Greece

Well, we’re back from probably the most amazing VACATION I’ve ever taken.

[ Note, I say “vacation” because going to beautiful, exotic destinations with your children is called a “trip”…not a vacation! AmIRight?! ]

Don’t get me wrong, leaving the kids was BRUTAL and I was so upset saying goodbye to them. This was the first time we’ve ever left them longer than one night and the only thing that made it easier was knowing my mom was with them. I did a full post of all the info I left behind for her HERE.

This 10 Year Anniversary trip [one year delayed…thanks Max! ;)] to Greece greatly surpassed our honeymoon in Italy, which I was sure was going to be “THE Trip to Beat” for the rest of eternity. Maybe it’s because we appreciated the alone time alllll these 11 years and three babies later, maybe because we had more to miss waiting back at home, or because we realized how precious the time away and the whole experience was this time around.  Either way, we had the most incredible time and I’m finally able to sit down and share some of the details with you!

ATHENS

We stopped in Athens first because I’m a huge history nerd ( I’m specifically obsessed with Greek mythology!) and I just HAD to see the ruins of Ancient Athens.

Where We Stayed in Athens:

  • The New Hotel – This is a, well…”newer” hotel, which was kind of funky & modern. If you’re going for a short period of time, for a big occasion, or if it’s just in the budget- spring for the penthouse room! TRUST ME! It’s not that the room was the best thing ever- it was cool and all- but the reason you get the penthouse is for the balcony! The balcony is INSANE, with the most ridiculous view of the Acropolis and a bed for sleeping under the stars (…should you chose to. There is also a bedroom inside.) When we first arrived, I walked out onto the terrace, took one look at the Acropolis standing up on the hill right above me and teared up. I’ve never had that sort of reaction to a place before in my life. It was incredible.

Things to Do/See in Athens:

  • The Acropolis (get there EARLY & make this your first stop) the crowds and lines get cray-cray later in the day. Also, bonus of hiring a tour guide: they’ll purchase your entrance tix in advance so you can skip the lines!
  • Ancient Agora
  • Plato’s Academy (we just viewed this from the street through the fence and our tour guide told us all about it from there. They actually just recently discovered this site in the 1990s! How crazy is that?!)
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus
  • Arch of Hadrian (built in 131AD, it marks where emperor Hadrian divided the city between ancient Greek city and his new “Roman” city)
  • Roman Forum & Tower of the Winds
  • The Acropolis Museum
  • Syntagma Square – watch the changing of the guards 5 minutes before the top of each hour! It’s pretty intense!

Where We Ate in Athens:

  • GB Roof Garden– the rooftop restaurant at the Grande Bretagne Hotel with the most amazing view of the Acropolis!

Tips for Athens:

  1. Hire a guide. There are lots of reasonable group tours but if you have group anxiety and claustrophobia like me, hire a private guide. We used Micheal’s Amazing Tours. Our guide was Matina and she was great! It was about 330 euro for a full day (about 5 hours) AND that price included a private driver who brought us to all the “hot spots”, waited for us to finish touring with the guide, and then drove us by some other popular tourist attractions and gave us “drive by tours” PLUS a lift to the airport afterward!
  2. Research the history before you go. Your eyes won’t appreciate what they are seeing unless they know the story that goes along with it. I purchased the following guide book: Rick Steves Pocket Athens. It was super helpful!  If you love to read, I also suggest picking up a great novel to get you in the spirit of the country. I loved Helen of Troy by Margaret George as well as Circe by Madeline Miller! And since I’m such a nerd, I also reviewed The Mythology Handbook, from the children’s section as a quick refresher guide on my Greek mythology. I can’t even tell you how helpful it was to go into this trip with such a great understanding of the rich history. Made me appreciate it, ten-fold!
  3. I really don’t think you need more than one day in Athens. If you are a HUGE history buff, maybe give yourself two days so you can see all the museums, etc. Otherwise, one night at The New Hotel penthouse, and one day touring is all you need! 😉

MYKONOS

Next, we took a short flight over to Mykonos where all of my Athens-born Greek obsessions became completely cemented in stone…or should I say, pentelic marble! 😉  This place was UN-Real! They say Mykonos is “where you go to party”, but coming from me (grandma, party-of-one) believe me, you do NOT have to be a big party person to enjoy Mykonos! In fact, it might have been our favorite stop in Greece!

Where we stayed in Mykonos:

  • Mykonos Blu– This place was gorgeous and right ON the beach, There was a main pool, a beautiful restaurant and bar, and we also had a private pool & grass area attached to our room. It was about a 10-15 minute drive into the town, but we preferred to wake up ON the beach and drive into town at night as opposed to staying on the other side of the island and having to cart beach stuff back and forth to get to the best beaches every day. Picture everything you’d imagine in a Greece resort: white buildings, bright pink bougainvillea climbing up every wall, and blue ocean views around every turn! And can I just say- the service everywhere we went was IMPECCABLE! Ah- take me back!

