My Life

Tips for an Easy Kids Birthday Party

Posted by on Feb 21, 2015 in Mom tips, Motherhood, Parties and Entertaining | 0 comments

Tips for an Easy Kids Birthday Party

First of all, I can’t believe my baby is two!! I swear the second year went faster than his first. Ahhh! Now that I’m done sobbing, I just planned the easiest and one of the most fun parties ever for his second birthday. We spent his actual birthday in Disneyworld, so between coming back from a week away and spending plenty of money along the way, I needed something simple. Now you know I LOVE to host parties with lots of custom, DIY details, but honestly with everything going on and a more limited budget than I was planning initially, I decided I needed to simplify. I learned some good tips along the way, so I thought I would share!!

tips for an easy kids birthday party

Go Off Site

This may seem counter intuitive since many think it would be easier to have a party at home. Picking an off site location can often simplify your party because you don’t have to clean, come up with tons of activities, do as much (if anything) to decorate, and then clean again. Sometimes the price tag of various activity places can be prohibitive if that’s a factor, but from as cheap as local parks to expensive as amusement parks, going for off site entertainment can make coordinating a fun kids party simpler. For me, I was able to get fun and inexpensive. I picked Discovery Gateway which is a children’s museum we have a membership to so we were free. We chose a Sunday since admission was cheaper and since it was my son’s second birthday, most of his little friends are under 2, and therefore were free so we just covered the adults. Look for discounted admission and free admission for kids and it may not be as expensive as you’d think!

Choose Snack Time 

When setting your time, you may consider naptime as a factor, but otherwise select a time that generally doesn’t align with a full meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner for a whole group is a lot more to manage off site, where if you pick a time like 11am or 3pm, you can serve snacks and cake and call it good. We picked 3pm since it steered clear of most naptimes and was a perfect time to just eat cupcakes and drinks before we played! Easy Birthday

Favors

Depending on the cost of your location and scope of activities, you could skip favors all together. To be honest, most parties I go to, people forget to take favors altogether, so if you’re going to do something, pick something good and hand it out at the beginning. For me I wanted to have favors just since they are fun for the kids, and of course I could count on Target’s dollar section for these adorable pop up books! I grabbed some cello bags and a few other goodies the kids would have fun with (glow bracelets 15/$1, noise makers 12/$1, and a pack of fruit snacks).

Order A Special Treat

Now I do love to bake, but ordering out you cake or cupcakes is a great way to simplify your to do list. My dear friend Haley of White Barn Bakery makes scrumptious cupcakes, and since I wasn’t doing any other food really so I was definitely in budget, it was absolutely worth paying to have them made.

easy toddler birthday party

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Optimism is the Power to Be Happy

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Thoughts from the Nest | 0 comments

I have gotten a few people make comments to me about how perfect my life is. And well, it’s pretty good, but my life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows (contrary to what it may look like from my Instagram feed). I have had some really big challenges that I don’t always choose to share on social media since I feel like it’s often a private thing to experience and overcome with close friends and family. That being said, I have found a big part of happiness is perspective. Be positive and put that attitude out into the world and it often follows you. It is easier said than done at times, but I often find when I am going through a rough time, helping others or doing something kind for others not only makes me feel better, but brings good karma my way. When you find that you have the power to be optimistic, you discover your power to be happy. That, my friends, is true joy.

be optimistic

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How I Lost My Baby Weight

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Clean eating, Health & Fitness, Mom tips, Motherhood, Pregnancy | 7 comments

It’s so crazy to me that this was just over a year ago. I’ve had a lot of people asking me recently how I magically lost my baby weight. It hasn’t been any one thing and it certainly wasn’t magic. Like most healthy lifestyles a combination of several factors together. When I got pregnant I was nervous my body would never be the same. And well, it’s not, but I never would have guessed it would help lead me to the lowest weight I’ve been since junior high and the strongest I’ve felt in my life. I certainly didn’t think I’d be modeling sports bras 13 months later! I was in shape before, but becoming a mother has pushed me even harder now that I know what I’m capable of. Motherhood is a transformation and all of it has been a lot of hard work, but I am amazed at how it’s helped me become a healthier version of myself. It’s something I truly never expected. Here’s how I did it and 10 tips I followed for other soon-to-be moms.

pregnancy and post pregnancy weight loss

1. Have a healthy pregnancy. This may sound obvious, but many moms think pregnancy and “eating for two” means they literally get to eat whatever they want with no consequences. While you should follow your body’s natural hunger cues and cravings, you really only need about 300 more calories per day in the second and third trimester for a normal pregnancy. Eat healthy and stay as active as your body is willing. I always kept it in the back of my mind that my baby only ate what I ate and exercised when I did. If not for yourself, do it because your baby can’t if you don’t.

