Mamatoga Meet Up at Northshire Saratoga 4/24

northshireplaydateI am so looking forward to the first Mamatoga Meet Up at Northshire Bookstore on Broadway in Saratoga Springs (April 24th at 10:30am). This first one will be an informal gathering, with the bookstore’s Story Time first and then a chance to hang out and chat afterward.

Each month I will be offering a daytime (ie kid friendly) meet up locally and a Mamatoga Supper Club event that will be a girls night out type event (toying with the idea of doing some date night events as well) that will be a limited seating, reservation only type event. Subscribers to the Mamatoga Meet Up newsletter (sign up to the right there if you haven’t already) will have the first dibs at reservations for the Mamatoga Supper Club events so if you don’t want to miss out be sure to get on that list!

I am really looking forward to meeting all of you. If you are a local business interested in hosting a Meet Up or a local restaurant that would love to have the Mamatoga Supper Club email me at jenny@mamatoga.com. xoxo

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Never Buy Lotion Again {DIY Lotion Bars}

coconutbars
I’ve been meaning to share this one for a while now as it sort of goes hand in hand with my DIY scrub right here, and so finally let me tell you that you will never buy lotion again after you make these coconut oil bars yourself. They are the BEST, and don’t contain any of those nasty chemicals, phthalates or parabens. In fact, they just contain three ingredients (or two if you want them unscented).

Ingredients:

1 part coconut oil
1 part beeswax pellets (you can play around with this amount if you want a thicker consistency, which leaves less lotion on the skin when used, also, the pellets melt easier)
a few drops of essential oil

Directions
Heat the coconut oil and beeswax pellets (find them on Amazon and some health food shops) together in a saucepan over low heat. Once the beeswax and coconut oil are melted add your essential oil drops. I like to use vanilla and a sweet orange together for a bit of a creamsicle type scent.

Pour the melted coconut oil and beeswax into a mold and let them sit until cool, you can also pop them into the fridge to speed up the process.

For a “lotion mold” you can use a silicon chocolate mold (find them locally at AC Moore), I prefer to use a silicone mold over a muffin tin because it is easier to get them out in one smooth piece, also you can make them into cute shapes like hearts or stars.

And that’s it! These leave your skin so super soft, and I love that they are all natural. If you’re confused about what a “lotion bar” is or how a “solid” lotion would work, let me explain a little. Leave them in the shower (I leave mine in a travel soap box) where the heat from the shower can melt it a little bit or leave it outside the shower to keep it more solid. The heat from your skin will melt the bar just enough to moisturize and you rub it directly on your skin to soften them up!

 

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Mamatoga Spring Issue & Mini City Guide!

The Spring Issue is here and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! Click the photo below to view the issue online, I hope you enjoy it! xoxo

Screenshot 2015-03-26 16.30.17

 

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Mamatoga’s Easter 2015 Roundup

easterEaster is SOON guys! I know, it sneaked up on me too, but it is the first weekend in April and there are a TON of great local Easter events and brunches going on. Here is the rundown of what is going on locally. Now hop to it! xoxo

  • There will be an Easter Bunny Breakfast on Saturday, March 28th from 9am to 12pm at the Ballston Spa Wood Road School Cafeteria, see the flyer below for details.