Things to do/see in Mykonos:

  • Boat Day- we chartered a boat one day and it was incredible! They toured us around some of the other nearby islands, parked us in a gorgeous cove to swim & snorkle, and fed us an amazing home-cooked Greek lunch on board. It was SUCH a fun day & an incredible way to see the tiny surrounding islands. We booked through Mykonos Luxury Motor Yahts.
  • Mykonos Town– Mykonos town is completely and utterly charming. Everything is white…even the cobblestone ground! There are gorgeous flowers everywhere and some of the most incredible shops every.
  • Island of Delos– I had NEVER heard of this Island until we cruised past it on our boat day. We immediately asked to be dropped off and I’m SO glad we did. Delos is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in all of Greece. Guys, this place was MIND. BLOWING. The ancient remains of an entire city- covering the whole tiny island, with no crowds, no ropes, no one “policing” what you touch or do. It was literally like stepping back in time. Ryan and I walked the island (in a rush) and took 1.5 hours. I could’ve stayed all day- the only thing I didn’t like was that I hadn’t done my research and without a tour guide (the map was difficult to navigate) I sort of had no idea what I was looking at. I wished, so badly that I knew all the history so I could’ve really appreciated the raw, ancient ruins we were viewing, touching and walking over…because they were pretty damn incredible! Probably one of my top-five favorite things we did in Greece!
  • Little Venice (home to the infamous Petros the Pelican) Little Venice is on the opposite side of Mykonos town from the shops, on the same side as the windmills. It is right on the water and has the quaintest little cafes where you can sit, have a coffee and watch the little waves splash right at your feet. Also, you might catch a glimpse of Petros. This famous pink pelican roams the cobblestone streets of Little Venice, and he is pink and damn proud of it!
  • Windmills- Ask your driver to drop you off here, have a quick photo stop in front of them and then, when facing the ocean, make your way down into Little Venice on your left.
  • Anna Maria Mazaraki – This was my favorite little jewelry shop in Mykonos! It’s trendy and cute, but also quality (so it can get a bit pricey!) I got the most beautiful pieces here for myself, the girls, and my mom as a “thank you” souvenir! I bought my “evil eye” bracelet here and have not taken it off since we returned.
  • Nammos Village & Beach Club – So let’s just say you DO like to party…this would be the place to go. They have a brand new village with super high-end shopping and the beach club is very reminiscent of the famous Nikki Beach clubs. There’s loud music, bottle service at your beach chair, scantily clad humans dancing, drinking…and probably making out right next to you! Ha! We ran into a work friend of Ryan’s here so we had some rosè and hung out for a few hours, but let’s just say…me and my mom-bod-one-piece didn’t quite fit in! 😉

Where we ate in Mykonos:

  • M.eating– This place was highly recommended so we went here first. The menu looked great but we got shoved in an awkward table: inside, in the back, right next to the waiter’s station… and I just wasn’t feeling it, not with so many other gorgeous options out there! So, we left. If you go here, be sure to ask for an outdoor “street-side” table! (Keep in mind, by “street” I mean “sidewalk”…there are no cars in this tiny, gorgeous village.
  • Familia– a cute little Italian joint. We ate here after we left m.eating, mainly because it looked so pretty and we were able to get a good table. The food was good, nothing crazy- but then again, I’m pretty much the most basic eater ever!
  • Interni– This place was INSANE! Be sure to get a reservation…the food, drinks, and atmosphere were so good!
  • Remezzo– We went here on our last night and it was just gorgeous. Ask to sit outside on the patio, on the edge, nearest to the water. From here you can watch the sunset and the food is absolutely delicious!

Tips for Mykonos:

  1. Mykonos town has two main sections: the souvenir street and the high-end street. We didn’t discover that we had missed all the high-end shops until night two and my joy was about as great as ryan’s anxiety at this discovery. Haha…just kidding. I think he loved window shopping as much as I did!
  2. There are like 30 taxis on the whole island. Ask your concierge to use the house car if possible, if not ask them to book you a private driver. They have a flat rate, so even though it sounds expensive, the private drivers only run a few euro above what the taxi costs.
  3. Make sure you come with Euros! You’ll need to tip your drivers and a few of the little shops only take cash. Most of the big stores take credit cards and will give you the option of being charged in Euro or USD. (We always chose to charge in Euro to get the best exchange rate!)
  4. Be sure to stop for some crepes or gelato in town!

