August 28, 2015

30 by 30: 6 months to go!

Yey for a 30 by 30 update!
Since it's August, I have 6 months to go until I turn 30. sadlt, some of these things will not happen but I'm crossing a few more off!

5. See a show on Broadway.

Thanks to Blogger Bash in New York City and my luck in winning lottery tickets, I was able to see Aladdin on Broadway! It was so so amazing!


19. Start (and keep) a vegetable garden.  

All summer we have been enjoying tomatos right from our deck! Because we live at the end of a dead end with woods next to us, anything we plant gets eaten by the deer so a full garden just isn't possible until we put up a fence, but we have some plants on the back deck and have been enjoying mint, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and even a green pepper! We're hoping to do the fence next spring and then we can have a bigger garden!


20. Spend a day getting pampered. 

This actually was over the course of two days... manicure, eye brows, a wax, professional make up and hair... it was glorious. But it was for a very special occasion... which leads me to the next check mark...


26. Do a boudoir photo shoot!

I have always thought they looked so fun but with my stomach, there was no way it would look good. I can't even tell you how amazing these pictures are. I wanted to really surprise Dave with an anniversary gift he would never expect and these were perfect. Very tasteful and pretty, rather than dirty or pornographic. My photographer was amazing and I'll be sharing the more appropriate ones soon!


So with those being updated, here's the new list!
I have accomplished so much and there's still a little time to accomplish more!

1. Be an English Teacher (have my own classroom)
2. Have baby #2.
3. Buy a house.
4. Own a pair of Manolos. (Really not my lifestyle anymore-- might be a pair of Jack Rogers instead)
5. See a show ON Broadway.
6. Run a 5k.
7. Weigh 150 lbs again. (muscle weighs more than fat-- this will never happen. Maybe we'll say, be a size 8/10)
8. Get my Masters degree.
9. Do a photography challenge for a month.
10. Pay for someone else in the drive through behind me.
11. Get my palm read/fortune told.
12. Go to a blogging conference.
13. Re-learn how to sew and make a blanket from Em's old clothes. (maybe I'll just get a blanket done, I have no place to set up my sewing machine and I totally don't trust myself with such important items)
14. Own a car that's less than 5 years old.
15. Go for a weekend trip to Martha's Vineyard.
16. Adopt a family for Christmas.
17. Buy a bicycle. A regular old fashioned bicycle.
18. Go to Vegas for my 30th! (The 29th can count too right?! I just wanted to go!)
19. Start (and keep) a vegetable garden.
20. Spend a day getting pampered.
21. Learn to crochet or knit. (Why was this important to me?!)
22. Buy brand new furniture.
23. Have dinner out with my husband at Top of the Hub or go to Blue Man Group (he's never been!)
24. Wear a bikini to the beach... no cover up.
25. Bring Emmalee to see the Rockafeller Christmas Tree.
26. Do a boudoir photo shoot.
27. Go to a group fitness class.
28. Buy an original piece of art and frame it in our house.
29. Go on our first family vacation (must be out of state, can't be CT)
30. Make a list of 100 things that make me happy.


August 24, 2015

Make Time to Play!

Well, tomorrow marks back to school for me and I'm honestly very sad about it.  I have spent so much time this summer with my kids just having fun. We went to Disney World, to the Assonet/Freetown Splash pad, to the Cape Cod Children's Museum, and to the Capron Park Zoo, to name a few, but we also spent lots of days just imagining on the living room floor or in the back yard.

We've had fashion shows, pirate adventures, 'arts and frafts' time, and at one time had every single Fisher Price Little People play set in our living room. Santa was going to Disney World and he needed the farm there for fresh veggies... it was hilarious, but most of all, it was all from my daughter's wonderful imagination.

As I'm typing this, she's using the vacuum as a microphone stand, singing "Ring Around the Rosie"...

I am in awe of her ability to take the most ordinary items from our house and create something else out of it. You don't need fancy toys with lots of directions.  You just need some space for them to play.  The video below from The Genius of Play shows how creative some kids can get with the items they already own:


You can find lots more ideas for beneficial, unstructured play on their Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter pages!

The Genius of Play is an amazing organization that also sees how important this unstructured playtime is for kids and they are looking for people to donate a combined 1,000,000 hours of pure fun (and beneficial) play this year! When they get that many pledged hours, they will be donating we will donate $10,000 worth of toys to support play for children in need.How cool is that? Not only will play time be good for your kids, but it will help others in need too! Love that! 
I took the pledge when I went to New York for Blogger Bash, and you can take the pledge right here!

