Monday, January 22, 2018

Family Photos 2017

So long Holiday's!  You stressed us out, brought us joy, ushered in a parade of crap into our homes, and left us happy we have a year to recover before we have to meet again.  The one thing I love about the holidays, but that stresses me out the most is Christmas cards.  At the end of summer I start messaging Danielle with ideas for outfits and we try to put a session on the books.  I love a holiday look to our photos and its the only time of year I can sucker my husband into them because I always say I want them because Leavitt's birthday is coming.  Which is true, but inside I'm scheming up our card.

I always start with my outfit.  Being that I am the only girl in the family, and probably the most self critical I want to make sure whatever I wear I will love.  I was obsessed with this dress from ASOS.  For me it hit all the marks.  Holiday vibe, long sleeve, forgiving enough that I could move and be present with my family while Danielle captured us.  I STALKED this dress for a good two months.  I think Danielle was ready to kill me after the 100th text about it.  They offer this dress in petite, tall, regular length, plus, and maternity.  They also offer a midi version, and short sleeve version.  I wore the maroon short sleeve version the year before so I didn't want to go with that one, but its gorgeous!  After a couple months of the dress not being restocked I started to panic and dug out my dress from last year.  I noticed I hadn't ordered my normal size so I double checked the measurements on the size guide and I was able to size down and purchase a regular length dress.  HALLELUJAH!

The next thing I did was check out Minted to see what card I wanted.  I settled on this one as soon as I saw it.  I love the message, simple design, and the trees in the sample look exactly the same as our favorite tree farm where we always get our pictures done so it seemed meant to be.

I then easily pulled the boys looks together, and at the last minute opted to get Nick a plaid shirt instead of a matching one to Leavitt, and used a little burgundy on the boys.  Preston in his shoes, and Leavitt with a thermal under his flannel shirt.

This year our session happened to land on a freakishly cold day.  I had hair and makeup appointments, a sitter at home to help me, and an influx of texts from Danielle and my husband wondering if I was really crazy enough to go through with it on this frigid day.  I was like heck yes I am still doing this!  My hair is done!  They ended up talking sense into me, and we rescheduled, and I did my own hair and makeup the day of the actual shoot... cue the tears (and sarcasm).

My favorite thing about having Danielle photograph us is that she doesn't stop when things start to go rogue.  She caught Leavitt's expression immediately after kicking his brother in the face accidentally. She caught me comforting him while he screamed in my face and my husband looked on.  She caught Leavitt shaking his booty instead of looking at the camera.  She caught Leavitt under my tulle skirt a habit he has had since our wedding two years ago, then again last year during Christmas card photos, and apparently the tradition is going strong 3 years later, HAHA! I love having photos of who we really are, and how we actually interact with each other.   I know that will serve my heart more years from now so much more than the perfectly posed pictures we send our friends and families.  But I do love those perfect pictures too, it proves to me that in the real chaos of our lives we really do have perfect moments... having proof isn't bad either!  I linked our outfit details below, for those of you interested!

My - Dress

Preston - Outift // Hat // Moccasins

Leavitt - Shirt // Pants // Boots

Nick - Shirt // Pants // Sneakers are sold out Similar here

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Holiday Reality Check

I had intentions of making this holiday season magical and meaningful for my kids.  I wrote out our holiday bucket list and packed our weekends with all the things I just knew my kids would love.  Well, let me just recap that list for you so far.  We piled in with my in-laws and drove two hours to the Polar Express.  I don't think the other adults were that excited to begin with but Leavitt was pretty pumped so I joined him in his enthusiasm... until his little brother hit a wall and lost his shit on the train.  At one point while trying to keep him from his great escape he managed to unbutton most of my shirt leaving me looking like a half dressed fool with unruly children.  We left there for Cabela's to try to salvage the day when Leavitt lost his mind and cried in the parking lot for 20 minutes, and proceeded to cry as my husband drove us home.  Luckily I had brought Preston his new Plush Activity Octopus to play with in the car.  He spent most of the trip using the different features on the tentacles to make different noises, each one made him giggle a little.  He chewed on the textured teething rings, and the soft fabric was perfect for snuggling on the go.  If you are going to be traveling with a little one this holiday season I suggest snagging one because we adore ours and it will entertain them.  You can snag one here and a little birdie told me it's on sale right now!