SANTORINI

We were gutted to leave Mykonos but so excited to see what everyone was dubbing “The Best Place in Greece”: Santorini. We took the Minoan Line Ferry (The High Speed 7/ The Santorini Palace). We heard rumors while we were there about “the other ferry” (can’t remember its name) and heard it was a nightmare experience so we were glad our tickets happened to be for the other one…because we knew no different when booking! Ha! Santorini, in a nutshell was gorgeous and we had a blast. It took us a bit to come around to it I think- mainly because we were expecting it to blow Mykonos out of the water right off the bat, but it didn’t for us. Don’t get me wrong- by the end of the trip we fell in LOVE with Santorini and would go back in a heartbeat. However, I wouldn’t say it was better than Mykonos…just different. People say you “go to Mykonos to party and Santorini to relax” but we had a very relaxing stay in Mykonos and were pretty busy in Santorini! I guess each city is just what you make of it! Love, love, love them both!

Where we stayed:

  • Katakies  -Fist off you should note there are three main areas to stay in Santorinini:
  1. Fira- the capital; lots of night life, shopping, restaurant, night clubs
  2. Akrotiri- off the beaten path and pretty much far away from everything
  3. Oia- known for it’s picturesque views, famous sunsets, and quaint village

We chose Oia (pronounced “ee-yah”) and I’m so glad we did. The village did get crowded- especially when the cruise ships came in- but if we wanted peace and quiet, we just retreated to our hotel pool! Each hotel on the main strip in Oia has bodyguards (for lack of a better term) standing at the entrance of the downward staircases, so unless you are staying there, you can’t get in. It keeps the hotels nice and peaceful and quiet even when the main strip above is jam-packed. I highly recommend staying in Oia. It was the village where we spent most of our time (so it saved on many cab rides!) and I found it to be much more picturesque than Fira. I can’t speak about Akrotiri…because we never had any reason to go there, although I hear it’s peaceful and beautiful!

Things to do/see in Santorini:

  • Sunset Cruise- we booked what we thought was a sunset CATAMARAN cruise but when we showed up it was a mini yacht, instead. Ummm…SCORE! The crew was incredible and so knowledgeable! The toured us around the entire island/caldera of Santorini and gave us the most interesting history tid-bits along the way! They parked us near the sulfur hot springs at the volcano but we opted out of going for a dip. It stunk pretty bad and the water was bright orange….and hello, white bathing suit! They also cooked us an amazing dinner on board and then parked the boat for a front-and-center view of the sunset on the water. Absolutely insane! One of my favorite days in Santorini! We booked through Sunset Oia.
  • Hike from Fira to Oia– This day was SO. MUCH. FUN! We took a cab from Oia to Fira, did some carb-loading at a nearby bakery and then started the 6+ mile hike over the mountains back home to Oia! We stopped to climb to the top of Skaros Rock along the way (which took a little over an hour), stopped at a little snack shack on the side of the mountain for a water and beer break, and even rode some donkeys up one of the mountains. We didn’t think we would make it and discussed getting a taxi at certain points but I think we were both determined to say we did it. It was such a amazing, gorgeous, bonding experience. I’d do it again in a heart beat…maybe just bring better shoes next time! 😉
  • Spa– We booked a couples massage at our hotel after our hike and- Honey, did it feel GOOOOD after that day of climbing and sweating!
  • Pool/Lounge– Santorini is known for being relaxing so don’t forget to do just that! Our hotel’s infinity pool overlooking the cliffs of Oia was insane! We came here anytime we had some downtime to relax. The service was impeccable and the food, drinks, and view were out of this world!
  • Oia Shopping/Photo Opps– Get up early and go explore the village of Oia before the crowds hit! It’s so beautiful- and just keep walking, it gets better the further you go! The first night we only walked a tiny bit down the main strip and thought it was too “new and modern” and made us miss the quaintness of Mykonos Town, but the next day we pushed further into Oia and came to love it the further down the main strip we walked!
  • Cathedral– The famous three-domed blue cathedral of Santorini is pretty tricky to get to so let me help you out. First of all, there are blue domed cathedrals EVERYWHERE, but “THE” famous one is in Oia. When you get dropped off at the entrance of Oia (it just looks like a giant sidewalk with shops and hotels on either side. No cars- all pedestrian traffic) walk straight down the strip until you hit the Main Square. You’ll know it’s the main square because the narrow sidewalk will open up to a courtyard on your right with a big cathedral and lots of people stopping to take pictures. Keep walking! Right after the main square you’ll see a sign on your left for a shop called “Alexandros” (if you hit our little lunch spot, Melenio [see below], then you’ve gone too far). At the “Alexandros” sign, turn left down the narrow path. Go down the stairs. You’ll see a “fork in the road” at the bottom of the stairs, turn right and there, in front of you, is the picture perfect postcard view of the famous three domed cathedral!
  • Atlantis Bookshop- Ranked one of the best book stores in the world. It’s so quaint and filled with treasures! The CC machine was broken while we were there…which was probably a good thing because we would’ve spent waaaay too much on antique collector books!
  • Fish Pedicures– We skipped this, but they are all over town! Get one…if you like that sort of thing! 😉

