October 26, 2012

Giggle Junction I Spy Bag: Review & Giveaway!!

This giveaway is currently closed. The winner is Allison Dossett! Allison, I will email you with details!

While planning our Disney trip, I had major anxiety about out flight. Now, I am a pro Business traveler. Pre-babies I was jet setting all over the world 90% of the time.

I can do first class, adult beverage in hand, relaxing, solo travel.

I traveled with Kate a good bit before she was diagnosed so I was also comfortable with traveling with a non-mobile baby. But the thought of traveling with two kids - a very active toddler and a baby that is rather sickly - had me downing anxiety meds and wishing all tickets purchased with a lapchild came with bottomless beverages.  I was determined to have activities on the plane for Kate. I ordered her a backpack (thanks SheShe!) and kept telling Kate that her backpack would be filled with prizes for our flight to see Mickey.

As I was browsing the internet for ideas, I came across Giggle Junction - a precious Etsy shop that makes I Spy Bags for kids. The owner, Michele, hand makes these bags in so many cute designs! We opted for the Princess Castle for Kate because she is obsess with princess and it fit perfectly with our trip to the land of magical Princesses!

These I Spy Bags are filled with objects for your child to search for and identify. Essentially, it is a much more interactive version of the I Spy books we were all raised on! Unlike a book, the I Spy Bag helps develop fine motor skills as your child sorts through the "filler" beads to find an object. They also act a type of flash card which helps your child learn new objections/ words while playing!

Kate was fascinated with her I Spy Bag when we pulled it out on the plane! She and Alex played with it for nearly 15 minutes which is HUGE for my two year old that never sits still. I wish I had pictures of Kate and her bag on the plane but I was busy attempting to get Will to sleep and couldn't find a third arm to snag a picture!

We pulled her I Spy Bag back out while riding the Magical Express to our resort and again, it was a HUGE hit.

I now keep Kate's I Spy Bag in the diaper bag! It is a great distraction when we are waiting at doctor's appointments, stuck in traffic, at the grocery store, or anywhere else where I need to contain the beast keep Kate occupied!  I love that Kate's vocabulary has expanded as she learns all of the objects contained within her bag and I really feel like searching and moving all of the beads/ objects around has really helped developed her fine motor skills!

I'm excited that Michele has offered to give one of my readers their very own personalized I Spy Bag! You will be able to select your "theme" and Michele will add your child's name to the bag as well! I know y'all will love this product as much as we have!

This is my first time using Rafflecopter so please let me know if something isn't working properly!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


October 23, 2012

Catching up

I guess I technically "fell off" the 31 day bandwagon! Oops! I will say, while I am behind SEVERAL days of blogging for this challenge, I have only missed TWO days of pulling out my big camera to capture memories. This is HUGE for me! So I guess I can say the challenge has infiltrated my life - I just haven't been able to fulfill the blogging aspect (which is pretty much the point but I'm trying to justify my lack of documenting here).

We have been busy over here.

Will was sick again last week which had us at the pediatrician multiple times. Poor buddy just can't seem to have more than a handful of days where he is well before getting taken down by something else. Thankfully he is starting to feel a bit better and actually slept Sunday night! I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing 11 straight hours of Will asleep in his crib was.

Seriously. Amazing.

Kate is cracking me up while simultaneously making me want to rip my hair out these days! Last week she laid down on her belly, spit on the floor, and said "Yook momma! I a baby! I pit up like bubba!" Explaining that bubba cannot control spitting up but she can control (and is not allow to) spitting on the floor is a hard concept for a 2 year old to grasp.

Today at the park Kate walked over to a tower thing (great explanation, right?) and starting saying "Punzel house!" over and over. I was confused for a few minutes and then realized that the tower did kind of resemble the tall tower/ house Rapunzel lives in. Kate then started calling for Punzel to drop her "hur" so Kate could go see her. The minds of toddlers amaze me! So imaginative and innocent!

We celebrated Colt's birthday this weekend which meant Kate attended her first post transplant birthday party! She was SO excited about it and ran around the house saying "I cited! TayTay cited! Colty bir-day party! We jump! Yay! Mon momma! Yet's go!" Needless to say, she had a blast at the bounce house with her precious friend!

We carved a pumpkin. A quickly realized that we are not talented enough to do said activity. I have pictures. Just wait. Y'all will laugh so hard when you see our pitiful jack-o-lantern!

