Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween!

Historically, Halloween is a time I go all out. I loved coming up with costumes and especially themed costumes. Ever since Justin and I have been together, I’ve tried to do a couples costume and then once LJ came along, we did a family costume. I had originally hoped to do a family costume again this year, but with 2 under 2, it’s been a bit hectic around here and coming up with and executing a family costume just wasn’t a top priority.

So instead of a family costume, I kept things relatively simple. For Vi, I found a 0-3 month unicorn “costume” (it’s just a headband and tutu) at a consignment store for a couple bucks and decided that was good enough for an infant who a) doesn’t care about this holiday b) will likely sleep through the whole thing and c) depending on weather, may be too bundled up for anyone to see what she’s wearing anyways.

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For LJ, I went with his interests and what I already had. Someone gifted us an 18-month engineer costume about a year ago and I’ve been saving it for Halloween. LJ is currently obsessed with trains so he’ll be a train engineer (provided the outfit fits – I actually haven’t tried it on him yet – eek!). Then yesterday during naptime I fashioned a Thomas the Tank Engine costume based loosely on something I found on Pinterest.

Look, the key here for me was to shoot for “adequate at best.” I’m not trying to win a costume contest or get a thousand likes on social media. I’m just trying to come up with a cute idea that my son will love and may or may not decide he’s in the mood to wear. I mean, he is a toddler. I found a DIY Thomas costume that had an internal contraption for storing candy so when you trick or treat, the candy goes through the steam pipe and gets stored inside the costume. Look, maybe that mama has an engineering degree or just really loves intricate costumes. Good for her! I’m happy if she’s happy. But I’m not using that as my measuring stick for success.

There are a ton of ideas for how to make a Thomas costume on Pinterest and the end results are all more impressive than mine, so I’m not going to give you a step by step. All I did was take a Pampers diaper box and cut the top flaps to the general shape of the train. When I cut out the bottom flaps, I used the extra cardboard and duct-taped the pieces to the top flap to fashion the back of the train. I had a red box from Aldi that I cut into the shape of the front grill (do trains have grills? I don’t even know that that is called) and I cut circles out for the wheels and taped them to the inside of the box.

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I painted the train blue (I just got a color sample jar from Lowe’s in Sherwin Williams Georgian Blue) and used red masking tape, yellow washi tape, and black construction paper to decorate the sides to look like Thomas. Justin printed out a Thomas face, and I just used construction paper to form a circle around his face which I taped to the front of the box. I wrapped half a paper towel roll in black construction paper and taped it on top and voila!

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It took me about 2 hours (not counting the dry time) and cost about $10 for materials. I’m happy with it and LJ is thrilled. Well, thrilled with the box, we’ll see if he actually wants to wear it tonight  (I do still have to attach some straps today).

I’d love to have a picture of my kids in their costumes to post here, and I give mad props to all the mamas who have already wrangled their kids into costumes to take photos before Halloween. For me, I’m pretty sure I’ve only got one shot to get LJ into his costume so I’m waiting for the main event tonight. So I’ll just leave you with some costumes from years past. Enjoy!

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2010: Katy Perry
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2012: Haymitch & Effie from The Hunger Games
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2013: Little Bo Peep & her sheep (and bumblebee)
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2014: Progressive Flo & Jake from State Farm
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2015: Abby from NCIS
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2016: Nick & Jess from New Girl
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2017: Backstreet Boy & Brittney Spears (BABY one more time!)
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2018: Pooh, Tigger, and Rabbit

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

 

Tuesday Toddler Thoughts

Today, LJ turned 23 months old. The last little milestone before TWO! I can hardly believe it.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen in my stories a bit about our recent library adventure. For those that don’t follow me, let me paint you a little picture.

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With the cooler weather lately, I’ve been trying to find more indoor activities that I can take the kids to. I recently learned that our library has a toddler story time on Tuesday mornings so I signed us up. The first two times went pretty well, so I decided to try out another class they offer on Thursdays which is called Music and Movement. It’s an awesome program for littles, and after the 30 minutes was up the librarian unlocked the closet in the room and brought out a bunch of toys for some free play afterwards. Fun, right?

