bootcamp for your backside

This is not what I was planning on posting today, but when I received the email with the 30% off for 3 days, I decided it was only fair to share with you all (I have no affiliation with this company at all – I just love the products and wanted to pass  along a promotion)…so I moved this entry up on the post list.

Now I definitely need to start off by saying that I’m not making any claims to the fact that air brushed perfection can be reached by using any of the Mama Mio products, but smarter people than me in the Beauty & Fashion world have done their fair share of research for you.  What I will say is that if there is a product out there that says it will lift my boobs, shrink my backside, or trim my tummy (GOOD LUCK!) then I’m game to try it!

A fabulous friend’s mom gave me a Congratulation Kit from Mama Mio when we first found out we were pregnant with Addie.  It included lots of fun goodies – Tummy Rub Oil, Body Cream, and Shower Cream.  My first thought was. “How sweet!”.  Then when I opened the products up and took a sniff,  my second thought was “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!”, then I used the products the next morning and my third thought was, “OMG I’ve been to a spa, and now have the softest skin ever, and I wasn’t even awake to remember going!!”  Seriously, everything smelled SOOOO delicious (in a non overwhelming, I think I’m the most amazing person in the world at this very moment way), my skin was unbelievably soft….my husband kept touching my arms in awe, “Is that really your arm, my wonderful, but scaleydryskinfromhades wife???”

I was hooked and quickly Googled them to find their site and what other products they had.

For the Expectant mom, these are the products I love and have used for 3 years: Tummy Rub Butter, Tummy Rub Oil, Boob Tube, OMega Super-Rich Body Cream, OMega Shower Cream (with a loofah or something to “scrub” your skin).  Not to say that I use everyday, that would be insane to think I could apply 24 x 7!!  But I have them for when I want them and LOVE to use them!

Beauty MM Tummy Rub Beauty MM Tummy Rub Oil Beauty MM Boob Tube

Beauty MM Body cream Beauty MM Shower Cream

As a non pregnant mom (wait, have I been that person in the past 3 years???  OK for a total of 5 months over the entire 3 year period, which is definitely not long enough to enjoy cocktails, let alone long enough to give you an honest write up.  However, the many beauty editors can…) here are some of the products that are receiving rave reviews, Bootcamp for Butts (WHO CAN HELP but try something called BOOTCAMP FOR BUTTS??  It’s a little pricey for me, but I could be tempted with the 30% – 3 day promo and it includes all these products… Shrink to Fit, Tummy Toner, and Omega Body Buff). Then you have to check out Get Waisted that was named in Bazaar’s Best of the Best 2009.  (Great video explaining why it worked for them, BTW on the Get Waisted page.)

Beauty MM Bootcamp for ButtsBeauty MM Get Waisted

So all this to say that I think it’s worth checking out.  Great holiday gifts, great birthday gifts, great baby shower gift, great “just because”gift for yourself.  The 30% off promotion ends midnight, Thursday –  November 5th.  Enter code “MAGIC” during checkout at Mama Mio. I’m off to place my order now!!

5 favorite baby essentials

Here’s hoping everyone had a Halloween blast this weekend!  Here’s a couple photos of our Halloween night.  I stopped into Holiday Salon and saw Misha to get some devil eyes and fake lashes on Saturday – going into my 3rd straight pregnant Halloween I just didn’t have the creative energy for a costume.  But let me tell you how great it was to have my eyes done!  So fun to step out of mom world for a sec (kids were napping, dad was at home), have makeup put on at 1:00 that lasted through the evening, and have everything stay in place the whole night – no touch ups needed! Even my husband was impressed…I’m quickly rethinking upcoming Holiday parties, important birthdays etc…

Halloween Mom and Hay

Hayden wore Addie’s chicken costume from last year – and OOOOHHH those squishy cheeks just killed me!  If only you could see when she flapped her wings!!

Hayden Halloween Chick

Addie wanted nothing to do with her spider costume – I’ve heard a few moms were in the midst of the costume battle with their “under 2’s”…this little 19 mos old wanted no part if it, so we SUPER quick, came up with a SUPER Girl from her closet.  Off she went with her “bestest” neighbor friend hand in hand looking for treats…melt my heart in cuteness!!

Halloween Addie Candles

Halloween Addie candy

So enough about our Halloween night and onto Monday’s post…..

