Monday, November 23, 2009

A Thanksgiving To Remember

Ever since I was 18 years old, it seems like my biggest Thanksgiving tradition is actually traveling for Thanksgiving. It seems like I'm always somewhere different!
*When I was in college at BYU, I would travel home to San Diego for Thanksgiving.
*Last year, we visited my grandparents in Phoenix.
*Two years ago, we went to Utah to visit Stephen's family.
*Three years ago, I had a very unique Thanksgiving going to Nauvoo for my cousin Brittany's wedding. Stephen had to stay in Seattle for work, and the day I flew back there was a MASSIVE Seattle snow storm. I was stuck at the airport for hours, and then we were on the freeway trying to get home for hours! I will never forget that Thanksgiving.

So where will be this year???

HERE, at our house, in Seattle!!!

I love to travel, but I'm so excited that we're not traveling for Thanksgiving this year! My family is coming to us instead! It's going to be really nice to just stay here, and get to show off Seattle to my brother Jakob, who's never been here before. He's also never seen Natalie before, and she's seven months old now!

Since I am the tour guide extraordinaire (you better believe it. . . it's true!), I've been busy planning our itinerary because we're going to do this right! Everyone will be wishing they could spend Thanksgiving in Seattle with us every year!!!

Our awesomely exciting plans include the following:

*Kick off the Christmas season by visiting the Teddy Bear Suite and the Festival of Trees at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel downtown. I've never seen these before, but heard great things about them and they're free!

*Visit Pike Place Market. If you've never been to Seattle before, you've got to experience it!

*Eat dinner at the Sky City Restaurant on TOP of the Space Needle on Wednesday night! It's pricey, but the food is really great and the view from the rotating restaurant just can't be beat!
(I don't think we'll get any snow. . . but isn't this a gorgeous picture?)

*Cook and eat our delicious Thanksgiving dinner. I can't wait for turkey, fresh mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and ORANGE ROLLS. Oh my gosh, orange rolls are the most delicious things on the planet. My grandma has been making them for every major holiday of my entire life, and they are THE holiday food that I can't live without. My cousin Tammy took this amazing picture of the ones she made, and this picture looks almost as delicious as they taste.

*Go see the new Christmas Carol 3D movie on Thanksgiving. Jim Carrey really freaks me out in the previews, but hopefully it will still be a good movie. Bonus: Since we're seeing it at the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center, our tickets are only $3.50 each! Thank you, Microsoft Prime card!
*Black Friday! I really like shopping on Black Friday, as long as I don't have little kids with me. I think it's fun! I've never gotten up at 4 or 5 am and stood outside in lines to get into WalMart or anything before, but maybe I'll try it this year. Who knows? I hope to find some great deals wherever I go!

*Go see Snoqualmie Falls (definitely one of my favorite Seattle places!) and eat the famous breakfast at the Salish Lodge at the top of the falls. My grandparents and parents have been talking about this breakfast ever since we moved here, and I've never tried it, so I'm looking forward to it!
*Experience some more Christmas magic. . . walk through the Garden d'Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden! It looks really great and starts on Saturday! Then we'll hit up the Snowflake Lane show in Bellevue. . . they decorate the whole street with animated snowflake lights, and they have a big parade with drumming toy soldiers, holiday characters, Santa Clause, and lots of fake snow falling from the sky!

I don't know. . . do you think we'll have enough to do this week???
OH, and I decorated the house for Christmas today! The Halloween decorations finally came down. . . three weeks after Halloween ended. So we will also be spending time in a Christmas-adorned, cozy house!

I'm SOOOOOO excited!!! This year's Thanksgiving will be spectacular!
Who wants to come spend Thanksgiving with us next year?

Gift Guide: Megan's Flowering Boutique Review and Giveaway!!!

Can you imagine a more precious stocking stuffer for any little girl?

These sweet, tiny, handmade dolls are designed and created by Megan's Flowering Boutique. I received a few of them to review, and I am completely blown away by the amazing quality and all of the tiny, perfect details on these dolls!

These little dolls are about four inches in length, making them the perfect size to play with in a whole variety of dollhouses. They can also be made into ornaments (LOVE this idea! I am a major Christmas ornament collector and these would be so unique and gorgeous on a tree!), and look completely adorable on shelves. I know, because that is where mine are. My two year-old daughter is a little too young to realize just how special these dolls are, so they are now adorning a shelf in her bedroom until she's old enough to appreciate them.

Their arms, legs, and bodies are bendable and poseable, so little girls will love to play with them. And they can be made in any color or style that you want!
I love the vibrant autumn colors on this flower doll:

The little mermaids are just sooooo sweet:

I also LOVE the mother and daughter flower doll sets:

A ballerina doll would make the perfect gift for any little dancer!

