December 27, 2013

Fuss-Free Holiday with Pampers and CVS

So dude.  This time of year is CRA.  We have been going non stop for 2 weeks now and it won't let up until the New Year. Parties! and Events!  Out of town Guests! last minute shopping and wrapping!  I'm not sure if it was because of this being our first Christmas with 3 kids,the shortened length after Thanksgiving, or what but this year I was STRESSED.  Good stress is still stress!

 My daughter's preschool Christmas Concert.  SO MUCH ADORABLE!
And her cheering section.
There seemed to be a perfect storm of factors combining to really put on the pressure this year.  With Matt working so much leading up to the holiday, our friends coming to town before Christmas instead of afterwards, and my 2 yo being a 2yo well...

It took a lot to pull it all off.

But I think the trickiest part this year was balancing the things we wanted to do with our older children with the needs of our baby.  Especially for our 4 year old this is just a MAGICAL time.  With so many fun things to do:

Kringle's inventionasium - one of the top Santa experiences in the US!
Which meant our 6 month old got to come along, too.
I love how the baby looks like he's thinking "these people are insane."

Baby's first noodles at noodlecat.
I think the moment that put it into the sharpest perspective was this.

Santa Came!  Photo taken at 2AM.
Yes.  We were up until 2AM pulling off the Santa thing for the big kids.  And then the baby was up to nurse as per usual at 4.  And then again at 6.  So I got almost no sleep the night before Christmas.  But, Santa! 

So how about a list?

Ways to Survive Big Kid Holiday Fun with a Baby:

1.)  Carry them.  Seriously a good baby carrier makes things so much easier because then my hands are free for dealing with the other two kids.  We just strap him in and off we go!

2.)  Keep them on as much of a routine as possible.  Yeah this might seem impossible.   But despite the holiday crazy I've tried to keep the main things at around the same times.  So I feed him when I normally feed him (nursing cover FTW!).  And have timed drives in the car when he would normally be napping - extending those drives by looking for Christmas decorations with the big kids.  A little bit of normalcy in routine can make all of the difference for a little one! 

3.)  Bring jammies everywhere.  That way if we end up out later than planned because we stopped to get the big kids ice cream I can still put my little guy to bed in his carseat with a much easier transfer when we get home.

Mmmmmm... Ice Cream.

4.)  CVS.  So with remembering everything for the big kids sometimes I forget something for the little one.  Like Diapers.  AHEM.

 CVS is is super convenient for those last minute issues.  Like when you're on your way to your kid's holiday concert and while you remembered the cookies, and your camera, and your video camera, and the teacher gifts, and the 2 year old's blanket, and an outfit change for the 4 year old for afterwards, and snacks for everyone, etc. etc. etc. you forgot to bring diapers.  OOPS.  Also the CVS near to me has the cleanest, nicest bathroom around.  Which is a random thing to know but key when you're out running errands with a recently potty trained 2yo.

Plus they carry gift cards - perfect for that last minute gift that you completely forgot you needed to buy:

And groceries for when you're out of bread and milk (I'm ALWAYS out of bread and milk) but don't want to brave the crazy that is a grocery store during the holidays:

5.)  Use a diaper you trust.  Yeah the last thing you need to be worried about when rushing off to a holiday party is changing a set of sheets because the diaper didn't hold.  That actually happened to us this year making us super late to the family Christmas Eve celebration.  Never. Again.
Daddy and Baby DONE on Christmas Eve.  Both the big kids were still going strong.

Pampers has recently come out with some great innovations to prevent such a situation from happening.  Their baby dry diapers offer 12 hours of leak-free protection.  So you won't have to get up at 3am for an unexpected diaper change!  My personal favorite, though, is that they now carry the swaddlers line - the incredibly soft and wonderful diapers that were previously just for newborns - up to a size 5!  All of these pampers products are available at CVS!