Well.

The following Tuesday (which was one week ago), we rolled in to our normal story time class right before it began. The room was full of toddlers and their moms and so of course the only available floor space is up front next to the librarian. Not really a problem, except LJ saw The Closet. You know, the closet full of fun toys that he now knows about thanks to the Music and Movement class.

Do you think my toddler wanted to sit quietly in a circle and listen to a book?

No.

He wanted to play with the stuff in the closet.

I told him no, we were not going to open the closet, and he proceeded to throw a mini tantrum. Right in front of the class. Tears, cries, refusing to come sit down.

The poor librarian is trying to start the book and here my toddler is right next to her throwing a fit. I’m not going to lie, it was tempting to just pick up LJ and leave. I already felt like a bit of a hot mess rolling into class right before it started with my toddler and infant trying to squeeze into the front. Then my toddler melts down and I’m all hot and flustered and honestly, embarrassed.

Instead of carting off my crying toddler and sleeping infant, I stuck it out. I continued to tell LJ no, the closet was going to stay closed and encouraged him to sit. I attempted to draw his attention to the librarian reading the book and the pictures she showed. It wasn’t easy to keep calm and stay in the room, but after about 6 or 7 minutes, LJ realized he wasn’t going to get his way and he started participating in the class. He danced and followed the songs, he followed directions (I mean, as well as any of the other toddlers did anyways 😉 ) and he had FUN.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that day in the past week, and I have a lot of thoughts about it.

It would have been so. easy. to just call it a day, leave, and try again another time. And I know there are some situations where it’s better to lower expectations and/or head home. But I don’t think this was one of them. Story time at the library is for kids 18 months – 3 years so there is plenty of grace for typical toddler behavior. The activities are catered to them and if they throw a fit, the other moms get it. Even though I was flustered, I trusted that the other moms were thinking “been there, sister!” instead of “can’t you control your kid!?” (Who knows what they were really thinking but I’m not going to lose sleep over that).

LJ needs to learn how to act in social settings. He needs to learn how to be told no and process and cope with his feelings. He needs to learn that he won’t always get what he wants. And if I had given in and just taken him home or left the story time room to let him go play with toys in the kids’ corner, he would probably have stopped crying. But he wouldn’t have learned any of those things. Better to learn these skills in a toddler story time setting than melt down in a crowded restaurant or on an airplane, right?

I can’t expect him to behave perfectly every time. I know he won’t. He’s learning! But we practice and stick it out and celebrate the victories, like how when we played in the kid’s corner afterwards he shared toys SO much better this time than last time. And today, when we go back to story time, he might do a little better. Or he might not. But we’re going to keep showing up and trying!

I don’t know why all this was on me heart to share today. I guess I feel like my social media/blog/online life has been very baby-focused lately but the truth is we are firmly entrentched in TODDLERHOOD around here. And for any other mama out there experiencing the same thing, I see you. I’m right there with you. Toddlers are wonderful and sweet and hilarious and TOUGH. Hang in there. We’re all just doing the best we can.

Let’s Look: Favorite Fall Recipes

Today I’m linking up once again with Shay and Erika for their monthly “Let’s Look” post and today is all about fall recipes which is perfect because it is FINALLY is starting to feel like fall around here! 

A quick recap of our recent fall fun before I share my favorite recipes: Justin and I took the kids to a fall festival at a dairy farm in our area on Saturday and it was a blast! The weather was a little cooler and I was feeling ALL the fall things. Hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkins galore!

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It was so much fun to get to experience the festival with LJ: he absolutely LOVED it!

He played in a giant bin of corn, which just cracked me up. I mean, does it get any more Midwestern than that?

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We also got to see how their cows were milked, pet a baby calf, and take a ride on a train pulled by a tractor through a corn maze. I think LJ’s favorite part was getting to play on the giant jump pad – he wants to do everything he sees the big kids doing and he had so much fun running from end to end and getting bounced around (I love the progression of pictures haha!) It was SUCH a fun fall day!

