A glittering night on top of Los Angeles. A recap of my Galentine’s Dinner at SkySpace LA!Read More
Recently we visited Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort and opened up my social media for any questions you had. I received over 80 questions about visiting Disneyland during Halloween Time as well as visiting the parks in general. I’ve answered the your frequently asked questions here! Plus, I’m sharing my favorite moments from our visit!Read More
Dan and I are fresh from five days well spent in Cancun, Mexico! This trip will definitely live on as one of the most relaxing adventures we’ve ever experienced. Which is exactly what my goal was when planning this surprise trip. Earlier this year Dan and I decided to plan more surprises if you will. In hopes of igniting that giddy passion from our years of dating. I have been working on this trip for a few months now and I managed to keep it a secret up until we arrived at our flight gate! When I finally told him we were headed to Cancun, his face was priceless. Like an excited schoolboy when the last bell of the day rings. Dan is very much a man of small emotion, so to get him to emote such surprise was awesome!
We spent our five days napping and swimming between the beach and pool. Our hardest moments of the day were when we had to choose which drink to enjoy. It was honestly the best time and dare I say I fell in love with my husband just a bit more than I already do? Time just us is such a treat. Though everyone says it is much needed, it is truly so hard to come by! Even the simplest of date nights can seem so daunting to plan at times. Not just sitter wise but emotionally daunting. At least for me, my heart broke when it came time to leave Mila. Not kidding, I turned into a blubbering hot mess wherein everything seemed to come crashing down. Our surprise trip destination was nearly blown, then Mila climbed into her stroller that was parked in our hallway and fell out bonking her head and I suddenly found myself laden with fear. Like why, why would I even try to leave her for so long?! But my mom kicked me out the door and we were suddenly on our way. Though the loss of my son may lead some to think my over protractedness is only natural … Every mom can relate to the inner struggle of leaving our babies with any caregiver other than yourself! It is hard!
Once we checked in and signed into the WiFi things were fine. My mom send Mila updates via text and Snapchat which were hysterical. The hours spent lounging together were re-filling our inner cups. We hadn’t taken a trip just us in a while and though hard to plan and hard to leave Mila it was beyond needed. I have mentioned on my blog (and Instagram) that the end of last year and early this year had been pretty difficult. Not just because of the holidays and dealing with emotions tied to grief, but Dan and I had frankly slipped into a frumpy rut. The love was not lost but the lust rather had been buried beneath work and our children. Honest, Dan was in the midst of building his own personal training business as I was getting ready to launch my third product for Baby Boy Bakery Kids and we somehow fell behind on taking care of US. Most days we found ourselves talking about each others schedule and giving a high five to each other as we traded off watching Mila while the other worked. To be truthful, last year was one of the most beautiful ones as it was our first year with Mila in our lives. But even as second-time parents having a newborn threw us both for a loop! A lot of the time we felt like we were drowning a bit and it all kind of came to a head at the end of last year. It was one of those things I didn't feel comfortable talking about because it seemed insane to feel so heavy when holding our gift of a newborn baby! Rest assured last year was great! It just came with a few bouts of struggle too.
It is very easy to post a smiling photo, but don't forget that there is a story behind those smiles and hard work to support them upright. That goes for everyone guys, not just us. I have now come to realize that comparison offers nothing but death to happiness. So comparing you or your relationship or your children to others around you or others on social media is toxic. This is a something I have to remind myself of often, daily even! The good thing though? Seeing how others do life can be really inspiring. It can offer ideas and advice that you can form fit to your own lifestyle. What is better than seeing something and then applying it for the betterment of your family? (just a random thought here, something I have been struggling with lately is the comparison thing.)