I can't believe how low the prices are for such an intricately detailed, handmade doll. The single dolls are $12 each, and the mother-daughter sets sell for $22. Wow! At prices like that, you could fill up a whole stocking with unique, handmade dolls. That sure beats a stocking full of candy and manufactured plastic!

Megan's Flowering Boutique is offering a wonderful giveaway of any single flower doll of your choice to the winner!!! You can choose a ballerina, mermaid, or flower doll out of any of her options, or she can custom-make one for you! Or you could have yours made into an ornament. I LOVE offering customizable giveaways like this one, where you can choose exactly what you want if you are the lucky winner!

Here's how to enter:
*Visit Megan's Flowering Boutique and leave me a comment on this post, telling me which flower doll design is your favorite and who it will be for if you win! Remember, even if you don't have any little girls you can have yours made into an ornament!

Get extra entries when you:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Tweet about this giveaway
3. Mention this giveaway on Facebook, and link to me
4. Blog about this giveaway and link back to me
5. Add her shop as a favorite on Etsy
6. Make a purchase, and let me know you did

*Please leave me a separate comment for each entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you. This giveaway will close on December 7'th. Good luck and happy shopping!!!

Gift Guide: Michelle Lohr Designs Review!

Oh my gosh. . . check out the sheer gorgeousness of my new favorite purse! This is far and away the most beautiful purse I have ever owned, and right up there with the prettiest I have ever seen. I am SO in love with the bold, graphic pattern and the classic black and white color scheme. It is EXACTLY my style, and I am rocking this purse now wherever I go!
Michelle Lohr Designs is the creator of this beauty. The Sofia City Tote is the perfect size and shape, and it goes with just about every outfit. I get compliments and questions about it every time I carry it around on my shoulder! It's just so stunning!!!

It's 15"x15", so it has plenty of room without getting too big or bulky. Most of the bag is all one compartment, and it has two small interior pockets sewn onto one of the sides. Those interior pockets are awesome! They're just the right size to hold my cell phone and some lip glosses and chapsticks, so I don't have to go digging around the whole purse to find them.

I also love the fun, flirty fabric on this one, the Lily City Tote.
Okay, Santa. . . I really want this matching cosmetic bag for my purse! This would make an amazing stocking stuffer!
All of Michelle Lohr's City Totes sell for $52 on her website, which I think is a fabulous deal for such a beautiful and high-quality purse. She also makes them in two other styles, the Handbag and the Classic Tote. Girls. . . add one of these to your Christmas list pronto (you can even make it really easy for your guy or your mom, and email them the direct link to the one you want!) And if you want to see some VERY happy faces on Christmas morning, buy some as gifts for your closest girlfriends and relatives!

I'm SO thrilled with my Michelle Lohr Designs City Tote, and I just know you will love it too and use it every day for years and years!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Team Jacob Has a New Member!!!

I think it's safe to say that Team Jacob has a whole TON of new members. . . including me!
When I read the books I was always Team Edward. I wasn't really a big fan of Jacob at all. But that's because in the books Edward is stunningly handsome and perfect in every way. I always pictured Jacob being strong and kinda cute, but no match for Edward's amazingness. Now that I've seen New Moon. . . Holy shizoli!
Jacob trumps Edward in pretty much every single way! His smokin' hotness might have a little to do with it (okay. . . a LOT to do with it), but let's talk about personality too! Jacob is charming, funny, endearing, lovable, caring, and masculine to the core. Sorry to say it, but in comparison Edward seems too moody, too serious, pasty white, too skinny, and kind of like a jerk to leave Bella for no good reason. He didn't even save her from almost drowning. . . Jacob did! Now THAT'S a man!!!
I think I better go read the New Moon book again. . . now that I know what Jacob is really like. We'll see if my new team allegiance still stands after I read.

So the movie was GREAT! A whole ton better than the first movie. I never even bought the first Twilight movie, but I will buy this one!

A few of my thoughts about it:

*The animation and special effects were much improved! I only thought one part looked really fake, and it was the first time a wolf came out through the trees. The rest of the wolf parts were really well-done, so I don't know what happened with that one.

*Ooooh, those Volturi gave me the creeps. The main guy. . . shudder!!!

*If I were Bella (and assuming I chose Edward), I would want to be turned into a vampire too, just as badly as she does. It would be awesome to never need sleep, and I'd love to live forever!

*I thought Victoria would play a bigger part than she did. Especially because they made such a big deal of her at the end of the first movie.

