the most wonderful time of the year

I say this all of the time but I don’t know where the time goes. Christmas is 4 days away. And it’s almost 2016.

Even with the hustle & bustle of the holidays, I’m trying to enjoy every little minute with my family. And it’s wonderful. From Christmas lights to Nativity scenes, train displays and nature walks, I love spending this time living out the beauty of Christmas. The birth of our Savior. The reason for the season.

At two years old (26 months), Mr. President is old enough to share in the spirit of Christmas. It’s such a gift to hear him sing “Away in a Manger” or “Jingle Bells”, play with his Nativity set (if you don’t have one, you need this), turn on the Christmas lights, and decorate his tree. We tell Coco about the birth of Jesus and even let her chew on baby Jesus (much to the chagrin of her big brother). We read Christmas stories and end every night with a choice of Christmas hymns. It’s so much fun to relive Christmas through the eyes of a child.

The next 10 days are packed with fun Christmas activities, especially since my sister’s are in town. We’ve got the National Harbor, Botanical Garden’s Pollination Station, Roosevelt Island, Griswold Christmas lights, National Christmas Tree, and so much more. I’m beyond thankful for this time with my family.

I hope I always remember these moments. The fun ones. The hard ones. The joyful ones. It’s really what makes life so joyful & sweet.

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I hope your days are filled with love, joy, peace, and laughter.

Merry Christmas to you & yours.

 

diy // christmas tree for kids

Mr. President is two. He’s tall. He’s curious. And he gets into everything. I knew my Christmas decorations didn’t stand a chance, so I decided to make Abe a tree of his own. A tree he can decorate, un-decorate, change, mix-up, and have fun.

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This Christmas tree couldn’t get much easier or cheaper if I tried. I spent $8 total (less if you elminate/already have glitter pens) and about one hour of my time (Baby Coco helped while Mr. Prez was napping).  Plus, it was fun to make. I just love Christmas decorations.

What You Need
1 yard green felt
5 8×10 swatches of felt (I bought red, yellow, blue, white, and brown. 5/$1 at JoAnn Fabrics!)
Crayola glitter pens – to decorate ornaments (optional)
Cookie cutters – to make ornaments (optional)
Scissors
Sharpie marker
Command strips/tape (to hang the tree to the wall)

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How You Make It
I started with the ornaments. A star, circles, snowflakes, candy canes, and gingerbread kids (one for LJ and one for Coco). I drew them by hand (with a sharpie) and cut them out. If you aren’t comfortable free styling, this is where the cookie cutters come in handy. Once the ornaments are done, it’s time to decorate. I drew stripes, chevrons, polka dots, stars, and more. Be creative!

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While the ornaments are drying, it’s time to make the tree. Fold the green felt, long-ways, in half. Draw the outline of a tree with a sharpie Again, I drew the tree by hand but you can use a ruler to draw straight, even lines.  Once your tree is complete, cut it out.

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To hang tree, attach command stripes/tape to all corners of the tree (I used 7 stripes) and hang on the wall. The best part about this tree is that felt sticks on felt, so it’s easy & fun to decorate.

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I waited about 18 hours for the ornaments to dry and in the morning I handed them to Mr. Prez to hang on the tree. He marched right up and decorated the tree. He loves it! And his favorite ornament is Gingerbread Girl Coco (he loves his little sister!).

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That’s it – a fun, simple, cheap Christmas project that the kids will love!

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What fun Christmas Crafts have you made with the kids?

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fair trade matters

from far away farms to your shopping cart, products that bear the Fair Trade Certified logo come from farmers & workers who are justly compensated – @fairtradeusa

October is Fair Trade Month and I’m celebrating by consciously looking for and buying Fair Trade certified items. There are so  many reasons why Fair Trade matters and makes a difference.

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Did you know? Fair Trade:

  • promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers
  • protects fragile ecosystems
  • builds strong, transparent supply chains through independent, third-party certification

Fair Trade is near-and-dear to my heart because my sister, Lindsey, started a clothing company that is employs indigenous  women in the Republic of Panama and pays fair-trade wages. The impact that 4Love has had on their lives and families can not be replicated. 4Love’s mission is to bridge the gap in social inequities among indigenous women by empowering them through stable employment, profit sharing, and ongoing educational opportunities. When you buy fair trade, you are changing someone’s life. 

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It’s easy to buy Fair Trade. Just look for the Fair Trade Certified Label on your favorite items.

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Some of my favorite brands are Fair Trade. Are yours? 

Patagonia
LARABAR
Bark Thins
Numi Tea
Pura Vida Coffee
prAna
West Elm
Dang Foods
4Love Clothing

 

Join the conversation at BeFair.Org and enter to win Fair Trade Certified prizes every day in October.

