Our Eventful Trip to the Cape and Our First Week Here

To start, this was such an ordeal the thought of documenting it with photographic evidence didn’t even cross my mind. That in and of itself should give some indication of the drama about to unfold…

E, Meatball and I started our three-legged journey by driving from our house in VA to Jer’s parents place in WV. Smooth ride, no issues, and a lovely stay at MomMom and PopPops. My mom flew down to Jer’s parent’s house to do the next two legs of the journey (the second one being the longest) bless her heart. I can honestly say I’m pretty sure I would have had a mental breakdown had she not been there. I take that back. My mental breakdown would have been far worse had she not been there. Remember the old adage “slow and steady wins the race”? Ya, I didn’t take heed of that for our trip from WV to MA, and we did not win the race. We ended up outside of NYC instead.

I had the idea in my head that 95 up the East Coast on a Sunday afternoon from Jer’s parents place in WV would be a good option since, well, it was Sunday, so no huge amounts of rush hour traffic. Getting run off the road (literally, we nearly ended up in the grassy meridian) on 95 in MD should have been my first clue that this was not a good idea.

After our brush with death we stopped at the MD/NJ border for a bathroom break and to grab some dinner for mom and I. I had a PB&J for E, she hadn’t at this point eaten Fast Food of any kind, but that would soon change…

E had been a saint for the past four hours, happily sipping on water and watching Thomas (yes, I gave in to the DVD player for this 10 hour journey. I’m not a martyr). When I got her out of her seat, I realized just how much water she had been sipping on. She was soaked. Up the shirt, all over the seat, soaked with pee. One pee covered child and now pee covered mom entered what is apparently the only place people in that area can eat and go to the bathroom. Everyone and their friend was there.

The changing table was of course strategically located at the entrance to the ladies room, smack dab in the middle of the long line of waiting people, and 5 feet off the ground. Not at all intimidating for an infant or toddler, and oh so very easy to maneuver around. I’d have opted for the car to change her at this point except every square inch was taken by luggage and a Bulldog and the pavement of the parking lot seemed like a bad choice. After a good screaming/changing session, covering her carseat with towels, placing a now dry but unhappy E (enter Thomas) and eating crappy sandwiches in the car we were unsuspectingly on our way to one of the worst road trips ever.

After MD the ride was pretty smooth, a few delays here and there, but all in all as I had hoped it would be. We were doing 75 on the New Jersey Turnpike, and all was well. Thomas had gone to bed along with E, and were 3 hours away from my sister’s place where we would crash for the night, then head to the Cape from there the next day. And then we hit the George Washington Bridge (GW from here on out).

First came the toll booths. Gridlocked. Getting into the EZPass lane took an act of God, one that was pre-empted by near on collisions with an aggressive BMW and a clueless pick-up truck who just about got creamed by a semi. Once we got through the tolls we saw the hold up: a massive accident on the GW.

Three hours and 15 miles later, we were over the bridge, and onto more traffic. It was now Midnight and we’d been on the road since 2:30. My sister was OK with us arriving at dawn, so we kept on driving. Until we hit Stamford, CT. Construction with an hour or so delay. By now I was seeing double. And there it was, like a beacon of hope: a glowing La Quinta sign.

For whatever reason I knew that La Quinta allows dogs. I’d never stayed in one, I knew nothing else about them (other than that sign was the light at the end of the tunnel) but we were going. We pulled in around 1:00am or so, just as the bar crowd was leaving (just imagine the crowd that hangs at the local La Quinta till all hours). They had one room with two beds left. It was a smoking room. It could have been a nudist only room, I would have snagged it all the same. So up we went, to the 8th floor and the last smoking allowed hotel room in the continental US.

After taking Meatball out to do his business, a difficult task for an English Bulldog to do on the one square foot of grass in the parking lot, we settled in for the night. E and I took one bed (I had her sleep on her towels, there were cigarette burns on the sheets. Classy.) E thought it was quite the adventure, and that clearly we were having an awesome sleep over where we’d jump on the beds all night. She eventually crashed, and thank the Lord slept until a little after 7.

But just wait. It gets better.