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Alright, now on to fall recipes! Now I’m not one to go crazy over pumpkin spice everything as soon as the temperatures drop, but I do get excited for a few things every fall. My absolute favorites are:

THESE BARS from Sally’s Baking Addition. They’re called Apple Butterscotch Magic Bars and they really do feel like fall magic. I am not a coconut fan so I leave out the shredded coconut and they are still so delicious!

THESE COOKIES from Dear Crissy are the perfect pumpkin cookie. I love making these for a party because otherwise I end up eating them all myself. If you prefer a cream cheese frosting, these cookies from Cooking Classy are also very good.

And as for Halloween festivities, I wrote a blog post several years ago about simple Halloween treats for procrastinators (basically, a few festive and easy treats you can whip up quickly). These are sweet and simple additions to a Halloween party!Final Treat Collage

What are your favorite recipes for fall?

 

Vi’s Birth Story

This blog post contains some watermarked, professionally taken photos. Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for beautiful pictures that we will cherish forever!

Hello friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but suffice to say it’s been a bit busy around here as we adjust to being a family of FOUR. Today I finally had some time to sit down and catch up a bit so I thought I’d write a recap of August 23, 2019 – the day we met our daughter.

Meet my sweet Vi.

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The morning of the 23rd was pretty surreal. Because we had a planned c-section scheduled, we woke up knowing it was going to be our child’s birthday. We heard LJ wake up and Justin went to get him from his crib and brought him back to our bed. We snuggled together as a little family of three and I tried to soak up every minute, knowing soon our little family was going to change forever. It was a little bittersweet but oh so special and I’m so glad we started the day out just the three of us. ❤

We spent the rest of the morning nice and slow. Justin’s parents and sister had come into town the night before so they could be with LJ while we were in the hospital so we all hung out together. Justin and I danced around and played goofy songs with the word “baby” in them.  I was able to get one last Expecting and Empowered workout completed, which was the perfect way to feel capable and strong going into surgery!

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Finally, it was go time. We said goodbye to LJ and took a final picture as a family of three and then Justin and I headed in to the hospital.
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This time was so different than LJ’s birth. With him, I labored 25 hours before having a c-section. Because this time it was planned, we arrived at the hospital, checked in, and were escorted to our pre-op room. It was so much calmer!

The nurse got my vitals and walked me down to a nearby bathroom so I could change into the hospital gown. On the way, we passed by a mom and dad taking a walk around the labor and delivery floor with their brand new baby in the bassinet. I saw the baby’s pink hat and my eyes welled up. The nurse noticed this and asked if I was having a girl and I told her that we didn’t know, but seeing that little pink hat made me realize I might soon have a little girl and something about that made me so emotional!

Another thing that struck me during that hallway walk was just how much I was about to go through, all for the sake of safely delivering my baby. I knew a VBAC could have been a potential option but Justin and I had discussed with my OBGYN the specific risks for me personally based on how LJ’s labor went. Together, we made the decision that a second c-section was the best option for me and baby. That being said, I was still admittedly very nervous. I was about to have a pretty major abdominal surgery. Half of my body would be numbed. My muscles, nerves, uterus would all be cut open. And because I had already experienced it once, I knew what to expect in terms of soreness and recovery. It was more than a little daunting! As I was walking, I very clearly had this thought: “I am BRAVE.” Even though I was nervous, I knew how much I already loved my baby and how badly I wanted him or her to arrive in my arms safely. Yes, I was a little scared of another surgery but even knowing that, I was going to DO. IT. ANYWAY. It’s hard to describe how a feeling of empowerment overwhelmed me in that moment. This was the strength of my love as a mother. This was the courage brought by how fiercely I loved my baby. This was the resiliency of my mind and body for all I was willing to do to meet him or her. I knew I could do it.

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Right at 1:00, it was time for surgery. I was taken into the room to get my epidural and once I was positioned, they let Justin into the room.