The next weekend we were off to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to see Gardens aglow.  I left Preston with his grandparents and was going to take Leavitt with his cousins, my mom, and my friend Meghan.  We didn't even make it a mile from my house when we were in a minor car accident.  By the time we made it home and the tow truck had my sister's (brand new) mini van, none of us were in the mood to attempt the trip.

Last weekend I went to Portland shopping with some gal pals.  All of us needed to get a few things, but mostly needed a break from the Christmas stress.  We had planned to go to the Magic of Christmas show and blew that off for some extra time shopping.  Another dreamy plan sidelined for getting more checked off the to-do list.  We had the best time, and if you follow along on Instagram stories you know that meant I got to do a cheap spa treatment in bed!

We have been talking a lot about the meaning of the season.  How Jesus was born, and what a gift that is to us all.  How kindness is the gift we give others, and that when we forget to be kind we can ask for forgiveness - the gift believers receive because Jesus was born.  We went to a live nativity where we saw an outdoor play of the night Jesus was born.  What do you know Leavitt would refuse to wear his snowsuit, so I let him stand there knowing he would freeze.  Two scenes in he wants to go get his snowsuit on causing us to miss half of the show.

Through all of the madness of the season, the extra expenses, and stress I want them to feel that message more than anything else.  As much as I am looking forward to hearing the shrieks of excitement when Leavitt sees his box of new fishing clothes, hearing him tell me about the manger and why we celebrate is the only thing I want this year...unless my husband is reading this then I want a day at the spa!

Now for those of you hoping to get your hands on one of those Plush Activity Octopus toys I have teamed up with Nuby to give one lucky reader one!  Head over to my Instagram @bringingupleavitt to enter!  I am going to close the giveaway Saturday December 23rd! Good luck!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Holiday Mealtime

I am at that really exciting place in mothering brothers when they both admire each other but constantly want to compete with each other.  Everything is a race.  No one can have something the other doesn't or it becomes a really intense game of tug of war.  Preston is still young so many disputes end in me reasoning with Leavitt and redirecting Preston.  Unless it is mealtime.  

Preston still sits at  a highchair but he likes to be pushed up to the island to eat near his brother.  They like a lot of the same foods but Preston is by far my better eater, for now.  Until he's done and starts frantically throwing food on the floor so I get the memo.  I love that they like to eat together but throwing his plates on the floor is a real pain.  Leavitt pawns his unwanted food off on Preston, and Preston is always trying to steal Leavitt's drink.  

I found some really awesome ways to transition Preston into the big kid he wants to be while making my life so much easier!  Nuby makes these amazing Sure Grip Feeding Mats that suction to the table keeping it on the table and off the floor.   Preston thinks the monkey face is fun, and I am so glad I don't need to keep replacing plastic plates he breaks on the floor and it makes clean up that much easier.  These make great useful gifts for parents and grandparents! I am going to snag a few for the grandmas in our lives to have for when we make the rounds this holiday season!  You can grab one on Amazon here.

Speaking of grandparents, last night I took the kids to my mom's house for dinner.  My kids love for each other is fierce but their love for their cousins is equally matched.  With so many toddlers tearing up the house it can be easy to missed a tipped cup, or abandoned snacks.  Preston really wants to be in the action with his cousins so I have been using the same cups for my two kids in different colors so they can tell them apart.  Preston feels like a big boy using these adorable 360 wonder cups from Nuby!  I can't tell you how sweet they are when they cheers them together its precious! 

