What a Difference

I’m back!  I enjoyed the past week with my family and spending some much-needed time away from work!  It was amazing and I am sad to be returning to work today!  The week went so quickly!  We were busy with family visits starting on Christmas Eve until Saturday night!  It was craziness, but such great moments.  We loved all of the time we spent with our family and were spoiled beyond words!  We are so lucky!

One of the highlights from our time off was a get together that we had with our friends.  All of the husband’s are fellow police officers and all of the wives were pregnant together – completely unplanned.  We all became good friends during this time and now the babies are friends as well!

We’ve made it a tradition to get all of our babies together each Christmas.  We decided it would be cute to put the kids in their PJ’s and to snap photos each year.  Last year, the babes were so young – from left to right – Brooklyn – 6 months, JoJo – 9 months, Kenzie – 7 months.

Look at how big they’ve gotten!  It’s amazing the difference a year makes!  Last year, JoJo had mastered sitting up, McKenzie was just starting to on a regular basis and Brooklyn was just at the very beginning of sitting up – someone propped her up and let her go just in time for us to snap the picture!

This year, they were moving targets and impossible to get all looking in the same direction or sitting still at the same time!  I love these pictures and look forward to this tradition for years to come!

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Here’s hoping you all had a lovely Christmas!

Tinsel – Our Elf

I debated long and hard as to whether or not we wanted to start the Elf on the Shelf tradition with McKenzie this year.  To me, she seemed too young to grasp the concept of a magical elf reporting back to Santa each night.

Then Halloween came.  We don’t have many Halloween decorations, but I thought it was important to be festive and put some out.  I made a mental note to buy more decorations for next year.

Since we didn’t have that many decorations, they are stored in a bin with the other various holiday decorations – Valentine’s Day and Easter.  As we were decorating, McKenzie found the bin – along with the ceramic white bunny.  That bunny became her best friend.  She brought us each to the spare bedroom to show us the bunny and would say, “Shh..bunny sleeping.”  It was hilarious!

Being the slackers that we are, the bin never made its way back to the attic.  It remained in our spare bedroom until the end of October.  Each morning, McKenzie would run from her bedroom to see the bunny.  She loved it!  The bunny became our best friend, as well.  It became the ultimate distraction technique.  Need to sneak out of the house in the morning to leave for work? Kenzie and Dad would go on a hunt to find the bunny.  She would bring her Cheerios to bait the bunny and feed it breakfast.  So cute!  Temper tantrum that just wouldn’t end?  “Shh….the bunny’s sleeping” would stop her in her tracks every time.

That’s when Brian and I decided that the elf was well worth it this year!  Even if she doesn’t understand the full magic of the elf, she loves searching for him each day and will circle back to wave to him and offer him snacks throughout the day.   We’ve been very aware of where we place the elf, as to not tempt her too much, but she has been surprisingly good about not touching him!

So with love, we welcomed Tinsel into our lives.  He joined our family the day after we set-up our tree – November 24th.  Brian was hesitant at first to start this so early, but then he realized that I may be more excited for the Elf than McKenzie.

There were in-depth conversations over whether or not we should have a boy elf or a girl elf.  Brian laughed hysterically at me when I told him that we had to get a boy elf.  In my mind, elves are boys and (I know…this next comment is going to sound so bad….) boy elves take behaving much more serious than girl elves.  Girl elves tend to give second chances and reminders.  Boy elves are going to present the straight facts to Santa!  See why he was laughing?!  It’s just how my mind works!

Once we decided on a boy elf, then came lengthy debates over his name.  We liked Jingle and Chip (short for chocolate chip), but ultimately wanted something that we thought McKenzie would say.  We chose Tinsel.  The name also pays direct homage to the grandmother’s – one who dislikes Tinsel and never allowed it growing up (my mom!) and the other who is the sole reason that Tinsel companies are still in business (Brian’s Mom).

Needless to say, we love the name and love even more when McKenzie yells  – Tin-Sell each morning as she runs to search for him.

We’ve had some fun with this!  Below are some of Tinsel’s favorite hiding spots!  As an aside: It’s our first year, so we’re excited.  Don’t hate because we planned out a calendar full of ideas a month in advance.  There were still nights we forgot to move Tinsel, but all in all, it’s been fun!

5 on Friday | December – Week 3 – McKenzie’s Favorite Things Edition

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

I’m linking up with Darci and friends from the good life blog for another version of 5 on Friday! This week’s theme is McKenzie’z Favorite Things!  These aren’t necessarily things that she’s wishing for from Santa, but items that we have and love and think you should too!