I thought I might try to showcase some of the favorites for those that are short on time and can’t visit the Favorites Gallery.

Here are a few things from the Baby Gallery that we CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT!!

High Chair

Best high chair! I’m not big on a ton of “baby things” around the house…I know, I’m a snob. But if I can find things that can fit in with the decor AND that my kids like, I’m all in! Phil & Ted’s MeToo! Travel Highchair is perfect. Hayden has been using it since she was about 4 months, and Addie at 19 mos still uses it. I actually just ordered a second one. It clamps down like a vice without hurting the table or counter surface, and easily unclamps to wash up! Just throw it in the sink and wash down, what could be easier!?? We also travel quite a bit and because it is basically flat when not in use, it packs perfectly in your suitcase to use just about anywhere. LOVE IT!

Amazon Tranquil Moments Sound Machine

We could not live without this sound machine. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s ohhh so true!! We have an old Sharper Image one in Addie’s room that you can no longer buy…so when Hayden was born I SCOURED the stores and online to find something comparable….enter Tranquil Moments White Noise Sound Machine. LOVE this machine! We have wood floors in our house, so sound travels and echos; and besides our house, as you’ll read throughout this site, we travel a ton. I never wanted our kids to need a “perfect” place to take a nap or go to bed at night, however, we also need them to sleep. We have found that sound machines keep them from being woken up by each other, from noisy hotel neighbors, from us walking in and out of their rooms, from UPS deliveries, etc. In my mind I hope it’s teaching them to NEED noise to sleep. (And I think it’s working since we can run a lawn mower outside their windows at nap time! Goodness knows, we have A LOT of noise around here!)

Dr Browns Mixer

I did not have the blessing of being able to nurse our girls. Long story that I wont go into, but needless to say we have made (and still do make) A LOT of formula. When Addie was first born, I used the ready made Enfamil, so easy! Until Hubby decided the upkeep was not going to work on the budget (spoil sport), enter quickly, powdered formula, and OOOOHHH the lumps and mess. Prayers were answered however when I found the Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher, it made the formula making task a breeze. Have you had a baby on any kind of sensitive formula??? (We do with Hayden) It’s even worse than regular powder, not sure we would have survived these formula years without this mixer. Because formula is good for 24 hours from the time you make it, we just make up a nice big pitcher each morning and we are good to go for the day. Easy to make, easy to wash, easy to use. As a side note, the pitcher is BPA free, and that just puts the icing on the cake!

Baby - Diaper Bag

I love this tote and clutch! Halsea has the most fun patterns and super helpful products! You get to feel stylish AND be functional! The Large Tote has been a life saver this summer. It has traveled with us countless times to the pool, beach and to both sets of grandparents homes. There are a ton of very helpful pockets surrounding the interior of the bag, and a nice BIG open space in the center for anything your heart desires. LOVE IT! And the Clutch has been it’s own little lifesaver. You know those times when you just want to run into the store sans baby, er, I mean sans diaper bag. You grab the babe, pop the second babe in the cart, grab your wallet, keys and phone. Now juggle all 5 things while you just pick up 1 gallon of milk. Not fun! The clutch took the place of my wallet and can hold the keys and phone, along with lollipops, checkbook , etc. So now I have this darling clutch in my diaper bag that I can grab at a moments notice (including dinner with the hubby or my girlfriends) and not worry about carrying 1 more extra thing! Loving you Halsea for making life so much simpler and chic!

Baby Hyland

Last but not least, Hyland Teething Tabs are a gift from Heaven!  REALLY not sure we would have lived through teething without them.  They are homeopathic so you can feel better about giving them to your kids.  And unlike Tylenol and Motrin, they work in an INSTANT!  So good to know baby is out of pain and YOU can maintain sanity!  These always sell out at CVS and I have not seen at Rite Aid.  There is a big display at Mothers Market and I make sure I have quite a few around the house (like a bottle in EVERY ROOM and DIAPER BAG…).  Now that I’ve found on Amazon with free shuper saver shipping, I’m stocking up online.

Hope these favorites help and find a place in your home!  Would love to hear about any “can’t live withouts” that your family has.  I’ll tell you one product you wont find in the Baby Gallery is a diaper pail…I have never been overly pleased with any of them.  We have the Diaper Dekor in both nurseries, but loved it a whole lot more with the old bags…so if you know a FABULOUS one, please let me know!