Still not sold on how awesome play is? Some of these statistics are mind-boggling (but explain so much when I look at how smart my daughter is and how much time we've spent playing together!)


So what are you waiting for? Take the pledge right here and get to playing!


August 23, 2015

Here Comes... Toys!

It's 90* outside and it's hard to believe but in just 4 short months I'll be running around, scrambling, wrapping the last of our Christmas presents! It's crazy to think about!

After attending Blogger Bash and Sweet Suite 15, it's safe to safe that there are TONS of toy reviews and giveaways coming up! I'll be covering anything the little man might love or anything the princess will be asking Santa for so there will be lots of variety! You'll be able to check the TOYS label to see them all!

And of course, to kick off the beginning of this toy filled journey, VTech will be giving away one of their new Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate RC Speedways to a lucky reader!


Here's the fine print and how to win from VTECH:

Rev up for the Go! Go! Smart Wheels Speedster Contest

Does your little racer have the need for speed? Be sure to make a pit stop and submit photo for a chance to win a new Go! Go! Smart Wheels® Ultimate RC Speedway™ from VTech®!

How to Enter
Upload a photo of your little speedster and their love of racing for a chance to win a new Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate RC Speedway! It could be a picture of your child in their race car themed room, in their favorite racing outfit or even playing with their favorite Go! Go! Smart Wheels toy.
Submit your digital photo by uploading it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtags #gogospeedster and #entry. All entries must be submitted between now and August 28.

One (1) winner will be chosen weekly over a four (4) week period. Each winner will receive One (1) Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate RC Speedway (valued at $59.99). †
Winners will be selected on or before noon (12:00 PM, ET) on the following dates:
·         Friday, August 7, 2015 
·         Friday, August 14, 2015 
·         Friday, August 21, 2015
·         Monday, August 31, 2015

For official rules visit http://bit.ly/1hjJY0X.
“The contest information has been provided by VTech.”
Prizes awarded and fulfilled by VTech.

So get winning and come back tomorrow because I have something even better than toys to check out!




August 20, 2015

How to do Disney World with Infant and Toddlers and No, Your Kid is Not Too Young for Disney


We've been back from Disney for over a month and I'm still obsessed with the whole thing. Even though I had been when I was younger, this was my first time planning a trip so I consider it my 'first time'. There was so much information that I wanted stream line some for you if you're bringing your own little ones!

When we went, Emma had just turned 4 a week earlier and Tyler was just over 14 months.  We had an amazing vacation, with no meltdowns and no exhaustion post vacation! 

1. Go in with a plan.

To be sure we saw every park at least once, I scheduled all of our character lunches at different parks. We were going to be there for a week with 5 days of park passes, so we scheduled one lunch at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios, and two lunches at Magic Kingdom.  That way we knew each morning, which park was our "main park" for the day and could schedule our fast passes in that park each morning. 

2. Don't over plan.

Dave wanted to get on every roller coaster so when it came time for Fast Passes, I looked at our lunch plans to determine which park we would be at, and made his roller coaster Fast passes for the morning. Booking the day they were available to me, I was able to get every single ride he wanted with no issues. I mostly used our Fast Passes for Princess meet and greets. That was all we planned! We knew each morning which park we'd head to, we had Fast Passes for that morning and then lunch plans. Anything else after lunch was up in the air.  Having a great time at Animal Kingdom, we stayed until 6 pm. Epcot not as entertaining as we expected? Perfect time to head back to the resort pool. Not scheduling every moment of the day gave us some time to relax.

3. Take time to relax!

Our hotel pool was amazing! Leaving the parks and enjoying it was awesome but even things like grabbing an ice cream and people watching, or meandering through Downtown Disney were great ways to take a moment to breath, rather than rushing from one place to the next.

4. Take cues from the kids.

I wore the 1 year old in my Lillebaby Airflow baby carrier for 70% of our trip. It was perfect. he loves being worn and it gave us the ease of being able to walk right on to rides or let him nap if he needed to and no one had to be left behind to watch the sleeping kid in the carriage.  There were a few times when the 4 year old would show signs that it was nap time and when that happened, we'd let the rest of the group head off to a ride that was too big for her and we'd relax in the shade so she could close her eyes.

The heat index was between 100 and 115 while we were there so we were constantly grabbing water (free from the counter if you just ask for a cup of ice water!) to keep them hydrated.  Small snacks in my bag warded away "Im hungry but the line is too long" melt downs and every meal we ate in the park was delicious.