So due to my mom’s back surgery, and her very real need to be close to where she’s going, she has a handy dandy Handicap placard. The handicap parking at the La Quinta in Stamford is located right by the front entrance. Which, the next morning (or the same day, given our arrival time) was under construction. The doors were barricaded off by cones and tape, and locked. We were told we could go through the Diner to get outside. Fine. We’d have breakfast then be on our way. Breakfast was actually really good, though you could have given me a Pop Tart at this point, any comfort food would do. Seeing my car covered in plywood while people used jackhammers to break up the sidewalk all around it mid-breakfast, not so good. And that was the last straw. I lost it. Tears and blubbering ensued. Exhausted, stressed by the start of Jer’s deployment, a few brushes with death, unbelievable traffic and now my car in the middle of a construction zone.

Mom moved the car, after taking out a few construction cones with her cane and some choice words to the crew.

And off we went, for what would hopefully be the last leg of this journey. We stopped for lunch, where E had her first taste of a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget. The Furby in her Happy Meal (which she has decided is an owl) was met with far more enthusiasm than the nuggets. Proud I am and “Owl” is now a regular crib companion. Thank you McDonald’s.

We finally arrived on the Cape Monday afternoon. Although the journey was eventful to say the least, at the end of it all we were safe. We avoided being run off the road, being one of the poor people involved in a major accident, and having our car covered in chunks of cement, among other things. I can honestly say I felt under attack, but given the outcome I can also say we were safely in the hands of God for that journey, and the less than savory arms of a sketchy La Quinta.

Some highlights from our first week back on Cape…

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Definitely worth the trip.

I’ll go ahead and say “Thank You” for reading my long saga by sharing my newly learned tips on surviving a long drive with a toddler, under any condition.

  • If your road trip is more than 5 hours, I strongly recommend having another adult with you. If a husband/partner isn’t an option, like in my case, check out Priceline.com for airfares and fly someone out if need be. If for nothing more than staying alert and awake (and sane) this is, in my opinion, a really good idea.
  • Keep a bag of empty sippy cups, a large bottle of water, and many snacks at hand. Sippy cups will be thrown to the side, yet they’ll always be wanting one. The last thing you want to have to do is stop repeatedly on the highway to hunt for them.
  • And on that note, ration out the snacks and the drinks. Hand them a bowl of crackers and they’ll eat the bowl and once again be jonesing for more. As I learned the hard way, the same can go for water.This is another instance where that second adult comes in. Give a cracker or two at a time, and you won’t ruin their dinner leaving you with a hungry tot in the wee morning hours, and they won’t be screaming for more an hour later after you’ve given them the lot, or end up soaked in their own pee.
  • Your safety has to come before your limited TV policy. If keeping them occupied with a kid-friendly DVD will keep them calm and you able to focus on driving, then play on, dear Thomas, play on.
  • Be prepared to stop for an overnight unexpectedly. Have overnight bags packed and ready for unexpected sleepovers. Carrying in all your luggage is a terrible idea at all hours of the night.
  • If you’re embarking on a long trip, plan for the first day at your destination to be a low and slow one with little to do besides settle in and decompress. Stress is a lingering soul sucker when left to its own devices. Road trips with little ones are long and hard, so give yourself the time to recover mentally and physically. A week at the spa would work well.

Here’s to your next road trip to being far less eventful and far smoother than ours!

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Upgrade Your Style: Socially Conscious Accessorizing with Warby Parker’s NEW Beacon Collection

My absolute favorite components of style and fashion are accessories. Add a statement necklace, earrings and a pair of fabulous sunnies to a tired top or outfit and you’ve got a whole new look. Take your look from day to night by trading the sunglasses for fashion eyewear (or prescription if that suits your needs).

Eyewear is often overlooked as the powerful statement piece that it can be. We can all recognize in an instant John Lennon’s classic round frames. Think of a military inspired look without Aviators. Drab colors with some form fitted pieces. Or Rachel Zoe without her signature oversized sunglasses, or “sunnies” (a term I believe she coined), a look harkening back to the style icon herself, Jackie O. Sunglasses and eyewear in general can complete a look and make a statement in a way no other accessory can.

Warby Parker takes on-trend eyewear to the next level, making affordable and socially conscious pieces to suit every face and style. With all of their eyewear, from sunglasses to frames, for each pair you purchase they donate part of their profits to organizations like VisionSpring to bring affordable eyewear and eyewear businesses to developing countries. Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair Give a Pair gives not only sight but economic growth to people in need around the world. When they asked me to help them launch their latest collection, Beacon, available July 24th, I jumped at the chance to take part in this amazing company.