*I think every girl in the entire theater was on Team Jacob, judging from all the whistling, cheering, and cat calls whenever he appeared on screen. Oh, and I loved seeing it at the Cinebarre! Miranda and I shared some really yummy fries with queso sauce that they brought out right at the beginning of the movie, and everyone in there was over 21! I will definitely go back to that theater!

*Were there any guys in the whole entire theater? I think I saw two or three. And I'll bet they felt awkward.

*I still really, really don't like Bella. The actress OR the character!

I want to know what you thought!!! Did you switch teams too?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dancin' In the Moonlight Weekend!

I have been looking forward to this weekend for SUCH a long time, and it's finally here!!!

I didn't go to the midnight show, but just like SO many of you girls, guess what I will be seeing tomorrow???
Yes, all the hype may turn out to be better than the actual movie will be. But gosh, isn't it so much fun to get caught up in the frenzied excitement??? Twilight is so addicting. Not to mention Edward and Jacob. Mmmmm. . .
Tonight I made Stephen watch the first Twilight movie with me, so I could get even more excited. Can't wait to watch!

As if that isn't enough to make this a great weekend, on Saturday night I'm going to see. . .
YAY!!! I've never been to one of their shows before, but always really wanted to. We have seats far, far away from the stage, but I hope we'll still have a good enough view and the show will be incredible.

I'm so lucky. . . two girls nights in a row! And to see two of my favorite things!
Does life get any better??? (Please don't answer that. . . unless you're going to agree with me!)

Gift Guide: Kidorable Review and Giveaway!!!

Ohhhh, Kidorable products just melt my heart! You've probably seen them before, as they sell them in many boutiques and shops. They're SUCH super cute animal-inspired umbrellas and rain gear for kids! The most popular styles that you see are the ladybug and the frog, and my gosh they are cute! Why can't adults get away with wearing such fun raincoats and boots? I would just smile all the time if I could go out in the rain and look like this:

Seriously!!! This company amazes me! They sent us their ladybug raincoat, umbrella, boots, and knit hat, and I was so excited for Kirsten to try them all out. She loves them!!! The boots are her favorite. She laughs at the bug faces and eyes on the boots, and she pulls them out of the closet quite often and wants to put them on. The website describes them as "playful puddle magnets," and these would make such a wonderful Christmas gift for any child!

The knit hat is thick and wonderfully warm, and would make a perfect stocking stuffer!

I've seen lots of fun raincoats before, but this one wins hands down for style! It's just too yummy for words! Their raincoats are made of PVC with polyester lining. The quality and the fit are both top-notch, and I love the big ladybug pocket on the front. Another bonus: All their raincoats come with a free hand-painted hanger! Ours is red with ladybugs on it!
I've come so close to buying one of these umbrellas many times in the store. They're so unique, and they would certainly stand out around all the other umbrellas! Kirsten can't quite get the hang of holding an umbrella up over her head yet, but she still has a fun time playing with her ladybug umbrella. Someday when I have a boy, I'm going to get this frog umbrella for him. Go ahead. . . try to look at it and not smile!

Kidorable has a huge line of different products and styles, and they are ALL imaginative and cute! Besides the products I reviewed, they also sell backpacks, knit scarves, knit gloves, towels, sun hats, embroidered shirts, hanger sets, and bookends. You've got to check out all their different animal designs!

I especially love featuring this company for the holidays because Kidorable is donating $1 to Toys for Tots for every new Facebook fan that signs up by December 25'th! If they reach 2,000 fans, they will also donate 250 umbrellas. So just by becoming their Facebook fan you can feel good about contributing a small part to Toys for Tots. Love it!

I just had to include a picture of their Bee hooded towel. That is an amazing towel! It almost looks like a Halloween costume!

Kidorable is offering a giveaway of one kids' umbrella in your style of choice! Go here to check out all the fun styles available. Your kids will LOVE this umbrella, or it would make a wonderful gift!

Here's how to enter:
*Visit Kidorable and leave me a comment on this post telling me which Kidorable Style is your favorite and which ones your kids would want!

Get extra entries when you:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Become a Kidorable fan on Facebook here and you'll also be helping Toys for Tots just by becoming a fan!
3. Follow Kidorable on Twitter here.
4. Sign your kids up for their free Birthday Club here.
5. Mention this giveaway on Facebook and link to me.
6. Tweet about this giveaway.
7. Grab my button off my sidebar and let me know where it is on your blog.
8. Blog about this giveaway and link to me.

*Lots of entries and chances to win this fun little umbrella! Please leave me a separate comment for each entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you. This giveaway will close on December 3'rd. Good luck and happy shopping!!!