2. Take it easy and enjoy your baby. Once your babe arrives so many people get obsessed with getting their body back. Just chill! Enjoy these precious new moments without guilt. For most women that eat healthy while caring for a new little one (especially if you’re breastfeeding) a lot of the weight will begin to come off naturally.

3. NURSING! This is different for every woman, but nursing helped me lose fast. It helped shrink my uterus back down and start to tone my stomach muscles back up at the beginning. Then as he had growth spurts, I had shrinking spurts. This happened around 8 weeks, again around 5-7 months, and yet again around 11-13 months. I jokingly called my baby my human lipo because I could almost feel the fat being sucked out and almost every nursing session I still get so hungry!

4. Walking. All through my maternity leave I walked almost every day with my dog and baby. It was a great way for us to get out of the house and enjoy a little fresh air and exercise. I started around 2 weeks and timed it around his nap time so he would sleep and my dog and I got a walk in the sunshine. Bliss!

5. Pilates and core strength. Around 5-6 weeks I ordered this Pilates DVD from Amazon. LOVE IT! I am pretty picky when it comes to my workout DVDs, but this one is awesome. It’s broken up into two sections so you can do one or both from your living room, which is totally practical for a new mom. It was hard to start up and feel that my core strength was so much less than it used to be, but this really helped me get my core back.

6. Healthy eating. Okay this is obvious too, but really important. I say healthy — not dieting. Since I am nursing, I couldn’t really diet even if I wanted to. I just remember that same thing that my baby would eat what I eat. So that meant even if I let myself give into Arby’s curly fries (my weakness!) I had some veggies too. And I didn’t go overboard with fast or fatty food. I mostly attempt to follow the food pyramid with a good, well-rounded diet and eat plenty of calories

7. Squeeze exercise into your routine. Okay this one really is hard, especially at the beginning. Don’t force yourself to do anything drastic or super time consuming or you will never do it. I think this is true even if you’re NOT a mom. Ease in. Maybe that’s 2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes or maybe it’s 4-5. You can get someone to watch the baby, bring him along in a jogging stroller, or workout in your living room. Just set a schedule and do it!

8. Challenge yourself! Last fall my friends peer pressured me into running a half marathon 8 months postpartum. I have always detested running…like I’d rather do any other exercise! More on that later. I had already lost my baby weight, just not all the inches so I was only half motivated and nervous about committing to something I wouldn’t enjoy. Half way through my 8 weeks of training I sort of fell in love with running and after that the inches really started coming off. I leaned out more than I ever have been able to at this point.

9. Green smoothies. I know I mentioned eating healthy, but green smoothies need their own section because I can totally tell a difference on days I have them versus when I don’t. For new moms (or anyone) they are such an easy way to make sure you’re getting healthy greens, veggies, fruits and protein. When I started having one everyday I noticed a significant difference in my energy and metabolism. I fit them in for breakfast, part of lunch, post-workout snack, or sometimes even my late night sweet craving fix.

10. Yoga. I really got into yoga a lot toward the end of my pregnancy because it was the only thing that helped the pain in my pelvis and back. It took me a while to get back into doing it regularly after I had my baby, but it helps my metabolism and stress level so much! As much as I’d love to have time to go to a real studio for class, it’s just not practical for me, so I fit in a 22 minute session of “Yoga with a View” available on Hulu. I’ve really noticed a difference in my metabolism when I do it regularly, but I instantly feel more refreshed and more patient with my now 14-month-old (very busy) toddler.

To sum it up, I just want to say to nervous moms out there, you CAN do it! I used to look at others and wonder how pregnancy would affect my body. As much as I’ve always been into fitness, my genes have a tendency to gain weight if I don’t always stay on top of it so I was scared I would blow up and never be able to get back. When I was first pregnant I was so incredibly happy, and I don’t want to sound egotistical, but I cried on multiple occasions to my husband because I was worried I wouldn’t be sexy after having a baby. He was sweet and said he would think I was gorgeous no matter what, but what it really came down to was I wanted to feel secure that I’d feel good about my body.

I was never obsessive, I just stayed on top of it like usual and focused on my health and enjoying pregnancy and being a new mom. I gained 25 pounds, which was healthy for me, and lost that within 8 weeks from walking, breastfeeding and starting Pilates. The rest all came gradually, but I just tried to work hard and let it happen naturally at my body’s pace. I still am amazed that I could be smaller and in better shape now than I think I ever have been, no matter how hard I worked before. Hopefully this can help give other moms hope and motivation that you absolutely can do it too!