Hope you all have a great week and enjoy your extra hour.   See you tomorrow!

my right hand

There are some amazing moms out there.  Mom’s that never once get a break in their day.

As moms, our children are the center of our universe and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  But I also can’t imagine not having a break every now and then just to breathe, be free to schedule an appointment, maybe get a mani/pedi, or just take a shower AND dry my hair.  When I was laid off in July, I kid you not, the first thought was not “HOW are we going to pay our mortgage??” (which it should have been according to my hubby).  Instead it was “OMG, what will happen to our nanny!!?!?!”

Now I know there is a lot of heated discussion on being a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) vs. a working outside the home mom.  I’m not going to get into all the differing opinions here, other than to say BOTH sides need to be commended and deserve an award!  There are pros and cons to both, and neither are easy (as I’ve done both now), and there are very valid reasons for being both types of moms. In the end, what matters is the quality time we do spend with our kids.  Make that time count.

We were very fortunate to find an amazing girl to help us out with Addie last year (did I say last year – dear Lord I still can’t believe they are 11 months apart…)  I STRESSED about going back to work, which at the time was very critical that I did.  I took about 4 weeks off for maternity leave, but then started working from home while we were searching for help.  As I’ve mentioned on the “About Me” page, I was working on a local resort project that was not stopping just because I was having a baby, and I had been on it for 4 years at that point. I wasn’t leaving just when the fun was starting! My boss was unbelievably understanding. I think because of the mutual work ethic we both shared, she knew I would get the job done, and also that I NEEDED to find the right person to be there for our baby girl.

Enter Aly.

Aly

When Aly read a line in my first post, “I’m a full time mom, trying my very best to keep it all in balance…..be a great mom, fabulous wife, have a career, personal chef to our family, errand girl, housekeeper, overall CEO, COO, and Executive Assistant of the household.” She walked into work a few days later – “Um, what am I, chopped liver???”  LOL!!  She was right.  I am all of those things, but she is some of them with me, which is a big reason why our house functions!

Aly was a Godsend from the start.  She loves our kids like her own (for 9 hours a day – then I know she’s READY to give them back!) She has an unbelievable patience and child like exuberance with them.  When she first started working for us, I was able to stop by quite often throughout the day/week, and I always entered a happy, playful home!  It was so much easier to be at the office knowing that Addie was in such good hands.  Though I can’t really say that it was easy.  The first time Aly told me she had taken Addie to a music class, I burst into tears!  But I had to look beyond that I had not taken Addie myself, and see that Aly had thought of something really fun for Addie to do.  I loved that she thought like me.

Additionally having Aly at the house made Addie and now Hayden not so “Mommy dependant”.  To this day, I can leave to run errands without having to do the “fadeout”.  We made a point from a very early age to wave “bye-bye” when we left, so Addie really doesn’t react to our being gone as she knows we always come back, (and Hayden follows her sister’s example).

As a working outside the home mom, I LOVED having Aly at home with Addie.  Addie’s awake times were always filled with good times for her, and her nap times were filled with great times for me.  The kitchen was always straightened up, laundry that I had washed was folded and put away, the grocery lists I had left were always complete, birthday gifts wrapped, and if I was REALLY lucky I even got a few “surprises” like a reorganized closet with perfectly folded T-shirts, HEAVEN!  What this all meant was that I could come home and just be a mom to Addie.  And I made that time COUNT.  Because I wasn’t doing all of the house things, I had the energy to give to Addie in the evenings and weekends.

So now that I’m a SAHM, who works in the house.  (I’m new to writing this blog, but still do consultant work).  Aly comes 3 days a week now, instead of 5.  Of those 3 days, I spend 1 full day doing EVERYTHING that has to happen for this blog (and trust me, it’s more than I ever knew!  The learning curve is incredible! I continue to work past midnight each night…) – and Addie and Hayden “visit” me all day long, 1 day is spent running errands, appointments, cooking, house projects, gardening (with only 1, if either of the 2 kids, in tow), and 1 day I do consulting work outside the house.  The other 2 days are fully dedicated, ALL KID days.  It is not easy for us to manage carrying the extra load of a nanny (and we have weighed other options since the budget is so much tighter without my income), but I truly feel that when you’ve found someone that can love your kids as close to as much as you do, and can read your mind and be your right hand, you do what you can to make it all work.

