This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
With the weather warming up and summer showing its sunny face, we are all looking for ways to cool off and relax. There is nothing like taking a dip in the pool on a warm summer day and sipping on a refreshing drink - that goes for both kids and adults.
As a kid, one of my favorite treats was always popsicles. (Okay let's be real, they're still a perfect treat, even at 34 years old.) My kids love popsicles, too, and Whole Fruit has some of the most delicious ones we've tried yet! They're fruit bars made with chunks of real fruit. They are non-gmo project verified, gluten free, dairy free, peanut free!
But what do you do when you want to enjoy your beverage AND a popsicle? You make a poptail! One of my favorite things to sip on a hot day is sangria - it's light enough that I won't overdo it, and it's refreshing with all that fruit. Of course, the kids wanted their own version, so we made them their own version using sparkling water, and it was a hit.
Whole Fruit has several different flavors, and you can order online using Shipt or Instacart or in the freezer section of your local Publix! And to get more fun ideas on how you can enjoy your popsicles in new ways, head over to their Instagram account @wholefruitfrozen.
Kid-Friendly Mango Poptail
I know that a lot of people have been using this time to be super productive and reorganize their lives and do all these things that they don't normally get to do. But let's face it, if you have little kids at home, you're just staying afloat. For me, not accomplishing tasks I had set out to accomplish has been one of the harder things to deal with. I've learned to manage expectations, but I still try to get a little bit of productivity in.
One of the things that had been driving me crazy for a couple of weeks was the kids' toy corner. We live in an older house - when we bought it, it was a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, and we did an addition and remodel that made it a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath. Before Chloe was born, Caleb had his room and a playroom, but once Chloe came along, we had to figure out a way to manage the toys somewhere. So now, the kids each have their own room, and their rooms have some of their specific toys in them, but for more neutral toys and for items I don't want them to necessarily be handling on their own (Play-Doh anyone?), I keep them in this small alcove off the living room. It's the end of a hallway that leads to our bedroom, and it helps because it keeps the toys off the floor, accessible for the kids, and uses an otherwise dead space. We created this using two units from IKEA - this one with 8 cubes and this one with four. The bins are also from IKEA, and we chose these specific ones because they looked much nicer than the canvas bins, especially for a common are of the house.
Every few months, I go through the toys, remove toys that are broken, that they no longer play with or have outgrown, and rotate things so that they play with other toys. A couple of weeks ago, I did this, but couldn't get all the shelves to look neat and organized. So I reached out to my friend Jessica at Thoughtfully Organized and she gave me a couple of tips.
The larger wicker bins are great for keeping things out of sight, but they're not always great for keeping things organized, especially when they are overstuffed. Some of the things we have in the bins include larger toys, Mr. Potato Head and all his pieces, figurines, and soft toys. For books and some crafting supplies that are taller, we used these bins from The Container Store. I put Caleb's school related items in one, and then all the coloring books and paper in the other. On a higher shelf, I put craft items and sensory play items.
Jessica also recommended these men's shoe boxes from the container store because they can be stacked and are great for keeping things you want to see. In those, I stored some of Chloe's mini books, the kids' boogie boards, Magnatiles, coloring supplies, and paints and play doh.
The puzzle rack is from Melissa & Doug and I ordered it on Amazon.
Overall, I'm thrilled with how it looks. I can't imagine that the kids will keep it looking quite so nice, but we have a rule where they aren't supposed to take out more than one thing at a time. They don't always comply, but for the most part, they do an okay job.
Hope you're keeping your sanity, friends. I'm keeping mine one task at a time.
Since we finished the addition on our house almost four years ago, I have been wanting to do a gallery wall of some kind. We have so many beautiful photos and they're mostly stored on phones and computers, so I really wanted to display some of our favorites and put our families up on the walls of our home.
We finally decided on this wall right at the entrance of the house. We had had a big piece of art up on the wall for a few years, but we felt like it was time to make it more personal. Eddie measured the wall, I set out on Pinterest to find a sample of something we liked, and we got to work.
We went with a very symmetrical, organized look because Eddie is a symmetry and numbers guy. I also wanted to be able to do a combination of portrait and landscape orientation. So when I found this pin, I thought it was absolutely perfect for what we wanted.
I did some calculations and drew up a diagram. We decided on 11x14 frames matted to 8x10, and I ordered them from Amazon. You can find them here (it is an affiliate link). Once they arrived, we put the photos in (I ordered those from a pro website I use but MPix and Artifact Uprising are two of my favorites for printing great quality images). We then used Command Hanging strips (2 strips per frame) to hang them up.
Eddie measured the space between each frame and was really meticulous about putting them up. Good thing, too, because it turned out perfect! For those of you who want to know, we left 2 inches between each frame.
I absolutely love how this wall turned out. I love walking into the house and seeing some of our most loved people on the wall, and I love how Caleb walks up to the photos and points to everyone. It really has helped to make our house feel like more of a home, and now I'm trying to figure out which other photos we can put up and where! ;)
Growing up, I never had a pool in my backyard. It was something I always wished for, but a pool just wasn't in the plans for my parents. The closest we got was having a jacuzzi that we used to play in. When Eddie and I got married, we lived in a condo and there was a pool in our building. I swore I would use it all the time, but the truth is, I might have used it three times in the two years we lived there.
