A Spring Refresh: Kids Edition – Part I

If you remember a couple of posts back, I touched on how I felt the spring bought in sort of a second New Year. I don’t know about you, but with that comes a lot of cleaning, organizing, and refreshing to brighten things up. Like most things in my life, that means I started with the kids room first.

I was actually hoping to wait to do this until we moved, but my 4-year-old was in desperate need of a big boy bed so I figured I might as well stop putting it off for what might be and just do it. He has been “sleeping” in a toddler bed for the past two years, and I put sleeping in quotes, because he’s really been sleeping in his big sisters bed for the last few months. This sounds cute, and it was at first, until it’s bedtime and they do everything but sleep. I figured getting him his own twin bed would make him want to sleep in his own room, but his first night (last night) with his new bed ended with him going into his sister’s bed to sleep. *sigh* we’ll get there someday!

So here is the bed in all of it’s glory! It’s a Camp Bed from Pottery Barn Kids and I am in love. It’s Greenguard gold certified, meaning it is made from low emitting materials and has been screened for thousands of chemicals. Something that is very important to me! I am by no means a hippie since I don’t embrace that style, but I am very concerned with the amount of chemicals we are introduced to in our every day life and try to avoid the bad ones (cause not all chemicals are bad) as much as possible via our cleaning products, skincare, and food. That’s a blog post for another time!

Another thing I really loved about the bed, was the price. I know what your thinking, Pottery Barn Kids be expensive, and this is very true. BUT, somehow I managed to score this usually $1,295 bed (with a Simmons beauty rest mattress included) for $279. You saw that right, $279. It was on sale and then I was able to get an extra 25% off that sale price. Funny thing is when I checked a few days later, cause that’s what one does after getting the deal of the century, it went back up to $1,295. You could still get the 25% off of that so I’m not sure if what I got was a pricing error or not, but I don’t question fate.

I also ordered my sons flavor of the month in the form of a Hot Wheels sheet set and matching duvet which were also from Pottery Barn Kids. Gotta take advantage of those 25% off sales whenever they have them!

Peep the tag still on the bed. Keeping it classy.

As you can see, he’s ecstatic to jump around and relax in it, now we just have to get him to sleep in it!

Next up, I’ll share how I refreshed my daughters room with some of the cutest rainbow bedding.

Bye for now!

Nicole

Guess who’s Back, Back Again (an Update)

Hi friends, long time no see! I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve gone. I took a bit of a break. I was feeling uninspired to write, and rather than force topics I decided to step back, give myself a breather, and come back when I was ready. And boy am I ready! I have tons of updates on our Disney trip, my spring and summer wardrobe, fitness journey, and some life decisions that my husband and I have decided on that I will write about in a separate post.

For now, I figured I would just give a general update on what I have been up to these past 3 weeks! Before I get into that I’ll give you a quick update on my fitness journey since I was supposed to update at week 4. Spoiler alert, I only worked out about 2 more times since then. Its bad, guys. Not only did I loose motivation to blog, I also lost motivation to work out. I’m determined to complete my 4 weeks of BBG though, so I am starting fresh this week, and will (hopefully) have a real workout update for you by the end of May!

April 7-13th

Some exciting Disney bookings happened this week to offset a not so great week at work. Many changes are happening that I won’t get into on here, but it definitely has me re-evaluating what I want to do and what my purpose in life is. I’m holding off on making any major job changes right now, but a change may be coming.

Hint, hint

April 14-20th

School vacation happened (again!) I know, it feels like I JUST wrote about school vacation, but it happened again in April. Since it was a bit warmer this time around and I was solo, I tried to get us out of the house as much as possible. I worked for two of the 5 days they were out and then it was Legoland, Plaster Funtime, and a meeting with the Easter Bunny!

Nailed it!

We also went to Target more times then I can count (not unusual) and then celebrated Easter with family and friends.

April 21-27th

That leads us to right about here where it’s been mostly just life happenings of taking the kids to their activities, parties, working, keeping up with piles of laundry. The normal adult things. I also pondered and am still pondering another Disney booking of flights for our trip. Mr Colored in pretty and I have gone back and forth on whether to try driving to save $1,000’s of dollars or just book the flights. I’d like to believe I can do a 20 hour or so road trip with two kids and my husband, but I also know me, and know that I’m an instant gratification kind of gal. Whatever is going to get me there the fastest is generally what I would lean toward. I am also aware that we are going right around Christmas so saving money would be ideal, but we also don’t plan to go crazy with presents for the kids. I’m still thinking about it, but know my time is limited if we do decide to book flights!