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egg hunts

  • The Clifton Park Center Mall is having an Egg-cellent on Saturday, March 28th from 11am to 1pm with balloon tying, a bounce house, an egg hunt, music and dancing, a bean bag toss, Easter crafts and more! Plus the Easter Bunny will be there for photos.
  • The First Ever ”Egg-Stravaganza” is taking place on Saturday, April 4th from 9:30-11:30am at High Rock Park, Saratoga Springs. Join Taylor’s Heroes and The City of Saratoga Springs for the first ever “Egg-Stravaganza” featuring special guest Mayor Joanne Yepsen and an appearance by The Easter Bunny! Bring your friends and family to High Rock Park to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt, family fun, and raffles. Suggested donations of $5 for children under 5 years old and $7 for ages 5+ that will benefit Taylor’s Heroes.
  • The Great Schuylerville Egg Hunt is on Saturday, April 4th starting at 11am at Schuylerville High School Turf Field, 14 Spring Street in Schuylerville. Admission is free. Come share in the fun. In case of rain, the hunt will be held in the High School Gym. There will be 3 egg hunts for 3 age categories:Birth to 3 year olds at 11:00am
    Ages 4-7 will be at 11:15 am
    Ages 8-12 will be at 11:30 am
    We will have over 10,000 eggs, face painting, a bouncehouse, and a visit from Puddles the Clown and the Easter Bunny. PLUS It’s all free.
  • Afrim’s Sports Annual Easter Egg Hunt will be on Saturday, April 4th from 10am to 3pm at Afrims Sports, 636 Albany Shaker Road in Albany. Cost is $10 a child and there will be 5 different hunting times. The event begins at 10am with the first egg hunt time at 10:30am, there will be a Goody bag for everyone who participates in the egg hunt PLUS you get to keep 2 of your favorite eggs.
    Face paint by Stellar Face and Body Art (upstairs from 10am-1pm), Easter themed arts & crafts project and Cool Cat Entertainment. Pre-register at any time by calling 518-438-3131.
  • Wilton Mall will be holding their Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 4th from 11am to 1pm in the Food Court with games and music provided by B95.5. The Easter Bunny will also be at his spring home located in the Food Court for photos and a free giveaway! This event is free and open to the public.

brunch

  • Saratoga’s Hall of Springs Easter Brunch Buffet is on Sunday, April 5th from 10am to 5pm. Cost is Adults-$49 Children 5 to 10-$23 Children Under 5-Free. Saratoga’s Hall of Springs will be hosting an Easter Brunch Buffet in their Ballroom by reservation only. The Brunch will have food and fun for both children and adults! Please call 583-3003 to make your reservation.
  • Easter Brunch and Dinner at Prime at Saratoga National Golf Club is on Sunday, cost is Adults-$65 Children 5 to 10-$25 Children Under 5-Free. Prime will be serving both a brunch (10am to 3:30pm) as well as a dinner (3:30 to 6pm) to accommodate everyone’s Easter plans. Call today to make a reservation 583-4653!
  • Easter Sunday at Longfellows is from 11am to 5pm at Longfellows Restaurant, 500 Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs. Cost is $36 Adults, $16 Children Ages 3-12. The Easter Menu includes appetizers, a carving station, entrees, a kid’s menu, and desserts! Please call today to make your reservations 587-0108.
  • Easter Brunch at the Brook Tavern in Saratoga Springs is on Sunday, April 5th from 11am to 3pm. Small plates, large plates, kids menu and dessert! Call 518-871-1473 for reservations.
  • Easter Sunday Brunch a la Carte at Circus Cafe in Saratoga Springs is on Sunday, April 5th from 11am to 5pm. Enjoy an Easter Sunday Brunch a la Carte menu, a Prix Fixe menu and the regular menu will be available all day. Call (518) 583-1106 for reservations.
  • Come enjoy a day of deliciousness at Maestro’s at the Van Dam on Sunday, April 5th from 12 to 8pm! The restaurant will be offering a wide variety of items on their Easter Menu. Call (518) 580-0312 now to make your reservations!
  • Easter at the Wishing Well will feature a variety of menu items to choose from, the Wishing Well guarantees they have something for everyone! Please call 518-584-7640 today to make your reservations.
  • Easter Sunday at Sperry’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs will be from 4 to 8pm and they will serving their normal menu items in addition to a featured $32 Prime Rib of Beef au Jus. Call (518) 584-9618 now to make your reservation!
  • Also on Sunday, paint EASTER BASKET at Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio from 2 to 4pm! After you are done with your Easter Egg Hunt, come paint your very own EASTER BASKET masterpiece with Paint and Sip! Click here to reserve your spot. Cost is $25.

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Westchester Family Road Trip

roadtripWe are all about the Family Road Trips, but driving with four kids in the car for very long? Not so much. That’s why I love finding little trips that are low on driving and high on fun and experiences. Quick little weekend trips are perfect for getting away without breaking the bank or spending half the time off crammed in a car together. Last time we went north, this time we went south.

This past weekend we all piled into the car and headed to Westchester, NY (Yonkers, specifically) where we were invited to take a little tour of some of the family fun they had to offer. Just down the Thruway and over the Tappan Zee Bridge (sort of a highlight for the kids) we arrived at the Hampton Inn Yonkers to a big, comfortable room with plenty of space (even for all 6 of us in one room). The kids each staked out and claimed a bed and in a flash everyone had changed into bathing suits and were waiting impatiently at the door to go down to the indoor pool.