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Again, I was struck by how different this surgery was from LJ’s – after 25 hours and 2 sleepless nights, Justin and I were both emotionally and physically exhausted during LJ’s c-section. This time, we were alert and prepared. We chatted with the nurses. Everyone in the room took a final guess on gender. I heard the nurse who walked me down the hallway say “I hope it’s a girl because of how you teared up seeing that other baby!” The c-section began and Justin and I held hands and eagerly anticipated baby’s arrival.

I didn’t have any desire to have them drop the sheet, so Justin kept me updated with what was happening. Soon, baby’s head was out. Justin stood up to get a better view, the doctor lifted up the baby, and Justin exclaimed “It’s a girl!”

And this was my reaction.

Awestruck. Overcome. SHE was here!

She quickly got cleaned off and then Justin brought her over to me for skin to skin contact while the doctor worked on closing me up. There were a lot of cords in the way, but those first sweet baby snuggles were just the best!

After the surgery was finished, I was taken to the recovery room and got to breastfeed for the first time. Everything went much smoother than I had anticipated. Even when the nurse had to press on my stomach to make sure my uterus was shrinking back down, it wasn’t as painful as I remembered from my first surgery. The whole thing was a really positive experience!

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And just when I thought things couldn’t get any sweeter, we were taken to my room and LJ came to meet her. Oh my heart.

Welcome to our family my sweet baby girl. We’re so very thankful that you are here. ❤

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Final Baby Prep

10 days.

I can officially count down the days until baby comes on my fingers. Ahh!!

The nice thing about having to schedule a repeat c-section is that even if baby does decide to come early, there is a definite eviction date. Baby will no longer be in my belly after August 23 – I am just so excited to meet this little one!

I’ve shared before that it took quite a while for my nesting urges to kick in this time, but once they did, they really did. In the last two weeks, Justin and I have worked to transform an old dresser, paint the walls, set up a crib, and get some semblance of a nursery together. Whew! Now that we have the hospital bags ready and a little nursery, I feel as prepared as I can be for baby to arrive!

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I kept the nursery preparations very simple for baby #2 for three big reasons. First, we kept LJ in a bassinet in our room for the first 8 weeks and plan to do the same with this baby. Because of this, the nursery really isn’t going to get used for the first two months of baby’s life. Second, since we did not find out the gender, I didn’t want to do too much decorating in advance. Once baby comes, I’ll be able to customize it a little better and actually hang things on the wall. And third, all baby NEEDS right away is a source of food and a place to sleep. Once we had that covered, I decided not to stress too much about anything else.

Today I thought I’d just share a little glimpse into what we did for the simplified nursery.

Enjoy!

Baby #2’s Simplified Nursery

So up until about two weeks ago, the nursery still looked like this:

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Brown walls, random furniture, and an air mattress because we had been using it as an extra guest bedroom. It doesn’t exactly scream “welcome, baby!” does it? I had at least started to sort some of our newborn clothes though 😉

My #1 goal was to lighten up the room. I wanted something bright and airy, so after we primed the walls, for the first time in my life chose to paint walls white. Normally I’m not a fan of white walls, but since we didn’t know the gender, I decided to go this route this time. Eventually, I plan to make the wall behind the crib an accent wall of some kind. For now, simple, crisp, clean white will do.

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Next, I wanted to create a cute little dresser for the wall on the opposite side of the room to give a little color to the room. I found this fairly ugly dresser for $10 on Craigslist and knew I could transform it to just what I wanted. I enlisted Justin’s help (I was more of the visionary, he was more of the laborer ha!) and I’m so happy with how it turned out! We sanded it down, primed, two coats of paint (Sherwin Williams Green Tartan), and added some new hardware. Then Justin used dowel rods to create legs and give it a bit more height. I also had him add a stained board to the front because the piece of plywood that was there was very flimsy and cheap. Plus, I thought it gave a little more character. I love it now!

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Dresser: $10

New hardware: $18 total (including tax and shipping)

Paint: $13

Wood + dowel: $7

We had the primer, stain, and brushes already. So the total cost of this dresser was right under $50 total. Win!