Our girls LOVE Aly, and so do we :-)  My suggestion to you if you do not have help, is to find someone even for a few hours a week, or find a play group one day a week, talk to grandparents and give them “their morning”, trade an hour back and forth with a neighbor or friend.  Knowing that you have a few hours of time for yourself each week helps IMMEASURABLY in running a home.  I assure you, I work (both job and home) NON STOP.  I am lucky to get 4-5 hours of sleep a night, I rarely sit (we have no kitchen chairs, remember?), my “to do” list seems never ending, the girls never stop, and at best I get to wash my hair 3 times a week (not sure how many times I get to dry it), and I had lunch out with my mom today for the first time in MONTHS (I’m sure I’ve just described most of the people reading this).  If I did not have help, I don’t know how it would all happen.  Again I commend all the moms that are doing this 24 x 7!  But for me I know that without my “Right Arm”, I could not be the mom that I am to our family and to our girls.  Having help means that both girls get attention, which at 19 months and 8 months, they both need all day, that all the jobs get done, and that my sanity is kept!

Amen!
P.S. Be sure to check out the Favorites Gallery – Baby, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Home all have new images!  And be sure to stop by on Friday as next week’s menu and shopping list, along with a November “To Do” list will be posted!  (And if you don’t want the headache of always checking back in, subscribe to daily emails at the top of this page!)  Thanks!!

xanax anyone?

IMG_8031

We travel, oh yes we do! This past year has been CRAZY. We are not jet setters by any stretch of the imagination (but imagine the fun jet setting could be! I’m sure everyone else is envisioning glamorous and exotic locations, while I’m just dreaming of a private plane with no security lines or small public bathrooms to change diapers. Oh the joy!!!)

OK, back to real life…

We’ve had quite a few family events and obligations that we needed to attend in the past 8 months…enter A LOT of airplanes. I think we are somewhere around 17 or 18 planes now…

IMG_8031

We travel, oh yes we do!  This past year has been CRAZY.  We are not jet setters by any stretch of the imagination (but imagine the fun jet setting could be!  I’m sure everyone else is envisioning glamorous and exotic locations, while I’m just dreaming of a private plane with no security lines or small public bathrooms to change diapers.  Oh the joy!!!)

OK, back to real life…

We’ve had quite a few family events and obligations that we needed to attend in the past 8 months…enter A LOT of airplanes.  I think we are somewhere around 17 or 18 planes now since last March.  Ridiculous!  And I really wouldn’t call us travel experts, but we have had a lot of friends offer tips, and of course, now that we have done this so many times, feel like we have a handle on it.

Travel 2.JPG Travel 7.JPG
Travel 4.JPG Traevel 8
Travel 3.JPG Travel 5.JPG
Travel 6.JPG Travel 1.JPG

I know I look like the ultimate Sherpa in the photo above, but it honestly was the easiest way to get through an airport, remain hands free, and get the Littles where they needed to be.  Have you tried going through security lines with diaper bags, babies, strollers, car seats, getting liquids out, etc, etc, etc???  Even with pre-boarding, you have to drop your gear off at the gate, get the kids out of the strollers and somehow get them carried on with your diaper bag in tow….OOOHHHH as much as I’ve done this, I’m tired just writing about it!  I would rather just perma carry them.

First off you need to carry your child through security with you (but if they are in a carrier you are wearing, you don’t need to take them out!), and while you’re holding the babe, you need to get everything onto the security belt (shoes included – meaning baby shoes too….) HURRY to get it all in those little trays while people are tapping their feet behind you (even when you’re in a Family Security line, you KNOW someone is behind you thinking, “Could they just get it together, please!”), and god forbid you topple over while you’re balancing on your one shoeless foot doing it all.  Sounds fun, huh?!

As I looked through some of our travel photos, I realized that there really are SOOO many ways to get the job done, and it really depends on what stage your kids are at, how long the flights are, if you’re changing planes, needing to transfer kids into rental cars, shuttles, subways, taxis, if it’s night or day, during nap time or play time, if anyone is sick, if your shipping the kids by UPS Ground or 2-Day, (oops, getting ahead of myself)…each stage is just so different even with us.  No 2 trips have been exactly the same.  But to make things easier on yourself, even if you feel you are the most disorganized person in the world (and TRUST ME, I feel like this sometimes!) grab a few minutes somewhere and think through your trip.  If you make a plan, your travel day will be as close to a cake walk as it can be…..OK, a little prayer is not going to hurt here either, but planning is your friend!!