It is with that notion that I had to share, Dan and I work hard at our marriage like most. It isn’t easy, but things that are easy aren’t worthwhile right?! I've listed a few "tips" or things that I have come to learn in keeping our marriage a happy one. They might not work for you and most of you may already do them! Quite frankly they are things I need to refresh myself with from time to time. Being married is all about compromise and a forever give and take. I will say for certain, Dan and I aren’t perfect. Not in the least. But at times we feel perfect and we laugh after fights. We try really hard to make each other happy and we also try really hard to push each other's buttons because then can be fun sometimes too ;) We try new things and revisit things that we have been through whether they were hard or fun. It is most important to take a look back at the path we have trail blazed thus far, doing so makes us excited for our future.
Saying “I Love You” - I mentioned in our New Years Resolution blog post earlier this year that Dan and I need to try and say “I Love You” more. During our frumpy rut last year we weren’t saying it out loud as often and I simply wanted to hear it more. So I brought it to his attention and we both set a goal to say “I Love You” more. I think after being with one person for so long things can get dusty and lay within our sub-conscious. Like we know we love each other, but we didn’t say it out loud often. Making us both aware of it was important and now we are conscious of our words and how impactful they can be.
Communication Is Key (& Be Specific) - This is simple, speak whats on your mind. It is easier said than done though. What I have learned is that I was constantly getting upset that certain things weren’t getting done. Things I thought were common knowledge. But when dealing with men things are just different. They don’t think like we do. So, I started detailing things I needed help with. Things I needed Dan to get done. Having that open line of communication is so helpful and it makes me feel like we are a well-oiled machine at times. I do think though that compromise comes into play major here because when we speak our mind and detail things we want it might not always be reciprocated. So even though communication is key, coming to a compromise is the goal.
Time Away Just The Two Of Use + Time Away From Each Other - The best advice I’ve ever gotten was from my mother on the day of my baby shower for my son Ryan. She said “Be sure to not let your lives revolve around your baby. Make time for just you and Dan because once the baby grows up and moves out you don’t want to turn and look at your husband like he is a stranger.” For whatever reason that suck in my brain and has hard as time away from our kids is, it is that time just for ourselves is what keeps us afloat. Both Dan and I feel so refreshed after Cancun! It goes without saying that you can’t survive on empty and taking time to ourselves is a way to refill. What is also important is taking a few days just for us solo. For example, last month Dan went on a rafting trip with his brothers for a weekend. In turn, I plan a girls night out or a few days up north visiting my best friend Holly. I hold this thought in high regard, I never want to lose the Jacqui I was prior to having kids. And I never want Dan to lose that in himself either.
Life has a funky way of twisting and turning things over and over until we are forced to grow and evolved. Which is great! But let us not forget who we once were, let us not forget who were when we fell in love.
We have been spending all our long Summer days together at the beach and it has been so beautiful. By beautiful I mean not just the gorgeous scenery, but watching Mila and her fearless demeanor when running into the waves is out of this world amazing to see. Going to the beach was one of Ryan’s favorite Summer activities. He has that same fearless attitude when it came to water and pouncing into the shoreline. Seeing Mila resemble her big brother in that way nearly takes the breath out of me. I feel so lucky. Of course, remembering Ryan always brings on a bit of bitter to the otherwise sweet scene. Though thinking about him, talking about him is worth the pain … simply because it always ends up reminding me of the great he was. The great he still is within us all. Especially his little sister.