Instagram: http://instagram.com/fairtradeusa/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fairtradecertified
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fairtradeusa

Learn more about 4Love and the lives they are changing at:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/4loveclothing/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4loveclothing

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poppy perfect // my fall favorites

I always liked poppies, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with Mr. President that I began to love them. During my pregnancy, we lovingly referred to our babe as “poppy” – and ever since, I just can’t get enough {poppy}.

Poppies are popular this season. Here are a few of my favorite things:

Boho Cheeks – Pocket Full of Poppies car seat cover
Mama’s! Isn’t this the most gorgeous car seat cover you’ve ever seen?! I’m totally in love.

Trust me, you want to buy this car seat cover. First off, it’s made of super soft – but durable – premium fabrics; so soft that it won’t bother baby but strong enough to withhold the rigors of life with kids.  Next, I love the “show & tell” flap; fold down when baby is sleeping (kept secure by velcro) or fold open if baby is awake. It’s also great for keeping a nosy big brother away from the sleeping baby (wink, wink). And finally, I love the prints. Seriously, so many to choose from! Plus, there’s something for every mama.

Boho Cheeks has hair bows & accessories, too. Check out their shop here and use code BOHOSHIP for free shipping (through October). Plus check out my mama & baby giveaway, featuring a Boho Cheeks carseat cover.

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Honest Co. – Diapers
Every season, Honest comes out with seasonal prints and this season is on point. I can’t get enough of the Fall Prints – beautiful colors and fun prints. I may or may not have ordered an entire bundle of the Poppy print. Sorry, baby girl.

Beautiful designs aside, I love Honest diapers. Mr. President had major diaper rash issues and we tried six brands before settling on Honest. I like the option of safe and trusted products delivered to my door.

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Billy Bibs – Poppy Bib
Baby Coco is a drooling like crazy right now but I hate covering up her super cute outfits with plain-old bibs. Billy Bibs are completely different than anything out in the market. They are pretty & decorative & fun. In going with the theme, my favorite is the Poppy bib (complete with pom-poms) but I love the Willow, too. Each bib is reversible, making it affordable and cost-effective for everyone (two-bibs-in-one!).

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Marc Jacobs – Eliz – A – Baby diaper bag
It took me forever to find a diaper bag I wanted but when I finally settled on Marc Jacobs, I knew it was meant to be. The Eliz-A-Baby diaper bag I picked was appropriately named “poppy pink”. I mean, could it get any more perfect?! I love this diaper bag. It’s big enough to carry everything I need for two babies without sacrificing my mom swag. Plus, I can throw it in the washer (but hang dry!) if anything spills in it (which you know it does). If you’re looking for a diaper bag, check out the Eliz-A-Baby.

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What are your favorite items for Fall?

 

Don’t forget to enter to win a Boho Cheeks carseat cover of your choice. Check out my Instagram contest // mama & baby giveaway to enter.

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unless someone cares

I lived on the beach for years until I moved to DC. It’s my favorite place in the world. There’s just something about sand and salt and the ocean. It’s so powerful yet so vulnerable too.

Let me explain.

We’re in the Outer Banks this week. I want to enjoy my time on the beach – but I can’t. There’s trash everywhere. I’ve picked up more trash in 5 days than I did in 10 years.  All of this trash, it’s a threat to the ocean but there’s nothing the ocean can do. And that depresses me.

Trash hurts wildlife as well as humans. We’re all to blame. Me and You. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference, starting NOW.

Unless someone like YOU cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – The Lorax

So I challenge you… To care. To recycle. To cut the plastic on a 6-pack before throwing it in the trash. To stand up and make a change for Mother Earth.

We need her to last a long time. And I want my babes to experience all of the beauty she has to offer.

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To learn more about Ocean Conservancy and to TAKE ACTION, visit http://www.oceanconservancy.org/

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my breastfeeding essentials

author’s note: My breastfeeding essentials review is just one in a series of reviews that ends with a huge mama & baby giveaway (launching early October). Stay tuned to learn more about my favorite things for mama’s and her babes.

{calling all breastfeeding mama’s}

Are you a breastfeeding mama? Are you always on the hunt for the best products for you & your babes?

I’m so excited to review – and share – two brands I recently discovered that are perfect for breastfeeding mamas.

Oat Mama– Lactation Granola Bars
These bars are to-die-for delicious. Hello, Chocolate Almond Coconut. 

Oat Mama Granola Bars are made by breastfeeding moms for breastfeeding moms. Kristy & Eliza know how tough breastfeeding can be – low supply, latch issues, stress, lack of sleep, going back to work, life demands – so they set out to create a delicious snack for nursing mamas. Oat Mama bars are jam-packed with wholesome superfoods to help you power up your energy, your mood, and your MILK. Every ingredient (think Brewer’s Yeast, Flax Seed, and Rolled Oats) has a job to do and works with you to boost supply.

