he left to go sledding with Rowan to give me some peace and quiet. I started having some really randomly spaced contractions. Some were a few mins apart, some were 15 mins or more apart. Didn’t think too much about it. About 45mins later- Bam! Contractions were 2 mins apart and consistently 2 mins apart. I called Kev and told him to come home. Home he came. We called our Midwife at 2:30pm. She arrived by 3pm. Contractions were pretty much a minute or less apart. They were right on top of each other, I hardly could get a break. It was extremely intense and I think that is what caught me off guard. I had no time to even gather some strength or dig deep inside. I honestly felt like I was just barely getting by. I cried. I screamed. I wanted to give up. The fact that she wasn’t tucking her chin down and that I had a full bladder left me in some pretty intense pain on top of the contractions. I didn’t even make it upstairs to our bedroom where I thought she would be born. 2.5 hours after it all started, little Miss Finley James was born in our family room as Rowan took a nap upstairs.

birth7

birth4

birth8

birth6

birth9

birth10

She was healthy, beautiful and our home birth was more than I ever expected it to be, but I was left feeling really defeated after all was said and done. I hate to admit that out loud, it makes me cry even thinking about it. Her birth really was amazing and I wouldn’t want to change any of it, but for a few weeks I struggled with this feeling of embarassment over how I thought I handled it mentally. I felt like I only got through it because well, there is no stopping a baby once they decided to make their entrance. Then one day as I was holding her, staring at this mini version of myself, it hit me… A wave of emotion came over me and I finally felt proud. In that moment with the sun shining in, cuddling my sweet baby girl, I felt invincible. Who cares how I think I handled it. You are always your worst critic, right? Finley was a part of me. She will always be half me, half Kev. I slowly created her with my heart, soul and body for nine whole months. Psalm 139:13 says “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my motherรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” And here I was stuck on the fact that I thought I did a bad job bringing her into this world. She was absolutely perfect and nothing about how she came into this world could change that.

I was able to have a 9lbs 8oz. baby girl at home, with no drugs, in 2.5 hours and for that I have decided I deserve a jump high five and a piece of chocolate.

birth11

birth12

birth2

birth3

birth17

birth16

birth15

birth14

p.s. I think any way you end up having a baby deserves a jump high five!!

p.p.s Having a home birth was so dang awesome! Nothing about me feeling defeated had anything to do with being at home. If anything it made me feel more relaxed, more comfortable and more in charge of what was going on. Let me just say there is no better feeling than going through labor and then being able to get into your very own bed, in your very own pjs and have your mom bring you a home cooked meal and then falling asleep cuddled next to your new little one and your husband. If we are blessed to have any more kids, each and every one of them (Lord willing) will be born at home.

& the picture of all of us the morning after her birth cracks me up. Talk about bed head!

Our Newest Addition…

new baby 2

I am a pretty proud Momma today to be able to introduce you to the newest addition to our family. She entered the world at lightening speed and has captured our hearts just as quick. As I like to think of her, Finley James is our little powerhouse peanut. Weighing in at 9lbs 8oz, but still looking oh so tiny. Finley was a name Kev and I decided on together from the very beginning. We never had another name picked for her, she was always Finley to us. James is a family name and also a name I’ve wanted to use for a girl since I was little. I guess we really like gender neutral, Gaelic names in our household.

I just want to say a big, HUGE thank you to everyone for the kind words, tweets, emails, etc… we are truly blessed by all your kindness and support. I am so excited to share this new journey we are about to take as a family of 4. Our hearts are exploding with love and we couldn’t be happier!
xoxo
-Jen

p.s. she has dark hair!!!! I was hoping for a little mini me since Kev’s genes won the first round…

new baby7
new baby 3
new baby4
new baby6
new baby

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!

  • Theeeeeee best motivator to get all our school work done in the morning ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ™Œ #afterlunchswim ...
    posted 17 hours ago
Jen Loves Kev
css.php