Heading the beach with Ryan those first few times as he at the peak of his toddlerhood was daunting. At first I really wasn’t expecting the struggle and down right cardio it took to rangle a toddler on the sand. The beach really must seem like a giant open play area equipped with water and a never ending sandbox. Both kids run wild the second their feet sink into the sand, they either run straight into the waves which gives me a heart attack or head straight into another families beach set up to check things out. Because who believes in personal boundaries when your two years old? Now, I realize that all little ones are different. But all I know is wild, which I am grateful for. So beach going with Ryan proved to be interesting, hard at first but I soon got the hang of it. Last year taking Mila to the beach was quite easy because she wasn’t crawling or really interested in the water. We sat under the umbrella and enjoyed the sound of the waves. This year we spending the majority of our time holding on to her as thinks she can swim right into the crashing shoreline. We build sandcastles so she can demolish them. And we eat a hefty amount of re-fueling snacks. Gone are the days where heading to the beach meant laying out on a towel, reading a book or falling asleep while listening to my iPod. Now we head to the beach for a full day of sandy fun and try to keep up with our ever curious kid. (I’ll enjoy the later every day if I could)
Since we are heavy beach goers I have developed a few tricks I like to do that make my life a bit easier. I am no pro and honestly I am pretty casual compared to most. I love letting my kids get dirty and explore on their own. But if you are heading to the beach with a toddler here are few things to possibly keep in mind …
Applying sunblock to a squirmy child could be a sport. Of course both my kids are redhead and fair skinned and both my kids loath putting on sunblock. Especially when I put it on their face. If someone wanted to rub lotion all over my body I’d lay still and enjoy it, but I’m not a toddler I guess. You might already to do this, but try applying a nice full coat of sunblock before heading down to the beach. I like to do this to so getting sandy isn’t an issue. I also apply a layer of sunblock while my kids are just in a swim diaper. This way I can get every inch of their body in case their bathing suit or rash guard moves. Try and use a sunblock that contains zinc, I love Supergoop Play Mineral Mist sunblock and their new Super Power Mousse. I’ve been using Supergoop ever since Ryan was little and just love the products. The consistency and texture is smooth and goes on really easy. I also love that it rubs in and absorbs quickly. Which helps a ton when your kid is screaming their head off. I’ve also found that offering Mila a snack while applying that second layer of sunblock mid-day is helpful. It keeps her occupied and still. For me I think you can never have too much sunblock on!
I love love love a baby in a bikini! But truthfully full coverage is key and kids in bathing suits are downright adorable … keeping them covered and free from sunburn is better. Both of my kids wear rash guards which I have found to be the easiest way to have peace of mind when playing in the sun for hours. I buy them big at the start of summer so they can wear them all season long. I will say, having kids in just a rash guard and bathing suit bottoms is easier. Last week Mila wore a one piece and the rash guard over, which was fine at first. But it made diaper changes a little more difficult because I had to completely undress her. O’niel makes great rash guards for kids!
Nap time at the beach is touch and go. Mila has never been a great napper and I typically follow her lead when it comes to day time sleep. If she seems overly crabby and keeps rubbing her eyes I know its time for a little rest. I always undress her completely, rinse her off and put a fresh swim diaper on. I wrap her in her towel and she’ll go down (in my arms). With Ryan we were able to lay him down under an umbrella, but Mila is a bit more high maintenance. We rinse off her bathing suit and lay it out to dry so when she wakes up we put sunblock on again, her semi-dry suit and she is off to the races again. Recently a friend on Instagram mentioned baby powder as a way to get sand off. I tried it and it definitely works. I bought a travel size and keep it in my beach bag now! This works great if you have to get sand out of their diaper area ;) or their face and hands before snack time.
Ok so snacks at the beach are a huge highlight for my kids. Scaring me as they charge the water is their favorite, eating comes in as their second favorite. I have found that keeping a stash of healthy snacks that are unique to the beach has been helpful. This way anytime Mila begs for a “nack” I can offer her a variety healthy options like; fruits, granola bars and cheese. I also try and offer snacks that she doesn’t normally get at home. For example, nectarines she gets excited for at the beach because she doesn’t eat them at home. I switch up her normal cheese sticks and give her new granola bars. I don’t know really why I started to do that, maybe because I thought it would keep her attention longer so she would sit still and eat rather than roam around and eat. Which always leads to her tripping and getting the snack covered in sand. But I do always remember getting special treats when on vacation as a little kid, so this is probably an extension of that. Some snacks we enjoy are; That’s It bars, Annie’s Fruit Bunnies, Natures Bakery Fig Bars, mini boxes of raisins and stone fruits (which travel well to the beach). We keep a small cooler lunchpail and only drink water. We use Klean Kanteen water bottles which keep our water ice cold all day!