At the stage above, it was much easier for Sherpa mom to carry both Littles (Hayden was 7 weeks, Addie 14 months):

A. That balanced the weight for me, and I was able to keep them quiet (is that even possible?) or if Heaven was watching, asleep.

B. Left dad free to do much more of the heavy lifting, faster, which is key.

When the kids were this young we:

1. Baby Jogger City Mini
[singlepic id=32 w=320 h=150 float=none]
Checked the stroller.  It does not count as an extra bag.  You can either check it at the ticket counter, or at the gate.  We like to travel with the Baby Jogger City Mini.  Folds like a dream!  TSA doesn’t know what to do with you, they can’t believe how easy it is!  See the write up in the Travel Favorites Gallery.

2. GoGo Babyz Travelmate:
[singlepic id=46 w=320 h=150 float=none]
a
GoGo Babyz Travelmate to roll Addie’s Car Seat, a Britax Roundabout, through the airport and checked Hayden’s Car Seat, a Graco SnugRide, at the ticket counter.  You do not need to buy a ticket for a “Lap Baby” under 2 years of age (“Lap Baby”???  You mean BAG OF CATS baby!) that will be sitting on your lap (Hold on, I can’t stop laughing!!!!).  We buy a ticket for Addie if the flight is over an hour and a half.  Small price to pay to save our marriage and our sanity. See the write up in the Travel Favorites Gallery on the travelmate, not our marriage.

3. Ergo Baby Carrier:
[singlepic id=45 w=320 h=150 float=none]
I use an Original Ergo Baby Carrier for Addie.  This is the backpack contraption in the Sherpa photo.  GREAT piece of baby gear to own and is in the Travel Favorites Gallery.  I can use it for either child in a back or forward carrying position, it washes well, and the weight sits on my hips not my back or shoulders.  It also has a pocket, which is nice to stow keys, money, phone, binky, etc. It takes a little practice to get used to putting them in and out of the back carrying position by yourself, but after a few times, you’ll be the next circus act!

4. BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier:
Amazon Baby Bjorn
Hayden is in the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier.  Normally I am not a huge Bjorn fan.  With my height I find it’s just a pain in the A–, I mean in my back.  But when we travel, and when Hayden was this little, it made life a dream.  I put the Bjorn on first as I really never had to put Hay down.  And then the Ergo went over top.  This way Mike could take Addie and run her around the airports and I never had to remove the Bjorn.  I will say, if you are going to own one, and I know a lot of moms swear by them, the Synergy is great!  It’s the best model for back support, and with the mesh material it keeps you and the babe a little cooler.

5.  Apple iPod touch:
Amazon iPod Touch
We did not need for the first trips, but the last few have all been short hour to an hour and a half.  Enter my sister’s favorite gadget, the Apple iPod touch.  We actually use Mike’s old phone with the sim card removed, but the Apple iPod touch does the same thing.  You can load it with your Little’s favorite TV shows, (Little Bear rocks our world), kids games, their photos (like family member pictures), and music.  Your Little will be entertained for HOURS!  I keep this in my diaper bag too and pull it out for “emergencies” at stores, restaurants, etc.  Easy to pack, charge and use.  My sister actually realized my nephew was learning the alphabet from some of the kids games he was playing.  There are a lot of great age appropriate kids apps available. GREAT babysitter!

6.  Benadryl Children’s Perfect Measure:
Amazon Benadryl Perfec Measure
This tip I know we have all heard, but promise me you’ll speak with your own doctor first.  I spoke with Addie’s pediatrician before taking a trip for Christmas last year.  I wanted to be sure I was covered in case we needed to use it for any reason.  He was very clear on the appropriate dosage for her weight and age.  Now that being said, I never travel without it.  Children’s Benadryl Perfect Measure, Pre-Filled Spoons are awesome!  I can throw just what I need in the bag and throw them away as we use them.  Each single use “spoon” comes individually wrapped and allows me to “squeeze” just the amount I need for each girl.  These are also super helpful to carry in your diaper bag if your kids have allergies, etc.  So much easier than spoons or infant dosage syringes.  (Now if only they had an adult Xanax in a perfect measure…one can dream.)

