Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Photo Dump Wednesday: Hair Update - new beginnings

So we had a pretty eventful weekend. On Saturday, after much discussion, J made the decision (with some encouragement from yours truly) to cut his hair. He decided to get a close crop in hopes that it'll make his hair more even. 

It was a milestone occasion and one that we have had several discussions about so of course it was fitting that we all went to support him. The Friday before J's "big chop", I got a picture of J so we could do a before and after look. 

Here's J before he left for work. 

On Saturday afternoon, we all got in the car (all smiles) and headed to the local Hair Cuttery for J's new look.

I thought for sure at this point that J would change his mind but he didn't! My brave husband said "we're good. Take it off!"

And so, she did...

More pictures from the event.

And just so you can see how handsome he looks, check out the before and after!

And since we're talking about hair, here's JOE's hair. It keeps growing and growing and growing. If you listen on the video, I asked her if she wanted to cut her hair. She said "NO!" I guess we'll let it grow until she and J are ready for it :-D. I am looking forward to when I can do her hair without the screaming and arguing.

And then of course, there's the sisters! Look at how much JAE's hair is growing as well. Soon, I'll be spending all day Saturday on all 3 of our hair. Its a blessing though so no complaints here...
I just love the wait JOE looks at her sister so adoringly. 

Don't mind JAE. She wanted me to pick her up and I wanted her to spend time with JOE so yeah...that's her "are you for real" face.

Then of course, there is this very cute picture of my baby in her soon to be favorite Sports team onsie. Momma's home team...the WINNING New England Patriots. WOOHOO!!!

To close out this post, check out a side by side difference of 3 days. The picture on the left was taken last Friday and the one on the right was taken on Monday morning. Check out my fresh hubby. I do love me some him! :-).

I hope you're having a great week so far. I need to start doing more for JOE's 3rd birthday party! It is in 2 weeks! Gosh...I can't believe I'll have an almost 3 year old. We feel so blessed! But seriously though, where did the time go? I feel like I blinked and she's turning 3 already. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

10 helpful tips when traveling with kids

With the Fall comes the official start of the holiday season. And if you're someone like me, you travel for the holidays.
Here are some helpful tips that's really helped me while traveling with kids.

1. Pack your patience and take a Santa Claus approach. In other words, make a list and check it twice! Make sure you start this list at least a week in advance and update it as the week goes on. I save a list on my phone "notes" app. That way, as I complete tasks, I add a check box next to it. This ensure that the night before, I am not stressed and also ensure that I have all my key essentials. 

2. Call TSA to find out what the liquid requirements are for kids. Pack enough food for 2 days incase you get stranded or something happens. Also pack ice packs if you can fit them in your cooler bag just incase. Since I travel with breastmilk, this is important for me. Note: If you are a nursing/pumping mom, be sure to pack a nursing cover. It ensures that you can express your milk in most places without feeling too self conscious. I have been able to pump on a plane multiple times and also nursed JOE on the plane when she was younger. Also, if you are a pumping mom, pack an extra pump. You just never know what could happen. I have a manual pump in my car and always travel with an extra pump just incase.

We got these ice packs with my medela freestyle pack and it has been so helpful. We travel with it everywhere!

3. Pack entertainment for the kids. We got a DVD player and kids headphones. We purchased the headphones a long time ago when JOE was about to take her first trip at 6-weeks old. It is adjustable and has really been worth the money spent.

4. Have a fully stocked diaper bag. Complete with extra clothes, snacks, body wash, lotion, wipes, mini first aid kit, hand sanitizer (kids touch EVERYTHING!) etc. Also take some cloth wipes for stains. You might need it. Our diaper bag comes complete with lined areas for storing bottles as well as wipes and a changing pad. Very handy!

5. Pack a carrier for the kids. This can be in the form of a stroller or a baby carrier for younger kids. It'll free up your hand to do things and when traveling, you often need to be able to access your documents and other items at all times. 
Plus carrying around a tired and sleeping 30+ lb kid can make for a very tired arm and back.The goal of the trip is to relax afterall and not get more stressed out.

6. Pack at least 3 extra sets of clothes for the kids. For example if you're staying for 5-days, pack enough clothes for 8 days. Same goes for diapers, underwear or pull ups. You never know when things might change and you could be forced to stay longer or be stuck at an airport. Personally, for myself I also pack 2 extra items just incase. Kids aren't the only ones who can get messy :-).

