Bringing Baby to the Beach

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

Summertime has arrived here in Hawaii and we are finding ourselves at the beach more than ever.

Yes, even with a newborn.

For a little while, our tradition of surfing on Thursday nights with friends was the only beach time we were fitting in each week but as the temperatures are rising we have been trading in our park days for beach days and squeezing in weekend trips too.

Weekend beach time is extra sweet because Alex gets to come with us.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. Packing up (what feels like) the entire house, loading it – and the kids – into the van, unloading it at the beach, setting up camp, tearing down camp, bringing it all back to the van, washing off the kids, dressing the kids, taking care of the wet, sandy stuff at home (tired yet?).

But it is SO worth it.

I love watching Lyla and Simon’s confidence in the water grow. Alex took Simon out on his surfboard for the first time this week – how cool is that?

I love the quiet time that I get with Etta Rae as I sit with her in the shade.

I love seeing the smiles on the faces of my family and hearing them laugh.

I love watching Lyla and Simon play. They sit in the sand together and make “soup”. They chase birds and each other. They play peek-a-boo with their baby sister. They just have fun.

So much goodness.

I know a lot of you mamas out there will have fresh babes this summer and the thought of bringing them to the beach/pool/any body of water is daunting. Especially if you have older children too. But, mama, you can do it! Whether you are taking them solo or will have extra hands around to help, here are my “must have” items for bringing baby to the beach…

  1. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) for the kids. My number one concern when taking the kids to the beach is safety. The first thing that I do when we get to the beach is put a Puddle Jumper® life jacket on Lyla and Simon. They both know not to go in/near the water without an adult but having them wear their Puddle Jumper® life jacket gives me peace of mind while I set up our camp. We started using the Puddle Jumper® life jacket with Lyla last summer and recently went back to Target to get Simon his own. The kids love them because they are easy to put on (just slide their arms through and clip the adjustable buckle in the back), they are comfortable (the woven polyester material makes them softer and prevents chafing) and they totally give them confidence in the water.  I love them because they have been approved by the US Coast Guard as a PFD and they have antimicrobial properties built in to resist odor causing bacteria from building up (yuck!).
  2. Designated space for baby. A playard works great at the beach because it offers you a solid surface to put baby down that is away from curious, sandy fingers. We bring a fitted crib sheet to put over the top to keep bugs and sand out and give an extra layer of sun protection.
  3. Water and snacks. Our kids (OK, fine – me too) love to snack at the beach. Taking a nice snack break in between playing and swimming usually buys us more beach time. I try to pack a healthy variety into a bunch of small containers so that if a wet, sandy hand finds its way inside we don’t lose it all.
  4. Baby powder. Even if you rinse your kids off in the ocean or the beach shower and physically carry them straight to the car, they will somehow find a way to cover themselves in sand from head to toe. To make sure you leave the beach at the beach – and to save your car from becoming a crazy, sandy mess – put some baby powder wherever the sand is stuck to your kids and it will brush right off. Seriously, magic.
  5. Water resistant blanket. If your kids are anything like mine, they will constantly be bringing you sand “ice cream cones” and treasures that they find in the water. Having a water resistant blanket helps keep your butt comfy and makes it easier to brush the sand away too 😉
  6. Re-sealable plastic bag. I make sure to have a few of these in different sizes. The sandwich size is perfect for keeping my phone safe. The gallon size makes a great diaper pail.
  7. Sun protection. Duh, right? Make sure you have sunblock and don’t forget to reapply!!
  8. Camera. Point and shoot, iPhone, DSLR, Polaroid – whatever you use, use it! Make sure to capture these special moments with your family.
  9. Baby blankets. Lots and lots of baby blankets. Because inevitably, the blankets are going to get wet/sandy/spilled on/etc. and you don’t want to wrap up baby in a dirty blanket.
  10. A giant beach bag. One big enough to throw everything inside.

If you want to pick up a Puddle Jumper® life jacket for your child this summer, you can find them at Target! They fit children 30-50 pounds and have lots of fun designs for kids.

What is your “must have” item for a trip to the beach?

 

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DIY Floral Step Stool

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

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Here at the Byrd house it’s potty training time. We have great days and we have…well…not so great days. It’s definitely a learning process for all parties involved. Luckily, Lyla has been pretty enthusiastic by the whole thing, especially once she realized that “big” girls get to wear Pull-Ups® Cool & Learn® Training Pants with princesses on them. 

