Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vacation Preparation

We are very excited to once again be taking a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with my family this year! We had so much fun last time and have basically been planning this trip ever since. So being just 2 1/2 weeks out, we're in full preparation mode around here!

Two years ago we were taking a 15-month old. This time we'll have an almost 3.5-year old and a 5 month old. Thankfully we also have a bigger vehicle to travel in this time! Space is far from the only consideration for traveling with little ones though. Here's how I'm preparing for the trip to ensure minimum stress and maximum relaxation!

Packing list: The key to making sure you leave the house with all necessities is a detailed packing list made well in advance of the trip. I like to make my list ahead of time when I'm thinking clearly and I'm less likely to forget something.  I also divide and sub-divide the packing list by categories such as food (frozen, car/beach snacks, etc), entertainment, clothing, gear, and hygiene for visual simplicity when it's time to pack. It's actually more of a chart than a list, but it's beautiful and oh-so-helpful :) 

To-do Timeline: A to-do list is kind of a no-brainer when it comes to vacation prep, but I like mine in timeline form so I can work on tasks in a logical order and make sure everything gets done on time. Aside from packing, some of the other stuff on my list includes making and freezing foods to take, making some games to amuse Carsen in the car, picking up some beach-themed library books for Carsen, configuring the trunk, and loading up the iPod. I break the tasks down by week for about 3 weeks leading up to the trip. Things like loading up the iPod can be done any time so do I them well in advance, while I prefer to save food prep until the week before so it's just that much fresher. The best part is that I'm not left with last minute items to stress me out, or things I wanted to do but ran out of time for. 

Trunk Configuration: when traveling with little kids there's a certain amount of gear that has to come along... strollers, pack 'n plays, etc. Why wait until 4 a.m. on the day we're leaving to discover that some things aren't going to fit? We have a big square(ish) trunk, so it's easy enough to measure it out and plan where to pack things in order to make sure it all fits. Bonus: loading up that morning becomes a quick and easy process.

All this being said, we're now at the end of the 3rd week out. And of course life goes on all the while. We have a wedding this weekend that Carsen is the flower girl for, and for part of next week and all of next weekend Josh's grandparents will be visiting and meeting Reagan for the first time. Thankfully, I got my stuff done for this week. I made a felt Mr. Potato Head, some popsicle stick puzzles (I used some of my Instagram photos of us), and popsicle stick shape-makers for Carsen to play with on the car ride. I've also planned out snacks to make for the car ride and the beach, as well as breakfast foods to make ahead, and what I'm going to make for our dinner night. Stay tuned for more details on all those things. Two weeks left until we leave :) 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What's for "Pinner?"

For the next two weeks we'll be eating "Pinner"... Pinterest-inspired dinners!

These are all recipes from my Pinterest dinner board and all recipes we've never tried before (except the enchiladas, which are a tried-and-true Pinterest dinner). You're probably wondering how six meals are going to make two weeks worth of dinners. Here's how my system works...

Monday: cook
Tuesday: cook
Wednesday: cook
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: take-out
Saturday: breakfast for dinner (if we're home)
Sunday: big dinner at my mom's house

So technically I only cook three original meals per week. It's a great system. I love that we eat our leftovers so they don't get wasted. Bonus: our fridge stays clean and uncluttered! Rarely am I pulling a container of mystery food from the back weeks after it was put in there. It's also a night I don't have to start a new meal from scratch so it saves time. It also saves money both in that we're not wasting food, and that I'm not buying groceries for 5+ new meals every week. 

Rather than six individual posts, I'll write one big one at the end to let you know how our "Pinners" turned out, including photos, links to the recipes we used, and our reviews. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Life With Two: Part 2

What better way to describe what life is like with our two girls than a "day in photos" post? It's been a long time since I've done one of these and it was a bit more tedious to remember to photograph everything while taking care of two little ones, but I think this captures our day(s) pretty accurately.