5. Do the dining plan, especially if you have a little one.

We didn't pay for a single one of Tyler's meals, and seriously, I think he ate more than Emmalee most meals. As an infant he was allowed his own meal (free!) at each sit down restaurant (except for Cinderella's Royal table) and access to every buffet we went to. While it doesn't seem like much, it was a savings! We did the Dining plan that gave you one sit down meal, one quick serve meal and a snack every day and it was TOO much food! I was blown away-- We had so much food and saved a lot in comparision to what those meals would have cost us to purchase!

6. Book character meals.

They were the best! The lines for characters sometimes took upwards of a half hour in the park, but sitting down eating a meal while all the characters came to us was perfect. We dined at Akershurs in Epcot, Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood Studios, and the Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest (not really a character meal at lunch but so so amazing), and Cinderella's Royal Table in Magic Kingdom. Each meal was so delicious but the interaction with the characters was even better.  Each character took time to visit each table and the handlers would check to make sure that we had seen everyone.  Emmalee was not a fan of the Winnie the Pooh characters at crystal Palace so they were respectful and waved from the other side of the table and then were on their way.  Tyler LOVED them, so they took pictures with him, but there was no pressure if you didn't want the characters.

7. See the fireworks, even if it's only one night.

Our kids are in bed by 8:30 every night and we knew messing that up on them would cause undue stress to all of us, so each night we were back in the hotel by 7:30 or so.  We were lucky enough that my sisters volunteered to watch them one night so we caught the Epcot fireworks, and then the Hollywood Studios fireworks from Epcot! The last night of our trip, we went to Magic Kingdom for the second time, went back to the hotel and ventured out for fireworks as a family.  The Frozen Summer Fun fireworks were spectacular and the look on our 4 year olds face was priceless.  Amazingly the 1 year old slept right through them but Emma will tell  you that her favorite part was the fireworks at Hollywood Studios, even though she fell asleep as we left the park.

8. Rent a stroller, even if you think your kids are too old.

My 4 year old never ever uses a stroller but we rented one from Kingdom Strollers and I am so glad we did. When we left the Hollywood Studios fireworks, she curled up in the carriage and went to bed while we waited for the buses.  Yes, I had to lift her out and fold up the carriage for the bus, but opening it up and pushing her back to the room at the resort was way better than carrying her across the resort. It also made a great purse and souvenir holder throughout the day too.

9. Have fun!

Okay, this one is silly, but seriously, have fun. We saw so many parents yelling at kids, or yelling at each other; it was sad. Remember, it's a vacation!

And last thing, no, your kid is not too little for Disney.  They may not remember it when they're older but there's lot of things that I did 10 years ago that I don't remember doing and they were still probably lots of fun. My 1 year old ate for free, stayed in the hotel for free, got his own Magic Band and enjoyed every minute of our trip. C'mon, look at this face... you know he loved it just as much as his 32 year old dad.


What is your "must know" tip for surviving enjoying Disney with infants and toddlers?


August 17, 2015

Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

I love today.  The Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale is a chance to really stock up on some great Lilly prints for less than normal. This sale, they started an online queue and I actually loved it! While it took me about 10 minutes to get into the sale, there were no crashes! I did lose a lot of things I had in my cart but still got a bunch so I really cant complain!


I really love the color blue...

Ha. Everything I bought for myself was blue while David surprised me by purchasing a Tunic Dress in Yacht See and a Maxi in All Nighter! I was even able to buy Emma a sweatshirt that matches my Navy Entourage Skipper Popover! A few items are still available at other retailers (but maybe not for such a discount), and the Lilly Pulitzer Sale is continuing until 11:59 pm Tuesday night so get shopping!

Marlisa Strapless Maxi in All Nighter | Juliana Embroidered Tunic Dress | Entourage Navy Girls Pullover | Riley Infinity scarf


PS. If you find a "Shell Me About It" Karrie Top in a XL, please buy it and I'll pay you back. ;)



NYC, Broadway & Aladdin

I grew up a bit of a theater person. I remember being like 9 years old and opening up a Christmas gift from my grandma that has a pair of pajamas in it. I was kind of disappointed because everyone else had gotten pretty awesome (read: bigger) gifts but when she asked if I liked them, I of course said I did, letting her know they were wonderful. She told me that I should check the pockets because you never know what you might find and I found 2 tickets to my first show at the Boston Opera House to see The Wizard of Oz.

Front row balcony seats and I was hooked. I went on to see many more like Chicago, Nutcracker, and Lion King, in addition to being involved with my school productions of the Wizard of Oz, Romeo and Juliet, Aladdin, Fiddler on the Roof, and the King and I, so it's no surprise that I spent 29 years of my life dreaming about seeing a show in New York City on Broadway. I've seen lots of off Broadway shows in Boston, but nothing on Broadway.