Like a lot of little girls, Lyla is enthralled by all things princess. If she had it her way, she would never take off her dresses or crown so, like any good mom would, I use it to my advantage when I need her to do something 😉

Need to do her hair? I ask her to sit still while I make her hair just like [insert favorite princess of the week here].

Want her to eat a few more bites of dinner? Tell her that meatloaf is food fit for a princess. 

Girlfriend is motivated. 

So, with potty training, I’m using the same tactics. 

On a recent trip to Walmart, I picked up a package of Pull-Ups with Disney’s Princess Sophia on them. Lyla oohed and aahed  at them in the cart, in the car and when we got home. (I told you, she loves princesses). To build excitement, I didn’t let her open them on the first day, but kept talking them up – letting her know that we would open them when she was ready to use the big girl potty.

The Pull-Ups® Cool & Learn® Training Pants have a built-in cooling system that helps teach kids when they are wet. They also have easy-open sides for when you need to help with the changing. 

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Of course, a big part of potty training is learning what to do after you go. You know, the whole flushing and washing your hands thing. So to make that special for her too, I decided to make a floral step stool fit for a princess. 

Back at Walmart, I picked up a plastic step stool and some faux flowers. I love getting my flowers from there because they are so affordable. Less expensive = I can buy more and really make a statement. 

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Lyla was pretty excited to see this step stool come to life so she happily helped me remove all of the flowers from the stems and we collected them into one big pile. 

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Since hot glue and toddlers do not mix (safety first, y’all) Alex kept her entertained with some highly sophisticated hand-puppet action while I got to work on gluing the flowers to the stool. 

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When I was done, my trusty assistant helped me clean up all of the extra flowers while we let the glue dry. Then, we were off to the bathroom to give it a try!

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Find out which type of potty training character your child is at this link. Lyla is definitely a squirrel so I think our approach of making the potty and hand-washing routine a princess game for her is going to work really well. 

Wish us luck!

Ready to start on your potty training adventure? Use this coupon at Walmart for $2 off any package of Pull-Ups (or GoodNights) at Walmart from 8/28- 10/8.

 

 

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DIY Thanksgiving Wreath

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

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I love Thanksgiving. The food, the traditions, the nostalgia – all of it. It’s the perfect kick-off to the busy holiday season and something that I look forward to every year.

Since getting married four years ago, I have been telling my husband that I can’t wait to host Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, between not having a big enough space and our traveling to see other family, I haven’t had my chance yet.

This year, I will be much too pregnant to travel off-island and we have a home large enough to host family and friends so it looks like I’m finally getting my chance!

To say that I am excited is an understatement but I’m trying hard not to go overboard with the planning and preparation.

My main goal when doing any kind of hosting is comfort. No matter how great your kitchen and decorating skills are, your guests will eventually forget what you served them to eat, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why creating an authentically warm, relaxing, and comfortable environment is key.

I feel most at peace in my own home when things are tidied up. I know that my guests will feed off of my energy, so I will be spending some time sprucing up the main living areas of our home before the big day to make sure that I am able to relax.  The last time I was at Walmart, I picked up a few of my clean-house essentials: Scrubbing Bubbles® Toilet Cleaning Gel, Scrubbing Bubbles® Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner and Windex® Original Glass Wipes. (Bonus: there is an awesome rebate going on right now which saves you $5 on your holiday photos)

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Cleaning up the house, especially when you have a meal to plan/cook is a big job but with the right cleaning products and some holiday tunes turned up nice and loud it’s a big, fun job.

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^My brother kindly demonstrating how easy and fun cleaning the bathroom with the Windex® Original Glass Wipes is. Isn’t he the best?

After the house is clean, and before I get to cooking, I’ll make sure that our house is decorated festively for the occasion with some traditional items and a special Thanksgiving wreath.

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We all know to expect the “what are you thankful for” activity at the Thanksgiving dinner table but none of us likes to be put on the spot, right? I know I don’t. I think this is especially true when sitting around the table with strangers or a new group of people. (think your first Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family or maybe a group of your parent’s colleagues) but also applies to those dining with family and loved ones that they see all of the time.

Even though I have SO much to be thankful for, and love spending time reflecting on them, my naturally introverted self sometimes cringes at situations like these. To combat that awkwardness, and to make sure that all of my guests feel comfortable this Thanksgiving, I created this wreath that we will incorporate during dinner time.