IMG_1122A quick dip was all we had time for before we went on our tour, the first stop being Philipse Manor Hall in Yonkers, Westchester County’s oldest standing building. Built around 1682 by Dutch-born merchant and trader Frederick Philipse, it is currently owned and operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Our tour focused mainly on the architecture, design and decorating of the residence, and we saw some incredible fireplaces created with Delft tiles and a circa 1750 papier-mâché and plaster Rococo ceiling, one of two in-situ ceilings of its type in the United States. The elaborate ceiling is covered in designs and motifs relevant to Frederick Philipse III’s lifestyle with  lute players, bagpipers and singers, hunting dogs and game birds, and busts of Alexander Pope and Sir Isaac Newton. The tour was engaging enough (and brief enough) to keep the kids attention, and they actually loved finding the different elements in the ceiling, figuring out the designs of the Delft tiles and fitting the history into the timeline of the house itself.

IMG_1148IMG_1151IMG_1152IMG_1138Yonkers itself is having a re-birth of sorts. Just 25 minutes by train to midtown Manhattan it has a perfect location to become the “new Brooklyn”, with new shops and restaurants and an influx of artists, one highlight being the recent million-dollar sale of the old city jail to art collector Daniel Wolf and Maya Lin, the renowned artist and architect who is best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

One of the spots we saw on the tour was X2O Xaviars on the Hudson, Peter X Kelly’s latest addition to the Xaviars Restaurant Group. It is a gorgeous glass walled restaurant that sits on the water on the only turn of the century Victorian pier still in use on the Hudson River and boasts views of the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges, as well as sunsets over the Palisades.

Once the weather warms up we are planning a second trip back down to see the Science Barge, a prototype sustainable urban farm developed by NY Sun Works and acquired by Groundwork Hudson Valley in October, 2008 to be operated as an environmental education center. The Science Barge greenhouse floats on the Hudson River and grows an abundance of fresh produce including tomatoes, melons, greens, and lettuce with zero net carbon emissions, zero pesticides, and zero runoff. All of the energy needed to power the Barge is generated by solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels while the hydroponic greenhouse is irrigated solely by collected rainwater and purified river water, thus operating completely “off the grid.” It is the only fully functioning demonstration of renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York. It is now docked in downtown Yonkers just north of the Yonkers Pier.

indexX2O Xaviars on the Hudson on the left, the Science Barge on the right

For dinner we went to the Ridge Hill Mall, which was just minutes from the hotel (this is also where LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is located), and tried out Havana Central. With Whole Foods, H&M, an Apple Store, LL Bean, Lord & Taylor, it was hard not to shop real quick. Havana Central was buzzing, with tables full of families fresh from LEGOLAND and a unique energy made up of super friendly waitstaff and fab salsa music, I mean the place was hopping. We sat under a supersized portrait of Hemingway and the kids colored while we sipped sangria and munched on empanadas and plantains with guacamole. I LOVED the food at Havana Central, and next time we go back to LEGOLAND we are for sure making a trip back there.

IMG_1157IMG_1168Back to the hotel, it was the perfect jumping off point for the rest of our visit. The kids could expend their excess energy (because there is always excess energy, isn’t there?) in the pool and we could relax a little bit rather than pile back in the car and drive back.

Yonkers itself is a great jumping off point as well, it has a great location to be able to make popping into Manhattan part of your trip (without having to spend a fortune on a hotel in Manhattan), or exploring more attractions in Westchester like Rye Playland, any of the more 200+ properties on the National Register of Historic Places in Westchester, or the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture (definitely also on our list for next time).

The timing of our trip was perfect, we drove down on Saturday and checked in. Took the tour of Philipse Manor Hall and had dinner, some swimming and bedtime and then on Sunday it was all LEGOLAND. We popped into a few shops at Ridge Hill after LEGOLAND and then hit the road and were home on Sunday before dinner. Less than two days wound up feeling like a much longer break and since it wasn’t a ton of time in the car it was actually relaxing and dare I say even a bit rejuvenating to get out of town for the weekend (as rejuvenating as possible when traveling with four kids 8 and under).