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of the 360 Wonder cup, it features the 360 drinking action that allows baby to drink from any where on the rim! Now the range comes in new fun prints and is made of tritan from Eastman. Coming soon to Babies R’ Us stores.  Seriously snag these!  They are spill proof unlike any other, and come with a cover to keep them clean while on the go!  Kids love the the prints, Preston has claimed the airplanes, while Leavitt likes the red cup better.  I love that these work for my one year old and that my almost four year old likes it too.  It is encouraging Preston to use a big boy cup without stressing me out that there will be a mess if he knocks it over. 

This weekend has been a not so gentle reminder that the busiest season for moms is upon me.  While I love the hustle and bustle, and dinner invites galore, I really love the coziness of being home.  I would never say I like sick season BUT when Preston got sick last Friday, I put on the Christmas movies and really relaxed in the playroom with the kids.  I had my coffee, Preston had his new 360 Wonder cup with pedialyte , and Leavitt was using his new Snack N Sip cup.  

How clever is this little cup? It holds 9 oz of liquid in the bottom & 4.5oz of dry snacks in the top.  I was not a mom when we built our home so the playroom is a hike from the kitchen.  Which means it is a chore to get snacks and drinks to the playroom for movie time.  Leavitt loves having one thing to carry around with him and he thinks it is so cool to have them in one cup!  I can't wait to take it in the car too!  Perfect for holiday movies at home or road trips!  I can't wait until Preston can use one without spilling the snacks on top!  But I have a feeling Santa will be putting one in his stocking this year!  You can get one online here or in store at Walmart, & Babies R’ Us. 

Want to win a Sure Grip Feeding Mat? We are giving one away on Instagram!  You can enter here! Giveaway ends Thursday November 16th! Good luck!

Bringing up Leavitt is a Nuby parent blogger and was given products in exchange for reviews.  All opinions are and always will be my own.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Holiday Bucket list

It feels early to be talking Christmas, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already planning my kids Christmas pajamas and dreaming about all the ways I will decorate our house this year.  I also am at that point in motherhood where I am totally sick of all the toys.  My kids are not however sick of toys so there will be plenty of that kicking around here this year but I am going to shift my focus from shopping to creating memories in the season.  I have been scouring the Internet since September for announcements and event schedules of things to do in Maine with kids.  It wasn't long before I had something going on every weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas and to be honest I might regret that come January but I really want us to enjoy the magic of Christmas while the boys are still so small.  So I have come up with my Holiday Bucket list for 2017!

The Polar Express We have never done the Polar Express but from November 24th through December 23rd you can board The Polar Express in Portland and head the "North Pole" complete with hot chocolate, cookies, a visit from Santa and a Christmas story.  I can't wait to take Leavitt I know he will get a kick out of it since he's had me watching the Polar Express over and over for a week now.

Gardens Aglow  This event was all I heard about last year.  Everyone raved about how amazing it was and I was super jealous by the time I knew I had to go they had sold out so definitely get your tickets early!  They light up the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens with over 500,000 lights and you can walk the gardens.  They also have a S'mores pit, popcorn stand, and art exhibit.  This year it will run November 17th through December 31st.  I really think it would be magical to do with the kids, but then again it would make the perfect date night, or girls night out.  

Rockland Festival of Lights November 24th through November 26th Rockland has some really fun and uniquely Maine Christmas festivities.  On the 24th Santa arrives by Coast Guard Boat, you can enjoy coco, cookies, and free horse drawn carriage rides.  That evening they light the world famous lobster trap tree that was featured on the TLC Channel "extreme Christmas trees".  The 25th you can enjoy the carriage rides, gingerbread houses on Main St. and a parade at 5:00pm.  Sunday the 26th you can enjoy pancakes with Santa.  We have never been for the full festivities but I have taken Leavitt every year to see the tree during the week when the town is quiet.

Rudolph the Musical  Who doesn't love a Christmas Musical? I saw this show was going to be at the Wang Theater in Boston and was dying to go but logistics were stacked against me.  Getting a weekend free with the husband and leaving Preston behind because let's be honest a 15 month old doesn't want to see a musical.  So having a show in Maine may just be the way to make this happen for us!  I hope we get to attend the only drawback is its in the middle of the week at 7pm (who plans theses things?!)  We might be playing hooky from school the next day (#sorrynotsorry).