Where we ate:

  • Lefkes– An old winery from the 1800s that was converted to a restaurant, great food and ambiance! Make sure to sit outside, up on the second floor if possible for the best sunset views!
  • Canaves Oia Hotel (Infinity Pool Restaurant) – not sure why this was recommended. While the rooftop sunset views were pretty spectacular and the food was good- we were literally the ONLY ones there…which is a big turn-off for me when it comes to restaurants.
  • Melenio– We ate here for lunch- just a little tapas cafe, but it had gorgeous views of the famous three domed cathedral and the ocean! It’s right off the main strip in Oia, right after the main square, on your left!
  • Boat- We took a sunset cruise on our last night (see above) and they fed us a delicious Greek meal on board!img_0891-1

Tips:

  1. For the Ferry you can actually purchase First Class tickets. This will get you access to the top floor of the ferry, with big cozy chairs, tables, and full food/drink waiter service. The ferry ride is a little over 2 hours- with stops, so it’s worth it if you want to avoid the big crowds and really relax for the ride! Also, PRINT your ferry tickets in advance!
  2. Most of the nice restaurants give you a shot of Ouzo after dinner. I’m not a huge fan of hard liquor or shots, but didn’t want to insult the waiters so I wound up pouring mine into my water glass most nights! Ha…just be prepared!
  3. Again, bring Euros! We had issues with the “ATM” machines and you’ll need lots of cash for tipping and for the smaller shops that don’t take credit cards!
  4. If you do the Fira to Oia hike, here are some tips try to follow along with the names/directions, it sounds kinda tricky, but I swear it’s not! So, the road starting in Fira and ending in Oia (the direction we took) is more downhill than going the opposite direction (starting in Oia, ending in Fira). So, if you’re staying in Oia, I suggest taking a taxi to Fira and hiking home. If you’re staying in Fira, hike to Oia then take a taxi back home! Also, start early so you don’t get stuck in the mid-day heat, wear comfortable hiking shoes (not CONVERSE, like me!) and bring a backpack with cell phone, CASH!, backup cell charger, and water!

I think that’s about it! It was seriously the best vacation of my lifetime (totally worth the wait!) and writing this post has me daydreaming about going back! Please let me know if you have any questions…happy to answer them if I can!

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Dressing your Big Girl

As I aimlessly roam the aisles of clothing stores, I notice my cart is FULLLL of cute outfits for Cub from the toddler section and I’m left wondering if I can squeeze Q into that dreaded “biggest toddler size” so they can match. Nope…legs are too long, zippers won’t zip. So, I brace myself as I walk into the “big girl section” where the clothing designers are intent upon transforming my newly seven-year-old into a teenager. Or so it seems…

Sound familiar? I’ve heard SO much from you guys about hating shopping in the “big girl section” for your little girls; how the clothes are too old, or just not as cute as the toddler section. And while I can’t fully fix the cuteness factor (they are baby clothes, after all) I DID do some digging to prove that we CAN have a pleasant experience shopping for our big (but still little) girls, too.

I put together seven looks that I would 100% put Q in and would EASILY be able to coordinate Cub with.

And guess what, you guys? Here’s the best news: Every. Single. Solitary. Item. linked on this post is from…get ready for it…Old Navy & Target! Yep…right down to shoes and accessories! Woo-Hoo!! Listen, I’m not ready to quit my small shops on Instagram, but let’s be honest…I live at Target so I might as well be able to snag some clothes for Q while I’m there, ya know?

So, yes…while the day our littles outgrow the toddler section, is a MOST dreaded day, it only confirms one thing that we should probably come to terms with (insert ugly tears)… they are, in fact, not toddlers anymore. BUT, if you still want to dress them like they are off to second grade and not sophomore year, here are a few looks you might like!

Happy Shopping, friends!

LoveJordan

 

 

 

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Look One Shopping List: maroon cardi | kindness tee  |rockstar jeggings | maroon sneakers |belts | headband

Tip: All the big girls are into graphic tees these days, so I always look for simple ones (you know, sans glitter and cartoon characters) You can always polish it up with cute accessories! When Q has “jeans” day at school, I would totally put her in something like this!

 

 

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Look Two Shopping List: jean jacket|   dressballet flats   | hair clips

Tip: Not many people know this but did you know Pink Chicken has a line at Target?! It’s called Happy by Pink Chicken and it’s exclusively online. If you are looking for sweet girly dresses at a fraction of the price, this is basically the best news ever for you! 😉

 

 

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Look Three Shopping List: fringe sweater | denim shirtmaroon skirt |boots |glitter bow

Tip: Layering can basically transform any outfit! I love this sweet little sweater but the outfit just came together when  layered the denim collared shirt underneath, dont you think? And riding boots with skirts…yes please!!