Oh and the biggest thing this week was WE SAW ENDGAME!!! I cried, I won’t spoil it since this is opening weekend and people may not have seen it, but I cried. Maybe I’ll do a movie review once enough time has passed.

I won’t show you the after 🙈 #hotmessexpress

So there ya have it. My life over the last 3 weeks. Nothing crazy which I’m thankful for, just a longing to keep it real with myself and know when I shouldn’t force myself to do something my heart isn’t into.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be taking the rest of the day to prepare for Game of Thrones. If you know, you know.

A representation of me, probably after Game of Thrones.

Bye for now!

Nicole

Cha-Cha-Changes

I love me a new season. New seasons for me signify a new beginning and a chance to start over. I see it as a another New Year. Out with the old, in with the new as the saying goes. It’s why we do things like spring clean, am I right? So here I am thinking of all the things that need tidying up around here before we embark on my favorite season (maybe 2nd favorite?), Summer!

So in honor of that, I am going to dedicate the next few posts to clothing and shoes I have gotten for myself and the kids for spring, how I am decluttering the house, and a few other things!

I have already started slowly spring cleaning. I have ordered the kids and I new clothes, went through our spring and summer clothes from last year to donate, and threw away things that we no longer need and cannot donate. Some of this is because we are trying to find a new house (fingers crossed!) but most of it is because I’m kind of a neat freak and try hard to not have a cluttered house. A cluttered house that constantly needs cleaning brings me anxiety and it’s just not fun for any of us if I stress about how messy the house is. I’m hoping that we can really embrace the less is more aesthetic and not bring over as many things with us to the new house. The real challenge will be the toys. We just have so many, and try as I might, as soon as I think the kids have lost interest, they go and say how I just can’t throw X, Y, Z away cause they love it. Does that happen to anyone else? I swear kids have a sixth sense for that sort of thing.

More than just the physical decluttering of stuff, I also think of ways to refresh my appearance. Like I said in a previous post, I just become more alive in the warmer months and definitely get more creative with my hair. I’m a gemini and get quite bored with the same things over and over again and my hair is no different. I’ve been natural (meaning no chemical straightener used in my hair) for nearly 8 years. In that time, I have probably cut my hair, like significant amounts of hair, at least 18 times. It’s kind of crazy. I get it to a certain length then I get bored. Then I get sad that I cut it because I want to have a head of long glorious curls and then vow to never cut it again. Until I do cut it again 6 months later! I have already cut my hair twice this year. Only a couple of inches each time, but why! I don’t know how to stop myself.

These are all from when I first went natural in March of 2012.

These are all between October of 2012 and 2014.

Theses are 2014 to 2017:

And here’s 2018:

Apparently I was way more into hair before I had two kids taking up all my time!

So, now I’m in between whether I want to do a big cut of another 4 inches again or if I’m really gonna stick it out and let it grow. One reason, beside the boredom that I have, is that it takes a lot to do my hair. It’s very thick and sometimes I don’t have the time or patience to detangle, wash, deep condition, twist every single week. Shorter hair is definitely easier, and that’s probably why I cut it so often. I have also considered cutting and straightening it with just a blow dryer and flat iron, but I can see that going bad quick with warmer weather.

I’m thinking of doing something similar to this again like I did in 2015. What do you think? I’m so torn! Any other naturals have similar dilemmas? I’ll be sure to do a follow up post with my decision so stay tuned!

Bye for now!

Nicole

A Christmas Recap And Playhouse Makeover

Since we’re two days away from Spring, I thought I would close out the winter by doing a little recap on our holiday season, and share what we got the kids for Christmas!

Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday for many reasons. I love the decorations, the smells, and the general feeling of love and happiness. Everyone seems to be just a little more willing to be a kind human for the month. What I love most of all though is the traditions. Christmas traditions have been instilled in me since I was a wee tot, and I love making sure our family keeps up with the ones my mom used to do with us while instilling some of our own. The kids look forward to them and of course I do too!

