^ Pool party favors to keep the kids busy in the water! I opted for these instead of Moana themed favors 😉 I bought the buckets and other pool toys on amazon and used a paint pen to write the kids’ names on them.
Venue: LifeTime Athletic (You don’t have to be a LifeTime member to have parties here!)
Invite: Paperless Post (While I love paper invites, I needed to get these invites out in a hurry and it was also more cost effective.)
Thank You Cards: I used the image from Paperless Post to create my own fill-in-the-blank thank you cards through Vistaprint (see above).
Our little minnow finally turned three in August! And, I say “finally” because she had literally been asking about her party ever since Peter had his first friends birthday party in December! Because she was sooo excited to have her own birthday party and invite all her friends, my husband and I decided we needed to make this a very special day for her! Every year won’t be as big 😉 Caroline loves the water, so we opted for a pool party, and of course we had to invite her favorite Disney character, Moana!
The kids spent the first hour swimming in the pool and then had an entertaining hour with Moana learning all sorts of songs, dances, and more. The girls were in heaven and even the boys loved it! I’m telling you this Moana was amazing!!
Parties can be a ton of work and especially last minute set up that is so difficult to do when you have little ones running around, and guests arriving. I was beyond thankful when Andrea from SoiréeSmith was able to help me out! I contacted Andrea about a week before the party and she jumped right in to see where she could be of use. When I threw out the idea of tropical floral centerpieces, she drove over to the flower market to text me pictures of what they had available to create exquisite arrangements a couple days later. I truly could not have done it without SoiréeSmith! For day of set up, Andrea stepped right up and totally put me ease… setting up the party room exactly how I wanted it to look, while I was out mingling with the other parents and watching our kids swim. We only had access to the room 15 minutes prior to the party start time, so this was critical! If you live in the Chicago North Shore area, I highly recommend working with Andrea for any type of party or wedding!
I know we say it every year, but how is it already the end of summer?! That said, I was so excited when my friends at North Shore Newsletter asked if I could create some back to school looks for elementary school kids for their monthly newsletter! NSNL was founded by two local Chicago North Shore moms and is truly THE one-stop shop for information on local activities and local haunts that keep the North Shore bumping! #FindYourFunNS
Before you start stocking up on those fall/winter staples, get inspired by these looks to dress your kid for their first day! It’s always fun to get them a little more dressed up than normal, so they can kick off the school year with a good first impression! And you know you want them looking photo fresh for your Instagram account #firstdayofschool 😉
While I’ve included several options (and price points) from larger retail stores, here are a few more of my favorite boutique brands that specialize in classic style: Busy Bees, Bella Bliss, and Elephantito (I love their quality shoes). Lastly, for affordable, yet cute school/play clothes, I recommend Zara, Gap (make sure to use the daily 40% off code at checkout), and Cat & Jack (Target). Another idea is to check out the sales at Ralph Lauren and Janie And Jack (sort “price low to high” and filter by size to find deals like this).
The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is in full effect, so I spent all of yesterday going through baby and child to pick out my favorite finds for your little ones. Here is what I came up with! You’ll see that I found some cute outerwear for baby boys, while demin was the theme for little girls. And of course pale pink for baby girls. Lastly, I found some good wardrobe staples for little boys. Happy Shopping!
^ Week 8 when I noticed by butt looking more sculpted and perkier, haha 😉
^ A sample of what the workouts look like on your phone
I have received a ton of questions about the workout program I have been doing, so here is a Q&A about BBG! Let me know what you think!
[Disclaimer: As always, keep in mind that I’m just a regular mom and I know my body is FAR from perfect. I just hope this gives you some inspiration or at least more information about the BBG program.]
What program did you just complete?
I just completed the 12 week BBG 1.0 program through the SWEAT app (on my phone). It has definitely been the hardest continuous workout program that I have ever done in my life!! I stuck to it well and only missed one resistance workout the whole time! Each week you are expected to complete three 28 minute resistance workouts, broken up into legs, arms and abs. There is the option to complete an additional three days of cardio and two sessions of recovery stretching. They also have a meal program you can follow. I personally only did the resistance and cardio portions, which meant I was working out six days a week.
When did you start BBG post baby?
I started BBG seven weeks after having Jack. I really wanted to make sure I had doctor clearance before starting an intense resistance program that I had never tried before. However, I did easy to moderate workouts starting at three weeks post baby, which was a nice way to ease me back into feeling a little more ready for BBG. BBG totally kicked my butt the first week! No joke… I couldn’t even do the burpees and sit ups. But by week three, I was able to do all the reps! It’s amazing how fast your body can gain strength!!