If you’d like to make visiting Westchester part of your spring, click here to enter the Mamatoga LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Giveaway to win a family four pack of tickets to make your trip even MORE affordable! And if you win, I highly recommend having dinner (or lunch) afterward at Havana Central, get the empanadas, you can thank me later. xoxo

IMG_1199Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this visit to Westchester County as part of a blogger family weekend. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

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Mamatoga Review: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester & GIVEAWAY ***GIVEAWAY CLOSED***

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Jack didn’t get the “falling bricks” memo

The build up to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester was HUGE for my kids. I mean, they talked about it for weeks. WEEKS. Every day at least one of them would ask when we were going, “Is it tomorrow?! How many days?”. I started to get a little concerned that all this build up would lead to a little bit of a let down, because how could it possibly match up to the imaginations of these little kids?!

Well, to put it mildly, it totally did match up. Actually, I think it exceeded even their already super high expectations. Pretty much every aspect of visiting LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is designed to stimulate your child’s imagination, have them learn and create, run around like crazy (the way kids should), and just feel like they are in a special little world. The thing I thought about most when walking around was “WOW the attention to detail here is remarkable,” because everywhere you look there is something to catch your eye. We started out bright and early right when they opened (TIP #1: Get there when they open to maximize your visit, it gets crowded but not crazy, but getting there early gives you enough time to scope it all out first) and the first thing we saw was Lego Factory Tour where the kids learned how Legos are made.

Let me start here by saying the staff at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester was top notch. They all seemed super excited to be there, not like it was a drag (or that they were giving a spiel they had given 80 billion times already). They were engaged, happy, hands on and personable, and our tour guide was no exception. He told them all about how the bricks were made, they got to spin the wheels and push the buttons, find out what their “Lego weight” was on the special scale, and everyone got their own little LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester brick.

IMG_1374IMG_1375IMG_1376Next up we went on the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, Papa dutifully stayed behind with the baby and my Starbucks and I felt a little bad because the ride was actually as fun for me as it was for the kids. They were just a little excited (see photo below)…

IMG_1373They give you all laser guns and instruct you where to shoot during the ride to zap the trolls and skeletons and spiders hiding behind the corners, it was more funny than it was scary (Jack, our three year old wasn’t phased by the ride at all, and he tends to get scared of “scary” rides) and I have to admit I was a little into the zapping (maybe I had the highest score of the family, but who’s counting?).

IMG_1377After the ride it was on to MINILAND, where New York’s famous skyline comes to miniature life, made from nearly 1.5 million LEGO bricks, it has EVERYTHING. Moving  airships and trains, a subway, people in all the buildings, taxis, Times Square (if you look closely at the Times Square photo you’ll see me on the “billboard”), the Subway Series, Giants Stadium, even the Guggenheim! Maybe the coolest part was that every five minutes night would fall and the entire exhibit would light up in a million tiny lights, even the bridge. This is where the attention to detail really came into play. All over the exhibit there were buttons to push (you could actually “play” the Subway Series baseball game), you could turn disco ball lights on in one building, it was so interactive and engaging, we could have spent hours there (Jack kept on coming back to this exhibit, it was his favorite).

IMG_1378 IMG_1379 IMG_1380 IMG_1369Kids are totally free to touch and explore and check everything out. There is no one telling them to keep their hands off, even for the little ones. I was nervous that Jack would get all up in the exhibits and knock something over, but those little details where he was supposed to be touching and pushing and seeing kept him so involved.

After MINILAND you enter the biggest part, where there is LEGO® Fire Academy, a HUGE jungle gym type area where kids can climb around and check out a climbing wall, slides, huge soft Lego bricks to play with, and the best part? They don’t let your little one out unless you are there to get them at the entrance, so you don’t have to stress about them wandering around on their own. It is all enclosed so they can run around like maniacs while you chill for a minute on a bench nearby. Again, the staff here really shined, Jack would go in and out, and the girl manning the gate actually would remember his name and gave him a hug when he left, it was so sweet. (TIP #2: Be sure to have kids wear socks as you need them on to go into this part).