To kick off the Christmas season, one of the first things we do is get a picture with Santa. I don’t know how long I can keep this tradition up (I’m hoping well into their teens. Am I asking too much?), but for now I’m savoring the sweet spot between them being willing, and now excited to take a picture with Santa, and not being absolutely terrified like they used to be when they were younger.

Nailed it!

We also visit the Enchanted Village, a staple in Boston that used to be in Jordan Marsh, then Macy’s, and now in Jordan’s furniture. I know, it sounds super weird. It’s basically old timey Christmas scenes with animatronic people and bears. My mom used to take me when I was little, and it’s just a fun little free activity to do!

Another thing that I’m sure lots of littles love doing is making Gingerbread houses! We tend to buy the little villages so that all of us can decorate our own. I think the kids enjoy eating the candy more than anything, but Isaac is finally at the age where he is kind of into it, which makes it all the more fun!

Our masterpieces

We also decorate almost every room in the house, make cookies, cupcakes, watch all the Christmas movies, and listen to Christmas music starting in October. That’s right, October. I’m not sorry about it!

This last tradition also isn’t new to anyone, but we love to go and pick a real tree out the weekend after Thanksgiving. Having grown up with only artificial trees, getting a real tree once I moved out on my own felt so special. Something about that smell that I Just love! Now, we don’t go to any cute quaint Cut-your-own Christmas tree farms. Nope. We go to Home Depot. Much less fun and not as pretty for pictures, but it’s convenient and what has worked for our family for the last 10 years or so. The kids don’t mind, and neither do we!

Another tradition we have adopted when decorating the tree is throwing on the OG How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We have been doing it every year since Audrey’s first Christmas and this was the year that she finally got that it’s a “Tadition”. She made sure we put it on before we decorated the tree this year. It was really quite adorable.

Now onto the fun part. The presents. we try to make sure the kids have one big present that they share and then things that they ask for, along with things that they need. I.e., their Christmas Eve pajamas (another tradition), their Christmas outfit, etc. This year, the big present was a playhouse. Audrey had actually been asking for one for a while, but we were hesitant to get one because 1. our house does not have a fenced in yard, and 2. half the year is absolutely freezing (to me) so I didn’t think they would get much use out of an outdoor playhouse. In comes google and Instagram to the rescue where I saw that a lot of people in Australia actually have what they call indoor cubby houses. And with that an idea was born to put the playhouse in the basement. My husband reluctantly agreed, ha!

The before. Image source Walmart

Now the playhouse was not in anyway what I had seen strewn about on Instagram and Pinterest. It was just a plain cedar house. Of course I couldn’t have that, so then I had the other brilliant idea to paint it to a more aesthetically pleasing color. In the winter. In Boston. Yeah, not one of my brightest ideas. None the less armed with a Youtube tutorial on how to makeover a playhouse, we got to work approximately 3 weeks before Christmas. In between flus and disinfecting the house so that we could have family over for Christmas Eve (another tradition started by my mom) we got it done down to the wire. Meaning that Christmas Eve night.

It was all worth it in the end to me, as the kids love it and it gives them more options at playtime. If I had to do it again though, I probably would have told myself to skip the spray painting. That was a huge time suck and it’s already chipping in places (something all those tutorials online don’t warn about)!

None the less it was an awesome Christmas and I can’t wait to do it again in another 289 days, though I’m not sure how we’ll top a playhouse!

What traditions do you guys have for Christmas? If you’re interested in a step by step tutorial of the playhouse, let me know in the comments below, though it’s pretty self explanatory. Paint everything before putting the house together, skip spray painting the windows, and probably build it in a warmer month if you live in a colder climate like me.

Bye for now!

Nicole

Let’s Get Physical

Check the socks. Always in Disney.

If you’re wondering how my goals for the year are going, I’d say not too shabby! I’ve definitely got the step outside of my comfort zone goal down with adding colors to my wardrobe, starting a Youtube channel and blogging. I still need to work on things like water intake and patience (as my kids fight next to me while I type this), and especially getting back into a physical activity.

