Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Our Long Weekend: Brunch + Parades + S'mores

Hi everyone! Hope you enjoyed your long weekend.  Ours was filled with fun activities and Olivia was exhausted from all the fun! On Saturday, I made a big brunch for us because Rob had to work all weekend so I love to spend some family time when we can. Also, any excuse for brunch is a good one.  We enjoyed chocolate croissants, scrambled eggs, maple bacon, berries and fresh grapefruit - Livvy's favorite! We also snuck in lots of naps this weekend...

On Sunday, we went to a BBQ in New Jersey at my dad's side of the family and she had a blast playing corn hole with my brother, also known as Uncle DoDo. 

On Monday, we went to our town's Memorial Day parade in the morning.  Last year, Olivia was terrified so I assumed she'd be over it as she's older now... I was wrong.  The poor thing started screaming as soon as she saw the firemen marching down the road.  We watched the entire parade from a safe distance, with the occasional "move back, Mommy" ;) 

Later that night, we had a BBQ at my sister's house and the girls had a great time running around and enjoyed s'mores and strawberry shortcake.  

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend as well! If you follow along on instagram: @thebirdsnestblog you can see more pictures as well as my favorite iced coffee recipe that is now in full swing as the temperatures are rising! XO 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Our Weekend [Flowers + A 'Rodie]

This weekend we planted our vegetable garden and a few planters for the front steps and Olivia had a blast helping.  I'm hoping she doesn't inherit my black thumb...or lack of watering skills ;) We went to our local nursery and picked out lots of vegetable plants, including basil, parsley, tomatoes, kale, red leaf lettuce, cucumbers, red and orange bell peppers, dill and brussel sprouts.  Last year our garden was seriously ginormous (any Elf fans here?!) and I'm hoping for the same thing this year.  Isn't it so great eating fresh from your own garden?  We also bought a lavender plant (my favorite) and flowers for two planters.  I followed the rule of "tall, sprawl, and flower", which I may or may not have made up? Hahah...it sounds good and worked nicely ;) I used the Pinterest trick of adding diaper beads to the potting soil so I'll keep you updated with how that works.

Some ice cream was well deserved after all that hard work! On Sunday, we went to church and the girls had some fun afterwards playing outside.  Olivia's new favorite song is Ring Around the Rosie, which she has shortened to A 'Rodie!  It's the most adorable thing when she grabs Brynn and they both start flying around in a circle singing "a rodie, a rodie, ashes, ashes, down!"  

Hope you all had a great weekend too! XO

Friday, May 15, 2015

We Play || MASProductionArts

Happy Friday, friends! How is your week going so far? This week was one of those weeks where I felt some Mommy guilt.  Do you ever feel that way?  Sometimes the house, bills, work, and extra activities all tornado into hours flying by and a "hurry up" feeling all day.  I try my hardest to let Olivia "be little",  but some days it's hard not to do what I want and need to do with her tagging along after me, instead of sitting and taking time to play with her.  Play is so important for little ones, so I'm determined to make more time to include meaningful play into our days. "We Play" will be a fun new series, where I share some of our favorite toys and activities that we love! 

{Instagram: @thebirdsnestblog}

Being a teacher, I'm a huge fan of toys that engage children to use their imaginations.  Today, there are so many interactive, technology based toys and tablets that it's hard to find good "old-fashioned" toys.   That being said, I am so happy that I was able to collaborate with Melody from MASProductionArts.  Have you checked out her shop?! So many great toys to encourage low tech play and learning for toddlers and young children.  Everything from fill and spill sets and sensory boxes to matching games and lacing beads, there's something for every one and they're all crafted by hand! 

As soon as Olivia took out the beads, she started to lace them onto the string.  She concentrates so hard and it's so fun to watch her focus and try so hard.  The blocks are the perfect size for little hands and it comes with a stopper as well, preventing bead spilling meltdowns ;) She's learning her name, and was able to pick out each letter to spell it out. I also love how there are shapes on the back - perfect for learning both shapes and colors.  Lacing is so great for strengthening fine motor skills, too.  This is also a great quiet activity for church, car rides, or quiet time before bed. The perfect size to throw in the diaper bag! 