The Beacon collection, named for the Morning Star, visible at dawn and just before nightfall, is inspired by the impromptu, can’t-be-duplicated parties and gatherings we all live for. Although as a mom of a toddler and wife of a deployed Coast Guardsman these are few and far between now a days, these nights remain magical and for myself, coveted. Similarly, this collection, simple and elegant, with styles that not only fit but accentuate the beauty of any and all face shapes while keeping up with the night by being fun and flirty, is too magical and coveted.

Lucky for you, with Warby Parker’s price point, you won’t have to hold out for these gorgeous pieces. Here are my top picks from Warby Parker’s Beacon Collection. A little something for everyone.

the Nicole (Left) and Ingram  Sunglasses.

The Nancy (Left) and Ingram Sunglasses.

Nicole Up close

 

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Nancy

Ingram

Ingram

Garret Eyeglasses.

Garret Frames. (Garret is available in sunglasses as well)

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McKee, Right. Fun, flirty and smart, take these eyeglasses from day to night effortlessly.

McKee frames, Right. Fun, flirty and smart, take these from day to night effortlessly.

McKee Soft Side

McKee

McKee

Check out the entire collection at warbyparker.com and let your own wardrobe transformation begin, all while helping those in need. Go forth and shop happy.

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How to Shorten a Maxi Dress to a Perfect Length for You With a….Wait for it…Binder Clip

I love a maxi dress. It is my go-to daily wear in the Spring and Summer. Comfortable as pajamas but far more presentable and easily dressed up with some wedges and accessories.

However at 5’9″ even I’ve found myself swimming in a maxi, wedges and all, leaving me to wonder, who hasn’t pulled a gorgeous maxi off the rack and left the sadly too long frock to hang beautifully in the closet? My textile savvy ladies would, I’m sure, say hem it and be done, but for those like myself, who hack up and destroy all cloth we take on with a needle and thread, what is to be done?

I brainstormed a few ideas:

Safety Pins: Too much possibility of damage.

Body and Dressing Tape: Maxis are heavy. That’s a lot of tape and a strong possibility of a wardrobe malfunction.

A Brooch: See safety pins.

Then it hit me. A clip. What about a clip? Enter the small binder clip.

Before…

Before...

Before…

And after.

After!

After!

I took about an inch off of the dress, making it just skirt the ground instead of laying on it. It took me all of maybe 3 minutes, isn’t permanent, and is entirely adjustable.

The trick is a very simple one. With the dress on, reach down the front of your dress an inch of two below your bust. Keep that as your “pinning” point. From there, depending on how much you want to shorten your dress, reach down that length, (so an inch, two inches, etc) pinch and pull straight up to your pinning point. Clip and done.

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With a Chevron pattern like this one you’ll make a flat panel in the front if you stay at the center seam of the dress.

The front panel

The front panel

For a patterned maxi, apply the same binder clip trick but add a twist at the pinning point, creating a gathered look to accent the pattern.

Instead of a panel you have a small twist for patterned maxis.

Instead of a panel you have a small twist for patterned maxis.

The rounded top of the binder clip makes it comfortable for all day wear (I tried it, toddler play time and all). For lighter colored dresses opt for a silver or gold clip.

And for a glamorous look, add a toddler wearing a bucket.

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Happy maxi dress tailoring!

 

 

Perfect Face Dual Foundation and a Yellow Concealer: Two Products Every Woman Needs in Their Makeup Arsenal. And Our Less than Fabulous Fourth of July Weekend.

Our Fourth of July weekend wasn’t looking good by the Wednesday before. E started running a fever Wednesday afternoon, resulting in a sleepless Wednesday and a napless Thursday. The fever spiked Thursday night and stayed high, making for another sleepless night. Friday morning (the 4th) it was still high, so off to the ER we went for a family outing.

Nothing like snack time in the ER

Nothing like snack time in the ER

The oh so fun Strep test, that was negative, so onto a catheter for a urinalysis and a chest X-Ray for any brewing infections. All clear. Diagnoses? Sore Throat. Seriously.

For obvious reasons we didn’t go to any parties. Showing up to a party with a toddler you had in the ER for a fever and possible serious illness that morning is just poor form. So a quiet 4th we had, but also a good night’s sleep as her fever finally broke, followed by a quiet weekend. We thought E was back to her normal self until this evening when we went to dessert with friends. E proceeded to scream like a mad thing when she didn’t get her way. We forewarned E after the first screaming fit that if she didn’t play nicely we were leaving, sans yummy cookies. The final straw was when E hit their little girl because E didn’t want to take turns riding in the cozy coupe car. We made a quick exit, no cookies included, followed by bath and bed for E. Wine and TV for us. And hopefully another sleep filled night, with a brighter tomorrow.