Magic of Christmas is a show put on by Portland Symphony Orchestra.  They will play at Merrill Auditorium for the 38th year!  I have never been but have a girls shopping trip and this show on the books for December.  I can't wait to dress up with my nearest and dearest gal pals and enjoy some traditional Christmas music in the gorgeous Merrill Auditorium.  If you are one of my gal pals and want in on this trip hit a sister up the more the Merrier!!

L.L. Bean Northern Lights Celebration is something we did last year and I am adamant we do it again.  They have the most charming Santa Claus in the cutest little barn that has some seriously magical reindeer in it.  There is a warming yurt this year with free hot chocolate and a letter writing station to send letters to the North Pole.  A model train village that will make all the little boys in your life go crazy.  There are also horse-drawn wagon rides, and the Discovery Forest with 600 trees lit up for a magical little stroll.  It truly is a great experience and the shopping isn't bad either!  It runs from November 18th - December 31st and the best part is it is all FREE!  Yes, you read that right, free.  Who doesn't love a perfectly magical free Christmas experience because lets be honest, the holidays are expensive enough!

Last year we went to a live nativity scene which ended up being a lot like an outdoor play.  It was at a local church and while I don't have any info on one in particular it would be worth it to check out your local churches in your area for Christmas plays, or live nativity scenes.  They really hit home what the season is truly all about.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mom Code

As young girls, even as a young adult woman there was the unspoken Girl Code.  You know - no dating each others exes, no copying the same outfits, no gossiping, keeping each others secrets, and no fornicating with the enemy... whoever the enemy of the hour was.   None of that crazy applies to my current life.  Obviously becoming a wife and mom crosses plenty of that off the list and the rest is hopefully just irrelevant to adult life.  But then there is mom code.  Mom code is the unspoken code of conduct for us baby bearing broads.

Do not expect me to roll out a freshly vacuumed red (or any colored for that matter) carpet for you when you arrive to a play date.  I may answer the door.  I may just holler that its unlocked.  Obviously on a first mom date I will go out of my way to make you feel welcomed.  After that make yourself at home.

Real friendship is not high maintenance.  If I don't call you for a week its because I'm probably losing my mind or can't find my phone.  Hurt feelings over being left out are silly.  Invite yourself - it is one less thing for me to think about.      

Be real.  Sometimes I am put together  and my house is perfect - usually that's Thursday after my greatest luxury, my cleaning lady leaves.  If you pop in on a Wednesday we are a wreck.  Roll with it.  We live here.  Between the two kids, two dogs, and Tasmanian devil I married, I am doing good to be caught up on laundry and have food in the house.  

Day drinks.  Every now and then, the sun will come out, the kids will be playing in harmony, and a wave of relaxation hits and you think, "I would love a mimosa the size of my head" to really feel like I'm on vacation here.  Having a day drink with the girls is always fun because we don't have to plan for sitters, or stay up past bedtime, we can have a girls night in the middle of the day.  Then there are days when everything goes wrong and you need an emergency drink at the local hang spot because... life, kids, and husbands. 

There is no greater contribution to this world than the people we raise.  I love my kids beyond measure and I know you love yours too.   Of course they also drive us nuts.  I will never judge someone for saying their kid is acting like a jerk, or for sarcastic jabs spoken under your breath as you fill a sippy cup for the hundredth time, or remind your toddler to stop doing something while counting to three through gritted teeth.

This is real life, with real problems and trials.  If something in your life is totally going wrong and you need me I will get a sitter and be there.  If you really just need a sitter to be alone - drop them off.  Mom friends, aren't just friends it is a sisterhood.  A safe place to not take it all too seriously.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Fruitsicles for Fall

This week has seen mother nature usher in that crisp fall air we wait all year to enjoy.  We have been enjoying the cooler air, but we are also suffering with the first virus of the season.  While I wade through the not so fun mom tasks of sick kids, one who is the proud new owner of molars, and even worse a sick husband, I have something fun for you guys!