To celebrate their new innovations Pampers is offering a giveaway!  Enter below to win a coupon for a package of diapers and wipes!  Super excited to be sharing this with you:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

December 18, 2013

5 Years of Mall Santas.

So this year was the 5th (!) year off doing this whole Mall Santa thing.  Seemed like a good time for a recap and some comparison photos. 

santa claus
2009 - The girl is 9 months.
Baby's First Mall Santa!  And the first time I got to Mall Santa as a mom!  Very exciting stuff.  She's wearing a dress that I wore at my first Christmas that was made out of material from my mother's wedding (it was the '70's.  Her bridesmaids wore plaid).  All very sentimental.  And adorable.  And she was decidedly nonplussed.  I posted about that first Christmas here.

The year before wasn't much better. She looks so scared!   #santa #terror #christmas
2010 - the Girl is 21 months
Mall Santa Round 2.  This time in a dress my grandmother made her for the holiday season.  She was terrified.  And NOT INTERESTED.  This was as close as she would get.

The Dude is 8 months The Girl is 2.5 years.
That would be my favorite Santa photo of all of them.  I blogged about the whole ridiculous experience here but the bottom line was that The Girl was TWO.  Really Two.  And Santa was NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  Really any time that I'm getting frustrated with The Dude I need to come back and look at this picture because as ridiculous as he's been lately he can't hold a candle to the insanity that was his sister at this age.  2011 also produced this awesome:

Me in 1908, my son in 2011.  We were almost the same age here to the day.  LOVE. IT.
The next year the Santa pics are Instagrammed.  Of course they are.  2012 might as well be known as the Year I Instagrammed ALL OF THE THINGS:

Santa round 2: Mall Santa edition... No tears this time either! #santa #christmas
2012 - The Girl is 3.5 years and the Dude is 20 months.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES!  Seriously.  Everyone was really into it this year.  Although I was not thrilled with The Girl's fashion choices overall it was a pretty easy situation.  No tears, no woe.  Just happy holiday memories.  She told Santa that she wanted My Little Pony ponies and all was good.  Also:

Santa round one - and there were no tears!!!!  #santa #christmas
2012 - The Girl is 3.5 years and the Dude is 20 months.
Santa was so fun we went for a round 2 at the Kringle Inventionasium in Tower City.  Once again The Girl insisted on animal print but whatever.  Since then the Inventionasium has been named one of the 11 Best Santa's by Time Magazine.  We're going back again this year and I can't wait.  Although according to my daughter "Santa does NOT wear Overalls. He should be in a Red Suit."  I can't disagree with her....

The Girl is 4.5, the Dude is 2.5 and the Little Guy is 6 months.
And finally, this year.  We have officially exceeded the maximum capacity of Santa's Lap.  But all three of them are looking at the camera!  I count that as a major win.  I love the expression on the girl's face.  She's all... what up.  And the little guy is clearly thinking "what nonsense are they making me do now?"  The dude is all of two right now but thanks to the magic of an older sibling we had no issues with getting him on Santa's lap.  I think he'd walk through fire if his sister told him to.  Although he had issues with the mall's choice of music arching his back and screaming NO WANT JINGLE BELLS!! NO WANT!!

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
I will never get tired of this picture.
Also he was NOT going to wear his red tie to match his siblings.  Instead he opted for the "DADDY TIE" - it's striped like daddy's ties are striped.  I'll allow it because ADORABLE.

The girl asked Santa for "palace pets and barbies"  The dude asked for "PRESENTS"  both will be getting what they want under the tree this year.

Yay for Mall Santas!  And seriously can you believe that this is our 5th year doing the Christmas thing as parents?  Time flies, my friends!

December 11, 2013

18 pounds of love.

May I present to you 18 pounds of baby next to 18 pounds of chocolate:

Holiday Bark Season

That's right

Holiday Bark Season
That's interesting...
Holiday Bark Season
Let's see if I can get at it.

Holiday Bark Season
Marbled Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bark.  First bark of the season!
Yup!  The bark was so well received last year that I decided to do it again this year.  I'm sure I will be instagramming it in ridiculous amounts over the next few days and probably posting a few recipes here as well. 

My creation
In case you want to go on a Bark Jag too (SO MANY BARKS! MAKE ALL OF THE BARKS!)  here's some posts I've done on this topic in the past:

Tips for Holiday Barks.  Peppermint Bark Recipe.  Tips for Working with Chocolate.

3 Easy Holiday Bark Recipes:  Rocky Road Bark, Roasted Almond Bark, Cookies 'n Cream Bark.

Yay for bark!