 

 

look4newLook Four Shopping List: fox thermal|overalls | black stripe headwrap|booties

Tip: One word- OVERALLS! Sad about your babe getting bigger? Slap on some overalls and boom- she’s instantly little again! Haha! Of course, let her feel more grown up by pairing them with some funky accessories!

 

 

 

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Look Five Shopping List: floral dress| jean jacket| boots OR ballet flats |hair clips

Tip: floral dresses are always a win when it comes to dressing Q. She loves them, I love them. It just works. Plus, pairing with a denim jacket just makes it even cuter!

 

 

 

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Look Six Shopping List:girls club sweatshirt |denim shirt | blue uni skirt|booties |yellow and pink knee socks |scrunchies

Tip: Ok, this might sound weird, but check out the uniform section! Those little pleated skirts and jumpers are cuuuuute and can totally be dressed up or down to make the perfect little girl outfit! Add some cute knee socks (and hello…scrunchies from Target?!) and you’d never know that skirt was intended for a peter pan collared shirt and a cardigan (which, by the way…I’m totally into as well!) 😉

 

 

 

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Look Seven Shopping List: striped dress|jean jacket |knee socks |booties |cat ear clips  OR Pom clips

Tip: Striped dresses (and denim jackets) are a wardrobe staple for us. I was able to dress this cute little number up for a fun Halloween-themed outfit just with Target accessories. And isn’t it totally reminiscent of the sweet “small shop” twirl dresses you know I love so much?!

 

 

 

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Extras Shopping List: octopus dress| blue check top|pink overall | pink dot headband| backpack|blue jumpsuit | chambray headband|metalic sneakers|brown riding boot| hooded coat| orange jumpsuit|stripe tie front top |studded flats

Extra, Extra! See guys? Shopping for our big girls can be totally fun…it just requires a bit more digging and playing around. I hope this helped you not feel so stumped and deflated when you’re walking the aisles of Target & Old Navy. Keep your eyes peeled people…the gems ARE out there! (Helllllooooo pink corduroy overall jumper up there. I see you!!!!)

😉

 

 

Halloween Books 2018

*NEW Picks for Halloween 2018!!*

halloweenbooks2018The Way Home in the Night | Plume | The Midnight Library | The Soup Bone | Alpha Oops: H is for Halloween | No Kiss for Mother (not exactly “halloween” but that angry little kitty just screamed, “Put me on your Halloween shelf!”| Rufus, the Bat Who Loved Colors | Tomi Ungerer Treasury (A new discovery for me! Tomi is a little bit off-the-beaten-path, with just a hint of darkness. Perfect for this time of year!)| They all Saw a Cat | Little Boo | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Version (Book One is a great starting point to introduce your kiddos to the world of Harry Potter before it gets too dark in later books!)| Hocus Pocus & The All New Sequel (novel- for older readers) | Leonard the Terrible Monster |Beware of the Storybook Wolves |Eearie Dearies (Disclaimer: The book has a beautiful cover and is categorized as an ABC book of  “26 ways to be absent from school”, so I bought it. BUT, it is very dark. The vocabulary is advanced and the illustrations, while beautiful, are pretty Gothic. I recommend this book for pretty “shelfie” purposes or for much older spooky-book-lovers) | The Worst Witch (My girls are obsessed with this show on Netflix so I can’t wait to read them this novel! | Which Way to Witch School (Thanks to the follower who suggested this one! Super cute!) |Stellaluna |Bonesville

 

 

 

*All-Time Favorites from Years Past*

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Picture Books:

Spookly the Square Pumpkin-Another from my teaching days…BEFORE it was a movie! This book is so good for teaching tolerance and differences! It’s a MUST!

Vampirina Ballerina-I know you’ve seen this book all over the blogs, BUT did you know it is a series…AND a new cartoon on Disney!?

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything-This is a staple in our house- a fun “spooky” book of repetition. My girls LOVE this and have it memorized! A Halloween staple!

The Bad Seed-Maybe it’s because I used to be in love with this movie, but when I saw this title, I knew I HAD to have it! “RHO-DA! You kill that little boy with your tap shoes?!!” Anyone, anyone?? Don’t worry, this book is just a play on words and not dark like the film or scary at all! Tells the story of a little seed who had a rough start and turned “baaaad”…but is he really that bad after all? People (and seeds) can change, you know! 😉

No Such Thing-Super cute story…and it’s also a “look and find” book which my girls LOVE!