On a lighter note, I was inspired by my less than fabulous and sleep deprived weekend to share with you my Fresh as a Daisy makeup tips and tricks for your face that will leave you looking well rested and glowing no matter how little sleep you’ve gotten lately.

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But no I’ve actually been contemplating what type of tutorial would be best to share my new favorite product, Ashunta Sheriff’s Perfect Face Dual Foundation and Brush for a while now. It’s a build-able foundation, highlighter, and perfectly matched darker foundation shade for contouring and blending all in one. It comes with a dual ended foundation and precision concealer brush, and it is a game changer. No more guessing which foundation colors to use for a perfectly sculpted look. Ashunta’s six shades will match any and all skin tones for base, highlighting and contouring perfection, leaving you with a flawless look. It’s lightweight feel is perfect for Summer (and all seasons really!) and it works with any primer. This with a yellow concealer, and you’ve got the look of 8 hours in the bag. Hence why I love it.

So, my sleepless counterparts, I hope your lack of sleep is due to long Summer nights full of fun, but regardless the reason for your under eye circles, puffiness and uneven skin tone, here’s how to make it look like the events of last night ever even happened.

 

The Brow Tutorial 

Here’s What I Used to Achieve This Look:

For all Mary Kay, head over to Marykay.com or comment below for more information on ordering.

Mary Kay CC Cream in Medium

Mary Kay Yellow Concealer

Ashunta Sheriff’s Perfect Face Dual Foundation and Brush

Mary Kay Cream Blush in Sheer Bliss

Mary Kay Translucent Powder

Mary Kay Mineral Eye Colors:

Highlighter: Sweet Cream

All Over Color: Ballerina Pink

Contouring Color: Hazelnut

Lid Center: Crystalline

Inner Corner: Spun Silk

L’Oreal Double Extend Waterproof Mascara 

Mary Kay Eye Pencil in Brunette

Mary Kay Brow Gel

 

 

 

 

 

The Bluum Box! A (very honest) Review

The Bluum Box. Or A whole lot of new products for E that I would have never tried on my own as I am a creature of habit. And a Target addict.

Bluum Box 1 Entire

 

Filled with toys and products designed around your child’s (or baby’s) age, each Bluum box gives you the latest in on-trend items for your little ones. For myself my Bluum box was an eye opener to some awesome and useful products I had no idea existed:

BabyBanz sunnies for tots, with an adjustable yet form fitting and comfortable head band. E kept them on for more than a second. Win!

Baby Bannz Glasses Bluum

A Re-Play snack storage kit that took E and I from tot snacking to big time kid. No spill proof top needed for my little rockstar, and it’s Earth friendly as well (E is obsessed with the recycling bin, and what goes into it as opposed to the trash. She seems to be intrigued by her snack cup being made from her old Stonyfield Smoothie containers).

A reusable stay-in-place placemat for dining out. It, like its green self, saves a lot of green all around.

Bluum Placemat

The Raspberry scented de-tangler, not such a fan. Far too much scent for my liking.

The Ugly Duckling…need I say more. A classic every child’s library should have at least one of.

So, my honest opinion?

All the items in the box, based on their retail price, would add up to the cost of a one-time Bluum box. Through Bluum.com you can order one box, a year of boxes, or a few months worth. A one time Bluum box is not a money saver, though the other plans would most likely be (depending on the products for the month of course).

A Bluum box does, however, introduce you to new products you may not have known about or may have heard about but not yet tried. I found most of the products (sans the de-tangler) to be useful and intriguing items that I could see purchasing more of in the future.

If you’re looking to be on the forefront of kid, toddler and babyhood (or the other way around), then Bluum.com is for you. If not, stick with Target and all that the Cartwheel App has to offer. See you in The One Spot.

 

 

How to Rock a Pair of White Shorts. Or the Time I Took Shorts from Sporty to Sexy

Shorts in general aren’t my favorite style to sport. They tend to either be cut too long, breaking up the legs and making them appear shorter and wider, or cut far too short, letting the legs hang out and exposing the lower tush. Neither are flattering.

As a non-outdoorsy lady (though I do like to drink on patios) I feel that shorts don’t often express my personal style of stay at home mom glam (read stain laden maxi dress) well.

Unless of course those shorts are white. And cut with curve loving perfection (like the ones below from Tahari (old)). And able to be worn apart from small mac and cheese laden hands.

Then I’m all in. 