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The wreath is already hanging above our piano. Underneath, I have a box with pre-cut “thanks” circles and some pieces of leather cord. The idea is that from now until Thanksgiving, anyone who comes into my house can write down what they are thankful for and tie it onto the wreath. Guests who are here only for the day will have their opportunity to write down what they are thankful for while they are mingling and waiting for our meal.

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During dinner, I will remove all of the circles from the wreath, divide them equally amongst our guests and we will take turns reading off what we are all thankful for. Of course, anybody can share more if they are so inclined but I believe that by having this anonymous way of sharing what we are thankful for will ensure that all of my guests feel comfortable, welcomed and pressure-free.

Sounds great, right? If you want to make a Thanksgiving wreath of your own, please feel free to download this free printable which gives you twelve “thanks” circles per page. Once you have the circles printed and cut out, punch a single hole into the top of the circle, cut some string and lay those items out with some pens.

I have so much to be thankful for this year – our wreath is going to be pretty full by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. I’m looking forward to it! That and, of course, the food. You can find more #HappyThanksgathering inspiration here. 

 

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Santa Fe Flatbread

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

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Friday nights were made for pizza – amiright?

On the Friday before we left for vacation, I was super busy packing up our things and it was way too hot to even think about baking but, being a sucker for tradition, I didn’t want to skip on pizza night so I decided to keep it light, quick and easy and put together some Santa Fe flatbreads. Not exactly pizza but definitely delicious and got the job done. 

Building the flatbreads was super easy because I used a Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Salad from Costco. There are a bunch of different varieties available but on this trip the Santa Fe Style Salad caught my eye.

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The Santa Fe Style Salad comes with romaine lettuce, white meat chicken, fire roasted corn, a four cheese blend, tortilla chips and a salsa-ranch dressing. 

Speaking of the dressing…SO good. This pregnant mama has been dreaming about it since we had this dinner and I can’t wait to get back to Costco so I can buy more. And that fire roasted corn – mmmmm so yummy. Corn is one of my favorite things to put on the grill and the fact that the hard part was already done for me was perfect. 

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All of the ingredients were already prepared and portioned for me so all I had to do was spread the dressing onto my flatbread, add the toppings and serve. Dinner was on the table in minutes and pizza night was saved.  

I found the Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Salads in the refrigerated section of Costco that is near the meats and cheese. 

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To keep our meal light, I paired the flatbreads with a refreshing homemade blackberry iced tea. Stay tuned for that recipe soon. Which Ready Pac Bistro Bowl will you pick up next time you are at Costco?

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 Follow along with Ready Pac for meal inspiration that is delicious, quick and healthy :  Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

 

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Ice Cream Party

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

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If you are a regular here, then you probably know by now that we are in Michigan visiting family (if you are new – hi!). Summertime here is magical and I love that I am able to share this place, that was such a big part of my childhood, with Alex and Lyla.

Some of my fondest memories from my summers here are sitting outside on the looong summer nights and enjoying an ice cream cone with my family. I decided to re-create one of those nights this year, but added a little twist. 

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I started off by picking up a few cartons of Blue Bunny Ice Cream from the local Walmart. They have SO many delicious flavors to choose from, and I was tempted to buy them all, but I stuck with classic vanilla. Can’t go wrong with that! 

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I picked up a bunch of different toppings too. Sprinkles, hot fudge, cherries, butterscotch, strawberry sauce and the Hershey’s candies that were being suggested in the in-store demo. 

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Once home, I used a leftover wooden cube from a fun lawn game craft (stay tuned for that post) to create a toppings dice. The idea was to write out each topping on a side of the dice, and have my family members roll to see what toppings they were going to add to their ice cream. Sounds fun, right?

I set up a little ice cream station outside, called some family members over and we got to rolling. Literally – ha. 

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It was a pretty hot day and the ice cream was melting fast which, in my opinion, makes it even more delicious. We all enjoyed our dessert and had a lot of fun letting the roll of a dice decide our toppings for us. 

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The next Blue Bunny in-store demos are happening at Walmart July 16-19. Make sure you check them out for inspiration on how to pair your favorite Blue Bunny ice cream flavors with one of my favorite summertime fruits: peaches. Yum!

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

If you are an ice cream lover like me,  connect with Blue Bunny

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+ | Youtube

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Mom’s Best Friend

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

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Keeping the house clean with a toddler running around brings a whole new meaning to the word “chore”. I could easily spend my entire day chasing Lyla around picking up after her, wiping up sticky handprints and putting things back in their place but that would leave me with no time for anything else. Instead, I try to do a quick tidy up during her naps and right before bed. 

