Summertime in Northern Michigan

We’ve been home from our annual Michigan trip for over a month now but am only now getting my photos uploaded. Not because of a lack of time or enthusiasm – I just wasn’t able to make it through all of them without crying! 

There are SO many photos that I want to share so I’m going to divide them into several posts. 

These are some of my favorites from around Grandpa K’s house (AKA the Chassell Castle) … 

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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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Favorite Toddler-Friendly WDW Attractions

Tell people you are planning on taking your toddlers to Walt Disney World and you will probably hear a lot of “Really? But they can’t ride anything.” to which I say “Ha! I beg to differ!” (except not really, I would never laugh in someone’s face like that, I’m far too polite) 😉

Sure, they weren’t lining up for the thrill rides that most adults consider the must dos of Disney, but they definitely weren’t bored. 

Here are some of our favorite toddler-friendly attractions from our recent trip to Walt Disney World broken down by park…

MAGIC KINGDOM

Pretty much everything we rode here, Lyla wanted to do again (with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean). Our highlights were the Festival of Fantasy parade, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel and meeting Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theatre (he talks!)

EPCOT

We had so much fun on our first day at Epcot that we decided to drop our second Animal Kingdom day and visit again! We loved Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends (and the aquariums that you can visit once you get off the ride) and Frozen Ever After but I think the real winner was the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion. Simon really took a liking to Donald Duck on this trip and every time we rode that attraction, he was dancing and laughing. So cute. 

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

When I think of Disney’s Hollywood Studios I think of lots of great shows (that my kids probably wouldn’t sit through) and the more “adult” attractions like Rock’n’Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, so when I was planning our trip, I almost didn’t schedule a visit but I’m so glad that I changed my mind! I had made the kids an autograph book to take on the trip and we met a ton of characters at this park. The abundance of character meet and greets paired with Disney Junior Live on Stage and the fun Star Wars mini shows/parades throughout the day made for a great visit. We also stayed for Fantasmic (our only nighttime show of the trip) and the kids did better than I thought! Lyla thought some parts were a little scary and “too loud” but Simon loved it. 

ANIMAL KINGDOM

As I mentioned above, we originally had two days planned at this park but ended up dropping the second day in exchange for another day at Epcot. I don’t regret our decision at all, but unfortunately because we thought that we were returning to DAK, we didn’t hit up a lot of (ok, any) of the attractions that I thought the kids would love. No safari, no Festival of the Lion King, no Finding Nemo the Musical. It was our first full day at Walt Disney World. We only spent a few hours in the park with our friends who live locally but we still had a great time. The park is so beautiful and the kids were excited to be doing something besides sitting on airplanes for hours and hours. I did grab a couple of Fast Passes for Expedition Everest so that the big boys could ride, it looks like they had a good time 😉

 

So there you have it! Our favorite toddler-friendly Walt Disney World attractions. Are any of these on your favorites list?

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DIY Dreamcatcher

If you would have told me three years ago that in a few years time, I would be hanging a dreamcatcher made from an old Chick-fil-A soup container on my daughter’s wall, I probably would have laughed in your face. I’m all for DIY projects but a soup container? Not my medium of choice. 

Thankfully, motherhood has a funny way of changing you. Since having children, I’ve been able to step of out of the “everything has to be perfect” box and now really enjoy turning our “trash” into treasures. 

As a member of the 2016-2017 Chick-fil-A Mom’s Panel, I was recently challenged to take our empty Chicken Tortilla Soup container and create something fun with it. I wanted to make something that I could do with my little crafting queen, Lyla, and since we have been working on getting her “big girl” room set up lately, I decided that we would use this opportunity to build a dreamcatcher together. 

Materials:

1 Chick-fil-A soup lid

craft knife

string in two different colors

Process:

We started with a clean, washed lid and made small cuts around the perimeter using our craft knife. We thread our first string choice through each of the holes and continued to go around until we were happy with the design. After tying up all of the loose ends, we then made a longer cut along the base of the lid for our more decorative string. We cut pieces of that string, attached using a simple knot, and were good to go! Our string had some fun texture and glitter pieces already inside, but next time we might go through and add some feathers and sea shells for a little extra pizazz 😉

 

There are tons of creative moms on this year’s panel – you definitely want to check out their upcycle projects by following the #chickfilamomsDIY on your social media accounts!

What would you make?

 

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Happy New Year

Well, here we are. My first post of 2017. What in the world took me so long?

Things in a word have been…busy. 

Did you notice the new blog layout? I’ve finally made the switch on my social media accounts to “Bringing up Byrds” and have been updating the website mostly on my own. [I am so thankful that I have a computer literate husband that can fix all my tech mistakes ;)] If you notice something that is broken or in the wrong place or something like that – please let me know! 

Mid-January, I took off for my first weekend away from the babies. I met up with some friends in Los Angeles and we spent a few days at Disneyland and participated in the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Light Side! I say participated instead of run because, well, let’s just say I seriously underestimated how much harder 13.1 miles would be at 22 weeks pregnant. But! I finished! More on this later 😉

Back in Hawaii, Alex and the kids got to spend the whole weekend with Papa! We passed each other in the air (literally) both ways so I didn’t get to see him but I really enjoyed all of the photos and videos that Alex sent to me while I was gone and I’m so glad that they all got to have some quality time together. 

I’ve been making an attempt to get us on a better schedule as far as naps and housekeeping goes. Slowing down, being more intentional with our time and soaking up as much of Lyla and Simon’s sweet little personalities as I can. 

Mid-February we took our first family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort and had an amazing time. While there, we were lucky enough to see more family who was vacationing at the same time and got to catch up with great friends who live there now. It was dreamy and just what the doctor ordered for these Byrds. 

Speaking of doctors, we all caught something nasty on the way home from vacation and it hit me especially hard. So hard that I earned myself an extra “vacation” in the ICU for 6 days. It was scary, and obviously not ideal, “…but the Lord stood by me and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17) and I am beyond thankful for that. 

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Christmas Tea Party

christmas tea party

Little girls love their tea parties, don’t they? Lyla definitely does and after having countless tea parties with her stuffed animals and Dad, I decided it was time to host Lyla’s first “real” tea party. 

We invited a few of her little girlfriends and their mamas over for a Christmas Tea Party at our home yesterday. We set our dining room table for the girls. Each place setting had a sugar cookie for decorating, a candy cane and a festive hair bow to take home. The girls also had a plate of PB&J tea sandwiches and a pot of tea Capri Sun.

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Lyla was so patient while we set everything up. She loves tea parties and she loves Christmas, so the table was very tempting but she left everything as it was until her friends arrived. I was impressed. 

christmas tea party

I was just as excited to have my friends over as Lyla was. I set out my tea set as well as a spread of tea sandwiches – ham, apple and brie and the classic cucumber cream cheese – as well as some cranberry orange scones. 

christmas tea party

Right on time, all of the little girls showed up in their Christmas dresses. They all looked so cute. A lot of the moms dressed up too which was fun. I think us stay at home moms appreciate an excuse to get dressed in something other than sweats once in a while 😉

christmas tea party

^ aren’t they the sweetest? I love that the moms even dressed up the little sisters 🙂

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It is so sweet to watch Lyla grow and develop friendships. We really had a great time and are already looking forward to hosting another next Christmas and making this a tradition. 

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

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