Although I have to say when I was going through to find those photographs I completely freaked myself out because this time last year?  I was completely done with the bark.  Not only that but I had most of my other shopping done, cards ready to be mailed, decorating finished, and was basically owning the Christmas thing.  I also seem to have been thinner, prettier, and better rested even though I had 2 kids and was pregnant at the time.  WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED THIS YEAR? We're a hot minute away from Christmas Day and I don't have anything done.  I can barely keep us in clean laundry let alone wrap things.  I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING....


I tried plain noodles for him for dinner. He LOVED them. First step towards being done w the awful that is baby food!!! #6months #baby
RIIIIIIGHT.  That happened.  That's how I've been spending my time.  Turns out they are alot harder out then in.  Also:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
I will be using this picture in all future blog posts for ever and ever because I loves it so.

The magic ability of a 2 year old to make even the simplest of tasks impossible.

He is meticulously tearing apart and sorting a box of band aids and I no longer care bc I HAVE TO GET SOME LAUNDRY DONE SOMEHOW AND THIS IS ONLY LOCALLY DESTRUCTIVE. #two #SOVERYTWO #whenisthree
The Dude meticulously tearing apart and sorting a box of band-aids.  I let it happen because I HAD TO GET LAUNDRY DONE SOMEHOW AND AT LEAST THIS IS ONLY LOCALLY DESTRUCTIVE.  Sigh.

Good things barks are simple!  Yay bark!

Holiday Bark Season
Love the big sibling photobomb in the background.
PS - in 2014 I"m totally going to see this post and think I had it all together this year, too.  Silly future self.

December 10, 2013

Glow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

So on Saturday I took the kids to the Glow festival at the Cleveland Botanical Garden for some holiday fun:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

 We had a ball.

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Matt had to work so I went with a friend of mine whose husband was also working and our collective crew:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
that's alot of kids.
Everyone had a good time.  The place is simply stunning.  Decorations everywhere!

Glow 2012
This picture is actually from 2012 but the similar garlands are up this year.

And a giant Christmas tree that makes the perfect backdrop for the elusive Christmas card photo:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

The different gingerbread houses were a big hit with the kids:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
From that movie!

As were the many trains:
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
We actually didn't ride the Garden Express b/c wrangling 5 kids under 4 into coats/hats/mittens/etc again sounded like alot of work.  Perhaps next year.

Glow 2012
The biggest hit of all, though was the camping room.  I'm not even sure what it's called.  But there was a play camp set up complete with a fire, play marshmallows to roast, lanterns, and a tent.  The kids LOVED it:

Of all the neat stuff at Glow at the @cbgarden my kids liked the pretend fire and s'mores stuff the best. #clebotanicalgarden #glow #happyinCLE #christmas
I think they would have played there for hours.  As it was I let them play long enough for me to feed the little guy before dragging them away.  Up next was the gingerbread area which is beautiful.  And has a live band!  Of course the little ones were most fascinated by the slide:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

From there we headed into the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse.  I was still on my Quest for a Decent Christmas Card Photo and the lighting in there is amazing:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

Unfortunately the kids are .... less so:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

Heh.  I did take a few great shots, though - maybe not card worthy but decent:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden
Yeah.  I can take pretty good pics when my subject isn't running around like a crazy person OMG STOP IT GAAAAAH.
And one that is perhaps my favorite picture ever.  One that I will treasure because sums up this time in my son's life perfectly:

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

Overall we had a great time.  I definitely recommend checking it out if you are looking for something fun to do this holiday season.  Or for somewhere stunning to use as a backdrop for a holiday photoshoot.

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden

Glow runs now through January 5.  They are open Tues, Thurs, & Sat 10-5.  Then are open until 9 on Wed. and Fri (I'd love to go in the evening sometime!  I bet the place is SPECTACULAR in the dark).  Sunday they are open noon - 5.  Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for children and are FREE for garden members.  You can purchase them online here.

Glow at the Cleveland botanical Garden Yay holidays!

Disclaimer:  I received admission to Glow.  All opinions are, as always, my own.  I can't claim all of the cute kids this time, though.

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