What results have you seen?
I have lost about 6 pounds, which doesn’t seem like much for all the hard work I have been doing! BUT… that said, muscle weighs more than fat! Right? 😉 In general I notice my body being more toned and feeling stronger. I also noticed that my face looks a little leaner. I started to see toning around week 8. I still have a ways to go and could do a lot more, but feel confident where I’m at right now!
What are the pros and cons of BBG?
In my opinion, here are the pros and cons…
You can do it all from your home with your kids around or napping (a major plus that you don’t have to pay for a sitter or belong to a gym). Or sometimes I would do it at 10:30 p.m. after putting the kids to bed, cleaning the kitchen and house etc… I know that sounds crazy, but as a mom you do what you have to do to get it done!
This is a workout that really makes you sweat and burn calories! It’s intense, but doable with the resistance program only being 28 minutes, 3 times a week.
You can do it anytime of the day versus having to go to a class at a certain, perhaps inconvenient, time for you and your kids’ schedules.
You get results fast! And feel stronger after 2 weeks! It’s impressive to feel yourself doing things you couldn’t do just a week ago.
I like that they offer alternatives to the challenging reps.
You have to be somewhat self motivated because the work outs are hard and you may not always feel like getting your butt kicked!
The workout is high intensity which is great! I love sweating but some women might view it as a con that you likely need to shower after working out and rushing out of the house. It’s definitely not one of those workouts that you can jump into a cute dress right after and meet your friends for lunch 😉
With the high intensity comes high impact. By that I mean there is a lot of jumping and a lot of push ups. This can be hard on your knees and wrists. If you find it to be too much, you can always modify. For example, if the push ups are tough, try knee push ups, and if by the end of the workout, knee push ups are even too tough… switch to bench chest press with your knees in a tabletop for one set. At least you are doing something!
Outside of the three weekly resistance trainings, what did you do for the weekly “cardio” goals?
My cardio consisted of walks/jogs, my weekly “cardio tennis” class, my “power cardio pilates” class, elliptical training, or sprints/hill running if I was feeling super zealous.
What is your overall opinion of BBG 1.0?
I do like the program and would recommend it to someone that wants to see fast results, is motivated to stick with it (perhaps do it with friends to keep you more accountable!), and can handle a high impact workout. I probably would not recommend the program to a friend that has a prior knee injury because all the jumping may be a lot on their knees!
What do you plan to do next?
I’m going to take a short break from BBG, and focus on running and pilates for a couple weeks before I start BBG Stronger or PWR (Power), which both can be found in the SWEAT app. What about you?! I’d love to hear what workouts you find effective!
Spring came super late this year in Chicago, so we’ve been holding onto those winter items until just last week! When the weather forecast finally started to show some improvement, I jumped at the chance to organize Caroline’s closet. I try to do this about once a season. It’s also a good time to take an inventory check on what I need to shop for.
Oh and before you think I have a major shopping problem (only a minor one, haha), you should know that most of these items are hand-me-downs from a good friend or they are dresses from last summer that still fit 😉 The good thing about little girls is that even if the dress start getting a tiny bit short… they usually work for a couple seasons. I suppose with little boys, you can usually get them to wear the same shorts two years in a row as long as the waist is forgiving.
So none of this is rocket science, but here are my tips when going through your kids’ closets. Like I said, I suggest doing this once a season or at least twice a year. Also, if your child (daughter) is anything like Caroline, she is getting into all her clothes and trying 30 outfits on a day. It’s been driving me crazy to see her come downstairs wearing a summer dress with a Christmas sweater and mittens. My closet clean up has definitely mitigated this a bit!
Organize apparel and review sizing once a season
Pull out anything that is in the wrong color palette or wrong material weight for the season. For example, I just got rid of all the winter colors and heavy dresses/tops and replaced them with spring/summer colors and light-weight items.
If you find a pair of pants or a shirt that is too small (body or sleeve length) use that as a marker to pull out all the items that are the same size or smaller.
Once you have removed items, put them into piles before just packing them away.
Sort pulled items
If too small…
If you plan to have another baby or have another child growing into these clothes, keep the ones you know you’ll want to use again
Do your best to donate any clothes you really can’t see yourself putting another child in (i.e. maybe the clothes are looking a little tired or have food stains on them.)