How to Make Friends with a Ghost-Gorgeous illustrations! This book does read more like a “how to manual” than a story though. Some of the annotations and jokes might go right over smaller children’s heads. And, just a heads up, this book follows the little girl in her quest to befriend this ghost as she grow into adulthood. At the end, she does pass away (as an old woman) and the last illustration shows her becoming a ghost and floating away with her ghost friend. Just a heads up in case you’d rather not broach that topic with your children. I certainly had no idea.

Leo: A Ghost StoryOne of our very favs!

Cat’s Night Out-Super sweet rhyming book! Plus the cover made me think of the cell block tango from Chicago! 😉

The Scariest Book Ever-Super cute interactive book. Ardyn thought it was super funny!

Shadow and Flashlight-Two gorgeous “picture books”…all you need is your imagination. Ardyn loves these because the pictures tell the stories all by themselves.

Creepy Pair of Underwear-Little bit of a longer read, but funny for kids a tiny bit older and for those “potty humor” loving kiddos! 😉

Bonaparte Falls Apart…and needs his friends to help put him back together! Super cute friendship story!

Room on the Broom-We read it last night for our bedtime book and I forgot how fun it was. Definitely a holiday favorite!

The Night World-Gorgeously illustrated story about how the world looks in the darkest, very earliest hours of the morning…

Humbug Witch-This book is a new find for us and we are all obsessed. Such a fun read…with a little surprise ending!

Go Away Big Green Monster-A Classic for Halloween, and ANYTIME. This is such a fun book to read aloud..especially with those kiddos who may have monster fears. bonus points for there being an interactive puppet! I linked it HERE.

And a few other sweet picture books that will certainly liven up your Halloween “book shelfie” game! 😉

Gilbert the Ghost|Ghosts | Little Owl LostGhosts in the House

Baby/Board Books:

B is for Boo

This entire alphabet series is my favorite ever. Max has the “retro” one in his room and I just ordered the Christmas one as well!

Dracula, Edgar, Frankenstein

Hello, BabyLit books…need I say more? These books introduce even the youngest of babies to the classics with simple word/illustration associations!

Five Little Ghosts

Cutest little rhyming book…and there other books for other seasons!

If You’re Spooky and You Know It

I think you know how this one goes….super fun to sing along with little ones!

Five Little Pumpkins

Our FAV Halloween song!!! My girls LOVE to sing this…and we even act it out! So super cute. Used to do this one with my class!

EEK! Halloween!

Ardyn is 100% OBsessed with the Sandra Boynton books! Like, she sleeps with them. This one is short, sweet, and funny…just like the rest.

 

Happy Reading!

LoveJordan

 

Q’s Backpack

 

Hi friends! I hope all your little ones have had a great start to school! I’ve gotten a bunch of questions asking about how we decorated Q’s backpack this year so I thought I’d link a some of them for you. Q picked out this metallic State backpack with the intent to flair-the-heck out of it, but you can totally add some fun personalization to ANY backpack! We went with the enamel pins because I was nervous about ironing-on patches to the metallic, but if you have a canvas pack…I think iron-on patches are a super cute way to go! Here are some of the items we used:

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Metallic Backpacks

Q wanted something “plain” that she could decorate, but something that was still “fancy”. She loved this metallic gold backpack immediately.

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State Backpack | Silver Backpack (cheaper option and currently on SALE!)

 

Pins & Appliques

We found most of our pins at hobby lobby and local boutiques but Amazon has a fun assortment that will be different from what everyone else has! I also found some cute stick-on patches that work great as well if you want to avoid ironing & sewing!2018-09-09_0006

 

City Pins | Fun Pin Set 1| Fun Pin Set 2 | Letter Pins | Stick-on Patches 1Cat & Jack adhesive patches

 

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We had been given an acrylic name keychain with a tassle on it for Q’s birthday and she really wanted to use it on her backpack…you know, in case she couldn’t tell her pinned-out, gold backpack apart from anyone else’s at school! Anyways, I think it looks so cute! We added a giant pink pom that she had on her backpack last year and called it complete. I’m sure it will get added to throughout the year…until it’s so laden down with flair that she can hardly hold it up any longer! Ha!

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Unicorn Pom | Triple Pom Face | Plain Color Pom |Rainbow coin purse key chain | Personalized Acrylic Keychain

 

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backpack

Our Wellness & Vitamin Routine

Ok, here it is! I’ve been asked so much about what vitamins I give to the kids and how I prevent sickness during the school year so I finally put it all down in one place. But, I want to preface this post by saying that I am in no way a doctor or expert on this topic, just a mama who’s done some research. I’ve also pulled some tips and suggestions from my knowledgeable friend Kelli to compile this post for you. Let me introduce her!