A friend had an extra crib but it did not have the ability to adjust mattress height for a baby, so we put that crib in LJ’s room and moved his crib to the baby’s room. Another friend is done having babies and was ready to part with her glider. I added a simple piece of artwork that was previously in LJ’s nursery, hung blackout curtains in a shade of minty green that will complement pink or blue, and brought in our trusty sound machine and salt lamp for once baby is ready to sleep in the nursery. And done!

It’s definitely very simple, but I’m so happy we decided to freshen up the room and I cannot wait to see our little one in it so soon!

Baby #2 Hospital Bag

Friends, tomorrow we will hit a big milestone.

37 weeks. In the world of pregnancy, this is a big deal because it means baby is considered full-term.

FULL. TERM. We’ve made it! Honestly, I am both super excited and a little bemused – like how are we here already? But also…I feel like I’ve been pregnant a loooooong time. Ha!

Even though I do have a repeat c-section scheduled, I went into labor early with LJ so I’m mentally preparing just in case this baby decides to surprise us early too. Yesterday, my new diaper bag arrived in the mail and it was just the kick start I needed to start to physically prepare for delivery by organizing and packing up things for mine and baby’s hospital bags. Today I thought I’d share what I packed this go-around (with LJ I packed WAY too much – typical first time mom, right?) This is just a list of what works well for us and our needs; it might not be exactly right for you, especially depending on what your hospital provides, but I hope it’s still helpful for anyone else who may need to be prepping for labor soon!

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Baby’s Hospital Bag

I have blogged many times about my diaper bag and while I loved it, I knew that I needed to get a new one for life with two kids. For one thing, my old one has been used so much over the past 21 months that the front zipper pocket is completely broken which renders the pocket pretty much useless. For another, with two kids to pack stuff for, I wanted something with just a few more interior pockets. After what felt like endless research, I settled on this backpack style bag and so far, I’m loving it!

For baby’s hospital stay, I am packing the following items:

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-Halo Sleep Sack (we loved this for sleep with LJ and used it exclusively until he could roll over)

-Swaddle Me velcro swaddle (another option for baby’s sleep, a little less fabric than the sleep sack for a cozy sleep)

-Two burp cloths

-One long sleeved onesie (the same one LJ wore in the hospital – I can’t wait to see this baby in it!)

-One plain short-sleeved onesie

-Two pairs of leggings

-Two sleepers

-Two pairs of socks

-Aden + Anais muslin blanket

-Flannel blanket

-Beautycounter balm (the hospital does provide ointment if needed for diaper rash, circumcision healing, etc. but I prefer to take this stuff along)

-A blue striped hat + a few headbands (can’t wait to find out which ones we get to use!)

And that’s it! Honestly, I still feel like this is probably too many clothing options, but since I will probably be in the hospital 3-4 days, I wanted a few choices. Everything is gender-neutral because we didn’t find out gender with LJ and we don’t know with this baby, which actually makes it pretty easy to pack because it’s the same stuff as before! Our hospital provides diapers, wipes, stuff for bathing, etc. so we didn’t bother to pack any of that this time around.

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And it all fits perfectly in the new diaper bag!

Mommy’s Hospital Bag

Clothing

For my bag, I packed the following items this time around:

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-Black flip flops (I like these for the shower/bathroom)

-Postpartum Support Leggings (an old pair I got off Amazon and wore with LJ and a new pair from Bao Bei that I am very excited to use!)

-Postpartum bloomers (the hospital provides pads + mesh panties, which I will also use, but I’m excited to have something along that also gives extra support)

-My cozy robe

-Fuzzy socks! I hate having cold feet.

-“Slipper” socks. Someone gifted me this dark gray pair of fuzzy slipper socks when I was pregnant with LJ and it was my favorite thing at the hospital. They are easy to put on and off and they have grips on the bottom so I didn’t slip around at all. I kept them by my bed and wore them walking around my room and hallway, they kept my feet warm and felt like a treat, and they got popped in the laundry as soon as I got home. Loved these!