I just finished the first book of the Mind Jack Trilogy (Open Minds is book one) and I LOVED it! I can't wait to start book two during nap time today!

I'm hoping to catch up on 31 day pictures, Disney pictures, and regular blogging this week! I also have a fun review/ giveaway coming up so stay tuned!


October 17, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 17

So I missed yesterday. I pulled my camera out, took one burry picture, and then had to deal with life. I'm upset that I missed a day.

But? Some days you just have to hold a fussy baby while playing princess castle with your toddler.

And on those days? You can't really pull our your DSLR and take pictures.

I made up for it today though - I took 164 pictures! Oh my word!

We spent most of the day at Colt's house and let me tell you! Kate and Colt have such a blast together! Colt got a trampoline for his birthday (it's tomorrow 10/18) and Kate and Colt had a so much fun!

Kate was just giddy to be jumping!

I was shocked that both of my kids were in decent moods seeing as last night was the absolute worst night we have had since venturing into the world of two kids. I was literally up all night long with one of the kids. I didn't go to bed until 5:15am and only slept for like two hours.

But, we had a great time (and Natalie is a true friend who welcomed me while I had wet hair, minimal makeup, and was basically still in my pajamas).

When we got home both kids were on nap veto so I decided to take a few pictures of them. And, shockingly, I got several precious shots!

Love these babies so  very much!

This picture makes it clear that Kate got my Irish skin while Will got Alex's Native America complextion! Crazy that he is so much more olive toned that Kate is!


October 16, 2012

Baby Led Weaning

While we were at Disney (I promise a recap is coming soon - hopefully this week), I really didn't give Will much baby food. It just wasn't convenient. We were at the parks during his normal "meal" time and it was just so much easier to substitute a bottle for baby food. When we got back to Houston, Will wanted nothing to do with his purees. He just wouldn't take them at all.

I didn't push the issue for about a week but, today, I decided that I was going to pack up the purees and attempt baby lead weaning.

You might wonder if I did any type of research on this decision.

And the answer is a big fat  NO. So unlike me!

But, I had some foods that worked nicely with the BLW approach at home so I cooked some carrots and sweet potatoes and let Will chow down!

He was a HUGE fan and ate way more than I thought he would. I even cut up some avocado and gave him a piece of the chicken I baked because he was fussing for more food!

But, here's the thing. I did ZERO research on BLW. So, if you have done/ are doing BLW with your child(ren) chime in please! Let me know what you did - books you read, things you fed, your go to foods!

I am clueless and need all the help I can get with this one! 

October 15, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 15

Sometimes you just have to let your brother play with your princess castle...

Because your mom made you a super cool, girls only fort and you and Minnie Mouse had to get your color on!


October 14, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 14

One thing Alex and I have tried very hard to continue since adding Will to our family is one on one time with Kate! While we haven't had any momma/ daddy/ Kate dates yet, we both have individual one on one time with her regularly.

This morning Alex and Kate went to the park to burn off some energy. She had a blast! This afternoon Kate and I loaded up and headed to our new Trader Joe's. We had a great time and even took a detour to the Pet Store to see the dogs/ cats at the adoption event going on. However, I would highly suggest you never venture out to a TJs on a Sunday right after it has opened.

There was a 25 minute wait to check out.

We definitely busted into some snacks while waiting so Kate would stay occupied!

A few boxes of pumpkin bread mix found their way into our buggy and Kate was so excited about it that we made a batch as soon as we got home! She loves cooking with me so much!

The results were so very yummy!

One thing I am noticing, and really loving, about this challenge, is that I am constantly thinking about documenting these simple memories. A random trip to the zoo. Baking muffins with Kate. Will learning to crawl.

I'm certain I would have pictures of these things but they'd be on my phone. If you know me, you know that I lose my phone approximately 38745 times a day. And never back it up. So the chance of me losing those memories is very high.

Now, I've got these memories on my computer, external hard drive, and blog. I will always have memories of these special, everyday moments.

I am also really enjoying reading other 31 day challenges. This challenge is really helping me look within and other bloggers are really "speaking" to me and inspiring me in certain areas of my life.

I haven't felt the blog world feel so genuine and real in a long time! And I am loving the blogging vibe this month!


October 13, 2012

October 12, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 12

I'm making progress.

Both kids sitting next to each other.

Neither are screaming.

I'm calling this success for now. I'll working looking at the camera and not bribing Kate with sugary fruit snacks later.

