Family Travel Tips for Parents on the Go

We just returned from an exciting trip with Disney World and Disney Cruise Line, and can’t wait to share the incredible things that will soon come to Disney parks! Since this was a work and play trip combined, I remembered a few helpful family travel tips for parents on the go, to help streamline the process of traveling with kids.

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  • If Capable, Have Kids Carry Their Gear

I can’t stress enough how important it is to begin this step early!  Whether you’re heading to the beach or getting on a plane, help teach kids accountability by having them carry their backpacks or push a small carry on suitcase through the airport.  Keep the size and weight manageable and stick to this expectation on every excursion.

  • Pick your Mom (or Dad) Bag Wisely

During my hunt for a reliable bag, I couldn’t believe how many brands decided to omit external pockets designed to hold water bottles. I’ve learned to keep my electronics and expensive camera lenses far away from liquids, and have found a solution in sticking with diaper bags.  All of our favorite bags (find great tips on finding the perfect diaper bag here!) are super stylish and modern and in no way scream baby bag! And best of all, they offer, secure places to store large water bottles, stash away valuables, and even tuck in camera lenses.  We need solid compartments galore with comfort and functionality.  I’ve also often gone for neutral colors so my husband can carry the bag when needed.

  • Print and Color Code Calendars

As much as we try to rely on digital calendars, there is nothing like having a clear and concise calendar in a visible spot to keep the entire family informed. On our recent trip, I was required to be in different places than my husband and kids on most days.  A color-coded calendar allowed the kids and my husband to see exactly what was expected of me, and where they’d find pockets of free time along with scheduled family events.

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  • Clear Compartments are your Friend

When a nine-day trip required two hotel changes and a switch to a cruise line, our packing game left something to be desired.  I did, however, pick up an assortment of clear travel pouches from a local discount store.  Having things visibly organized helped a ton! From medications, make-up, electronic chargers, my daughter’s hair accessories, to sunblock and more – not having to search for things saved time while on vacation.

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  • Plan For the Last Day

The final day of vacation is always a drag as it’s time to pack up, head to the airport and face reality! My husband and I gave each other a look when we passed the exact spot in the Orlando airport where we experienced total family chaos just nine months prior, as we tried to rearrange suitcase weights and find warm clothes for the kids. We learned from our mistakes and laid out the kids’ travel clothes the night prior, also packing everything away as concisely as possible. TIP! If you’re leaving a cruise ship, skip the breakfast and order room service the NIGHT BEFORE. As long as the Thermos top is tightly secured, your coffee will be piping hot in the morning, AND you’ll save precious time getting your family off the ship.

Hope these tips are helpful and have fun on your next adventure!

This post is sponsored by Quidsi.  However, all opinions and travel tips are my own.

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Super Bowl Sunday and the Halftime Bathroom Break

While I may tune into the Super Bowl solely for the brilliant commercials, halftime show and “Hamilton’s” Schuyler Sisters’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” – I’m well aware that most of the country is fired up for the on-field action.

And while talk turns to game-day recipes, drinks, and decor – let’s not neglect super simple ways to make those raging football fanatics feel comfortable in every room of the house.

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Yep! I’m talking about the bathroom, and don’t worry; this isn’t a tutorial suggesting that you whip up Pinterest-worthy homemade potpourri. With more than 100 million fans tuning into the game, half of those Super Bowl viewers spend little to no time at all prepping the bathroom for their Super Bowl Bash.  Did you know that 62% report being likely to forget to buy bathroom supplies for game-day party planning?

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Febreze and Charmin have you covered for the inevitable Halftime Bathroom Break that occurs as millions of Americans rush to the bathroom (after holding it in!) in those precious few minutes between the halftime whistle blow and the halftime show.

That other paper-thin, 1-ply toilet tissue isn’t up to the challenge.  Ditch it and stock up on Charmin Ultra Strong.  Why? Because three rolls of Charmin Ultra Strong Mega Roll are long enough to span an entire football field, so guests won’t have to use as much toilet paper but will leave the bathroom feeling clean.