Inside this bigger area there are a bunch of attractions. The LEGO® Master Builder Academy is where kids can go and take a little “class” from a Master Builder where they walk the kids through building a model (we did a spaceship). Again, the Master Builder was ON POINT. This guy was BORN to be a Master Builder. You know that feeling when you meet someone doing what they love doing? That’s how I felt about the guy teaching this class. It was like he was loving being there, and it really rubbed off on the kids too because his enthusiasm was so genuine. The class has a video screen of his handiwork that they follow along, and for the first time ever Levy (6 years old) successfully built a model from scratch! At the end of the class you have the option to either buy the model or leave it, zero pressure to buy it though, which was nice. (TIP #3 Take the extra time to do one of these classes, it was such a fun experience for them.)

IMG_1383IMG_1384IMG_1385It wasn’t all big kid stuff though, even Talley got in on the action in DUPLO® Village (did you know DUPLO®  bricks got their name from being double the size of LEGO® bricks?) The animal themed DUPLO Village is designed for parents and children to enjoy together, best suited for the smaller set, it has a little play area, a small slide, and lots of fun little details for them to scope out.

IMG_1381Next to DUPLO® Village was Levy’s favorite part (and sort of my favorite too), a life sized Heartlake City! I honestly like sort of swooned when I saw it, imagine being able to jump into a life sized LEGO® set, it was incredible (yes we felt like were were in the Lego Movie and it was awesome). Kids can build their own microphone and perform on the karaoke stage, I mean every detail was special. The little lamp lit up, the couch, the windows, everything! If I was a little girl I would have LOVED that part, it was so cool.

IMG_1270Now, because this post is getting on the long side (there seriously was so much I want to include), I’m going to focus just on two more attractions, BUT they do also have a movie theater with 4D shows every 15 minutes AND a really great Merlin’s Apprentice Ride where kids between 35″ tall and 48″ tall can still ride (just that they must ride with an adult). The Earthquake Tables were also a big hit with our kids, you build the tallest tower you can with as many LEGO® bricks as possible then turn up the Earthquake power on your table and stand back to see if your tower will survive! I loved to see the kids planning out their tower, really thinking about it and getting creative.

The same could be said about the LEGO® Racers: Build & Test where kids build cars and trucks and then race them against each other. Finn (8 years old) really loved this part, he went back time and time again to tweak his creations and emerged victorious more than once. He really got into experimenting with different elements to see which would make his car the fastest. Now, a bunch of you asked if it got crowded on the weekend (we were there on a Sunday) and while it was busy, it was no busier than any other kiddo centric place on a weekend, but the remarkable thing was that there seemed to be zero lines for anything. Mainly because kids just jump in and create and play wherever. The ONLY line was for the ride because it had a limited amount of kids at a time, but other than that (not a long wait either) it was really easy to just circulate and find things to do at every turn. There are big bins of Lego bricks everywhere for kids to dip into and start building and it never seemed like there was a shortage of building opportunities for anyone. (TIP #4: Weekdays are less busy, but the weekend wasn’t so busy that I wouldn’t go on a weekend day again).

IMG_1387We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of their newest special exhibit (they change every few months or so to keep it fresh), City Builder. In a separate room it’s another
LEGO® town full of cool details only this time the kids get to build ON to this one! There are buckets of Lego bricks and the super nice Master Builder Veronica Watson (the FIRST female Master Builder! So cool!) was there to help kids make their creations possible. There was also a Heartlake City element to the City Builder exhibit, and it was all full of little details to explore, like finding lost puppies and spotting the robbers. The kids could literally build onto anything they wanted, they could add onto the buildings or create a whole new building, whatever they were inspired to create. Also, Veronica had THE coolest name tag which she changes seasonally (this one was a duck pond). OMG.

IMG_1391 IMG_1390 IMG_1389 IMG_1388IMG_1315Another really cool element was that kids could trade minifigs with any of the staff members. All they have to do is bring their own minifigs with them and then scope out the name tags of each staff member, and offer up a trade! Finn snagged a really cool guy he hadn’t seen before, he must have gone up to every single staff member to see which ones they had (another instance of super friendly staff here). TIP #5: (Be sure to bring at least one minifig to trade, this was such a fun part and the kids get to go home with something new).