-A cozy gray cardigan

-Loose fitting black pants (alternative to compression leggings when I need a looser fit)

-Four nursing tank tops (mostly from H&M)

-Two nursing sports bras (I love these from Motherhood Maternity)

Toiletries

The hospital does provide basic toiletries, but I feel much more like myself if I bring along my own things so this is what I prefer to do. Basically, I pack like I would to go on any trip (my shampoo + conditioner, Wet brush, extra hair ties, my morning and evening skincare products, toothbrush, contact stuff, deodorant, dry shampoo, and my basic daily makeup) but I do have a few specific additions. I make sure to take along a small handheld mirror so I can do my makeup from bed, nipple balm (because those first few days of nursing – ouch!), and washable nursing pads.

Mommy's Hospital Toiletries

I have a large travel toiletry bag that all this fits in and for the next 17 days all my stuff will be in it on my bathroom counter. This way, I can still have access to use it every day but it’ll be ready to grab and throw in the suitcase quick if baby decides to come early.

A few extras

I will also take along my trusty Boppy breastfeeding pillow (this was SO helpful to have in the hospital with LJ!) and my cell phone + charger. Justin and I share a suitcase for stuff and my half is now packed. He is on his own to make sure his stuff gets packed in time. 😉

What are your hospital bag musts? Even though I’ve done this before, it’s been 21 months, so if I’m forgetting anything crucial, please share below!

Virginia Vacation 2019

Good morning!

Last week, Justin, LJ, and I loaded up our minivan and headed east to visit his family in Virginia. His parents have a timeshare at a resort there and we were excited to get to spend lots of time with Justin’s parents, his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew and nieces. It was a wonderful week full of lots of fun: swimming, fireworks, games, and just spending lots of time together. Rather than a full recap, I thought I’d just share a few pictures that give a glimpse into our week. I honestly didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was absorbed in family time but these at least give you a little look at our week. Enjoy!

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LJ absolutely loved getting to hang out with his six-year-old cousin. They are the only two boy cousins (for now – we’ll see in August if another one is joining!) and their bond is just so so sweet. Our nephew dotes on LJ and LJ wanted to do everything that he did. Look at how cute this little reading moment was! ❤

We spent a LOT of time swimming and hanging out with the kiddos at the pool. There are currently 4 cousins ages 6 and under so it was fun to see them interact and play.

One day we spent the morning at a little children’s museum and even though there were SO many cool activities for little ones, LJ mostly just wanted to hang out at the train and plane tables. He knows what he likes! I honestly think he could have stayed there all day and happily played. 😉

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We stopped for ice cream after the museum – LJ loves ice cream just like his mama!

No missed workouts on this trip. I’m thankful for Expecting and Empowered which kept me on track with a couple workouts in the gym and a few cardio stroller walks in the morning.

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Another day, another pool. 🙂 LJ loved this pool because it had a nice big shallow place for littles and he loved running in and out of the water. I just love how he’s perched here on his little sibling – nothing like a 32 week baby bump to use as a seat!

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This is a side note, but I gave this stuff a try last week and loved it! It gives just a hint of a bronzy glow, which is nice because I never wear makeup to the pool, it goes on smooth, doesn’t feel greasy, and it doesn’t have lots of yucky ingredients. Win win!

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Pool time with my babies. I’m so thankful that I’ve had a pretty enjoyable third trimester so far and felt great during the vacation.

We spent a day at the waterpark, which LJ absolutely LOVED. He had so much fun sliding, splashing, floating the lazy river, and just playing. It was such a great day!

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Mommy and baby spent lots of time floating the lazy river and it was wonderful!

LJ is super into exploring right now and he loved finding little treasures (aka rocks) outside and point me in the most interesting direction. I can just hear his little mind going “come on mama!”

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Reading material for the week. This was an excellent read that I’m excited to review in my monthly post!

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At dinner one night, the restaurant had a little fish pond and our nephew was so sweet to hold LJ up so he could see. Melts my heart!

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We loved our time away with family – it was such a great week of memory making!