Gift Guide: Carolina Pad Review and Giveaway!

Here's one for your always fashionable and ultra organized friend. You know you have one of those! Or for the friend who you think might need a little help organizing their life. :)

Carolina Pad creates fun, vibrant products that help you to stay organized while expressing yourself at the same time! Their slogan is "Everyday products. Extraordinary design." And they really are! Since you end up buying lots of notebooks, planners, and file folders anyway, you might as well buy fabulous ones!!!

I was so happy to receive a whole collection of their bright and happy Hot Chocolate line to review. These are just the cutest organizing tools I've ever seen!
I decided to use mine to keep track of some things I'm starting to pay more attention to these days. . . couponing and mystery shopping! I don't subscribe to the Sunday paper, but I do receive lots of coupons in the mail, as well as printing them off online. I also check quite a few blogs that are updated constantly with freebies, printable coupons, and other great ways to save money. It's fun and definitely makes me feel good when I save a large chunk of money at the store!
My favorite coupons that I use the most often are for:
-Diapers and wipes
-Formula (expensive stuff!)
-Baby food
-Old Navy

I'm embarrassed to admit how unorganized my coupon system used to be. . . just a big pile of papers, everything mixed together, that I would grab and take into the car with me. I had to sort through each pile before I went into a store to find the relevant coupons. Here's how I'm using the Carolina Pad products to make everything much easier and efficient:

*I'm using my 13-pocket expandable folder and my Coupon expandable folder to divide the coupons up into different categories. I cut my coupons up, stick them in the right place, and it's SO much easier to find everything in an instant!
*I use the Planner to write down one-day deals, great sales, and any important expiration dates that I don't want to forget. It's so nice! I used to always hear about great deals and sales but could never remember the dates for all of them.

I just started doing some Mystery Shopping. . . and it's really fun! Last week I mystery shopped two Sunglass Huts for $15 each, one Public Storage unit for $40, and my family got reimbursed for two games of bowling and some food from the snack bar! Awesome! Mystery shopping requires you to be very organized, because you won't get paid for the shop if you miss a deadline or a detail. Carolina Pad products have been helping me keep track of my shops too!

*I use the file folders to store my receipts and paperwork, so that I'll make sure to get paid the correct amounts.
*I also use the planner to write down my shop dates. Some of them give you a range, and some are very specific.

I'm very happy with how well the Carolina Pad products function, and of course with how fun and fashionable they are! These products are sold in WalMart, Target, Office Max, and lots of other stores all around the country. In fact, I had already bought some notebooks from their collection and hadn't even realized it. This collection caught my eye when I was shopping at Fred Meyer one night. Aren't they pretty?
I also love the green, black, and white color palette for this collection:
Carolina Pad is offering a giveaway of a whole gift basket of products just like the one I received! Here's what the collection will include:
*1-subject notebook
*Ideal notebook
*Personal notebook
*3-ring binder
*Tab dividers
*File folders
*13-pocket expandable folder
*Coupon expandable folder
*19-month planner
*Stick-on notes and flags

A whole box of useful and cute stuff!!!!
Here's how to enter:
*Visit Carolina Pad and leave me a comment telling me which area of your life needs the most help with organization. Also tell me which of their collections you'd most want to have!

Get extra entries when you:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Grab my button off my sidebar, and tell me where to find it on your blog.
3. Mention this giveaway on Facebook and link to me
4. Blog about this giveaway
5. Tweet about this giveaway
6. Become a fan of carolinapad on Facebook
7. Follow carolinapad on Twitter
8. Sign up for their mailing list here.

*Please leave me a separate comment for each entry! This giveaway will close on December 3'rd, and is open to the U.S. and Canada only. Good luck and happy shopping!!!

Gift Guide: TeeWit Review and Giveaway!!!

I love to give clothes as Christmas gifts! But anybody can go to Old Navy and buy a striped polo shirt. What I love to do is customize shirts based on the personalities and hobbies of the people I am giving them to. It's just so much more friendly, and really lets the person receiving the shirt know that you were thinking specifically of them when you bought it. Thoughtful gifts just mean so much more than generic gifts!

TeeWit lets you do just that! They're a really great online shop that sells humorous and sweet designs for babies, children, maternity, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and breast cancer survivors. It would take you forever to browse through every shirt in their shop. They offer SO many choices, and it would be really easy to find gifts for pretty much everyone on my list at this shop!

I received this totally adorable onesie from them for Natalie. I definitely chose it for her because of her personality. . . Natalie takes after me, and she is a night owl for sure!
It was especially appropriate for her to wear that onesie on our camping trip. She stayed up hours later than every other little kid. Night owl. . . yes, I think so.