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Lemon Chia
Nut & Berry
Chocolate Almond Coconut
Pumpkin Pecan (seasonal)

For those with allergies or diet limitations Nut & Berry and Lemon Chia bars DO NOT contain: dairy, egg, soy or wheat. Chocolate Almond Coconut is also dairy-free (but contains soy). All ingredients are gluten-free. 

My milk supply has been good (thank-you-Coco-for-eating-every-60-minutes), but I eat 1 bar/day to keep my supply up (and I’ve seen the results, it’s obvious when I’ve skipped a day!). It is recommended that you enjoy 1-2 bars/day for the bars to work their magic (the more, the milkier). Oat Mama bars are a great alternative to making lactation cookies or granola bars (trust me, I’ve made both and it’s to squeeze in the time with babies) – plus, with healthy and gluten-free ingredients, you can feel good about eating these. I can’t say enough good things about Oat Mama granola bars. Order your bars here.

Burp Necessity – The Original Burp Shawl
Burp Necessity is a burp cloth & nursing cover in one! The stay in place design covers both shoulders and back when burping your baby to protect your clothing from inevitable, messy spit-ups.

Mr. President rarely spit-up so I didn’t really need a burp cloth for him (occasionally for drool). Coco, on the other hand, is a pro at spit-up and times it just perfectly (usually after she gets a new outfit or right after I’ve taken my first shower in 2 days). Oh well.

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When I discovered the Burp Shawl, I couldn’t get one fast enough. It’s a great design and I love that it can be used as a nursing cover too. Actually, I don’t really like using a nursing cover so this is a great size & weight for the times that I feel like I should use one (Church, anyone?). Since it’s already in my diaper bag, it’s great for multi-purpose uses.

Homemade in the USA by a mom of 2, Burp Necessity has all the things a mom-on-the-go needs. There are so many beautiful designs and colors, you’re sure to see one you love. Order your Burp Shawl here.

*Burp Necessity was a winner of Moms Best Network “Best Hot Product Winner”

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Stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY featuring a $20 Credit to Oat Mama & a Burp Shawl of choice from Burp Necessity.

In the meantime, to learn more about Oat Mama, follow Kristy & Eliza at:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/oatmama
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oatmama
Twitter: https://twitter.com/oatmamas

And Kathy from Burp Necessity:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/burpnecessity
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/burpnecessity
Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/burpnecessity

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review: mama & little [teething jewelry]

author’s note: My Mama & Little review is just one in a series of reviews that ends with a huge mama & baby giveaway (launching early October). Stay tuned to learn more about my favorite things for mama’s and her babes.

Baby Girl recently discovered her hands, and that means everything goes straight to her mouth. Fingers, clothes, burp clothes, you name it. I wanted to find something for her to hold on to (to develop dexterity & strength) but still be safe to chew. After a lack-luster experience with another brand (with Mr. President), I began my search to find the perfect teething jewelry to suit both mama (me) and baby (Coco).IMG_7618 (1)

After scouring Instagram for my newest accessory, I found Mama & Little.

Mama & Little is jewelry for the hip mama and her little. The necklaces are to-die-for. Seriously, I don’t need fancy or expensive jewelry anymore, and I get tons of compliments. But best of all, my jewelry is safe for Baby Coco – and that trumps style any day.

I’m totally in love with their latest collection, inspired by the modern bohemian mama (which is often how I describe myself). I wanted to buy them all but finally picked the Zooey necklace – a free-spirited pendent design inspired by mala necklaces used in meditation. Om, baby. 

Coco loves her necklace, but more importantly Mama & Little products are:

  • Non-toxic
  • 100% food-grade silicone
  • BPA free
  • No Phthalate
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Does not harbor bacteria
  • Safety breakaway clasp

…So I can feel good about my baby chewing on my jewelry.

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Stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY featuring the Zooey necklace & Finley bracelet

In the meantime, to learn more about Mama & Little, follow Arlene at:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/mamaandlittle/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mamaandlittle
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mandljewelry/

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review: the ollie swaddle

There’s just something about a baby in a swaddle.  I don’t even know what exactly, but when I look at Baby Coco in a swaddle – snug as a bug in a rug – I can’t help but smile. She’s just so beautiful.

And it’s especially beautiful now that she sleeps through the night.  Sleep-deprived mama’s, can I get an AMEN?!

Mr. President was a baby Houdini in the swaddle. I tried at least 4 different brands and nothing worked. And by that time he was rolling and no longer needed a swaddle. He still doesn’t sleep through the night on a consistent basis.