7. Target $1 toys or just cheap toys:
This is another great tip from my international traveling sister.  Head to Target and buy tons of $1 toys. They can be anything, as long as the Littles have not seen them before – they love them!  Wrap them up like little presents (cellophane and a bow work great – it makes noise!) and pull them out along the way.  The Littles are almost more excited about the wrapping than the toy.  This is key to eating up travel time,  make every toy last.  I’ve had great luck with magnetic doodle pads, play cell phones, musical keys, slinkies, etc.

8. Pack-n-Play Sheet:
Amazon PNP Sheet
I never take a Pack-n-Play.  I’m sure it’s easy, I’ve just never had to and there is enough luggage as it is.  I either call ahead to the hotel and ask for 2 cribs/Pack-n-Plays, or call the rental home and see if they have them available.   Or if your staying with a friend, ask if they can borrow one for you. But I do take my own Pack’N Play Sheets.  I have no problem using the sheets provided, but rental homes often don’t have crib sheets, and hotels often use a folded flat sheet.  My kids are such movers and shakers that they get all wrapped up in the sheet. So I just bought 2 basic Pack-n-Play sheets that I take with us now.

9.  Diapers.com:
Diapers.com box diapers.com label
My FAVORITE thing to do is order up supplies with Diapers.com. With checked bag charges so high now and strict weight limits, not having to pack things is important. Shipping is free with any order over $49.  You’re CLEARLY there if you need diapers and formula.  And they ship anywhere you want them to! The prices are a of couple dollars more sometimes than the stores, but they often have sales and specials, and you can mail in manufacture’s coupons.  Not having to take an extra suitcase (and pay the fee) and having everything waiting for you is PRICELESS.  I always order diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.  Then depending on where we are headed, I might also order sunscreen, shampoo, lotion, & snacks.  Try them out.  First time customers get $10 of their first order, enter the code “MYFAV10” to receive the discount!

10. Take a backpack. I usually pack my diaper bag in my suitcase, and use a backpack for the airport.  Mike carries it on his back, again leaving us hands free. Key.

11.  You do not need car seats in public transportation (taxis, buses, subways, etc).  Just something to note, do with it what you will.  We travel to San Francisco often and do not take car seats, nor purchase Addie a plane ticket because of the short flight.  Bart and Taxis for us. However, most rental car agencies have car seats you can reserve and if you are a AAA member, they will drop a car seat off for you at your arrival city.

12.  I book most of our tickets online with the airlines.  Southwest Airlines, I set my calendar reminder for 24 hours before the flight to check in for an “A” boarding pass. In Southwest’s case, you do not pre-board until after the “A’s”, if you have an “A” you board with them.  I’ve been told you can add your infant to your ticket when you check-in online, but I have never seen it.  We stop at the ticket counter and add them.  Don’t forget proof of their age. We travel with passports.  All other airlines that we have flown, you can add your lap baby to your ticket either when you book or check in online.

However, I very rarely check in online as we need to stop and check bags anyway, so it doesn’t help me.  More times than not, if I have checked in online, I lose the CAREFULLY SELECTED SEATS I’VE CHOSEN!  You don’t want to see me ticked off, trust me on this!  When I book tickets, I try to be as close to the front of the plane as possible as the “sitting and waiting” is the hardest on the Littles.  We want to get ON and OFF quickly.  I also book a window and aisle if they are both traveling as lap babies to give us some extra space, or a window, aisle, aisle if we buy Addie a ticket (car seats have to sit at the window).  When we check in at the ticket counter, we ask if our middle seat is occupied or if the flight is full, or can they place us any better.  Early on when I was ignorant to it and checked in online, when it noted we had lap babies, our seats would get moved to window, middle, aisle  and be at the BACK of the plane…..are you kidding me?????

If you actually made it to the end of this EXCEPTIONALLY long post, I’m thrilled!  You are probably a select few!  Thank you for your patience!  I hope this post helps.  I would love to hear any travel advice or tips that you have as well, and I’m sure other readers would too.  Or if you would like any specific travel advice. I’m happy to offer suggestions.  Please share or ask below!

Thanks for “checking in”!  Be sure to SUBSCRIBE above if you would like to receive the daily emails in your inbox!

Wonderwoman, I am not!

But it’s nice when people think so – kind of makes you feel like you’re doing something right!  I am so very thankful for all the amazing feedback from yesterday!  Awesome emails and calls and comments…it made my whole day that the Labor of Love it took to put it all together was actually worth it.  And now I can’t wait to start filling that Favorites Gallery!