Favorite ThingsONE/TWO/THREE/FOUR/FIVE

One.
Fisher Price Little People Christmas Story!
  This was actually an early Christmas present to McKenzie this year from her grandmother.  We wanted her to be able to play with the set and really enjoy it.  It was also a great time to incorporate the Christmas story in to her play-time. She loves the set and little animals and even says Jesus…well, more like Cheeze-us, but we know what she means!  If we ask her to find Jesus, she runs and gets the little baby in the manger!  So sweet!

Two.
Mr. Christmas Red Lighted Goodnight Lights Ornament!
 Kenzie received this little ornament as an early Christmas present, as well.  I had never seen something like this before, but thought that it was a novel idea.   The ornament is Santa holding a candle.  It has wires running down the back of the ornament that you run through your tree.  These wires are attached to a box that you plug-in to the electrical outlet.  One you hang the ornament and run the green wires down through the tree (just as you would your light wires), you plug your lights into the box and the box into the electrical outlet.  That’s when the magic happens.    The candle has a small pin-sized hole in the front of it.  If you want to turn the lights the Christmas tree lights on, you blow on Santa’s candle.  If you want to turn them off, you blow the candle out.  It’s adorable and McKenzie loves it.  She can’t walk by the tree without pretending to blow out the candle.    She doesn’t have the height or enough power, but it’s fun all the same!  Plus, Brian and I love it, because it means that we don’t have to maneuver around/under the tree to get the lights plugged in.   It’s adorable!  Check it out!

Three.
Highlights!  For those of you who grew up in the 80’s, you probably already remember this magazine.  I know I loved it!  There were stories, crafts and hidden picture puzzles.   My mom mentioned that there was a new version out for toddlers – Highlights Hello.  I was so excited!  We signed McKenzie up and she now she receives her own mail and magazine each month.  The books are amazing.  Toddler sized and printed on durable paper that can’t be torn and can be cleaned!

Amazing!  Printed with non-toxic ink, the magazine’s durability was even tested by being placed in a washing machine!  As good as new!

McKenzie loves the short stories, the songs and the hidden picture puzzles.  There are even tips throughout the book for parents on how to incorporate the themes, stories and songs into learning each day.  Plus, it’s one of those books that’s small enough to throw in to the diaper bag or purse and will keep her occupied forever!  Love!

Four.
Rileyroos!   These have been our go-to shoes since McKenzie started wearing shoes.  Sadly, her big feet no longer fit in them, so we’ve had to move on.

These shoes are developmentally friendly, with flexible soles and curled toes to provide leverage as your little one learns to crawl.  They are lightweight and perfect for providing the protection and traction that little ones need…all while imitating barefoot walking.  Plus, Rileyroos is  a local company from Baltimore – a win-win!  Kenzie literally had shoes to match each of her outfits.  I know…it’s an obsession!

If you’re looking for adorable shoes, that both you and your baby/toddler will love, check out Rileyroos!

Five.
Crochet Creations by Bibi!  Need a small gift that’s affordable, yet personalized for babies, toddler’s, tween’s or even adults?  Then check out my mother-in-law’s page!  She’s working on getting her Etsy page up, but for now, Facebook is it!  She has created some adorable hats and will work to create a personalized piece just for you!  Don’t see what you want?  Send her a picture with your request and she’ll create it for you!  What talent!   Hats range from $7 to $18 (plus shipping) and are completed within a few days!  Check out her page and let her know that you heard about her from Heartbeats and Little Feet.  There may just be a surprise in it for you!

Side note: Bibi is what Kenzie calls her grandmother.  Both my mother-in-law and father-in-law refused to pick their Grandparent names, so we chose for them.  It was a very scientific choosing. Brian typed Grandmother and Grandfather in to Google translate.  And there you have it…Bibi and Babu – Grandmother and Grandfather in Swahili.  I bet they wish they had thought that decision through! 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Our Christmas Card | Photo Affections

This year, I found a killer deal on Living Social for Christmas cards.  I had never heard of or used Photo Affections before, but I thought…why not!? I was not disappointed!

Their site was user-friendly and I loved their layouts.  There were so many to choose from, I had a hard time deciding.  In the end, I created 8 different options.  I printed samples of each and took them home to Brian for him to narrow them down!  It was a tough decision, but here’s the one we chose!

christmas card

I love how they turned out.  The order shipped promptly and I received the cards about a week after I created them.  I did order these in October though, so maybe I beat some of the rush!?  I know…so Type A!

What blew me away about this company was their customer service.  About 2 weeks ago, I received a complete duplicate order of our Christmas cards again!  I panicked thinking that I must have accidentally hit the “Re-Order” button when I was on their site.  I logged in to my bank account to check, but no charge.  Hmmmmm.  Strange.    I ended up calling their customer service department.  As soon as I explained to them that I received a duplicate order but was not charged for it, they explained.  They informed me that another customer called and said that they had issues with the paper of their cards (apparently, it appeared as if something had spilled on them), so Photo Affections pulled all orders that were created from the lot of matte paper that the other’s customer’s cards had come from and re-created the order.  They didn’t want any other customer’s having the same issue and having any delay in receiving corrected Christmas cards if there were issues.