You know, you can only play in the sand and get pummeled by waves for only so long. One thing we like to do is go for a walk. We’ll take our personals, but otherwise leave our stuff and take a nice walk down the beach and back. It is a nice way to break up the day and get Mila’s wiggles out. Right now she is obsessed with birds and loves chasing them down the shoreline. Taking a walk always seems to ground us in a way, Dan and I end up talking about upcoming Summer plans or stay quite and soak in Mila. I think a lot of the time we both end up thinking about Ryan and have our own way of embracing our life as it was and as it is now. Honestly, if all else fails. Go for a walk to clear your head, get your wiggles out and remember why life is so damn good. Even in the midst of dark times you can seek goodness to be had. Promise.
Sand games are a huge hit in our family! Right now Mila is all about destructing sand castles, but soon she’ll grasp a few games and beg to play them. Here are few ideas you can do with your little ones; Set up 8-10 bucket sand castles and race to destruct them all. Outline 6 different shapes in the sand a few feet from each other, then have your child jump into the shape you call out. Dig 3 holes at various lengths away from you and toss a ball into the holes. Designate points for each hole and who ever has the most points in the end wins. (Winner gets to dump a bucket of water on their opponent!)
In all honestly I think the main thing to remember is, sand everywhere is inevitable. Embrace it. A full beach day with your toddler will be messy, but great fun. Follow their lead and soak in every moment (even the hard ones). Take a ton of photos that also include YOU in them (don't worry about your body). You and your children will love to look back at the fun you had together! Cheers to Summer and the gift of beach days with our little ones!
Last week we finally made it to the Museum Of Ice Cream. I had heard about this museum last year when it was in New York City and fell in love with the bright colors and promise of massive amounts of ice cream. I love a good museum trip! In fact, it is one of my favorite things to do with my kids. Ryan and I would frequent the LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits monthly. Though the Griffith Observatory isn’t quite a museum it has that quality of traipsing in between exhibits and interesting facts. Mila has come to love our museum trips as her big brother did. Which I am thankful for! Both my kids are champion stroller nappers which is my favorite because it I can then walk forever and enjoy the museum a bit on my own terms. (But don’t tell them that ;) Bottom line, when I heard about this Museum Of Ice Cream I couldn’t wait to experience it! Honestly the only thing missing from all museums is free ice cream samples handed out through out.
The Museum Of Ice Cream was very exciting and not exactly what I had been expecting. It was very fun, but mostly because I enjoyed watching Mila have a great time. The museum is compiled of a bunch of different themed rooms with fun artwork, interactive displays and sweet treat tastings. The only bummer was that it was so hot inside the museum Mila and I were sweating the entire time. Which was ironic, I thought it would have been cool in there to keep the ice cream cold? Typical to every kid it seems, Mila was wasn’t phased by the heat. She romped through each room and thought it was great!
My favorite rooms were the Chocolate Mint room because it smelled so delicious in there. They were growing actual mint plants in chocolate spiked soil and they handed out mint chip mochi. Mochi ice cream is a family favorite, Mila and I devoured ours. If you’ve never tasted mochi ice cream it is creamy ice cream stuffed inside a sweet gummy dough. My other favorite room was the Gummy Bear room simply because I loved watching Mila run in-between the giant bears giving them each a hug. We stayed in that room for a while and asked for thirds from the girl handing out scoops of gummy bears. Now that I think about it, this wasn’t so much a museum as it was a fun house for kids and adults alike.
Mila’s favorite room by far was the Sprinkle Pool and she cried when it was time to get out. Visitors only get two minutes to splash around the sprinkle pool and that wasn’t enough time for Mila I guess. We ended up bringing handfuls of sprinkles home with us on accident; in my pockets, my shirt and a bunch in Mila’s diaper. I snapped a quick pic of her sprinkle bottom and sent it to my family.
Over all the Museum of Ice Cream was a blast! I do wish they handed out more ice cream, but thats just me …
Below are a few photos from our visit. Thank you Molly for coming along, what a fun girls afternoon!