I was very pleased with the quality of this onesie. I got mine on the organic baby bodysuit, and I think it was worth the price difference for sure! The fabric is really soft and durable, and it didn't fade or shrink in the wash. It's also generously-sized, which is great for Natalie who's constantly growing out of everything.

You can add your sayings and logos of choice to just about anything! Onesies, T-shirts, bibs, sweatshirts, various bags, magnets, and mugs. They have funny designs for every age, but my favorite are the baby designs. This one would be perfect for either one of my girls, since they seem to take turns being my alarm clock:
I really want Kirsten to wear this one. Funny AND true!

TeeWit is doing an amazing giveaway of a $50 gift certificate that's good towards anything in their store!!! You could have a blast using this to buy Christmas gifts, or stuff for yourself!

Here's how to enter:
*Head on over to TeeWit and tell me which shirt made you laugh the most!

Get extra entries when you:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Sign up for their newsletter here and let me know you did. (Check the bottom of their sidebar, and enter your email address underneath 'Newsletter Subscription.')
3. Mention this giveaway on Facebook and link to me.
4. Blog about this giveaway.
5. Grab my button off my sidebar, and tell me where to find it on your blog.
6. Tweet about this giveaway.

*Please leave me a separate comment for each entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner. This giveaway will close on December 3'rd, and is open worldwide. So get all those extra entries, and start browsing all the fun shirts!
Happy shopping!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kirsten Is Two and a Half!!!

Wow. . . today was November 13'th, and I realized about halfway through the day that it was Kirsten's half-birthday. She's two and a half!!! Halfway through those two's!

I haven't posted much about what Kirsten's up to lately, so here's a whole post dedicated to my adorable girl!

*Kirsten speaks in sentences some of the time now! It's really cute to hear her put a bunch of words together. Here are some sentences I've heard her say:
"Turn on the light please, Mommy"
"Need food now!"
"I want yummy cake"
"Ernie is funny" (to clarify. . . she means Ernie from Sesame Street. He cracks her up like no other)
"Want to go see Greema house. Poppy. . . apples. . . bounycine."
"Scary witch!"
"Hey! Baby Natalie touched my clothes!"
"Oh my goodness!"
"Triangles have equal sides"

*She has recently learned how to STALL bedtime. Oh, it's a dreadful thing! We used to read her a book or two and then she was happy to go right to sleep. Now she has four favorite books, and she wants ALL of them to be read to her before her nap and before bed. It's always the same. . . she wants "Mickey Mouse" first, then "Crickets", "Good Morning, Good Night", and "Itzy Bitzy Spider." We typically will only read three books to her, and then she'll cry and scream in her crib for the other book for a few minutes before she figures out she's not getting it. Not too fun! She also tries to turn back pages while we're reading to look at certain animals and pictures again. She's discovered how to stall. Lovely.

*One fun thing with her books now. . . she likes to say the last word or two of every line herself when we read to her. The funniest ones to hear her say are "Tickety-toot" and "Clickety-clock." She thinks it's hilarious too!

*She's starting to get a really good memory. After I took her to Chuckee Cheese for the first time, she saw a commercial and started shouting about going there. She adores that place. She also remembers the names of friends and family members she hasn't seen in a long time, and points them out in pictures.

*I think she really is starting to like Baby Natalie. . . she just doesn't want to admit it. There are lots of times when they'll just stare at each other and laugh and laugh together, and Kirsten loves doing things to make Natalie laugh. It's SO cute when they do that! Then other times she'll snatch a toy right out of Natalie's little hands or get really upset when Natalie touches her.

*One day Natalie rolled over to Kirsten's toy piano and actually made music with a few of the piano keys. Kirsten saw it, ran across the room, and dragged the piano away from Natalie. Sigh.

*She really doesn't like it when we read her favorite books to Natalie instead of her. One day I was reading Kirsten's story to her while Natalie was napping, and out of the blue Kirsten said, "My story. Not Baby Natalie's." I gotta admit it made me laugh. :)

*I hope they'll be great friends someday!

*Kirsten's new favorite movie (as of a few days ago) is Up. She says "Want to watch balloons!" every day now, and she gets such a kick out of the whole thing. It really is a cute movie!

*I still think Kirsten has such great taste in TV shows, especially for a 2 year-old!
She loves Sesame Street and Play With Me Sesame, I Love Lucy, So You Think You Can Dance, Glee, and Dancing With the Stars! All of those last three have the same name to her: "Dancing songs." She often asks for "dancing songs" and wants me to sit down on the couch with her so she can dance around and jump all over me. She even recognized Tom Bergeron when she saw him on America's Funniest Home Videos, and knew he was from "Dancing songs!" Too funny! I can't wait to get that little girl into dance lessons after she's three!