7. Always have your phone fully charged! In this day and age, this is so important. Especially when traveling with kids. Not only can it serve as a form of entertainment for the kids, you can also use it in case of an emergency to get help. There are also so many great apps nowadays on most smart phones that you can use to search for fun activities close to your location. 

8. Keep local currency (preferably small bills) on hand. You will need it. I am not advocating traveling with large sums of money because that could make you a target. Instead have some cash on hand incase you need to cab it somewhere or you need to get food or something not readily available. Using a credit card is not always practical depending on where you are. It is always good when traveling with kids to have some cash that you can use at any time. 

9. Pack a goodie bag for the kids. I call this a "bribe bag" to encourage good behavior. Mine includes candies, toys, cookies, etc. JOE loves to negotiate for what she wants. Some people say "this is rewarding bad behavior." I look at it as a way of encouraging good behavior. Plus there is nothing like a screaming kid on a plane or an enclosed area. There's only so much you can get done when a child is screaming their head off or refusing to cooperate. Sometimes, having a bribe on hand can help calm them down :-).

10. Easier said than done but try to relax. I love to travel and did quite a bit of traveling before I met J. When we got together, we did some traveling together and I want to be able to share that with our kids. While some traveling involves new adventures, others just involve staying by the pool, relaxing and just forgetting about your day to day routine. Yes, you have kids in tow but if you're relaxed, the kids will also be relaxed. 

Traveling and learning about new places with kids is beautiful as long as you make it so. Perception goes a long way. If you see it as burdensome, then obviously, it can be. But if you keep an open mind, you'll learn that traveling with kids can be just as much fun as traveling with other adults. 

Photo Dump Wednesday: Hair Update - One year natural hair anniversary

So on 10/11/15, I will celebrated 1-year of being natural and 2-years since I began growing out my natural hair. 
Since we were going to be away the weekend of 10/10/15, I got it into my head on 10/7/15, that I would blow out and straighten my hair for my hair big chop anniversary

Clearly, I didn't think through that. 

I first washed my hair and then did did 4 braids.

I purchased a hair heat protectant a while back for this specific purpose.

First I detangled and then used my hair oil mix on my scalp. Then applied the Shea Moisture leave in conditioner and then sprayed with the head protectant before combing out my hair. 

NOTE: I have NOT been successful using the Denman brush. If you have tips on how to use it, please let me know. It tangles up when I use it.

I used the warm setting throughout the process.

And this is what I got. Have I mentioned that I am a lazy natural? It is primarily because I don't know how to do my own hair.

After all was said and done, I ended up with a big fro! Blow dry FAIL!!!

I decided to make the best of the situation and just do a length check.

And then put my hair in a puff.

Last Saturday, I decided to do a braid out on my hair. I did 6-braids and then took it out on Tuesday. Here are the results. I am still a work on progress as far as learning to do my hair. So far so good. Its not great but it is better than its been in the past.

I also got a better turnout with my wash and go. I am starting to get a little more hang time action with my hair. Woohoo!!!
Day 1 of my wash and go.

Day 2 of my wash and go. All I did overnight was loosely pull my hair into a puff. I slept with my silk bonnet and this morning, I sprayed my hair with my water/oil mix and then applied a very small amount of olive oil.


If you're wondering, yes I am still using the manetabolism and so far, it has helped A TON
my shedding which is just about done. YAY!!! I know I promised to do a ruler check but I just haven't had the time. I need to get with the program :-). Maybe next month.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Photo Dump Wednesday: A Fall Weekend Getaway

A couple of weekends ago, J, JOE, JAE and I all went on a mini weekend getaway. As much as I love traveling outside the country and seeing the world, I also love exploring what we have in our "backyard." 
We decided to visit Dutch Wonderland which is about a 2-hour car ride for us. Since it was a long holiday weekend, we made a trip out of it. 

The park is dedicated entirely to young kids and it was definitely a fun time. 

Word to future visitors though...PACK YOUR PATIENCE! There are LOTS of kids and strollers there so you definitely will need to be very understanding and accommodating. 
We certainly enjoyed ourselves and had no incidents.

Here are pictures from our trip.

We got there late on Friday and after settling into our hotel room, we went out to a diner for dinner. I do love diners and the the lovely assortment of desserts they often have. But we didn't get dessert on this trip because it was getting late and it was the kid's bed time.