When I went to Blogger Bash in NYC, I was lucky enough to sneak away for a few minutes and ended up winning 2 tickets in the $30 lottery that is held right before the show.  Full $100+ tickets for $30! Amazing!

A photo posted by Heather (@heathgiff) on

My roommate, Sarah of sweet lil you, happily accompanied me and it was amazing! The scenery, costumes, the songs! The show had the favorites we grew up with like Friend Like Me and Show You the World but there some new songs as well! there were a few major tweaks, like no Abu, but the changes were great.  It made the play just different enough that you had to pay attention but still familiar enough that it was still magical. The genie even did a lil whip and nae nae so there's that!


I of course started talking to the usher who was working in our section and he told us we where we could go to have the chance to meet the cast! So when the show ended we took a side stair case and ended up on 41st street right next to the stage door! We got to meet Courtney Reed who played Jasmine, Adam Jacobs who plays Aladdin, and James Monroe Iglehart who played the genie! Does the genie look familiar? He plays Coriolanus Burt, Titus' arch nemesis on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!

It was such a magical night and I am so excited I was able to go! It's one more thing to cross off of my 30 by 30 list!


August 14, 2015

Be a Grill King with Cave Tools

Disclaimer: I was offered this product to facilitate this post however all opinions are my own.


Last month the wife shared an amazing recipe for Redd's Green Apple Ale Chicken that was absolutely delicious.





But you see that spatula there? It was a dollar and it was terrible. We had a beautiful wood and stainless steel set but the wood handle broke and then I had nothing and she just grabbed the first spatula she found while she was out one day. Instant regret.  Look at that chicken... ripped because of a subpar spatula. 

I knew I needed to get something better, more manly that could handle my grilling. A quick search on Amazon led me to this BBQ Grill Tools Set from Cave Tools. An oversized, three piece set made out of thick stainless steel that has a spatula, tongs, and fork.


The BBQ Grill Tools Set from Cave Tools are the sturdies tool set I've ever used.  Look at the size of the spatula, as big as my filet steaks! And the heavy duty tongs were perfect for some grilled corn on the cob. 

However, two of my favorite features have nothing to do with actual grilling. I'll present than as Figure A and Figure B. 


A.



and B. 



I don't even like cleaning the grill after I use it so being able to throw these in the dishwahser makes me love them even more and of course, the best part, a built in bottle opener... seriously... it's the important things in life. 
Because I love these so much, I know you will too and I want to save you some money on them! If you use the code VLOMCLTN you'll save 20%! You can grab them here!



August 11, 2015

Cape Cod Children's Museum


I seriously love summer as a teacher. Even though I'm doing an early morning summer school program, I am still getting tons of time with my two little ones. 

One of our favorite places to go so far this summer is the Cape Cod Children Museum.


Not only is it super fun but also extremely affordable for a afternoon full of fun.

Summer Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday noon to 5 pm
Ages 1-59, $8
Seniors, 60+ $7
EBT Card Holders,  $2  (limit 4 people)  
Free admissions for individual with Military ID


Both my 1 year old and 4 year old had a blast! It is one large room separated into lots of exhibits so it was easy to keep an eye on both kids, even if Tyler wanted to be working in the garden while Emmalee steered the Pirate Ship.


We spent a solid three hours there and only left to go find lunch.
There is a sausage stand outside but otherwise, you're looking at a 15 minute drive to get food so be sure to pack something to nibble on outside if you don't want to have to leave for lunch!


August 10, 2015

The Peanuts Movie and Dancing Snoopy


At Blogger Bash in NYC, I got to meet lots of brands and eat some amazing food. The breakfast and lunches were hosted by various companies and I loved the brunch hosted by The Peanuts Movie, which is coming out this November!

I

I am obsessed! You can tell that the artists really tried to stay true to the Peanuts characters that we know and love but we're finally going to really meet the Little Red Hair Girl!


The food was amazing but during breakfast we had a Q+A panel with many of the voice actors: Schroeder, Linus, Pig Pen, and the Little Red Haired Girl! They were adorable! The answers were so candid and cute, I was dying. I thought about kidnapping a couple of them. It's fine. At the end of the Q+A session, they raffled off one of their NEW Dancing Snoopy toys (that I know are going to be HUGE this year!) and I won!! Ahh! So excited!

A photo posted by Heather (@heathgiff) on


Snoopy plays classic songs and steps it up with some cool dance moves. My little man was very excited! How cute is he copying Snoopy's moves!?

video

Snoopy also gives kisses! Emma's favorite part!

video

I'll be buying this Dancing Snoopy for all my kids, young and old because Snoopy is perfect for every age!
Thanks again to Blogger Bash and the Peanuts Movie-- we love our new toy!