Screenshot_2018-08-26 Kelli Green ( thegreenhouseessentials) • Instagram photos and videosKelli is a DoTerra rep, a mama to two of the cutest little blonde babes, and she’s as organic and wholesome as they come!  Kelli also brings her children to an integrative holistic pediatrician (meaning they utilize alternative AND traditional approaches to pediatric care), and her doctor has recommended many of these products to Kelli over the years. Everyone has that one “beautiful, crunchy, cooks 3 organic meals a day for her family, cleans the house with all-natural products, kids are never sick because she’s a rockstar at immunity boosting” friend…and for me, that friend is Kelli! (Love ya, Kel!) I always go to her with all of my questions about oils and/or natural remedies/immunity boosters! Kelli’s Instagram page is a fountain of knowledge so make sure you go give it a follow @TheGreenHouseEssentials !

Ok, so I should start by saying that my family has basically fallen off our vitamin routine since summer started…perhaps this is why both Cub and I were bedridden for several weeks. (Oops!) But now that we are back at school with birthday parties, dance class, gymnastics, play dates, and germs galore…it’s back to our vitamin routine we go!

I’ll start by listing out the main supplements we use in our house. I’m not as informed as Kelli so I tend to stick to the bare minimum and only add new products after doing lots of research and checking in with my pediatrician!

  1. probiotics (every. single. day.) The only disclaimer is if you are on an antibiotic make sure you do not take your pro and anti at the same time of day! Look for the number of live probiotic cells (culture forming units, or CFUs) per daily serving (the higher the count, the more effective the probiotic will be) AND the type of probiotic strain (I’ve included the ones I like below) when choosing a brand.
  2. multi-vitamin (my kids do NOT eat a balanced diet and if yours do…I need to know your magical ways!) Multi-vitamins help me ensure the kiddos and myself are getting the vitamins & minerals we need.
  3. vitamin D I skip this one in the summer since we spend so much time outside, but once fall/winter hit, I add vitamin D to our routine again.
  4. Sambucus (Elderberry Syrup) We take this when I know the kids have been exposed to germs or at the onset of symptoms. Cubby drinks it straight, for Q I mix her dosage into some juice. Kelli suggests giving it every day at the height of flu season as a preventative measure!
  5. Oil Roller I used to do DoTerra’s OnGuard (or Young Living’s Thieves) in a roller bottle on the girl’s feet every day before school but Kelli suggested adding 10 drops of Melaluca to the 10 drops of OnGuard, (fill the rest of the roller with coconut oil) and applying it to the bottoms of feet OR the spine every day! So we are trying that this year!

Here are the brands I like: (I’ll * the ones Kelli recommended)

Kids

Probiotics:

Multi Vitamin:

(Kelli advises to always look for “whole food concentrate” on the label when choosing a multi-vitamin!)

Vitamin D:

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Sambucus:

For the Babies…

Probiotics:

  • Bio Gia– I’ve used these drops on all three of my babes. The live culture count isn’t crazy high (100 million per 5 drops), but they also contain Vitamin D, so you’re knocking out both in one little dropper. My pediatrician recommended me starting my newborns on these drops right from birth, but at a lower dose than the 5 drop serving size. Ask your pediatrician before using.
  • *Baby Jarrow– I’ve also used this before. It’s a powder designed for babies and has 3 billions CFUs, I used to mix some into the babe’s bottles but preferred the drops!
  • Baby Jarrow also has drops at 1 billion CFUs per serving (10 drops)

Multivitamins:

  • I never gave my newborns a multivitamin because I always took one and I knew they were getting the nutrients from me when breastfeeding. When they moved on to formula, I always used organic brands of formula that contains all the nutrients they needed. But once they get a bit bigger or if you feel they need it, *Child Life Multi-Vitamin & Mineral is a good one to use on babes 6months and up, and comes in liquid form.

For Me…

Probiotics:

Multivitamin:

Collagen Peptides:

  • *Vital Protiens Collagen Peptides powder– I add this to my coffee every morning. It “promotes youthful skin, healthier hair, and stronger nails and helps keeps bones healthy and strong, and supports joint health.”

Immunity Boost:

  • When I’m feeling symptoms of sickness or know I’ve been exposed, I will suck on *Sambucas lozenges all day long and even take some of the *immune syrup.
  • I will add in some of the kids’  *Vitamin D drops to my juice or coffee
  • If my throat gets tingly, I gargle with a shot of orange juice with 3-5 drops of OnGuard mixed in for as long as I can.

And that’s what we do at our house! If you found this post interesting, please make sure to follow Kelli over on Instagram @TheGreenHouseEssentials. She’ll be giving wellness tips and tricks all winter long, per usual! And do me a favor, make your shopping list of vitamins and immunity boosters from above and then go ahead and call your pediatrician and run it all by him/her!

Always, always check with a doctor before starting your child on a new healthcare regime, even if it is “just vitamins!”

Hope the germs stay away and that y’all have an awesome school year!

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*This post is not sponsored but may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Thank you for following and reading!