However, it’s probably important for you all to know that I’m human.

I had a voice mail from a friend yesterday who was dying that I was now writing a blog with everything else going on in my life, plus 2 babies, plus being pregnant, plus, plus, plus while she was trying to juggle 1 baby and get him fed and changed!  Then she proceeded to end the voice mail SURE that I was not answering the phone because I was whipping up a homemade wonder for breakfast for our kids – I LAUGHED out right at the phone.

Let me give you a snippet of the past few days…my sister got married in San Francisco this past week (AWESOME wedding!), while we were there Addie ended up with Pneumonia, and Hayden and I both had horrible head colds.  We dealt with fevers and barf, while also trying to enjoy the weekend and keeping the kids happy.  Flew back late Sunday night and then spent Monday and Tuesday in the Doctor’s office and trying to finish up the blog (while kids wanted nothing to do with anything except sitting on moms lap while they felt horrible).  This in turn meant that I now needed to work late into Tuesday night with my tireless web designer until 3 AM Wednesday morning.  Both girls were up throughout the time period feeling awful.  I went to bed at 3:00, only to suffer through my own coughing for an hour and finally moving to the sofa at 4:00 so my husband could sleep….and then Hayden woke up at 5:00.   I deliriously walked around the house this morning with the baby on my hip, DESPERATE for a latte.  I almost broke down for one, but the effort to drive was too much.  When Addie woke up, I was secretly thrilled that she still had no appetite (I know, I’m horrible) because it meant all she wanted was a banana – so no I was not whipping up a yummy breakfast (but it sure sounded good!!).

I am human and am just like all the other family CEOs.

Hopefully telling you this only helps you relate to the fact I am just like you and desperate to find and share simpler ways to do things.

Now I need to enter something uplifting into this delirious post or you are all going to run!!  How much fun is it to receive a “Happy”!?  This is the name I like to use for any  fun gift you give or receive…and it can make your whole day!  I have a fabulous friend that lives on the east coast that somehow always knows just when to make my day!  She sent a happy out that was delivered to my door step Monday morning

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All throughout the day Tuesday, I just kept looking at this sweet gift and it kept me going.  Addison and Hayden got their own little cups – Addie QUICKLY proclaimed, “MINE!”.  An hysterical book, I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper (I would never as he is my right arm in life AND does the dishes at night! – but funny read!), and cute address book proclaiming me Wonder Woman, which is propped next to the computer as a reminder when I’m not so sure.

But the BEST part were the Felix Doolittle goodies!!!!  Return Address Stickers for the girls and Play Date cards!  So cute and so thoughtful!!!  My sweet friend knows that I love Felix Doolittle, he is a wonderful artist with a sweet, sweet eye.  Please do check out his illustrations. I’ll be adding some of my favorite items to the Favorites Gallery soon.

All this to say that friends are wonderful, and I am human, and am SO, SO, SO very thankful for amazing friends that know just when I need a lift, and that support my new adventures!  Thank you everyone!   I promise to return to tips and tricks on Friday, but I had to get a big thanks out today!!  And I’m hoping to get the Trader Joe’s and Costco albums filled up for you all this weekend – stay tuned!!

Happy Thursday everyone!

our newest addition!

Welcome!  I am so excited, kind of feel like it’s the first day of school (in a good way).  Seeing friends, starting something new, and fresh beginnings…

Let me introduce our family, My amazing husband Mike, our darling daughters, Addie and Hayden (11 months apart – makes them not always seem darling…but we love them regardless!), and me, Shanna.

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And then the new addition, this website, My Favorite Everything.

On to why I’m here.  I’m a mess.  Probably a lot like anyone stopping by this blog.  Not necessarily a bad mess, just somehow always feeling like I’m a little behind the 8 ball, even when to the world, I’m probably really doing a great job.

In the past few weeks, on a normal day there were 5 kitchen chairs pulled up to all sides of our kitchen counters and our 19 mos old was climbing them faster than I could pull them back to the table.  Up she would go like a speedy monkey, 2 swift movements and she would be in the upper cabinets in the blink of an eye….seriously, she will either be in the circus or be an amazing rock climber!!  So now I live in a world of no chairs.  My husband took them all to the garage and we eat standing.  And our 8 month old is often tucked under my arm as I make mad dashes to the computer to quickly try to add one more image to the favorites gallery on this site, or answer one quick email before Addie realizes I’ve opened the office door and leaps off the kitchen counter, sprinting to the office to get on the “puter”.