This color sorting mat includes fun items to sort out on a colorful mat that can be rolled up - again, perfect to throw in the diaper bag! The assortment of items is so fun and included a pom pom, various wooden shapes, a bean bag, and clear stone. I love to play this with her because I'll put a yellow star on the pink square and she'll say "no, Mommy!" and move it.  She's one smart cookie ;) She loves to play with this in the mornings while I'm making her breakfast and loves to sort the beads on there too.  It really encourages her to learn colors and is also great for concentration. 

These little peg people are the cutest! She got the purple set and they're so simple, yet there are endless possibilities to play with them. From a princess one day to a baby the next, they're a fun way for her to use her imagination.  These also come in a small pouch so you can bring them anywhere, too. 

I am so thrilled with the quality of these toys. From the colors to delicate details, I'm seriously impressed and love that Olivia can have so much fun with them.  Be sure to check out MASProductionArts on Instagram: @masproductionarts and Etsy shop  for your little one! A huge thank you to Melody for these wonderful, fun toys! Enjoy your day & make some time to play!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Thoughts on Essential Oils || Blends for Mamas & Littles

For a while now, I've been hearing more and more about essential oils.  Honestly, I thought it was somewhat hippy-like and was very skeptical.  I'm not a "crunchy" mama by any means, but I find myself searching more and more for natural products to use for Olivia.  My sister started using oils on my niece to help her sleep more soundly and I laughed at her at first and then sure enough asked her to make me a sample too.  Around that same time, I "met" Holly from @hollystic_oils on IG and saw there were so many uses for essential oils.  Holly sent me four blends to try on myself and Olivia, which I was very interested to see the outcome. I love how she labeled the oils that she sent, complete with directions on where and how to use it. 

The first blend I tried was an Uplifting Mood Blend. This contains fractionated coconut oil, Elevation blend, Frankincense, and Wild Orange essential oil.  This one is supposed to uplift your mood and can be applied to your wrists, back of neck, bottoms of feet and over your heart.  This one was slightly strong for me, but I do notice that it seemed to make me more awake and I enjoyed the hint of orange.  The Meltdown Mommy Tamer above is a great idea.  Mommies have meltdowns too, right?! My sister is a nurse who works nights and I think this would be good for her, as night shifts are hard on your body and mind. A little "uplift" would probably be helpful to wake up after less sleep than needed and also for new mommies who are missing quite a few hours ;)

The next blend I tried was the Heartburn Relief Blend.  This consists of fractionated coconut oil & DigestZen essential oil.  I have a hiatal hernia, which essentially leaves me with heartburn 24/7.  I currently take a prescription daily to help, but at times that doesn't work.  I've been using this blend and I've definitely noticed some relief from it.  I also like how it smells, which is important because who wants to walk around smelling weird? ;) 

For Olivia, I received the Sleepy Time Blend, which consists of fractionated coconut oil, Lavender, Cedarwood, Juniper Berry, and Vetiver essential oils.  I liked that it was a mix to create a deeper sleep.  She's a light sleeper and I think this has definitely calmed her and put her into a deeper sleep.  Every night, she asks for her "Oyyees" and likes to put them on her feet herself. I think it's really cute that she knows that's part of her nighttime routine now.  I've also used this on myself and I think I sleep much sounder with it.  I've always loved lavender so this smells wonderful to me.

The second blend for Olivia was the Keep Calm Blend.  This consists of fractionated coconut oil, Balance blend, Serenity blend, and Cedarwood essential oils.  I really like the smell of this one as well, as I've tried it myself after pre-dinner-I'm-tired-and-hungry-meltdowns (...both of us).  I've thrown it into the diaper bag when we're planning to go out for the day as a "just incase" and I've also used it on her when I see she needs to calm down before bed or is getting frustrated during an activity.  

I'd definitely like to use more essential oils in our life. Whether for health or cleaning, I'm interested to try more natural methods to reduce symptoms of colds, headaches, etc. There's so many more blends that can be used for anything from pregnancy symptoms, sore throats, anxiety & much more.  A big thank you to Holly from @hollystic_oils for letting me try out these blends! Be sure to check her out on IG - she has tons of tips and blends for everything! 

What are your experiences with essential oils?  Do you have a favorite blend?  Is there something that has changed your life? I'd love to hear! XO 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hump Day Highlights || Cupcakes, Candles & Chalkboards


Hi Friends! It's another Hump Day Highlights - this week's edition (actually this was last week's but so much craziness and fun was happening so it's a week late;) is all about cupcakes, candles, and chalkboard art! Every Wednesday five other mommas and I list some things from the past week that we are loving, can't live without, are on our wishlists, or are things we are just plain obsessed with - and we will even add links so you can check out or scoop up anything you love, too. 