The look on JAE's face. You'd think she was also reading what was on the phone!

The next morning, we got up bright and early, took showers, had breakfast and headed to the park. We planned on spending all day there and we did.

JOE played a game and won a duck for her and her sister. Truth be told, EVERYONE wins regardless. It was cute how she we paid for the first play and when she saw the duck, she said "this one is for Jenna." Then she wanted to play again "this time for myself." Yeah...conned us there...she got 2 plays and got another duck. Smart kid!

Hand peddle operated train. This was just too cute!

There was a minimum height requirement so JAE couldn't go on the train ride. She was sad about it :-(.

But we made the best of it and took selfies while we waited for JOE and J. 

Practicing my photography skills. 

J and JOE drove a car on the Sunoco Turnpike.

One of JOE's favorite bedtime books right now is the Gingerbread man. There was a Gingerbread house there so we took a picture of the display. 

Half way through the day, it was time for "mommy duties"...a.k.a pumping. We went to the car and I pumped while J held JAE and JOE provided verbal entertainment. Oh the joys!

Then it was back to the park for us. We got to take a family picture and I love this one. I would frame it except for the fact that in one, JAE was looking away and in the other, she looked rather pissed.

JOE wanted to get her face painted. I thought for sure that she would chicken out at the last minute but she didn't. She actually waited in line, picked the art she wanted and sat through it. I was so proud of her! Her first face paint and I think it turned out great.

JOE also got to ride the truck with J.

I typically don't get food at theme parks when I visit but with kids, it almost impossible to escape this. Plus this park specifically prohibits you from bringing in food and drinks. 
Here is the lunch J and I got. What you see here came to $31. Yes...THIRTY ONE AMERICA DOLLARS!!!

After a late lunch and face painting, we went to ride the choo choo train to close out the day at the park. JOE really loved her face painting. I'm glad she did it because we are considering this for her upcoming birthday party.

Yes, I am a baby wearing momma and I like it...most days. JAE slept towards the end of the day.

It was definitely an awesome time. I count it a success especially because at the end of our time at the park, JOE said "I want to stay!" Too bad it was almost 6pm and the park closed at 6pm.

We hope to come back here again sometime in the future. The kids had a great time and it is a good weekend getaway trip from our home. 

I put together a quick video collage of our trip. Enjoy!

After we left the park, we decided to drive around for a bit. I wanted to see some Amish people and also explore more of the area. I especially wanted to see a horse and buggy up close but sadly, we didn't get to see it this time. Perhaps next time. 
However, we did get to visit a famous landmark. On our way there, we saw this sign. Check out the bottom of the sign. 

We also saw a sign for the train museum. We are bookmarking this as a stop for next time. I'm sure JOE will really enjoy it. 

This was another interesting location. J and I were wondering how this came about. Was this a baby boy named grandma? Or was this a girl who the parents thought would be a boy and just decided "whatever, we'll name her Jack." Eitherways, it merited a picture.

Then there was this store right next to Grandma Jack's. I don't know that I'd want to buy furniture from a place called "The City Dump." But hey, to each his/her own. 

Then we got to our destination.

We did sample some shoo fly pie and honestly, in my humble opinion, it was just OK. Not really my thing I guess. 
We also got some Whoopie Pies. They were also OK. Perhaps I didn't get the right flavor? I got a red velvet one and J got a pumpkin one and we got a chocolate one to share. I'll have to ask J what he thought of his pumpkin pie. 

While there, we explored the store. The furniture really looked nice and if we have room in the trunk, I may have purchased a few pieces because they were really very reasonably priced. 

So here is J being cute. I love this picture of him. Now I know what he'd look like if we were Amish. I'd be going around saying "there's my hunky Amish husband!"
 JOE fell asleep once we left the park so J ended up carrying her through the store.

J thought this was cute and wanted to get it so he could wear it the next time we visited his parents.

Then I saw this one. Umm...

We didn't get any of these signs but they definitely merited a picture. We did however get a couple of the spreads you see there on the shelf. J had some pumpkin spice spread on his crackers last week and he said it was pretty good.

This was a very successful road trip and we hope to do more traveling to nearby locations over time. 

And while we were there, guess who turned 6-months? Yup. My little JAE! More on that in a future post. 


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