Oh, but baby girl. She’s a dream sleeper at night. It might have something to do with a couple extra pounds and the fact that she eats every 90 minutes during the day, but I’m not going to take anything away from her. Coco sleeps through the night. And she started sleeping through the night when we started using The Ollie Swaddle.

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No joke, this swaddle is amazing. It’s soft, cozy, and easy to use. Plus you have the option of keep feet in or out (perfect for middle of the night diaper changes without waking baby).

The Ollie Swaddle was developed by Dr. Kiti Freier Randall, a Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Psychologist with extensive experience working with high-risk infant and youth populations. She created The Ollie Swaddle after fostering and falling in love with an infant named Oliver. “Oliver was on the verge of being labeled “failure to thrive.” Other foster parents struggled with keeping Oliver because he was difficult, struggling to eat and sleep. But I was in love, and so I began my journey to help Oliver thrive.”

So, The Ollie Swaddle was born.

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The technique of swaddling is a timeless practice used throughout the ages. Recent studies have confirmed the benefits which include:

  • Helping infants sleep longer and reducing spontaneous arousal
  • Helping to keep infants in the supine position
  • Soothing pain and reducing crying among irritable infants
  • Reducing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Preterm infants show improved neuromuscular development, less physiological distress, better motor organization, and more self-regulatory ability

Baby girl loves her swaddle – and so does Mama Bear.

Looking for an amazing swaddle? Use code willrun4margaritas for 15% off your purchase, through September 15, 2015.

To support and learn more about The Ollie World, follow:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/TheOllieWorld/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheOllieSwaddle
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheOllieWorld

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disclaimer: I received a swaddle but opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

 

gazpacho

FullSizeRenderGazpacho is one of my favorite summertime meals. I mean, who doesn’t love a fresh, veggie packed refreshment?!

With an abundance of homegrown vegetables, making gazpacho was a no-brainer.  I topped the soup with fresh basil, avocado, and a drizzle of basil olive oil, plus a side of grilled baguette, to make a healthy + easy meal.

Ingredients
4 tomatoes
2 red peppers, cored/seeded
1 cucumber, peeled
1/2 red onion
1/2 yellow onion
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (my favorite one)
salt & pepper
fresh basil, chiffonade
2 avocados
5 cups of water

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix (or comparable blender) and add 5 cups of water. Blend on high until vegetables are processed but still slightly textured. Pour in bowl and top with fresh avocado and basil chiffonade. Drizzle with basil olive oil.

Enjoy!

 

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things i love: kid edition

My life is all about babies right now: one full-of-energy little boy and one sweet baby girl (when she’s sleeping big brother says she looks “like an angel”). My life is crazy and so much fun, but 2 babes under 2, means that I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s best for them. There’s too much to count, but here’s what I’m {loving lately} – baby edition.

Hush Baby
I initially heard about Hush Baby when I won one in a giveaway. But there are reasons beyond “free” why I love it – and you will too. The HUSH Hat™ was designed to comfortably (and fashionably) protect your little one’s sensitive hearing, softening sounds that constantly wake sleeping babies  Designed with specialized sound-absorbing foam and ultra-soft materials, each HUSH Hat™ not only reduces noise, but is incredibly comfortable. Hush Hat helps Coco sleep better, especially with a wild & crazy older brother, and that’s really important when I need a few minutes.

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Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks
The perfect snack, especially on the go. Prices are a little high but I buy in bulk when they’re one sale (2 for $6) at Target. Mr. President loves his “pack of bunnies”.

Honest Fruit & Veggie Wash
We eat a lot of fruits & veggies at our house and even though I buy organic when I can, everything requires an extra scrubbing. I use Honest products but the Spray is one of my favorites. It’s easy to use and wipes away pesticides, pathogens, wax, dirt, germs, & more with a 100% natural, non-toxic formula that leaves fruits & vegetables truly clean.
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Alley +  Rae Apparel 
I had a chance to collaborate with Alley and Rae Apparel and love it! Everything is super soft and super cute! Plus, it didn’t wrinkle after I washed it, threw it in the clean clothes basket, and (shhh!) didn’t fold it for 3 days.

This Is My Kegstand Shirt Onesie
two words: milk drunk
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Wild Flower Onesie

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Young Wild & Free Tee
You know, because Mr. President is too wild & free to stand still for a picture.
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Website Link: www.alleyandrae.com
Facebook: facebook.com/alleyandrae
Instagram: instagram.com/alleyandrae
Twitter: twitter.com/alleyandrae

DISCOUNT at Alley & Rae: Use code WRFM15 to receive 15% off, through 9/15/15

What are your family favorites?

 

 

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