If you aren’t having another child, go through and save any pieces (usually baby items) that you want to give to your child down the road when they are having their own babies! Start putting together that baby keepsake box if you haven’t already! And of course, donate the rest or find a friend who wants your hand-me-downs 🙂
If you think the item may fit next year for the correct season… put it in the keep pile – fold it up and store it away until the weather changes.
Scan through your child’s wardrobe and reflect on what needs to be added either when it comes to items or colors
Here are some sample questions to ask yourself for spring/summer… does your child have:
a basic white top to go with everything?
sandals and beach shoes that fit?
a formal outfit for Mother’s Day or an upcoming special occasion?
outfits that make sense for camp or park playdates?
bottoms they can easily take off if they need quick access to the bathroom at summer camp? I like these drawstring shorts for Peter. He still hates dealing with zippers and buttons when I’m not around 😉
a lightweight coat or cardigan for layering?
coordinating outfits across your childrens’ wardrobes (if you like doing that)?
For my kids, I find it is easiest to hang tops/dresses and put pants/shorts, pajamas, underwear/socks, and bathing suits in drawers or baskets. I like how you can see the tops easily and flip through them without making a big mess.
Sunglasses: Toucca Kids (use code “lapetiteplum15” for 15% off and free shipping!) | Swimsuit: Minnow Swim (sold out, but similar styles here and here) | Pullover: Vineyard Vines | Jeans: Ralph Lauren (similar style here and on sale!) | Rain boots: Hunter
Peter is all about his new shades and wouldn’t take them off on our Cabo vacation! Aren’t they so cute though?! Peter is wearing the “Blonde Havana Brandon Wayfarer.”
Sunglasses can often be the forgotten (yet functional) accessory for kids! And I truly cannot say enough great things about these Toucca Kids sunglasses. They are made of the highest quality and definitely passed Peter’s durability test as he dragged them through the sandy beaches of Cabo 😉 I urge you to read why the founders of Toucca Kids, Jason and Helen, had the idea of starting a kids’ sunglass company… it is so sweet! I’m sure like me, you can relate with their desire to research every baby product out there to find the very best for their son.
I also wanted to point out that their glasses are polarized, offer 100% UVA/UVB protection, and have shatter/scratch-resistant lenses. It’s such peace of mind knowing your kid’s eyes are getting the proper sun protection they need.
Toucca Kids is kindly offering 15% off and free shipping to my followers when you use the code “lapetiteplum15”. So go check out their full collection! I know you won’t be disappointed.
Our winter has been really harsh this year, so I’m all about rejuvenating myself before spring officially arrives! Here are some of my favorite products to bring life back into your skin and hair. Let me know your must-haves to get you through the winter!
Face lotion (or this) – both of these lotions go on so smoothly and instantly hydrate your face
Lip conditioner – this is great for out and about when you want a little color with a chapstick-like feel
Lip balm – I apply this to my lips every morning and night after brushing my teeth, and it keeps them feeling hydrated without being too “goopy”
Hand lotion – this lotion soaks in quickly and doesn’t leave your hands feeling oily
This is a bit of a repeat from last winter, but with many new followers this year and over a foot of snow outside… I decided to repost my “snowed in” post again.
Snow days can be so much fun, but they can also drag on with little kids that can’t be outside for too long. Here are my favorite indoor activities to do with my little ones on a snowy or dreary day. They are perfect to keep the kids entertained, get them moving, and teach them something new.
Set up an indoor campsite – You can do this by setting up tee pee or building a fort out of pillows. What kid doesn’t want to go camping in their family room?! You can make up fun stories to tell them inside the tent, and then later send them out to find make-believe firewood to keep you all warm and food to eat. It’s fun to see what they come up with when you ask them to go hunting for food and berries. If all else fails, the kids will love hiding in the tent with you lifting up different flaps and peaking through the windows.
Create an obstacle course – Get some of their energy out by setting up an obstacle course in a big carpeted room. Have your little ones climb over a pillow hill, army crawl throw a tunnel, go down the slide, weave through cones, and step up a big box and jump off it. Have a little competition and encourage the kids to count while the other ones completes the course.
Bake banana bread – Banana bread is a delicious cold weather treat and who doesn’t have overripe bananas around, so why not bake with your kids. Toddlers love to smash the bananas, measure out the ingredients with scooping and dumping and of course… sample the dough. You can add chocolate chips to make it even more decadent.