*She hates the mall play areas, because of all the crowds of kids running around and jumping on everything. She gets too scared. But she loves to walk around stores in the mall. She loves the Disney Store, Build-a-Bear, and Pottery Barn Kids. Her favorite thing is to push a miniature shopping cart and follow me around the store, which she can do at Target and Pottery Barn Kids. Future shopper. . . yep, I think so!

*She doesn't seem to like our kitties too much anymore, and mostly bosses them around. It's weird! They're such sweet cats, and she'll tell them "No!" when they're not doing anything wrong.

*Kirsten almost never throws a full-blown tantrum. She always had a quiet cry as a baby, and she still does. But she DOES cry and whine quite a bit, which can really grate on me if she does it a lot in one day. Sometimes I wonder who the baby really is in our house, because sometimes she cries more than Natalie does!

*Mr. Potato Head is a toy she really enjoys, and she calls him Mr. P-Head. It cracks me up every time I hear her say, "Where P-Head?"

*She's still obsessed with balls, bubbles, and riding on anything that resembles a car.

*Like most toddlers, she's a pretty picky eater. She usually won't eat meat, unless it's inside a soup or a casserole. She's famous for eating only a few bites of her actual meal, and then asking for snacks five minutes after her meal. It's so frustrating to take the time to fix her a nice meal and then have her refuse most of it!

Foods she always wants:
French fries
Trail mix (well. . . picking out the M&M's and the raisins)
Fruit snacks
Hot dogs
Chicken nuggets
Juice (seriously, kids get way too obsessed with juice!!!)

Foods she sometimes wants:
Green beans
Pasta (this is a new one. . . she used to hate all pasta!)
Fish sticks

*Kirsten's becoming so grown-up in lots of ways! But in many ways she's still like a baby. Examples (yeah, I know. . . she's slow to move on):

-She hasn't shown the slightest interest in potty-training yet. She still wears diapers. Nope, it's not really fun to have two kids in diapers.
-She still prefers to eat her meals in the high chair.
-She still sleeps with a binky. She doesn't take them with her in the car anymore and never has them except for when she's sleeping. Pretty soon, the binky fairy will be making her appearance.
-She still sleeps in a crib. I'm in no rush to get her out of it. We have a bunk bed all set up in her room, but until she climbs out of her crib or wants to sleep in the big bed, I love putting her down in the crib every night and knowing she'll stay there. And she still loves it too!

*This picture was taken at the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival. It was very crowded, but a really fun event! Kirsten loved the train ride the most!

*The recent outing-gone-wrong:
Kirsten locked me and Natalie out of the house!
When we get out of the car, I usually take Kirsten inside first then go back out to the garage to get Natalie. About a week ago, I also left the keys inside with Kirsten and she locked the back door so I couldn't get in! All of our other doors were locked, and I tried to tell her to unlock the door but she was basically ignoring me. I had to call Stephen, and he had to come home early from work (at around 2 pm) to let us in the house. Pretty nuts! Kirsten didn't do it on purpose, and when Stephen asked her to unlock the door she told him it was stuck. And at least she didn't destroy anything in the house while we were outside! She was alone in there for about an hour, and she didn't cry or do anything she shouldn't.
Thank goodness Natalie was outside with me, and I could just sit in the van and hold her and play with her! If I had already taken Natalie inside, it would have been disastrous! Natalie would have been screaming to get out of the car seat, and then Kirsten would have been crying and it all would have been a massive mess! So it worked out okay. . . it was just annoying.

*I love Kirsten so much!!!
She's such a mommy's girl, and she loves to play with me and laugh with me. I think she has an awesome sense of humor. . . we really do laugh at the same things, and we think a lot of the same things are funny! I have so much fun with Kirsten every day!

What Was He Thinking???

Okay. . . so NOW I'm glad Chris won American Idol this year! I really thought Adam should win throughout the whole season, because I loved his awesome arrangements and just thought he was the most talented.

Good thing he didn't win. . . this is the actual cover of his upcoming album release:

Yep. . . FOR REAL. Doesn't it look like some terrible 80's album cover that you'd see for 10 cents at Pic n Save??? Holy cow. Who told him this was a good idea???

Winners! just picked a few winners for me, and here they are. . .