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When I learned that more odor molecules come from the halftime bathroom break than there are blades of grass on all the NFL fields in America combined, I couldn’t add Febreze to my cart fast enough.  Throw in an excess amount of wings, Instagram-worthy nacho towers, beer and more – and (AHEM!) you better have your odor fighting game on strong to ensure your guests feel at home. We found our hero in Febreze’s tiny and discrete smallSPACES that fight repugnant odors while secured nicely and discreetly on the toilet bowl tank or bathroom vanity.  Add Febreze Air to unleash an instant fresh force and eliminate airborne odors in the powder room and party room too.

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Have fun watching the game and don’t sweat the stink!

Thank you to Febreze and Charmin for sponsoring this post.

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Design Tips to Update and Elevate the Living Room

living-room-design-tipsWe’re excited to share a living room update in collaboration with Raymour & Flanigan who provided furniture and decor. Opinions, as always, are my own. 

Like many families, we spend the majority of our time in the living room.  It’s where we decompress, host friends and family, and enjoy simply being together – cocooned between our walls.  It’s arguably the most important room in our home, and we’ve always felt connected to the ways in which our interior space impacts our everyday.  With a goal of continuing to tell our collective family story with heirloom pieces, meaningful artwork, and some new furniture and decor to compliment our Tudor style space – we found a way to easily upgrade the communal area in our home – just in time for the holidays, and the fresh start of a new year.  See below for our simple design tips to instantly update and elevate the living room.

living-room-home-design-tips-raymour-flaniganMAXIMIZE AVAILABLE SPACE

Selecting a specific couch or sectional was perhaps the biggest design decision in our living room update.  While I initially went with a plush beige sectional, the Soto 4-piece Modular Sectional Sofa with Soto Ottoman suited the available space so much better. As opposed to something oversized, the low back, tapered feet and raised design (that my robotic vacuum can work under!) deliver the sort of warmth and comfort that we were looking to maintain.

home-design-decor-styling-tipsFOCUS ON MULTI-FUNCTIONAL PIECES THAT COMPLIMENT THE EXISTING SPACE

In addition to the dimensions and overall feel of the 5-piece sectional, we knew its functionality would work well for our lifestyle.  When guests are over, we just slide over the armless chair to cozy up in discussion and add the ottoman for those who want to catch a quick cat nap (hello husband!).  Being able to pull apart the pieces, with the option of latching it all together (while set up in sectional mode) made this key piece transform the space visually and functionally.

living-room-home-design-how-toUTILIZE ARTWORK AND PLANTS

Whether meaningful family heirlooms, new treasures or flea-market finds, we’re big believers in loving the art displayed on the walls every single day.  I adore having my husband’s work in clear view, and the way that our living room design allows treasured gifted pieces to take center stage. We also picked up this great Copper Flower Wall Decor to pull together the color palette while providing impact to an otherwise bare wall.  Also, every space can be perked up by natural elements like fresh plants – just don’t forget to water!

home-design-tips-statemen-pieceINCORPORATE STATEMENT PIECES

With a mirrored interior and lightly antiqued gold finish, this large Bevan Gold Oval Tray houses a rotation of decorative items, fresh flower, flameless candles and more, while making a statement in the overall space.  Go ahead and put curated stacks of books on display too, while mixing them up to keep your current reads interesting. 

raymour-flanigan-modular-sectional-sofaADD A RUG

Rugs always add an instant cozy vibe.  If we didn’t have a bold and colorful rug in the front area of the room, we would have selected a loud or patterned rug for this portion of the living room.  This Bella Sisal Hazelnut Area Rug complements the overall aesthetic while meshing well with the bright accents in the designated play area.

living-roomBRING IN TEXTURE

We found the texture-rich feel we craved in a few Bryant Cognac Shag Throw Pillows.
We’ll eventually add more color and patterns to the pillow collection, and adore the starting layer of texture in these great shag throw pillows.