Take a dip in the “indoor pool” – Change up your nighttime bath routine, and put the kids in midday for some swimming practice and bubble blowing. And if you want to get crazy, bust out the bathtub crayons for some artistic fun in the bathtub! Just be careful they understand that they cannot draw on walls and that those are special crayons that can only be used on the tub.
Play Simon says – This might only buy you 10 minutes, but it could be a lifesaver when you need your stir crazy kids to sit still during the evening witching hour. My kids find it hilarious when they get tricked and do something without me saying “Simon says” first. And then they try to trick me 😉
Get help with your household chores – As moms, we typically have a lengthy to do list. Why not employ your kids and make it a fun game for them? You’ll be surprised how they love sorting laundry by color and enjoy taking laundry out of washer and putting it into dryer. Give them a mini dust pan and brush and have them help you clean the floor by going on a crumb hunt. Try having your little ones help you unload the dishwasher, starting with the non-breakable kids’ plates and cups of course!
Play restaurant – See what kind of fun concoctions your kids come up with when feeding you. Pretending to be at a restaurant, is a fun way to work on those manners, while introducing how to converse with a waitress or waiter.
Make a homemade bagel bird feeder – With just a few ingredients your little tots can make this bird feeder for those poor birds that have a tougher time finding food when it’s snowing. Hang it from a tree, and then go back inside to watch the birds (or squirrels) flock to the tasty treat your little ones created.
We had such a fun long weekend at Grammy and Papa’s house! It was the perfect first (road) trip with Jack and we even got surprised with some fresh powdery snow on Monday. Unfortunately, I forgot to pack the kids’ snow clothes, but that didn’t stop Caroline from venturing outside for a few minutes!
And how can I not mention Caroline’s jacket?! It’s the perfect shade of pink! Caroline is wearing 3T and I know she will get use out of it next winter too. It may have a large price tag, but if there is anything you are going to invest in while living in the Midwest… it should be a coat. You pretty much wear them daily for 6 months straight.
Muslim swaddle blankets: Bébé au Lait (pack of two and so darn soft!)
Well that month sure went quick! It’s actually been 5 weeks already, so I’m a little late on my one month update 😉 Such is life with 3 kids! I’m trying not to let anything stress me too much this time around. So, if I don’t get everything I want done in a day (which happens almost every day)… I’m doing my best to be okay with it, and get some much needed sleep or baby cuddles in at the end of the night.
You all had some great requests and questions for me, so here you go!
Ups & Downs (Mostly Ups!) of the Past Month
I’ve truly been blessed with a great third baby! Jack seems content in life and just goes with the flow… hopefully this sticks! He pretty much only fusses or cries if he is hungry. Maybe a couple cries if you have to change his diaper, since he doesn’t like being cold and exposed. And perhaps some soft cries if he is ready for his nap. He really is a dream baby! And thank goodness since I have to focus so much of my energy and time on the other two kids. Basically I just need to make sure Jack gets enough “mama’s milk” as my kids call it and enough sleep and he is a happy camper! And of course we give him lots of attention, and all of us try to make him smile throughout the day.
The transition to three kids has actually been easier than I thought it would be! Again, Jack is an easy baby so far, and it’s still early, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I was slightly worried that I’d be up all night and zombie in the day, but that hasn’t been the case. Jack has been sleeping long stretches in the night, which really helps me recharge for the long daytime hours. Sure I’m tired, but it’s doable.
One thing that has helped me is doing my best to be prepared for those more chaotic moments in the day. For example, I know that I have a hard time getting all of us out the door for a 9am preschool start, even before Jack entered our lives. So, the night before, I lay out clothes for all of us, make up the kids sippy cups for their morning milk, set out my pumping equipment, and plan what I’m going to make for breakfast. Since Jack isn’t the most efficient nurser yet, I decided to pump in the morning and offer a bottle. He is able to take this faster and I’m able to better help the other kids eat breakfast and get dressed, etc.
So on to the challenges… I’d say the two biggest challenges so far are being stuck nursing much of the day when there is so much to do with the other two kids, and dealing with this freezing cold Chicago winter. Now that I have offered a bottle to Jack, I found that he drinks a lot of milk! I mean, a lot! Sometimes I pump 6 oz and he will take it all. So when he nurses, it takes a long time – about an hour or more every time, and he is actually drinking the whole time. It has gotten faster in the last week, but the first month was tough. I wanted to give Jack the opportunity to get my milk supply up, which is why I didn’t take him off after the recommended 15 minutes per side.