Front View .jpg

 

That serious look? Me trying to hold it together without laughing at Jer’s antics.

Complete the look with a bold top, like this fitted animal print cami from CAbi. Add height (and leg length) with heels or wedges like these black/brown pair from Emerson Fry (old).

Regardless of how sassy and sexy your shorts may be, they are still shorts. Keep the accessories colorful yet casual. Turquoise and coral are a beautiful combination, especially for this season. This Turquoise and bronze necklace is from Premier Designs, and the Coral and gold bracelets and earrings are from LC by Lauren Conrad.

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With white shorts, the rear view is just as (or dare I say, more?) important than the front. Full coverage is a must, as are no VPLs (visible panty lines). Nude or white boy shorts or tangas are perfect for the job, ensuring good coverage with no ride up.

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Form fitting while still leaving a bit to the imagination.

Like accessories, makeup for short inspired ensembles should read casual. 

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A dark brown lid with light tan contouring on the crease come together with a micro winged black liner. Try L’Oreal Silkissime in Black.

Fresh Summer Look Wing and Contouring .jpgApply bronzer to your inner cheeks (make a fish face and apply in the hole), chin, the tip of your nose, and in a diamond under your chin for a sun kissed glow. Use a highlighter in the center of your forehead and under your eyes for a glowing complexion, along with a bit of creamy blush in a light pink like Mary Kay’s Cream Blush in Sheer Bliss on the apples of your cheeks. Apply blush two finger widths away from your nose. Try L’Oreal DoubleExtend waterproof mascara for weather and water proof lashes.

A few other pointers:

If you’re sporting a cami choose a strapless bra.

Go longer with white shorts than you might with another color. White will never, ever, make you look smaller or more toned. Just sayin.

If you’re attending an outside event opt for wedges.

Not up for white? Try a light pastel like these from Old Navy.

So there you have it. An easy way to take shorts from sporty to sexy, white and all, and a whole look to go along.

Happy BBQs, Weekending, Fourth of July, and Summer!!

 

A Fourth of July Art Project for Your Little Ones, Along with Ideas on Talking About the Fourth with Little Ones

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What kind of Military Family would we be without a Fourth of July project?

For this project we made red, white and blue paper by painting a large sheet of white paper with red and blue paint, just like in our Spring Art Project. Since the weather has been gorgeous, and painting in and of itself is more fun when it’s messy (sensory fun!) we did our painting outside.

RWB Painting 2

After E completed her patriotic painting we moved onto blue handprints for the flags.

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Blue Handprints

After E’s painting fun, I painted red stripes next to two of the best handprints to make the flags.

Handprint flag 1 .jpg

Once the red and blue painting dried I cut out stars for the wreath. I wanted a handmade feel so I drew stars on the back as opposed to using a star cookie cutter or star pattern.

To make the wreath frame I cut the middle out of a generic paper plate, along with the edge. I cut out the middle of two paper plates and kept both centers to mount the handprint flags.

After E woke up from her nap, I showed her the stars and told her how they were made out of the painting she had made. I modeled how to glue the stars on and then let her create her wreath (with a lille help from me now and then).

Gluing stars on .jpg

We then moved onto the flags. We talked about her handprints and how I painted red stripes next to them to make a flag. I had a picture of an American flag for her to see and talked about how her hand was the stars and the red lines were the stripes.

To finish making the flags I mounted them on the paper plates and added the sticks. For preschoolers have kids help mount the cut out completed flags on the paper plate circles.

Handprint Flag with Stick .jpg

Talk about what parts of the circle you have to remove to make it fit the rectangle of the flag. Tape or glue the sticks for the flag on (I found tape worked best for this part) and let all pieces dry.

 

Once all pieces are dried, arrange as you’d like. Here’s what we came up with.

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I put E’s project next to her Countdown plate, an appropriate place I think!

 

Why we celebrate the Fourth of July is a big concept for little ones. Different countries, fighting for freedom, American liberty, and so on. Taking large concepts like these and breaking them down to their simplest form, within a context children will understand, can be challenging. Here’s an idea for toddlers and preschoolers:

“We’re having a big party today because we live in a very special place, and we’re happy we live here. Today is like a birthday for the special place we live. It’s special here because we can make choices that lots of other kids, moms and dads can’t make, like what to wear, what we talk about, and what schools you can go to. Daddy works to help keep us and our special home safe. We’re very blessed to live where we do, and so today we’re celebrating, just like we celebrate your birthday!”

Happy Fourth of July to You and Your Family! Enjoy!