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Lastly, we’re fans of mixing different designs with a bit of modern, mid-century, eclectic and antique along the way. The new pieces from our partner, Raymour & Flanigan helped to instantly upgrade our well-loved living room to a favorite place where more cherished memories will be made.

Looking for more design features?  View the kids shared bedroom upgrade here.

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On Holiday Hair + Fishtail Milkmaid Braids Tutorial

how-to-fishtail-milkmaid-braids-crownThis post is sponsored by Mirum Shopper.  Opinions and fun fishtail milkmaid braids hair tutorial are all my own. Thanks for reading!

We’re one full week into December and are super excited to attend the first of many holiday parties this evening.  I think the entire family is feeling the distinct spirit that comes along during this special season.

I’m trying to consciously not get caught up in the busyness of it all – and just focus on the fun of spending loads of time with people we adore.  I also certainly welcome reasons to get out of the work-from-home beauty rut and get dressed up for the festivities to come.  There’s absolutely something to be said about feeling your best on the inside when you practice self-care on the outside too.

While I’ve depended on those loose curl blowouts for nearly every special event – a fun beauty quiz on CVS.com made me realize that it’s due time to up my hair game; suggesting that I give my outfit a pop by achieving shiny hair status with recommended productions to use along the way.

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Winter always has a way of wreaking havoc on my hair, and I’ve been trying to combat the overall dryness caused by heat tools and the change in temperature.  I’m replenishing my locks and preventing damage with products from Suave and TRESemmé® BOTANIQUE collection. I’ve also been experimenting with fun styles like these fishtail milkmaid braids – that also offer my hair a bit of respite since this lovely look is achieved without heating tools.


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If you’d like to rock this quick, easy, and perfect-for-the-holidays ‘do – just follow the straightforward steps below.  Make sure that you have two little elastics, plenty of bobby pins and TRESemmé® TWO Extra Hold Hair Spray.  In addition to taming fly-aways and holding holiday styles in place, the hair spray is also a hero at locking in curls!

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1. Divide your hair into two equal sections.  A middle part works best for this look because your braids will have similar thicknesses.

2. Fishtail braid each section and secure with a small elastic.  I think fishtails look best when weaving with tiny sections of hair to really define the braid pattern. I also recommend pulling out small sections of hair before braiding – to keep the look chic (and not Little House on the Prairieish!!!).

3.  Here’s the trick to making the braids look great.  Starting from the top of the braid carefully pull each braid apart to give the braids a fuller and naturally messy look.

4. Experiment with placement by wrapping the braids around your head.  I like my braids very close to my hairline for a lovely braided crown look.

5.  Position the first braid across your head and secure in place with bobby pins.

6.  Wrap the second braid across your head (I like to place it in the back of the first braid) and secure with bobby pins while making sure to tuck in the little elastics and ends.  Spray with TRESemmé® TWO Extra Hold Hair Spray to help tame fly-aways while holding the look in place.

Have fun – you’re set to party!

Want in on the savings on some great, affordable, hair care products that are currently in my beauty arsenal?  CVS is currently running the following deals:

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$5 ExtraBucks® rewards when you spend $15 on participating TRESemmé®, Suave® or Dove Hair Care products.

Additionals Offers Valid 12/4-12/10
2/$6 WITH CARD Select Suave® hair care.
2/$8 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® or Dove Shampoo Conditioner and Stylers.
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium or Dove Advanced Hair Series haircare.
*Offer Valid WITH CARD 12/4/16 – 12/10/16. ExtraBucks® Rewards offer limit of 1 per household with card.