And happy {real} half birthday to my sweet Will! You know, since I blogged about him turning 6 months nearly a week ago. Thank your motherhood for making me lose track of the date!


October 11, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 11

Today we got some amazing news about Kate.

About a month ago, she received a trial vaccination to see how her body would respond. Kate was on immune suppressants for months after her transplant. The chemotherapy she received, along with the medication, left her without an immune system for quite some time. Standard protocol is to "challenge" a transplant recipient's immune system one year post BMT.  It is common for patients to not "mount a response" to vaccinations for up to two years post transplant.

Kate's nurse practitioner called today to let me know that Kate responded to the vaccination! This means Kate's immune system has recovered and is back! She was officially released back to our pediatrician who will administer the rest of Kate's vaccinations. (BMTs leave patients completely unvaccinated. Post transplant patients are re-vaccinated on a much different schedule but Kate will be caught up within 2-3 years).

She doesn't have an appointment at Texas Children's for THREE months.


This is the longest she has gone in her entire life without making a trip to TCH.

I simply cannot believe we are here. That she is healed. And healthy. And seeing a regular pediatrician.

From a squishy newborn with clueless parents (who never would have guessed what the next two years would hold), to a beautiful, thriving two year old that is the best big sister to her miracle baby brother.

Today, watching these two play blocks meant so much more than it did yesterday.

Today, I am extra thankful for where we are. And how far my sweet girl has come.

Today, the memories I captured mean more than I realized they would when I pulled out my camera and started clicking away.


October 10, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 10

I think this should be re-titled "Capturing Red Neck Memories".


Some days, your toddler wakes up from a nap and refuses to wear pants.

While wearing a too big Dumbo tee that she adores.

And then throws a huge fit to swing.

And you thank the Lord that you have a swing in your backyard.

So you let her swing.

With no pants on.

And a muffler in the background.

Redneck life.

She had so much fun.

In that moment?

The total redneck moment in the middle of downtown Houston?

I fell in love with my redneck hubby all over again.

Capturing these memories is doing so much more than filling my hard drive with pictures.

So thankful.

So blessed.


October 9, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 9

Kate took a longer than normal nap today (she had a slightly traumatic blood draw this morning and I think that, on top of Disney exhaustion, led to the longer sleep) which gave me some one on one time with this sweet boy! He decided to use this time to work on his crawling skills.

When Kate woke up she asked for a "treat" and who am I to deny her a treat after giving 6 vials of blood this morning? So Cinderella fruit snacks it was! She cracked up laughing when she went to pull one out and found a "silly nack" that was three fruit snacks attached. She laughed while shoving them in her mouth all at once!

After her snack, Kate decided it was time to give bubbas some kisses!

And I attempted to get a picture of my kids sitting together. Clearly this isn't a memory I was able to capture.

One thing I really hope to work on this month, while capturing these memories, is my ability to photograph my kids together. I need to work on bribing teaching Kate to sit still for a few seconds and I also need to figure out how to master my aperture and focus so both kids are crisp and in my field of focus! Hopefully consistently using my camera will help me make some improvements!

October 8, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 8

I am only technically on my first day of intentionally capturing memories (I have captured memories almost every day of the month so far but I can thank vacation for that - not a shift in my thinking) and I am already finding myself pulling out my camera at times I would never have thought to even have it with me.

We had beautiful weather today - highs in the mid 60s and a nice breeze! I was exhausted but decided to take Kate to the park in hopes of her burning off some energy and taking an afternoon nap (she fell asleep on the couch at 9am this morning - sweet thing is exhausted but I knew I needed a break this afternoon too).

I packed my camera with the intentions of taking pictures of Kate playing at the park. However, when we pulled up to the park, Kate beamed with excitement and I just had to capture her sweet innocence and excitement at that exact moment.

I honestly have no clue how my camera settings were just right for this picture. I keep my camera set in manual and the last pictures I took were in full sun at Magic Kingdom (meaning my ISO was super low and my shutter speed and aperture were set pretty high). But, I saw how excited Kate was, picked up my camera, captured this genuine smile, and hardly hard to edit it at all. It's as if the Lord was blessing my desires to be better about capturing memories! I just adore this sweet smile and that sweet girl!

I wish I could say our visit to the park was as perfect as the first picture I took but, in all honesty it was not! Kate is struggling with listening and following direction which meant we left the park after about 20 minutes due to disobedience but we did have fun for a few minutes! And you better believe I caught those good moments on camera!