Winner of the Beautorium Rose Body Wash is. . . #47!
carol said... I'm a facebook fan of beautorium

Winner of the New Fashioned Whispers $20 gift certificate is. . . #60!
Chris and Sarah said... A Baby Robin. Whimsical and sweet speckled egg necklace is one of my favorites.

Winner of the SewMagical Flower Clips is. . . #40!
Eileen said... I follow your amazing blog!

Congrats to the winners and a huge THANK YOU to everyone who enters!

I realize that my giveaway list is pretty short now, shorter than it's been in a long time! I better get on that soon!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Travel Talk. . . Hotel Rooms!

It's been quite awhile since I did a Tuesday Travel Talk post! Months! But I'm going to try bringing it back, because I love to talk about traveling. Places I've been, places I'm dying to visit. . . I love it all!!!

One question that always comes up when I'm planning my trips is whether or not it's worth it to splurge on a nice hotel. As you all know, hotel prices are all over the place, and it all depends on how much you want to spend when you travel.

My general rule of thumb is:
If you're hardly going to be spending any time in your hotel (getting in very late at night or really just sleeping there and spending all your time doing activities), I wouldn't spend the big bucks for a deluxe, fancy hotel. I've stayed in my share of Motel 6's and Travelodge's, and they're sometimes fine but they can also be a little disgusting. A good middle-of-the-road hotel that tends to have good prices and is always very clean is the Hampton Inn. That seems to be my go-to hotel chain for road trips and short stays. What's your go-to hotel chain? I'd love to hear it!

There are plenty of occasions when I believe it is absolutely worth it to splurge on a really nice hotel! Here are a few:

1. If you're traveling with kids and staying for multiple days (such as a Disneyland vacation), a room with an extra kid's suite or multiple rooms can be worth its weight in gold!
2. If you're going to be spending a lot of time at your hotel, you'll probably want it to have some nice amenities, a really fun pool, and some great activities and restaurants.
3. If there's a hotel you've always wanted to stay in, and you think you might regret staying in a cheaper place instead.
4. Anniversaries and honeymoons! Those occasions just SCREAM for a nice hotel room!

I absolutely loved my honeymoon to St. Thomas, and the hotel played a big part in how awesome it was! Stephen and I stayed at the Frenchman's Reef Marriott Beach Resort, and it was amazing!!!

The hotel was incredibly clean and beautiful, and our room had a balcony with this spectacular view:

I wonder if I'll ever again have such a gorgeous view from a hotel room. It was breathtaking.

Other than the view, my favorite thing about this resort was the beautiful pools. They had two really big outdoor pools, and they never closed! We could go swimming in the middle of the night!!! I loved that! The resort also had a private white-sand beach. I think a honeymoon is the very BEST time to splurge on a nice hotel!

We're hoping to go on a trip to South America next year for our 5-year wedding anniversary, without kids. (Can I begin to tell you how excited I am about that???!!!) For that trip, I really don't care about our hotel quality because I know we'll be spending all our time touring and packing each day full of stuff and will hardly be in the hotels at all.

But in early December, we're going to Whistler, BC for a winter weekend getaway and I really wanted to stay in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. So I booked two nights there, and I'm thrilled about it!!! Since we'll have the kids with us, we'll be spending a good amount of time at the hotel and I want to fully enjoy our experience since we've never been there before. I hope it's a snowy winter wonderland there like it looks in this picture!

Some other hotels I'm dying to stay in someday? (Seriously, I will be staying in these hotels at some point in the future):
-The Moana Surfrider hotel in Oahu. . . perfect location right in the middle of Waikiki, and such a classic, old-fashioned gorgeous hotel.
-The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas. . . holy cow, have you heard of this place? It has everything from a crazy-good water park, massive aquarium, and 11 pools. It would be SO fun to take kids here! (Older kids than mine, of course).

Which hotels are on your must-stay list???

*This is a TravelingMom dedicated post

Monday, November 9, 2009

One Blog or Two? Opinions Wanted!!!

Whether you visit my blog to see pictures of my kids. . . to read about updates and stuff I'm doing. . . to enter giveaways and read reviews. . . all of the above reasons. . . or just because I comment on your blog and you feel guilty not commenting on mine. . . I want your opinion please!!!

I've been playing with the idea for awhile now of separating this blog into two different blogs, one for giveaways/reviews and one for my personal blog. I know some people really think I should separate them, but I want to know what more of you think!

Here are the reasons why I enjoy combining them into just one blog:

1. I really like mixing it up! I think it's fun and unique, because most review/giveaway blogs don't include personal posts. I think my blog has a lot of variety and I like it that way!

2. I would have to get a whole separate blog for the giveaways/reviews, and I don't think there's a way to combine my followers onto two blogs. I really don't want to lose any followers! I love you all!