Whenever Eddie mentioned a pool, I kind of brushed it off and thought, "Eh, maybe one day." But one day came, and Eddie had Hiroki fromKiso Group come out and look at the backyard and draw up some plans for a pool. Honestly, until they started digging, I didn't really believe it was going to happen!
Our backyard is not huge by any means. But we hadn't really done much to it since we moved in. We had a gazebo, some furniture, rocks, and pavers. We put down new sod several times, but the backyard always became a muddy mess so we rarely used it. As a matter of fact, I always played in the front yard with Caleb.
Going in, we knew we couldn't have a huge pool. We wanted something we could cool off and lounge around in, and that the kids would be able to play in on the weekends and in the afternoons. We also wanted a table where we could entertain.
Eddie took care of the designing and I just gave my input on a few things I really wanted. Because I've had several people ask, the dimensions of the pool are 11' x 16' and the deepest part of the pool is 4 feet deep. We wanted a larger first step area for sitting and the kids to play and that is 1 foot deep. If you follow along on my Instagram and watch my stories, you got to see the whole process of this being built. But these pictures really show off just how nice everything turned out.
As far as the patio furniture we found some we loved at Target! I linked similar items below because they are sold out. When it came to the grass, we knew grass wouldn't survive back there because it had always been a mess in the past. To help with keeping the pool dirt and grass free and to keep the backyard looking nice all the time, we decided to go with turf. It has been one of my favorite decisions! We also planted a hedge of podocarpus around the pool equipment and around the perimeter of the backyard.
We have spent a lot of time in our backyard this summer, and a couple of days ago, we were all hanging out in there, there was some lounge music playing, and I really felt like I was on vacation at a trendy boutique hotel. It has become a great space for entertaining (and will be even nicer for entertaining when the weather improves!). And because of the turf, it's almost an extension of the house and we can be out there barefoot (which I loveeeee!).
Also, you know water safety is important to me, so we have several safeguards in place. First, our alarm goes off every time any door is opened, and we hear it all over the house. Second, there is a latch on the doors leading to the backyard that we make sure to keep in place when we aren't going in and out. We also have a pool fence that goes up when the pool is not in use!
Have a great weekend everyone! If you need me, I'll be sipping on some Rose by the pool. ;)
Shop the Look
I was provided with Tidy Snap free of charge. However, all opinions are my own.
When I first had Caleb, like any first time mom, leaving the house was an exercise in how much I could fit in my bag. I had a pretty big diaper bag, and I wouldn't leave the house without anything I thought I might possibly need in any scenario. Before Caleb was even born, I had my diaper bag packed and full to the brim, because you know, I could have to leave the house at a moment's notice and God forbid I didn't have anything and everything I needed ready to go. I carried about 3 extra pacifiers with me, a bottle of ready to feed formula just in case my milk dried up from one minute to the next (I know, I know), several extra outfits, blankets (yes, plural) and anything else I could think of.
I learned that I barely used half of what was in there, and I could definitely cut back on what I was carrying with me on a regular basis. I eventually transitioned to a diaper backpack and minimized the amount of things I carried with me.
This time around, I hadn't even prepared a diaper bag. I actually pulled out the diaper bag I used with Caleb, washed it, and had every intention of using it again, but instead I turned to my trusty RYLA Pack. Now I typically alternate between my RYLA Pack and my Louis Vuitton Neverfull, because it's big enough to carry everything I need and still look stylish.
My RYLA Pack comes with a diaper storage and changing kit that folds up into itself (but you can buy something similar to this on its own), so I just take that and switch it from one bag to another. In there I keep diapers, wipes, baggies to throw away stinky diapers, a travel size diaper rash ointment, and a travel size lotion. I also keep hand sanitizer, a sanitizing spray, hand and face wipes, and pacifier cleaning wipes that help remove dirt and germs when she inevitably drops her pacifier on the floor.
Another great product I have found has been Tidy Snap. Do you remember those slap bracelets we used to collect and go crazy for in elementary school? These are just like that! As a matter of fact, whenever Caleb gets his hands on them, he uses them as bracelets! They're rubbery, so they don't slip and slide around, but they are really great for helping to keep you organized.
I take two of these Tidy Snaps and in one I roll up a muslin blanket. The Tidy Snap helps keep it from becoming a mess in my bag. I use another snap to wrap a burp cloth (which I sometimes use to cover my breast while nursing - without having to cover the baby's entire head) and an extra onesie or romper in the case of a diaper blowout.
So anytime I want to switch bags, I grab those three things and make the switch (or leave it out altogether if I'm going out without them). It's really simplified things and helps me to stay much more organized. I know the kids things are wrapped up in one of these, and it's not getting mixed up with my stuff. The snaps are also really great for organizing outfits for travel, and keeping blankets rolled up in the drawer so you can see what you actually have in there.
I've linked all of these essentials or similar products on my Amazon Influencer Page, under Diaper Bag Essentials. For Tidy Snap, you can go directly to their website.
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