IMG_1392Now, I usually have a love/hate relationship with the gift shop. After a full day of fun you don’t want to haggle with your kids on spending more money, BUT, I will say there were a few parts to this gift shop that I really liked. First, there is a part where you can create your own minifigs from a bunch of parts. Levy decided to do this as her “treat” and she created the coolest Lego chicks, totally unique to her that we wouldn’t have been able to buy otherwise. Finn nabbed a set he really wanted, but I also got a few things (Lego minifig ice trays, SO CUTE). Speaking of grown up stuff though, I have to give a shout out to Veronica for her Fashion Week Lego creation, and that Lego Guggenheim was SO AWESOME!

IMG_1364 IMG_1370I really felt like this was an experience that we all enjoyed together, there were so many different elements to check out and explore and something for all of the kids age ranges. Some of the more nuts and bolts details of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester: the cafeteria part is clean and bright and a nice little break (healthy options abounded), super clean bathrooms, they offer birthday parties too, and it was in an awesome mall with some great restaurant options as well.

This was only but one part of our Westchester NY weekend, and I want you to tune in later on this week for Part 2 for even more info on where to stay, where to eat, and other great things to check out in Westchester (get a sneak peek on my Instagram here).

Click here to visit their website to get even more info. I can’t tell you enough how much we all enjoyed this. Thank you SO much to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester for having us, we can’t wait to go back for another visit!

***This Giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified via email. Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester for giving our lucky winner free passes!***

Good luck! xoxo

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this visit to Westchester County and these tickets to give away as part of a blogger family weekend. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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What is {really} in My Purse

piechartOnce in a while, when I am in a particularly gung ho mood, I will attempt to “clean out” my current bag. This usually happens after I have found myself at a checkout fishing around in the murky depths of a purse looking for a debit card only to come up with receipts, crushed cheddar bunnies, lollipop wrappers, toy keys, broken crayon fragments, and more receipts.

So, I’ll flip it over and examine it’s contents, usually coming up with a long lost Lego minifig (“Hey, my Batman! That’s where it was!” will be the response from my 8 year old, holding me responsible for “losing it” in the first place), some diapers that the baby no longer fits in, single baby socks, underwear for my potty trained but not accident-less toddler, lip balms I forgot I bought, roughly a thousand hair ties, and hopefully, my wallet.

I will then proceed to smooth out and remove the cheddar bunny dust from all of the contents, put the toys away back in their rightful place (i.e. not my bag), I’ll put a brand spanking new pack of baby wipes in there along with the right sized diapers (thank you very much), maybe just one emergency toy, and will dutifully recycle all of the receipts.

For about two days (three, tops) I will feel calm, cool, and collected as I smugly do NOT need to fish around my purse blindly at the checkout because my wallet is RIGHT HERE and NOT covered in a mysterious stickiness that I don’t want to think about. I will feel like I have reclaimed at least a small part of my sanity and might actually put that somewhat splurge-y lip balm from Sephora into my purse believing that it will stay there, with the cap on it, for a while.

Day four, however, the cheddar bunnnies will creep in and quickly set up camp. The receipts will seemingly multiply overnight (especially after I stop by CVS for gummy vitamins), and I will once again feel the sting of embarrassment as a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine undies and a breast pad (stuck to said undies) fall out of my purse while I am paying for gas.

As I retrieve the clean pair of tiny undies though (fingers crossed they are clean) I will remind myself that this is part of the beauty of motherhood. And one day when they are in college I will look into my purse and find it empty for lack of lollipop wrappers and Mater toys. At least then it will be easier to find my phone to text them a reminder to call their mother once in a while.

purse

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Date Night (with your kids)

indexLife with four kids is busy. When people ask me what it’s like, my usual response is that I am always with at least one of my kids at any point in the day (yes I work from home and yes that is still true) for the most part. We love doing things as a family though, and we love being together, but lately I have decided to also try to focus more on the kids individually, since it doesn’t always happen as much as it should in our everyday life. I read a quote once from  Dr. Anthony P. Witham, who said “Children spell love T-I-M-E”, and that has always stuck with me. Time is a hot commodity in my house, but I want to make a concerted effort to carve out time dedicated to each one of the children, individually.

A kids date gives me the time (and relative quiet) to really talk to them one on one, listen to them, find out what is on their minds, hear the little things that might get overlooked in our sometimes boisterous family dinner chaos.

It doesn’t have to be something extravagant or expensive, maybe just going out to get a bagel or a cupcake, going to the library or the park, just something that is one on one time where they are the only focus.