I guess I also need to be better about capturing those not so perfect memories!


31 Days of Capturing Memories

While I was on vacation, I stepped away from most forms of social media to enjoy quality family time. The exception being selfishly sharing pictures from Disney on IG, twitter, and our FB page. 

However, before I left, I saw so many of my blogging friends linking up with the Nester for her 31 Day Challenge. I really wanted to link up but wasn't feeling inspired and didn't want the "pressure" of daily blogging while on vacation.

Last night I was still feeling the tug to join in. It's too late to officially link up with The Nester but I am taking on this challenge!

Multiple times a month I gripe about how I don't pull out my "big" camera enough and how I document our lives via my iPhone. While I'm glad I do have pictures - I want to make an effort to capture our memories in a higher quality than my iPhone allows.  Even if it is just with our point and shoot, I want real pictures on a daily basis! Being at Disney, and capturing fun memories, really made me long to start carrying an real camera with me at all times so I don't miss anything.

So, this month, I will be blogging daily about capturing memories. I might just post a picture with a few words about that moment or I might post some helpful tips I've learned about taking pictures of my kids - nothing fancy (I don't know anything fancy) - just tips from one mom to another mom on how to successfully document life!

I may have two posts some days - one for the 31 day challenge  and another of "normal" blog content so expect to see my much more this month! I'll also be playing catch up for days 1-7. I'm probably going to back date my posts so be sure to look through my archives to see what memories I captured last week!

And I have to give Tiffany a big shout out for my 31 day button! I emailed her last night and had this beauty this morning! She knows me and my style so well that she hit the nail on the head with her first draft to me!

Also, if you are participating in this challenge as well, leave a comment and let me know! I marked my entire reader as read since I got so far behind last week so I am way out of the loop!

October 7, 2012

Happy 6 Months!

Edit: So yeah. Will turns 6 months on Friday. Apparently Disney had me all out of sorts and I thought yesterday was the 12th. Oops!

Sweet Bubbas-

I cannot believe it has been SIX months since I first saw your precious face. I am certain I will always have vivid memories of that day! There is just something special about the mother/ son bond and I will always cherish the instant connection I had when Dr. Hare lifted you over that blue curtain and I caught my first glimpse of you! 

You complete my motherhood "experience".

You balance out our family.

You make us whole.

I love how laid back you are - you literally only fuss if you are hungry, need a fresh diaper, or want your momma! I secretly love that you need me to truly relax and calm down. I might gripe about it at 2am but deep down, I love that you are the epitome of a momma's boy!

Your smile is simply infectious! I cannot even count the number of people that commented on how beautiful your dimples and smile were while we were at Disney. I'm certain that you could cure world peace if the UN would allow you to smile at the world!

This month you have learned how to blow raspberries. You love to show off this new skill while eating which covers me in peas/sweet potatoes/pears/apples/etc. I honestly don't mind being covered in baby food because whenever you show off your new talent, your precious dimples pop out so much! I just adore those sweet cheeks and those two dimples!

You are also days away from crawling. Your cousins were hoping that the rocking on all fours would turn into crawling this past week so they could witness a big milestone while we were at Disney!

Sweet boy, you've taught me so much in six short months. You have softened my heart. You have made me a better mother to you and your sister. You have allowed me to truly understand the depths of that mother/ son bond. You have made me a better person!

I am so thankful that the Lord chose me to be your mom. You are one special boy and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you!

I love you and will always cherish our special bond!



October 6, 2012

Capturing Memories: Day 6

Clearly I'm playing catch-up as I edit pictures from our trip!

I obviously didn't take this picture but, I did do test shots, get all of my settings correct, and then hand my camera over to a stranger!
Alex, Kate (2 yrs), Lindsey, Will (5.5m), Miles (3.5 yrs), Graham (6 yrs), Lauren, and Jeff

I literally want to cry tears of joy that I have a picture of my sister and her family with my family. We have waited YEARS for this moment. The moment when we both overcame our struggles to get pregnant. Both had precious babies to love and call our own. Both could celebrate the fact that Kate was healthy enough to make a trip to visit her cousins.

This picture is just so meaningful for so many reasons! I will always cherish the memories Kate made with her cousin during this special trip to Disney World!

Side note: we were able to be "testers" for the new Enchanted Tales with Belle interactive character meet and greet that is set to open in December. This picture was taken at this attraction and it is AMAZING!
Blogging tips