I so want to do ballet again, but truth is, I’m just not ready. Not that I was ready when I first started ballet 8 years ago, but let’s face it, I was younger and more spry then with almost no cares in the world. I was able to more easily manipulate my body and build up strength and flexibility pretty quickly. I did ballet for a solid year before I became pregnant with my first, and was in probably the best shape of my life. Once I became pregnant, I got too scared to go, afraid of working out too intensely (though my doctor gave me the all clear). After I gave birth, I was too sore from a C-section and extremely exhausted, as most new mothers are. I did try to go back a few times, but then I got pregnant with my little boy when my first was 15 months and I had only just stopped breast feeding when she was 12 months. Needless to say, two kids later I’m definitely not as flexible, I’m tired, and my time on the weekends are limited and precious. I will get back into ballet at some point, but I want to be able to come back strong.

So the question became what can I do to get some strength back? I did try to run a few times with my husband a couple of years ago, but I did not enjoy it. He’s a runner, and I’m just not. I will try that again too though, as I really REALLY want to run a Disney marathon. I know my husband would be all over that and it would be a good excuse to go back before our once a year trip. I’m a big dreamer, what can I say!

I ultimately decided that to get back into fitness, I would need to start at my own pace and work out from home where I was more comfortable. after some research, I decided to download an app called “Sweat” to follow the BBG (Bikini Body Guide) workout program. I know, the name may be off putting, but tons of women have seen results from what I can tell! It’s a 28 mins workout of your choosing (legs, arms and abs, full body, etc), that I plan on doing at least 3 times a week and will slowly build up to 5. I tried it last Thursday and only lasted 15 mins (ouch), but when I did it again on Saturday, I did the whole 28! I realize that I’m probably doing all of the moves wrong and I definitely need to update my equipment from my kids’ jumprope and step stool, but hey, gotta do what you gotta do!

Behold, my workout equipment

To be clear, though the program is titled Bikini Body, I’m in no way striving for perfection. I’m really just looking to tone and strengthen (though getting rid of my mom gut caused by diastasis recti would be nice too). Physical activity is important for health, and I want to be healthy for myself and my family. For now, this workout program is what I hope will work best for me. I want my kids to see me and us as parents be more active and get them motivated and active as well. I see it as a win for all!

To hold myself accountable, I’m posting the dreaded “before” pictures and I’ll update at week 4! Do you guys have a workout routine? Is it something simple that a novice like myself can do?

Bye for now!

Nicole


Our Week in Review – A Staycation During School Vacation Week

Oh, what fun!

First, yes I did change the site! What do you all think? I’m not 100% settled on it, but I think it fits my vibe more. Stay tuned to see if it sticks!

This is the first year both kids are in a real school with weeks off at a time for school vacation. Previously at their old daycare they would get a week off in-between Christmas and New Year, and the week of 4th of July off, but those are weeks we tend to take off anyway. I count this as the first real school vacation we are experiencing!

With a Disney trip on the horizon, we decided to stay home this time around. My kids like to chillax HARD on the weekends, so we decided to do a mix of chill time and active time. There was also a lot of play time. Does anyone else’s kids just like to play all. the. time. Like all the time? Cause that’s my kids. I just keep reminding myself they won’t always want to play, but man. Theres only so many times you can pretend a doll is taking a nap. OK, back to the topic.

Here’s a recap of what we did each day for vacation in case it’s helpful for you! I think a lot of it is typical stuff you would do with kids but we tried to entertain them while keeping ourselves sane as best we could. It’s a delicate balance.

MONDAY:

On Monday we woke up to a few inches of snow! It was perfect. Despite living in Boston, we haven’t experienced much snow this past winter and the times we did we were all at school or work. After breakfast, we bundled up and went out to play/shovel the snow.

After, we came in and had hot chocolate, as you do after playing in the snow, and relaxed with a family movie. We also made a faux Disney World in the playroom. We had to get our trip in somehow!

It really just consisted of all the Disney toys we had in the house representing different rides, and then Mr. Colored in pretty and I shaking them in their bean bag chairs to imitate said ride. The kids bought it.

Tuesday:

On Tuesday we ventured out to Ikea. We figured we could pick up a few things while the kids played in the play space they have. Apparently, we were not the only ones with this brilliant idea and it was full when we first got there (10 minutes past opening). We browsed a bit with the kids and came back in a half hour to let them play. Then we shopped for 45 glorious minutes all by ourselves. Once time was up we went and got their world renowned frozen yogurts and then headed to target and the mall.