While we love the season changing there are a few things the kids miss about summer.  No schedules, less clothing, and Popsicles.  I try to be creative with how I introduce new foods to the baby, but also getting my toddler to eat the same things.  So when I saw this Garden Fresh Fruitsicle Frozen Pop Tray from Nuby I had high hopes of getting the boys to finally try yogurt, disguised as a Popsicle, and all kinds of other clever concoctions.

When it arrived on my doorstep, it saved me.  The kids have had fevers and tummy issues the last few days.  Preston won't drink anything other than milk.  He hates juice and water.  He is also getting a brand new set of molars, which he is hoping came with a 30 day return policy.   After a trip to the pediatrician's office I swung through the pharmacy to snag an infant electrolyte drink.  He threw the bottle on the floor, and screamed what I am assuming were baby obscenities.  I happened to glance over at the Nuby box and was like electrolyte Popsicles might work, and oh did they ever.

I made two of the electrolyte pops, and put his favorite breakfast (pureed banana, cinnamon, and oats) in the other two spots.  Preston was obsessed and ate two in one sitting.  Leavitt also feeling under the  weather loved the strawberry electrolyte pops.  It was so easy to pour the liquid into the tray, or scoop the pureed food.  They felt like they were having a treat and for the first time in a few days I felt good about what they were eating. 

The Nuby Garden Fresh Fruitsicle Frozen Pop Tray features:
- Freeze and feed Popsicle molds, with perfectly shaped handles for kids.
- Turns purees and juices into 1 oz Popsicles.
- Wide base handle design catches drips.
- Soothes gums for teething babies.
- 6 months + 
- BPA free
The Fruitsicles Tray can be purchased here on Amazon.   

Want to win one? Enter to win one our Facebook Page Brining Up Leavitt

Bringing up Leavitt is a Nuby parent blogger and was given products in exchange for reviews.  All opinions are and always will be my own.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Preston's First Fiesta

If you have been keeping up you know my precious little man is one.  I threw him a little fiesta to celebrate his first birthday and we had the best time.  It is no secret we love our local Mexican restaurant so it felt perfect to host a fiesta theme for our favorite little birthday boy.

I'm not a huge kid party fan, and after my first born's first birthday he has had family parties only.  I  decided this needed to be as mom friendly as it was kid friendly because after all we do all the work, am I right mamas?  I know I am! 

I made a huge batch of "I made it a whole year mothering two children and we all survived"  AKA skinny margaritas, for my favorite moms to take the edge off while our kids bounced themselves silly in the pirate ship bounce house.  The dad crew sipped on their favorite local beers as bribery to spend a Saturday afternoon with sugar drunk children.

The cake was so cute!  Noelle at Sew Sweet always gets it right.  I ran the fiesta theme by her, showed her a couple pictures and she hit it out of the park per usual!  Preston devoured his entire smash cake and really went to town on it.  The rest of us had lemon cake with blueberry filling, which we enjoy on every special occasion around here.  The cake toppers came from Inspired by Alma and they were so stinking cute! We had discussed the theme and she instantly had something personal and fun for us.  She made one with Preston's name on it and then another one with the cactus and his age. She also sent matching cactus party picks that I scattered on the food table in different dishes and on the smash cake.  I love personalized everything so having his name was so special and fun, I will be keeping it as a keepsake for sure!  

The kids snacked on Chick-fil-A nuggets and waffle fries, my kids favorite treat.  Let's be honest there were plenty of adults perusing the kids food table snacking on waffle fries!  I figured I had better have some good bribery food if we were ever going to get the bigger kids off the bounce house!  I totally underestimated the level of destruction my older son and his posse are capable of and   am for sure renting a space if he has a party in December!  While my house was trashed I have to say it was worth every pit of shredded tissue paper just watching them all play together.  Leavitt has a really sweet group of friends and to see them all loving on his brother makes my heart so happy to watch them celebrating him.

On that note, someone bring me a margarita, how on earth is my baby one already?

I was provided with some of the items in this post.  All opinions are and always will be my own.  Post may contain affiliate links.