Additional Offers:
Valid 12/4 – 12/10
2/$6 WITH CARD Select Suave® Hair Care.
2/$8 WITH CARD Dove Base Hair Care or TRESemmé® shampoo, conditioner (28–32 oz.) or select stylers.
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium or Dove Advanced Hair Series haircare.
Valid 12/11 – 12/17
2/$8 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® shampoo, conditioner 28-32 oz., or select stylers-
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium Hair Care products.

Valid 12/18 – 12/24
Buy 1, Get 1 50% OFF WITH CARD Select Suave® Hair Care products.
Valid 12/25 – 12/31
2/$8 WITH CARD Dove Base Hair Care or TRESemmé® shampoo, conditioner (28–32 oz.) or select stylers.
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium or Dove Advanced Hair Series haircare.

Looking for more hair inspiration?  Learn what hairstyle you should try this Holiday season by taking this quiz on CVS.com/YourStyleYourWay.

Wishing you all the best of the season!

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On Small Wins and Fostering Confidence in Kids

With a little flashlight clutched in his hand, I catch my six-year-old staying up past his bedtime, sounding out words in a book that is far beyond his reading level.  The same scenario plays out nearly every single night.  He wants more than anything to master the first book in a popular series that his big sister devoured.  While I so admire his determination, I recognize his increasing frustration  – and am reminded of the importance of age-appropriateness during these crucial years where independence and everyday wins help to shape confidence.

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We’re coming off of a much needed slow and lovely weekend.  The kids stayed in their PJs for a good portion of the morning, and I surprised the boy with early holiday gifts from our friends at LEGO Juniors, specifically designed to set younger kids (ages 4-7) up for success, with fun building sets that are perfectly matched to the building skills of their age and stage.

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“LOOK WHAT I MADE!!” my little-guy gushed while leaping off an art table chair onto the hardwood floor to drive his LEGO Juniors Police Helicopter Chase set across the wooden panels.  Miraculously, it survived the commotion in one piece, and his confidence soared while flipping open the front of the chopper – to act out his “guy” containing the robber while saving all the money for the “good people.”  I couldn’t believe how fast the set came together and appreciated the intuitive design that allowed my six-year-old to give it a go right out of the box – with a fun, pre-made piece to encourage the building process.

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The excitement continued the following morning with the LEGO Juniors Family House Set.  This bigger set came with separately numbered bags filled with pieces, allowing my little guy to find the right bricks for specific areas.

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I adored staring at his sweet concentration face while the house was constructed with the ideal synergy of age-appropriate challenges and creative play.  And if your child is anything like mine – they’ll be thrilled with this set’s inclusion of a toilet bowl!

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In childhood, it’s not the big milestones (like riding a bike for the first time, or scoring a goal) that solely build earned confidence and self-worth; it’s the everyday simple wins that help to foster perseverance, resilience, and the never-give-up-spirit that murmurs over and over again ” I can do it”.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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It’s Time To Get Those Holiday Cards Ready!

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Who’s excited for the holidays?! I can’t wait to get our Christmas tree and just be present with my family in all of the goodness that the season brings. The kids have always enjoyed helping to open the envelopes that will soon start to trickle in, filled with thoughtful Holiday Cards from our friends and family.  It really is such a treat to receive an actual card in this digital era.  We’ve  joined in the tradition of sending photo cards ever since our little-big-girl first came along, and we’ve turned to Minted for several years for our Christmas cards because we adore their modern, lovely and festive designs sourced from their talented global community of independent artists.

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With brilliant letterpress options, Foil-Pressed Holiday CardsOrnament Holiday Cards, lovely New Years Card Collection options and more. Minted makes it easy to pop your favorite family photograph or kid’s art into a ton of different designs.  And you can never go wrong with free custom Minted envelopes and free recipient address printing!  Do let us know what your favorite designs are in the comments below – and take advantage of those great sales going on now through Cyber Monday!

This post is sponsored by Minted. A company that we have loved and used for years.  Opinions, as always, are my own.  Affiliate links are included.

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