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^ typical look for Lyla

Of course, a tidy house isn’t really a clean house and I try to keep up with the deep cleaning as much as I can. When Lyla became mobile, I avoided things like mopping the floors and deep cleaning baseboards for as long as I could because I was paranoid about what was going into her mouth. Sure, if I didn’t clean she would be exposed to more dirt and things but I figured that between a little dirt and harsh chemicals, the dirt would be the least harmful. [sounds kind of silly now that I’ve typed that out – I swear I’m a good mom]

Silly or not I’m thankful that I don’t have to make those choices anymore because I was introduced to Green Works by Clorox – a line of cleaning products that get the job done using natural ingredients that clean powerfully and don’t leave behind any strong smells or residue.

In other words, it’s every mom’s best friend. 
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Another reason it’s every mom’s best friend? It’s only sold at Target (and this week there is a 3 for $8 deal) No need to add another stop to your errand running, adding another round of unloading and loading the kids again. (woohoo!) Last time I was at Target I picked up four of the Green Works products – the All Purpose Cleaner, Cleaning Wipes, Dishwashing Liquid and Laundry Detergent. 

I didn’t even make it home before I broke into the cleaning wipes. When I was getting everything put into the trunk, Lyla spilt a little bit of her milk so I used one of the wipes to clean it up. No more mess, no residue and no strong chemical order in the small interior of the car. I’m telling you – mom’s best friend. 

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I’m also really happy with the laundry detergent. Sometimes Lyla’s skin is a little sensitive to our ‘normal’ detergent leaving her with a light rash on her tummy and back but since switching to the Green Works detergent, making that our new ‘normal’, we haven’t had any trouble with that. Again, mom’s best friend. 

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I think it’s great that the people at Clorox realized that there are a lot of mamas out there that are looking for ways to live a more natural lifestyle and responded with these products that are safe, affordable and effective. Thanks for introducing my to my new best friend 😉

What are your secrets to keeping the house clean? I would love to hear about them below!

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diy stuffed toy holder

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

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As Lyla becomes more verbal and expressive, Alex and I are making a conscious effort to help her connect her feelings and emotions to words. We feel that by teaching her how to express her emotions, we will help her develop social skills that will lead to a happy, healthy childhood. 

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This is where, I think, parenthood gets hard. We are responsible for raising well-adjusted humans that are going to enter society someday. Our children are going to need to be able to communicate and function within the world around them. That is just mind blowing to me. Thankfully, we aren’t totally on our own and there are tons of tools (books, toys, movies, etc.) out there that are available to assist us. 

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To help Lyla discover her emotions, I picked up a set of Inside Out plush characters from Walmart and put together a fun plush holder. I think it’s pretty obvious that she was a big fan from the get-go. As soon as I got the set into the cart, she immediately started having conversations with all of them. Fear seemed to be her favorite – she was probably afraid I was going to embarrass her with more pictures 😉

While we were in the toy aisle, I also made sure to pick up plastic sand pails in the Inside Out plush characters colors. Don’t you just love the bright colors that are so synonymous with Disney-Pixar? I wasn’t able to find either a yellow or purple pail so I swung by the home improvement section and grabbed a couple of cans of spray paint. 

Once home, I took a pallet remnant that we had laying in the garden and arranged the pails on top. If you don’t have a pallet, any thin piece of wood will do. Or, if you have space, (and don’t mind holes in the walls) you could hang the pails right on the wall in your child’s playroom! 

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When I had the pails arranged in an order I liked, I commissioned my husband to screw the pails onto the board. Nothing like a little manual labor on what seemed to be the hottest day ever. Thanks, babe! 

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With all of the pails in place, I grabbed some paint from my craft supply stash and labeled the future homes of our new plush pals, let it dry and then I was done! 

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I’m so happy with the way this DIY stuffed toy holder turned out. Not only can we use our new Inside Out friends to talk about emotions with Lyla, but we can also work on her color recognition and practice putting the toys inside their respective holders. Also, having the pails set up on a board like this makes it totally portable which I love since I can bring it outside on these hot summer days when I can’t stand another minute in the house with no AC (being pregnant in the summer is no joke!)

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We haven’t seen the movie yet but are hoping to soon – I’m hoping it pops up on the weekly “Crybaby Matinee” list since I’m not sure how Lyla will do in a theatre. If not, Alex and I will have to sneak out for a date night soon. That will bring us both joy. (see what I did there?)

Have you seen Inside Out yet? What did you think? How old were your kids when you took them to see their first movie?

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