Ballet Favorites

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 Ballet starts today for the girls and I wanted to share a few of my tried and trusted favorite dance supplies with you!

enjoy

 

Dance Bags

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Splurge:

Steal:

  • Target Pink Mini Parachute Satchel (we got these this year and had the girls names monogrammed in white! They’re SO cute!!)
  • Personalized Totes (We used these last year and they were perfect for smaller girls who don’t have much to carry into dance class. We needed something bigger this year.)

 

Dance Shoes

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Splurge:

  • Ballet- Bloch  They’ve come out with “string/tie” free ballet slippers.  We purchased some this year and if you hate tying those tiny little strings into knots or bows like I do, these are totally worth the extra $9!
  • Tap- Capezio   We are lucky enough to have a Capezio store right by us so we always run in to get new dance shoes every year. It’s kind of a fun tradition for my girls to get fitted together.

Steal:

  • Ballet- Target ballet shoes ( I grabbed Cub some of these last year last minute and they lasted the whole season!)
  • Tap- Target Tap Shoes (Ok I just totally dropped the ball last year when none of Q’s hand-me-downs fit Cub and I ran to Target to get all of her shoes. These were fine for the year. But they aren’t THAT much cheaper than the Capezio and the velcro strap kept putting pulls in her tights!)

 

 

Transition Shoes

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Splurge:

  • Mini Melissa– We’ve been buying MMs for years now and they are our FAVORITE shoes to wear into and out of dance class…can’t be scuffing up those tap shoes and slippers, now!

Steal:

  • Old Navy Pink Jelly Mary Janes – They may not be as soft or durable as Mini Melissa, but these bad boys are sweet and CHEAP…not to mention bringing back some totally 80s vibes.

When in doubt…my girls throw on their rain boots when we are headed to dance class! Favorites here: one | two | three

 

 

Tights

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Splurge:

  • Capezio– I’ve found with dance tights, more is MORE! The more expensive, the better the quality, the longer they last! I splurge for a few nice thick pairs and they last SO much longer than the thin cheapies!

Steal:

  • Target Tights – Use in a pinch and be warned…they’ll rip after one wear and I can’t stand the seams that show.
  • Dipug Tights – Found these on Amazon & giving them a try…stay posted!

 

 

 

Leotards

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I used to do all the fun leotards from my fav small IG shops, but I’ve found I like classic the best. So we stick to black & pink, short sleeve and long sleeve. The strappy leotards tend to fall off my girls or they feel too exposed up top. We do have a few strappy ones, but when they wear them, the girls usually wear a dance wrap sweater over (see “Extras” below).

Splurge:

  • I’m sorry but Capezio is my go-to for dance clothes for the fit & quality… but that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price! I find capezio deals on zappos and amazon!

Steal:

  • Zulily always has the BEST deals on dance clothes!
  • Target their “less blingy” leotards are pretty cute! My girls like these skirted ones!

 

 

 

Extras

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Dance Books

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Ivy & Bean  | Tallulah’s Tutu | Miss Lina’s Ballerinas |Ella Bella Ballerina | The Ballet Book (Q loves “big girl” books like this!) | We Love Ballet | The Yellow Tutu

 

Happy Dancing!

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For ideas on a fun Ballet-themed birthday party, click HERE!

LoveJordan

Teacher Favorites

At our preschool, the Parents’ Club sends out an email at the beginning of the year with filled out “Teacher Favorites” forms for each member of the school staff. It’s always SUCH a helpful tool of reference; when a teacher has a birthday, during the holidays, at the end of the year, or any time I want to bring our awesome teachers or office staff a little treat.

When I used to teach, I remember a few parents asking me some of my favorite things at the beginning of the year and then surprising me on random mornings with my favorite Starbs drink or a salad from my favorite lunch spot. Those days, I always had a little pep in my step; seriously though, knowing and appreciating your teacher- even through tiny gestures really goes a long way. So, now, as a parent on the other side, I know how hard it is to scramble at any sort of gift-giving time- trying to figure out whether the teacher is a “monogrammed stationary” or a “Target gift card” kind of a person. I understand gifts are supposed to be generous and thoughtful and appreciated no matter what they are, but wouldn’t it be nicer to spend your money on something your kids’ awesome teacher really wants or needs? For example, a teacher friend of mine does not drink coffee, or go to Starbucks and has probably the most impressive collection of coffee mugs and Starbucks cards of anyone I know! Honestly, knowing things like your teacher’s favorite place to shop, favorite Starbucks drink, favorite color, flower or snack is just super helpful information to have throughout the year.

Since I love this idea so much, I made a generic form based on the one created by our preschool and thought I’d share it with you!

Happy Back-to-School to all the kiddos, parents, AND amazing Teachers!

(Click link below to download form!)

TeacherFav

Teacher’s Favorite Things

LoveJordan

 

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