August 5, 2015

King Richard's Faire Opening Weekend Ticket Giveaway!



Hear Ye! Hear Ye! King Richard;s Faire is back for another season and I'm giving away a family four pack of tickets for Opening Weekend, September 5-7!

I know, yey, right?

We love King Richard's Faire and like all the greatest things, each of us can enjoy it for our reasons. Dave loves the iconic turkey legs, I love the small artisan gift shops, and Emma loves interacting with Princess Snow, especially on Prince and Princess Weekend! There are new vendors and performers coming this year so I'm excited to see what they will be adding!


From the King himself:

Guests can mingle with the King and his royal court, noble and not-so-noble subjects, and talented performers. When as famished as a mud beggar, tantalize taste buds with the Faire's delicious spit-roasted turkey legs, buttery ears of roasted corn, boules filled with chowder and stew, ringlets of fries, and quench thy thirst with champagne, wine and brew.  Shoppers can stroll through the 16th century village filled with handmade wares from more than 100 unique and talented artisans, including many local New England artists.

Tickets are $29 for adults (12+) and $16 for children ages 4-11 and are available for online purchase at http://www.kingrichardsfaire.net.
Children under 4 are free, and parking is free.
Discounts given to groups of 25 adults or more and private parties can be accommodated, including adult/children's birthdays, vow renewal ceremonies, weddings, and corporate events. Reservations for groups are required by emailing info@kingrichardsfaire.net.
The Faire is located at 235 Main Street (Rt. 58) in Carver, Mass., 508-866-5391.
Visit us on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram.

Check out our visit in 2014 and our visit in 2012 and then enter to win!

Winner will receive 4 tickets to be used Opening Weekend (Sept 5, 6 or 7th). Tickets will be mailed to winner.  Will will have 48 hours to respond with a mailing address or a new winner will be chosen.






August 3, 2015

Gaining the Confidence Needed for Potty Training with GoodNites TruFit Undies

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ConfidentKids #CollectiveBias

Tell me I'm not alone in the potty training thing. She's 4. You would think by now, she'd get it and maybe that's the hardest part, she was already potty trained. I'm talking sleeping through the night in 'big girl underwear with no accidents' potty trained. And then we had her baby brother and it's like she had no idea what a toilet was anymore. 

It was a long year after that. Peeing on the carpet, on the chair, in her bed, in our bed, at school... I brought her to the doctor because I was concerned something was wrong with her because it was so bad. She would scream because she didn't want "baby pull on diapers" but if we didn't put something on her, it was basically a guaranteed mess. 



The past 3 months have gone much better. She goes in the toilet during the day 90% of the time but will still have a problem once a day or every other day. Our biggest problem is bed time.  She wants to wear her 'big girl undies' but I am really sick of washing bed sheets every morning so I was thrilled when I went to CVS to pick up some snacks and stumbled upon the GoodNites TruFit Starter Pack, which is not like a diaper, but was actual fabric underwear with a disposable absorbent insert. I quickly checked out their Facebook page and Twitter feed to see what others had to say about them and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive so I figured we could try them out! It was the perfect way to keep her happy in real underwear without me having to change bed sheets every day!


I brought them home to her and crossed my fingers. She loved them immediately!  She loved that they were purple and matched her t-shirt.  At bedtime, I loved that we didn't have a fight; she happily put on her 'night time undies' and crawled into bed!


The next morning, she came running into my room (at 6:20 am mind you....) yelling "Mommy, my bed is dry!!"; she was so excited and proud of herself! All day she walked around with a confident little swagger because her bed was dry when she woke up. The next night, she brought another pair of the GoodNites TruFit underwear to me and asked me to help her put on her night time undies.  The look on my husband's face as she did a "fashion show" in her new real underwear was priceless! My little girl is so confident in herself and her ability to NOT wet the bed, it's amazing! I know that the confidence she is getting from her GoodNites TruFit underwear is what is helping her conquer this potty training thing!



She loves her special underwear so much that she leaves her favorite ice queen in charge of protecting the package of inserts. I know I overheard her telling her little brother that he would be 'frozen to ice' if he tried to take them! How cute!


I know it will still take a little time so I'm excited that I can get a coupon to save even more (you can grab that coupon here or here) as we continue working on being completely accident free! 

So, am I the only one? How's potty training going for you? Could GoodNites TruFit Starter Pack help your little one gain the confidence they need to conquer the world.. I mean... potty training?



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