"The beach house!" That's what Ryan used to call the beach. Dan's family owns a beach house in Laguna and we typically spend our lazy Summer days there. Ryan always heard us say "the beach house" and just associated all beach going as such. When he said he wanted to go to "the beach house" he meant the actual beach. Naturally, it's a fond memory, Ryan at the beach. Spending time there with out him just isn't the same. Though now as Mila is at the age to truly begin enjoying the beach, this past weekend was pure bliss. Her tiny sand footprints following the lead of her big brother. Of course Mila taking her own route from time to time, trailblazing her own beach style!
Last year she didn't care for the beach one bit. While she loved being in the pool and the warm beach water in Hawaii. Laguna proved to be too cold for her liking. She was so unsure about the crashing waves barreling toward her. She spent her time sitting in my lap or laying on a towel. Those days are clearly over now, which I'm happy about!
Last weekend we headed to the beach or the "the beach house" rather for our first official beach day of the Summer! Even though the weather was a bit cloudy, the days were perfection. In fact, it ended up being great days wherein the sun was hidden but the wind was warm. The water was indeed cold, yet Mila wasn’t phased. As most kids aren’t! I remember Ryan shivering while having the time of his life. Totally not noticing the chill, just focusing on the fun of things. Mila went head first into the sand and stood with zero fear by the ocean. It is funny how much can change in a year!
We figured out Mila has a serious knack for playing in the sand. We’ll definitely have to invest in some more sand toys this season! Her favorite was having me or Dan build a sand tower to have her knock down. We also dug up a giant hole she enjoyed playing in. Until she accidentally took a spill within the hole and got stuck. It was awful, but kinda hilarious.
Seeing Dan hold Mila’s hand down by the shoreline made my heart sing. Sometimes during those moments time seems to stand still. My heart throbs with gratitude and I am able to take a step back and just take a good hard look at my family. Does this happen to any of you? It happens at the most random times, but all of them seem to have this raw memorable quality. I never want to forget this day however, I’m certain our beach days this Summer will bleed together. I am positive though that watching my husband and daughter holding hands while dipping their feet within the water is a memory that will be imprinted within my memory.
This past weekend got all three of us excited for Summer and long beach days. Days where no matter how many showers you take, sand just seems to pop up in every nook and cranny. The scent of sunscreen lingers on our sun kissed skin. And let’s not forget the joys of having redheads … freckles are starting to pop up and I can’t help but kiss each and everyone. Mila has acquired a few, the one behind her right ear is my favorite.
Cheers to family beach days! Below are a few photos from our weekend …
If you have been with me from the beginning, as in nearly seven years go when I started my blog and social media, you know I love Disneyland! I started taking Ryan when he turned a year old (why did I wait a whole year?!) and never stopped since. While Ryan was with me, our Disney trips quickly turned into ‘our thing’. We frequented the park at least once a week and had our route and favorites down pat. Even on his last day here on Earth was spent at the “Happiest Place On Earth”. Disneyland will forever be a place where I feel and remember every ounce of my wild boy.
Now, once Mila was born I was jumping at the chance to visit Disneyland again with a child of mine. We took Mila when she was just two months and it was perfection. We haven’t stopped going since. If you see us on Instagram we head to the Disney parks once (and sometimes more) a week. Over the past year Mila has seriously grown to love the place and she even has a few favorites now. It has been such a joy to watch her grow, laugh and love a place that was close to her big brother and I. I’m proud to say, Disneyland is now a place I go with BOTH my children. Though anything Cars was Ryan’s favorite, Mila is more fond of Minnie Mouse and Small World. I am more partial to Haunted Mansion and Pirates. The three of us enjoy churros, churros and more churros.
This week my family had a fun opportunity to stay at the Disneyland Hotel and play inside Disneyland for two whole days back to back. Which is pretty much my dream! The best was that Dan took a few days off work to join us! It was his first time back at the park since Mila was just a baby! When we arrived at the park on Tuesday I fully cried because it really did feel like the four of us were together roaming around, having fun. I think the best though was watching Dan’s face while he watched Mila and her reactions to everything. I always come home bursting with stories from our Disney adventures, but he got to see her first hand this time around which was really special. We will be heading back again as a family soon, I’ll be sure to share a bit more on my Instagram stories!