Your weekly hosts are MistyAprilShannonAmandaDanica, and me! We would love for you to add your post to our link up of the things you are loving this week, too. And please spread the love by following the other blogs in the link up/commenting on their posts. This is such a great way to meet like-minded mamas and make new friends, all while showing off your blog, too. The Hump Day Highlights weekly link up is going to be a blast, I hope you link up and follow along!
Yesterday was Olivia's second birthday and I can't believe she is TWO!! We had such a great day and I think she really enjoyed herself.  As a mom, I really want her to remember her birthdays as magical and special days for her.  I'll be sharing all of the details of our day tomorrow ;)  

As a special birthday treat, I made her these cupcakes and they were so good!  I loved the texture of the frosting and the flavor was so chocolatey - just perfect! On Sunday, we're doing a small party for her with my parents and Rob's parents so she'll have another cake to blow out more candles...the more wishes, the better right?! ;) 

I'm seriously in love with this candle from Bath and Body Works.  It's called "Happy" and it's a mix between daisies, greens, and a hint of jasmine.  Seriously, my favorite candle they make.  I'm almost done with it so I need to stock up when they have another sale.  To me, nothing smells better than spring and this captures it perfectly.  

{This was waiting for her when she came downstairs to open gifts}

We are almost done with the playroom and one of my favorite parts of the room is the huge chalkboard wall.  Livvy loves to draw on it and it's fun for me too! She's very stern on where the chalk goes, telling her cousin "no here!" if someone tries to draw on the wrong wall ;) I also found out on Pinterest how to clean it back to it's original, chalk-free state...Coca Cola! So crazy, right?!  You just dip a sponge or cloth into a small container of the soda and wipe away.  I was thinking that it would be sticky and not work, but it seriously cleans it up to it's original state! Don't mind me I'll just be hoarding soda in the garage... 

That's it for me this week! See you next Wednesday for more Hump Day Highlights! Click the next blog in the link up to head over and see their favorites, and don't forget to link up your blog below.  Grab our graphic, link back to one, some or all of us and add your link below! Also, follow along on Instagram (@thebirdsnestblog) #humpdayhighlights 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Olivia's Colorful Princess Birthday Dinner

Hi friends!  We had a birthday dinner for Olivia on Sunday and she had a blast.  My parents, Rob's parents and my siblings came over later in the afternoon and we enjoyed some chips and homemade guacamole & a veggie platter followed by baked ziti, meatballs and an antipasto salad.  I made the baked ziti the night before and assembled everything a few hours before the party.  I love to set out platters and serving dishes ahead of time so I know where everything is going before the people-are-coming-in-an-hour-rush! 

Originally, I had planned a tea party theme for her but she decided to go with the princess theme.  It's her special day after all! We bought two bouquets of colorful flowers and split them up into small mason jars throughout the house.  I picked up some princess balloons and party supplies and it all came together nicely. She was really excited when she woke up from her nap and came downstairs to all of the decorations.  Her dress was from Macy's and I loved how it looked on her.  She looks like such a big girl to me now! 

Livvy and Brynnie played outside most of the afternoon with her water table and seesaw.  My parents bought her a picnic table, complete with an umbrella - so cute! She ran right over to it when she saw it. Both girls loved sitting under it and eating their dinner.  I can't wait to have picnics outside with them.  

After dinner we had ice cream cake, complete with princesses and it was delicious.  Olivia isn't much of a cake girl (who's child is this?!) so that was perfect for her because she loves ice cream. My sister had to go to work so we snuck in a quick picture before she left and the girls were covered with cake!  

Overall, we had a great time and I think she really enjoyed herself.  The night ended with a two year old covered in cake, sans bow ready to pass out from so much fun the past few days.  Hope you enjoyed a glimpse into Olivia's special birthday dinner. XOXO

***P.S. - Don't forget to enter my giveaway on Instagram! Follow me @thebirdsnestblog for more info on how to win a set of 2 personalized burp cloths from Threaded Linens.  Perfect baby gift, keepsake & more!  Ends Friday, May 8 at 8pm EST. 

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