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New mom gift idea

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in DIY Gifts, Mom tips, Motherhood | 0 comments

My dear friend, Lindsey, just had twins, so of course I couldn’t wait to snuggle them. I mean seriously, look how cute these two are!
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Having just been through becoming a new mom myself last year, I wanted to bring her a little something to make the transition easier. I just had one, so I can only imagine two! I remember lots of people brought us delicious, homemade meals (for which I was so grateful), but I found myself in the middle of the day and even the middle of the night ravenously hungry and holding a newborn. The problem with this is many of those yummy meals in the fridge can’t be made and/or eaten one handed between what feels like the 800th nursing sesh of the day, diaper changes, naps, and cuddles. And if it can’t be eaten easily, it doesn’t get eaten! I remember my mom brought me a bag full of clementines (which I love!) and they sat on my counter uneaten because I needed another hand to peel them. Sad!

So for this new mama, I decided to put together a box of healthy, easy to eat foods that she can snack on when her hands are full. I picked stuff with plenty of protein and nutrients since those are so important for nursing, especially in those early days while establishing supply and healing from delivery.

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Here are a few ideas:
Protein bars
Granola bars
Apples
Pears
Yogurt
Applesauce
Chocolate
Mixed nuts
Frozen burritos (I ate a lot of those myself!)
Dried fruit
String cheese
Protein/breakfast shake

It’s a nice way to change it up since so many people bring meals, and something that’s definitely appreciated! It was a hit. :)

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One Year Old in a Flash First Birthday Party

Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Mom tips, Parties and Entertaining | 0 comments

My baby is one! Where did the time go? I’m sure this is what every mother says, but it’s amazing how much he has changed this first year. It has simultaneously been the longest and shortest year of my life. Becoming a mother has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I’ve gone through and I’m so blessed to be Zachary’s mommy.

1st-birthday-in-a-flash

Enough of the mushy stuff now. Because I wanted to celebrate this sweet boy’s first year in a fun way, I decided on the theme “1 year old in a flash!” I have taken (and shared) at least one photo of him every day of his first year so I thought incorporating those photos would be fun for everyone to see.

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I created a slideshow of my Flickr feed under his hashtag #zacharygram using my Apple TV an had it playing throughout the party on the big screen.

What’s a party without a photo booth?! I used crate paper to create a colorful background that looked great in photos. Easy and cheap! Just added in the props and instant entertainment.

I made these cameras that matched the ones I designed on the invites to label the food.

one year old in a flash party

I cut out some poster board, printed a bunch of my favorite photos from Costco, and glued them on to show off more of his first year pics. Again, super cute, easy, and cheap. I like! And Zach loved looking at the photos and pointed saying “Zach!” over and over. Too cute.

 

I made some banners easy peasy by cutting out some scrapbook paper (that I have entirely too much of) and lacing it on. I love the impact the rainbow colors have to give it that classic birthday feel. And I’m sure I’ll use these again for other parties. Good for the stash.

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Finally I outsourced the cake to Nate’s sweet cousin who baked up a surprise three layer cake with photos. I made the little topper with mini photos hanging by making a 5×7 collage using picmonkey.com with some white space around. Then just cut them out, punched holes and laced them on some twine with decorative straws as stakes. Then she also made a personal sized cupcake for him to smash.

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Then, surprise, my mom invited her musician friend to come play some songs for us! Zach loved it since he loves listening to Daddy play guitar too. He spouted off some songs, including the one year old blues, happy birthday, and Old Macdonald.

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And then we sang happy birthday, watched Zach not cake smash his cake since apparently my child doesn’t like cake OR frosting, and I welled up with tears a bit. It’s an emotional roller coaster this first birthday stuff! Does this look like a bewildered face of a mom? Because yes, it in fact is. But it was a wonderful day with all of our loved ones. :)

One year old in a flash — 1st birthday party

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Working Out is Working On Yourself

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Health & Fitness, My Life, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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One thing I really wanted to make as a goal this year is getting back into yoga. I have done it regularly on and off over the last few years, and especially doing it toward the end of my pregnancy was amazing! So having nearly a year as a new mom without time to do yoga, I was ready to jump back in. I’ve been doing a series on Hulu Plus called “Yoga with a View” that I love. It’s under 25 minutes, is a great combo of a decent physical workout and meditation, and I can do it at my convenience in my living room.

I am sort of picky with my yoga. I don’t like it to be too “fitness class” yoga, which if you’ve been to a class at most fitness centers, you know what I mean. It’s one of the few I’ve done that I think really accomplish centering me without being too cheesy. Anyway, 2014 needs meditation and centering, so I’ve been working on working on myself. :)

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