3. Since many of my giveaways/reviews include cute pictures of my kids, I'd hate to have to post the pictures twice on each separate blog.

SO. . . here's what I want to know. . .
*If you come to my blog to read my personal posts and see my pictures, do the reviews and giveaways bug you? Do you just scroll right past them? Or are they interesting and fun to read too?
*If you come to my blog to enter awesome giveaways and read reviews, do you enjoy reading my personal posts as well? Or do you just scroll right past them? Would a separation be better?
*If you come to my blog for BOTH, I still want to know what you think and what you'd prefer!

I welcome all opinions and honesty is appreciated! I kinda can't wait to hear what everyone thinks. :)

And just because I can't stand to post stuff without pictures. . . here's a little sunshine from my neck of the woods. Yep, we're in the full swing of the rainy season in Seattle, and we've had a lot of rainy days lately. Call me crazy, but the rain is like sunshine to my little soul. So even though it may look dark and gloomy to most people, to me it's raining sunshine. :)

Adorable Etsy Shop. . . Radically Riley Review and Giveaway!!!

Found! Some more very unique and beautiful jewelry to adorn yourselves and your Christmas lists with!
Radically Riley makes incredibly thoughtful jewelry for her Etsy shop. You can tell she puts a LOT of hard work and inspiration into each piece. She sent me these colorful Chakra earrings, and I adore the twisty silver wire and the beauty of the stones. Each gemstone included in these earrings actually has its own healing and balancing properties! I don't know if I felt completely healed and balanced while wearing these. . . but they sure looked pretty!!! They are just the right dangly length, and because of all the colors in the stones they can match SO many outfits! You can win a pair just like these for yourself too!!!
I love Radically Riley's description of herself:
"By day I am a mild mannered high school chemistry teacher, but at sundown I transform into Radically Riley Super Jeweler!"
I think her jewelry perfectly reflects what a fun person she is! Her bead work is so stunning, and some of her pieces even feature hand-crafted polymer clay beads! Here are some of my favorite creations from her shop:

*Mystical Earrings (wow!)

*Landslide Earrings (Twisty wire, I love you!)

*Stormy Skies Earrings (I love storms. . . and I love these earrings!)

*Entwined Necklace (how fantastic is that beadwork?)

*Anemone Necklace (I love her handcrafted polymer beads, and this necklace is in her Clearance Specials section!)

So, so beautiful!!!
And Radically Riley has generously agreed to give my winner a pair of the Chakra Earrings (featured in the photo at the top of this post). Trust me. . . you will love them!!!

Here's how to enter:
*Visit Radically Riley's Etsy shop and leave me a comment on this post about your favorite item!

Get extra entries when you:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Tweet about this giveaway.
3. Mention this giveaway on Facebook and link to me.
4. Blog about this giveaway and link to me.
5. Add her shop as a favorite on Etsy.
6. Give me your opinion on my other post titled "One Blog or Two?"

*Please leave a separate comment for each entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner. This giveaway will close on November 23'rd. Good luck winning this elegant pair of earrings!!!

Eco-Ditty Review!

Reusable sandwich bags and snack bags are getting popular lately, and I recently found out why when I got to try out some of these fun little bags from Eco-Ditty. I had been buying Ziploc sandwich bags in bulk, because it seems like everywhere we go I need to make sure to have an assortment of snacks for my two year-old. I'm sure all moms of toddlers feel the same way! Plastic bags, everywhere! A much more economical and earth-friendly solution is to buy a few of these snack bags made of 100% organic cotton and carry them around with you instead! Really practical and really cute too! Check out this fabric:
These are so great because you can wash them and use them forever! You don't have to keep wasting money and filling up landfills with plastic baggies. You can wash them by hand, in the washer, and even in the dishwasher! I ran mine through the dishwasher, and they held up perfectly! Most of the time I find I don't really need to do anything more than a rinse, because I use them for non-messy snacks.

Eco-Ditty comes in the snack bag size or the sandwich bag size. Sandwiches tend to make these much messier, so plan on washing yours after sending a sandwich in it or wrapping your sandwich in a paper towel first. I think these would be so cute to send in a school lunch box. Just make sure your child remembers to bring them home and never throw them away!
They come in lots of great fabric options, and they are a very high-quality product!
I always feel like I can't do anything really big to help the environment. But it feels good to do the small things, like recycling and trying to reduce waste. Eco-Ditty makes it easier and more fashionable to do just that!

Deal Alert: Eco-Ditty is offering 15% off your entire order with the coupon code 'KIDS15' to my blog readers!!!