I thought that was super of this company – even when our cards were completely perfect!    So, for $20, I ended up with 140 beautiful matte Christmas cards!  What a deal!

I most certainly will be using them in the future for all of our printing needs!

P.S. I love receiving Christmas cards!  It’s the highlight of my day this time of year!  It’s like having little surprises in your mail each day!  Love it!

Fall Photo Shoot

Now that the Christmas cards have been mailed, I can finally reveal the pictures from our fall photo session!  I love, love, love the pictures.  McKenzie was incredibly uncooperative that day, but Beth our photographer happened to snap some adorable pictures!   If you are in the Maryland/Delaware/Pennsylvania area, I highly recommend Beth from Beth Sabia Photography!  She is great with kids and incredibly talented!

Here are some of our favs!

Coat

Hug

Kneeling

I love capturing a new family portrait at the same time each year!  Look at the difference a year makes!  This will be a tradition in our household each year so that we always have an updated family photo to look back on!  Love it!

2012 Fall Family Photo

2013 Fall Family Photo

5 on Friday | December Edition – Week 2 – Gift Edition

THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Happy Friday!  Only one more Friday until Christmas!  I can’t even believe how quickly this holiday season has gone! This week I wanted to highlight a few gifts that I love this year!  Here’s hoping they inspire you for some last-minute shopping!

One.
Color Me Monthly!  

CMM 2

If you or someone in your life loves nail polish, than this one is for you! Color Me Monthly is a box subscription for nail polish.  For $7 a month, a new color is delivered directly to your door step!  The colors are incredible and the nail polish is non-toxic and carcinogen free!  Plus, the polish itself holds up just as long…if not longer…then brand name polishes!  I absolutely love this and the surprise that each month brings when the box arrives!

Each month, a simple box will arrive.  Color Me Monthly believes in no-fuss packaging to keep their cost low.  Once you open your box, you’ll receive you nail polish and a Haiku to accompany your new perfect color!  What’s not to love!  You can sign up for monthly subscriptions or give 6 or 12 month gifts.  It’s a perfect gift for those teenagers and women alike!

CMM 3

Two.
Alex and Ani

alex and ani
Love, love love Alex and Ani.  I know that these have been around for some time now, but I absolutely love their bangle bracelets.  Each bangle comes with a charm.  You choose what represents you!  Currently, my bracelets consist of May’s birthstone, the letter ‘M’ for Mom and/or Megan, the path of life charm, and the key to my heart charm.  Each has a special meaning to me and each reminds me throughout the day of who I am and why I do what I do.

alex

Most of my charms are the Russian Silver finish, but I plan on adding some color in the near future!  I love these because they are a great reminder and piece of jewelry for me to wear each day without being over the top.  It goes great with my work clothes, as well as casual weekend wear – plus McKenzie loves playing with them!  Great distraction technique!  Plus, I get so many compliments on them!


Three.
Sloane Ranger

sloan ranger

Looking for the perfect crossbody bag, tote or weekender, then look no further.  Sloane Ranger has it all.  With a variety of patterns to choose from, these preppy bags are perfect for those with the need for style, yet functionality.  Printed on durable canvas, these adorable totes are as functional as they are stylish and fun!

Four.
May Books

may books
For those of you who love carrying a notebook with you (because inevitably you’ll always need to write something down!), then May books by May Designs are for you!  Completely customizable, these 5 x 8 canvas coated paper covered planner are amazing!  

You can choose to design your book online in real-time. You pick out your color, then choose your monogram, font and color!  Amazing!  You easily could spend hours on this site designing multiple books.

After you are done designing, you choose the kind of pages that are right for you.   There are 15 options that include planners, lined pages, blank pages, exercise journal, wedding and bump diaries and more!

Check them out today and have fun creating!  I’ve created one for McKenzie.  I was going to keep a written journal of each month’s milestone’s, but then have been doing so on the blog.  It’s new use will be to jot down all of the hilarious things that she says as she starts to talk more and more!  I can’t wait to fill the book as a journal to look back on as she grows!


Five.
Personalized Otterbox Cases
iphone cases

As Mom’s, we know that our phones no longer are our own.  Despite our best efforts, little hands grab our phones.  The same little hands also drop and throw our phones.  I’ve learned how important it is to have a tough case that can withstand all of the drops.  I love Otterbox’s but hate that they were so generic.  Well…problem solved!  Lipstick Shades offers customizable Otterbox cases!  You choose the color, the background, the monogram and more!  Amazing!  If you’re looking for a tough case with a feminine look, than this is the case for you!

Happy shopping and happy weekend!