Since we do go to Disneyland a lot and typically always share our fun on Instagram and Facebook, I receive a ton of questions. A lot of you ask how we do certain things, what rides are good for little ones like Mila and what foods we like to enjoy. Now, I’m no expert. Though, we do go a ton and I’ve nailed down a few tricks that make our life easier. I will say first that each and every time we go to Disneyland I arrive with zero expectations. The only game plan I have is to have fun. I have found that keeping expectations low at overwhelming places like Disneyland takes the pressure off. What will happen will happen and above all else, you are at Disneyland! Even grabbing a snack and sitting for 30 minutes while your kid gets their wiggles out is more fun than not! Below I’ve shared my top 3 Disney tips for you all, hope they are helpful! If I didn’t answer something you are curious about, just ask and I will either answer you in comments.
How We Survive Line & Parade Wait Times
Mila and I typically head to the park early to avoid long wait times. Hitting Disney early is a must with little ones simply because you can hit a lot of rides without waiting in long lines AND get a ton done before lunch + nap time! Usually Mila and I get the park at open ride her favorites in Fantasyland, hit up New Orleans square for Pirates and Haunted Mansion then take a breather for lunch. If we do find ourselves in a longer wait time I let Mila just hang out for as long as she can. Meaning she just waits alongside with me. I either wear her/hold her or hold her hand. We people watch, talk, sing songs. If she gets antsy I have a small snack on hand. A good rule of thumb for us is, if the line is longer than 30 minutes we don’t ride that ride. Mila can hang for more than 30 minutes with out losing her mind (can you blame her). My advice is find a few things you can bank on keeping your child’s attention with and don’t make them wait longer than what they can handle.
Parades are a beast that has literally taken a year to master. I am not kidding. Snagging a front row spot for a parade is a must in my book, but that means you have to wait a good 1.5 - 2 hours beforehand. I bring a blanket to sit on and plan it around meal times. I pack snacks, bubbles and a few toys that keep Mila happy. Like clockwork about 30 minutes before showtime Mila gets fed up. So at that point I just hold her hand and we walk up and down the parade route near our spot. She watches other kids play and toddles around. When the parade starts I will tell you, I’ve cried at the way my daughter reacts to seeing the magic up close. There are times while waiting when I think “Am I a F-ing nut bag for doing this?” but once that parade beat drops and I see my daughter perk up and start dancing … it makes the waiting worth it.
Must Do Rides For Mila (Baby +Toddler)
This is an easy question! Any ride with out a height requirement is a must do! Both my children loved all the rides. Get the park early and hit Fantasyland before it gets busy, those line queues can get a little hairy with little ones. Do the classics like; Small World, Pirates and Haunted Mansion. Over at Disney California we always ride Littler Mermaid, Monsters Inc. and watch the World Of Color show. You’ll find that your little one can go on just about anything, except the roller coasters and any ride with the word ‘mountain’ in it. Once your child hits 42 inches though they can literally go on anything. There are a few rides that call for 32 inches which Mila just hit! So now we can ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Cars Land which I’m pretty excited about. I'd also say any parade is worth the wait so check parade times as soon as you enter the park and work your day around those!
Favorite Foods Within The Park & What We Bring From Home
If you know me, you know I love sweets. At Disneyland I always get a churro. Sometimes (like this week) I go a bit overboard and indulge in a caramel apple or beignets, which are fried donuts covered in powdered sugar. Guys come on! So good! But in real life, for as much as we go to Disney we can’t eat like that every time. I always pack a tiny lunch box with food for Mila and a few snacks for me like string cheese, protein bars etc. Disneyland is pretty accommodating and even has a microwave in their baby center, so you can pretty much bring anything from home! I say, bring a ton of snacks and packed lunches from home, but indulge in a few treats from the park too!
Photos by Morgan Pansing