With the cold weather, we aren’t able to get out of the house as much as I’d like. Walks are out of the question some days with real feel temperatures in the single digits. And I am scared to take the three kids to an indoor play spaces where they would be exposed to lots of germs. I’m doing my best to keep Jack healthy for at least the first two months. Also, it seems like everyone in our community has been getting away to tropical vacation, and we can’t travel just yet.
The afternoons are particularly slow for Peter, since we don’t have any activities planned while Caroline naps and I’m usually on the couch nursing. Peter is most tired then since he dropped his nap, and gets bored. But probably the most trying part of the day is the hour before dinner where the kids start going a little stir crazy and get hungry. However, this is probably not uncommon for most families, especially in the winter when it gets dark early.
The good news is that Jack is getting faster with nursing, I have the option of pumping and bottle feeding, and Spring is on it’s way! Like I said, it has been mostly ups, but I also wanted to be realistic in that it is not all sunshine and rainbows.
For the first three weeks, I let Jack nurse whenever he was hungry and then he’d basically sleep in between those times. At times this was a lot of nursing (especially in the evenings), but I had the luxury to let him do that, since I had family in town to help with my other two and cook dinner etc.
Now that Jack is a month, I have him on a schedule where he feeds, then is awake (with tummy time), and then takes a decent nap. Typically he feeds every 3 hours during the day with the exception of the evening when he cluster feeds before his longer sleep stretch. This usually lasts from 6:00-10:00pm. I’ve had to introduce a formula bottle during that time for a couple reasons. First, I can more easily get the rest of the family fed and the older kids to bed. Second, I felt like my milk supply wasn’t keeping up with his demand, since I was tired at the end of the day. I realized I could be a better mom/wife to everyone if I gave Jack that extra bottle in between nursing.
As for nighttime, I have Jack going to “bed” around 10pm and then he usually sleeps a 4-5 hour stretch. When he wakes I change him and nurse him and it’s straight back to bed. Thankfully he is happy and content going right to sleep as long as he gets enough milk. Then he will sleep for another 3-4 hours until around 7-8am.
I’ll keep this section on the shorter side!
At three weeks, I introduced a bottle of milk once a day, and he did great! It took about 5 minutes of him playing around with it at first and spitting milk out, but then he gulped it down and hasn’t looked back.
At four weeks, Jack starting smiling and cooing a little bit! It is truly the sweetest thing. I think Caroline and Peter get equally as excited when they make him smile as I do 😉
Jack has really started focusing in on his siblings when they talk to him and teach him things. For example, when Peter started telling us a story in bed the other night… Jack immediately stopped his fussing (he was hungry and due for a feeding, but I had to put the older kids to bed) and watched Peter in awe. It was so cute!
Tummy time is still a work in progress 😉 I think Jack is a little too relaxed for tummy time and doesn’t want to work as hard as the other kids did. So this is an area I’m really trying to work on as much as we can during the day.
Baby Weight Journey & My Recovery
I’ll admit I got pretty scared when my weight just kept ticking up this past pregnancy! This time around, I wasn’t as good about watching what I ate and I had more unhealthy cravings (like carbs, cheese, and chocolate). It was the most I have gained for a pregnancy – 34 pounds. Just barely within the 25-35 pound guideline range 😉 For Peter’s pregnancy (my first), I only gained 17 pounds, but he was born early at 32 weeks, so I can’t really compare here. And then for Caroline’s pregnancy, I gained 25 pounds. So as you can imagine about half way through Jack’s pregnancy I got nervous that my body was’t going to bounce back like it had for the prior two pregnancies.
Thankfully I lost about 24 pounds during the first few weeks postpartum. That said, I’m sure the 10 remaining pounds will be way tougher and more than that, I need to tone up! I’m anxious to really get back to working out once I hit the 6 weeks mark and get doctor clearance. I started my cardio tennis class back up after 3 weeks, and have done some easy workouts (i.e. elliptical, walking, and pilates on the reformer)… it feels so good! But I’m obviously not pushing myself too hard until I’m totally healed. With my other two pregnancies, I found that it was hard to get back to normal until I stopped breastfeeding. Did you find this too? Perhaps with nursing I have an increased appetite, and that is part of the problem, haha.
It has been tough not being able to go on as many walks with our bitter cold streak. Hopefully spring comes early this year. Also, one of my goals for 2018 is to try BBG and get in super-toned shape and not worry about the scale! Who wants to try it with me?! I like the concept that the workouts are short in duration, which makes it easier with a tight kid/baby schedule to work around.