The day begins whenever Reagan decides she's up for the day, which is usually somewhere between 7-8:00. I start by feeding her. Sometimes Carsen is already awake but she generally just looks at books while she's waiting for us to come in and get her.

After she eats, Reagan hangs out on the bed while I get dressed and ready for the day.

Once I'm ready, we head into Reagan's room and get her dressed. Then we go in and get Carsen. Carsen loves for me to put Reagan in bed with her so they can snuggle and talk to each other. This is when I grab Carsen's clothes for her.

We head downstairs and Carsen gets dressed while I get our breakfast ready.

Today it was baked cheesy eggs (pre-made, Reagan doesn't allow much time for cooking breakfast!)

While breakfast is heating I make my coffee.

Reagan swings in the swing (or plays on the floor, etc) while Carsen & I eat.

After breakfast, it's play time!

Around 10:00 Reagan is ready to eat again and take her morning nap. I usually just let her nap on the couch or in her bouncy chair right in the living room. Taking her upstairs would mean leaving Carsen unattended downstairs for 20 minutes or so and I'm not crazy about doing that.

Carsen does her best to play quietly while Reagan naps.

After Reagan wakes up, usually around 11-11:30, we go out to take care of any errands we need to run. This was a Friday which means gas and grocery store! If we don't have errands to run we'll use this time to go to the park or play outside at home depending on the weather.

We're in-and-out of the store with 2 weeks of groceries in less than an hour and less than $100. My secret: meatless dinners! Shhh... don't tell my husband ;)

When we get home, it's 12:30 which is lunch time for Carsen and bed time for Reagan. I put Carsen in her high chair to eat while I take Reagan upstairs for her nap.

I'm back downstairs by 1:00. While Carsen finishes her lunch, I make something for myself. 

When Carsen is done eating, she goes potty and I take her upstairs for bed. I'm usually back downstairs around 1:30-1:45 to finish my lunch and clean up a little. Some days I clean the house during nap time {dusting, cleaning floors, laundry, etc} and other days I just tidy up and then either do a workout, a DIY project, or just catch up on emails. This day I did some yoga. Reagan still wakes up once or twice during her naps sometimes so yoga or another strength training workout make it a little easier {vs. a run on the treadmill} to stop for a minute and run upstairs if needed.

*Side note... I use an app on my phone called All In Yoga for my yoga workouts. You just pick a program and hit start and it's like having your own instructor in your living room. It talks you through the workout just like a yoga instructor at a studio, complete with relaxing background music :)

Then, the tiny girl wakes up around 3:00. {If you notice the time on the screenshot above, you'll see that I got in about 15 minutes of my workout before it ended. C'est la vie!} 
Time for a diaper change and a feeding.

We enjoy some mommy-Reagan one-on-one time while Carsen is still napping.

Carsen is usually up between 4-5:00. When she gets up, she has a snack and then we just play until Josh gets home from work. When he gets home he takes over the playing while I make dinner.

Friday we had dinner plans with friends, so when Carsen woke up and Josh got home we piled into the car and headed out to their house about an hour away.

Our friends have a 10-month old daughter who our girls thought was just awesome :)

After a delicious dinner, our friends took us to a nearby farm which has a creamery. Carsen loved visiting all the animals and of course enjoyed some fresh ice cream.

After ice cream we headed back home for bed time. On an ordinary night, we start baths around 7-7:30.  After baths I put Reagan to bed while Josh gets Carsen ready for bed and snuggles with her. Once Reagan is in bed, I go in to kiss Carsen and she usually begs me to snuggle for a few minutes which I can't really say no to. After snuggles I either take my shower, or head back downstairs to hang out with Josh. Sometimes there are residual chores like laundry to fold or dishes, but I like to use that time for Josh and I as much as possible. We are usually in bed around 10:30-11:00 and ready to start it all over again the next morning!

Some days are crazier than others, but I have to say that I wouldn't have things any other way. I'm quite in love with our little life and the cute people I get to share it with :)