At the mall, we grabbed lunch and then went to various toy stores, one in which was the American Girl store. The only one in the state of Massachusetts is closing in March, and though my little girl has a Wellie Wisher, she got it for Christmas a year ago and didn’t get to experience picking out her own doll. Safe to say $160 later, she got her doll.

Wednesday:

Wednesday was for sure our busiest day. We went to the Children’s Museum! Again, it was busy and there was a line out the door at opening with other likeminded parents desperate to provide their kids with entertainment. They rock climbed, made bubbles, and played in that germ infested water.

Mickey and Minnie greeted us at the Museum!

Since there aren’t many kid friendly places to eat lunch at by the museum, we decided to go to Panera for their favorite Mac and cheese. Then we headed to another mall, this time to the Disney store. I know. I know. Sadder part is, I didn’t even get anything for myself! The kids got figurines, that they have barely touched since that day. Once we were back home, it was baths, playtime, and bedtime. Dinner was given somewhere in between.

Thursday:

Thursday was another day of relaxing in the house, which was good since we had spent a ton of money over the last two days. We painted, played with play doh, watched movies. It was great, and one of the best parts of our vacation. Just being with the 4 of us as a family.

Friday:

Friday was a semi back to normal day. Dan had to go into work, and I worked half a day from home so there wasn’t much we could do. I had them play with play doh again and watch a movie and then later on we went to target. AGAIN! *said in my Monica Gellar voice*. I have an obsession. Besides Disney store, Target is my next love. I’m not sorry about it, though I’m sure Mr. Colored in pretty would rather I drop both habits.

Saturday and Sunday were pretty normal weekend days so that we could prepare ourselves for the return to school and work. Lots of laundry, food shopping and normal errands. The kids were sad just thinking about going back to school, and I admit, I was too. Even though it can be a lot to be with them all day, I truly enjoyed spending that time with them. One of my many goals is to try to work less so that I can be with the kids more and not have to rely on things like aftercare when that extra time could be spent with me. They’re only this young once and I don’t want to waste it. I’ll get there, but in the meantime, I reminded them that we have April vacation coming up and we can do all those fun things and more next time around! Maybe we’ll even do a short local trip somewhere!

How do you guys spend school vacations? Do you usually take a trip or do you stay home and hope for the best?

Bye for now!

Nicole

Projects on Projects on Projects

This past weekend was one full of projects both for my oldest, who is in Kindergarten, and myself! With Valentine’s Day this coming Thursday, one of my daughters class projects was to make a mailbox to store all the Valentine’s she’ll get from her class mates! This coincided with her 101 days of being in school project, which just happened to be themed after the 101 Dalmatians! It’s like the teachers knew my Disney loving heart.

If you’re not familiar with the 101 days project, it quite popular in elementary schools across the country, except it’s usually 100 days. Basically, the kids and teachers celebrate surviving the first 100 days of school. I don’t blame them!

Supplies:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Pom poms
  • Sticker rhinestones
  • White shirt

Our instructions were pretty strict, 101 black dots on a white shirt. I let Audrey have at it putting the sticker dots all over and having her count out all the dots as she placed them. I hot glued the poms at the end for her and with that her shirt was complete!

I decided to add a faux collar to go along with it using some ribbon and washi tape just as a little something extra!

Next up was the Valentine’s mailbox. This was pretty simple to do, we wrapped pretty wrapping paper around a shoe box, cut a hole in the top, and then decorated it with tons of stickers!

We then added some bows to the side to make it fantastique as Fancy Nancy would say! Audrey had a blast!

The projects didn’t stop there. In between doing all these school projects, I was also taking pictures for the blog and filming my very first YouTube video! I admit, I’m nervous to put it out there, but I’m keeping on track with my goals of stepping out of my comfort zone! If you’re interested in checking it out, the channel is the same as my site, Colored in Pretty! On there you’ll find shopping hauls, packing videos, plan with me videos, and more things as I think of them! There will not be a video every week like I have with the blog post, but you may see a video maybe twice a month.

I hope you all have a fabulous Valentine’s Day! Mr. Colored In Pretty and I plan on having a date night Saturday, and I hope to get some nice pics of us to share!

Bye for now!

Nicole