Fun.  What happened to my life??

Kids happened, and an office job stopped happening.  And now I’m a full time mom, trying my very best to keep it all in balance…..be a great mom, fabulous wife, have a career, personal chef to our family, errand girl, housekeeper, overall CEO, COO, and Executive Assistant of the  household.

I’ve been lucky to have many friends in life, all be it, I don’t see them very often these days (thank goodness for texting and email), but I have them none the less.  And when we do get a 5 second chance to catch up, it’s normally “OMG, how do you do it!” , “How do you keep up with it all?”, “HOW many planes have you been on with the girls?!!”.  And in the same beat,  “Do you have an easy recipe I can make for a party I’m having this weekend for 8?”, and “I need to get my Holiday cards done early this year – where do you get yours?”.  They also ask if they can rent out my husband for their next child as we know he can get the job done….and to that, our answer is yes!  An interesting extra income for us…let’s chat about it!

Many, many people encouraged me to do this website, primarily because I do this everyday anyway.  I’m the girl in the store that walks up and says “I know you don’t know me, but that brownie mix in your hand is horrible to get the lumps out of, you might want to try “x” – its Heaven in your mouth, especially if you add a Hershey’s Symphony Bar”.  Or when you’re analyzing what stroller to buy, “I’ve got them all, do you want my 2 cents?”  And most often you do.

I’m certainly not perfect, and I really don’t know best, and I REALLY am not a fabulous cook (that title is reserved for my mom and dad – both rock the kitchen) I’ve just learned to fake it well over the years.  But I AM organized (or used to be pre-kids).  So I thought it might be fun to start a blog giving tips and on ways to make life a little easier.  This site is not designed to be the end all be all, it’s just favorites that you may or may not find helpful, but it will always have my honest opinion.

What you’ll find:

1. Daily emails on tips, services, recipes, and products that help me considerably in my life.

2. A weekly menu with recipes and  shopping list.  (Side note on the shopping list, I tend to keep a lot of staples in our house which makes my list smaller, but the list will always have everything you need for that week’s menu – edit as you wish).

3. To Do list for the month with tickler items that I keep on my brain, that may jog your memory too.

4. A Favorites Gallery that I will add to as frequently as possible with products and services that I really couldn’t run this family without.

I welcome  your comments, support and critique, and I hope this site will prove a benefit to you!  Please share with friends and check back often.  If I could, I would pour you a glass of wine – we all definitely deserve it!

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p.s. Read on to hear about my FAVORITE children’s photographer…

i didn’t do it!

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We laughed out right when we got this photo!  This is our older daughter, Addie at EVERY moment!  At the time, Hayden was 4 weeks and Addie was a year.  Every day since has been EXACTLY the same!

Everyone that knows me, knows that I have an addiction to photos, but seriously, as a mom that thinks her kids are beyond adorable, how could I not?!?!!

(Moms, you KNOW what I’m talking about!)

So you can understand why I LOVE having Sandy Heit at our home, photographing our family.

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Sandy has a wonderful eye and will help you choose beautiful ways to display your photos

My favorites are the stretched canvases and the modern art coffee table books.  So fun to have the same beautiful book lined up year after year as your family grows (and grows and grows in our case…)

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One of my favorite ways to share our photos with friends and family is with notecards.  Sandy helped me make thank you cards for Hayden’s welcome to the world gifts, and for Addie’s first birthday.  They made writing the notes soooooo much more fun!

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And just when I thought I couldn’t love Sandy’s work enough, she throws out some fabulous promotions.

1. She is offering Holiday photo mini sessions at your choice of 1 of 3 locations (beautiful spots!)
(and a good kick in the pants to get this off your list as the deadline is October 31st!):

Huntington Beach Central Park

Huntington Beach Pier

Naguchi Gardens, Costa Mesa

2. Also, stop by and see her at Pomme Baby’s 3rd Annual Halloween Party, Thursday, October 29th from 10:00 – 2:00. Sandy will be there for photo keepsakes. “Addie Chick” and I met friends last year for a fun afternoon…

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For additional information on any of the above, check out Sandy’s blog.  (You can also see, loads more of her awesome work!)

Have a great rest of the week, and thanks for visiting!  Check back tomorrow for more favorites!