  • dinner and a movie
  • running (or walking) a 5k together
  • trying a cooking class (check out the local offerings from Healthy Living Market and Cafe here)

Another great idea I read and fell in love with is the idea of “Phantom Time”, where you can still let your children know that you care even if you don’t have a ton of spare time to spend with them at the moment. It can be as simple as writing a lunchbox note, or leaving a special note in their book for them to discover.

Incorporating some quality time into every day stuff works too. Children, especially younger ones, love to help. Make grocery shopping “fun time” with you by making it into a scavenger hunt. More than once I have asked one of the kids to tag along to Target with me in order to squeeze in a little chatting time. My three year old loves to help out whenever I have to go to the Post Office, and so a regular humdrum errand turns into an opportunity for us to do something together.

Do you worry that you aren’t making enough time? I don’t want to heap on even more anxiety with parenting by worrying about this, but the time does go by fast, and I love this as an idea to slow things down a bit. Sometimes maybe it means saying no to other things in order to say yes to this. Do you have ideas on how to make more quality time? Share them in the comments section below… xoxo

 

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My Latest Etsy Obsessions

index9 times out of 10 when someone asks me where I got something my answer is Etsy. Shopping on Etsy has moved past a leisure activity and into a full blown obsession. I LOVE finding new shops on Etsy and I love it when I can find exactly what I am looking for (a golf themed toddler pillowcase? No problem).

Clockwise from top left:

When Jack turned 3 I wanted to find some special cookie cutters for the occasion. I found this three and the hedgehog one also pictured for $2.50 each.

Speaking of Jack, he is OBSESSED with golf. Like, it’s all he talks about. And after a rather unfortunate bout with the stomach flu his favorite pillowcase was toast, so I went on Etsy to see what I could find and lo and behold there was a personalized GOLF pillowcase, and it even came in toddler size! I wound up going with the full size anyway because it was too cute and he loves it.

When Alice Corey did our newborn shoot for Baby Talley she brought along the cutest baby headband bows known to man. I practically begged her to tell me where she got them and then proceeded to buy about forty of them.

(center) These personalized hair bows for girls are the sweetest gift (I also have every color for Levy and Talley) and the woman that makes them is also super sweet.

You guys know how much I love monogramming, these seersucker pajama pants make me feel slightly more pulled together when I’m standing in front of the coffee maker in the morning willing it to work faster.

Another great gift, these monogrammed bibs are too cute and such great quality. The one I have for the baby has been through the wash about a hundred times since and it has held up so well. I keep this one in the baby bag so I can pop it on her when we are out.

etsy

Clockwise from top left:

This baby headwrap is the sweetest in a beautiful vibrant red, it makes me smile every time I put it on Tal.

Lilly Pulitzer boppy? YES PLEASE.

Okay it’s possible I might have a slight overbuying problem when it comes to baby headwraps. This one from Positively Oakes is also a big favorite.

Super duper affordable wall art, print these out and pop into the frame of your choice, t voilà!

I got these wall decals for the girls and they came out so great and were very easy to put up (I went with a pink green combo and a blue purple combo for ours).

 

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Mom Style Files: FIT MOM 2015

fitmomNew year, new Mom Style Files. The first upgrade I did was for the Prep Mom and this one is a re-do of the Sporty Mom, meet THE FIT MOM.

Clockwise from top left:

Don’t give the Fit Mom the side-eye when she talks about vegetti. She is merely waxing poetic on the newest health craze, swapping out the carb heavy spaghetti for a healthier veggie “pasta” (ed. note: not actually pasta)

Skinny vanilla lattes are so 2009, we are all drinking matcha tea now. Get with the program.

Barre SO hard

Fit mom fast food: 9 Miles East Pizza (get the kale caesar and a kombucha soda for you)

Green juice is a MUST. Bonus points for it being from a local woman-run business like Clarity Juice. Find it here.

On the Fit Mom wishlist? Tory Burch fitbit bracelet.

A water bottle so pretty you’ll always want it with you (plus this is the one Gisele totes to and from yoga)

The biggest Fit Mom status symbol? The jogging stroller. This time of year you can bundle those kids up and take a brisk jog down Avenue of the Pines, Fit Mom multitasking at it’s absolute finest.

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Now you aren’t going to grow a Scooby Doo plant on your windowsill, this time you’re going to eat it. SUPERFOODS, people!

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