December 16, 2019

Our Holiday Party (And Snowflake Themed Photo Booth!)

It’s my most favorite time of the year!! I can still remember going to Christmas parties with my family all through my childhood and I now I love to attend Christmas parties as an adult with my own family. This year we decided to host another Christmas party in our Nashville home and since I love having photo booths and using instant cameras at our parties I partnered with FUJIFILM for this party to add a snowflake photo booth to our little winter wonderland. Taking FUJIFILM Instax photos at parties has became a bit of a tradition starting with our annual 60’s party so everyone could take home a photo memento of the night—we’ve had that party 6 years in a row and it’s still so fun and I love looking back at the photos year after year!
Since we were doing a snowflake theme I bought a bunch of snowflakes and snowy decor and hung them all in different parts of the house. I actually love having them up so much that I’m going to leave them up the whole holiday season—they look so pretty!
We made a photo booth area with a glittery backdrop that reminded me of a glitter snowstorm (without the danger of getting all that glitter in your eyes—ha!) and I hung snowflakes above it so it would look like people were standing in a winter wonderland. Next to the photo booth area I had a little table with a FUJIFILM Instax SQ6 camera and the FUJIFILM Instax Mini LINK Smartphone printer so guests could create their own photo memory of the night. I added a little DIY craft to the area so people could tuck their favorite photo into a small frame, add a magnet to the back and snowflakes stickers to the front to create a holiday keepsake for their fridge at home. The Instax SQ6 camera SQUARE film-format instant print is great because it gives you a larger photo with their square film (86mm x 72mm). It also has a mirror on the front so you can do perfectly-framed selfies—yes!! I got the Pearl White color but it also comes in Blush Gold, Graphite Gray, Aqua Blue, and Ruby Red. The SQ6 also has three colored lenses that you can put over the flash to give your photos a pop of color as well—it’s like a color filter for your photos!The Instax Mini LINK Smartphone printer is FUJIFILM’s new Mini film printer and once you download the free app on your phone (this one for iphones and this one for android phones) you can print photos onto Instax Mini film with either photos in your existing photo library or with ones you take on the spot. The app has several modes like Print Mode and Fun Mode and you just have to flip the printer vertically or horizontally to change modes! You can print stills from videos (which is pretty cool) or you can use the Fun Mode to do thing like make collage prints, add a fun frame to your photo, create a “surprise” photo with up to five friends, or use the “take the test” function to challenge yourself to a quiz or check your compatibility scores with another person (Todd really wants to do that one to see what we get!). The printer was great for the party because it only takes 12 seconds to print a photo from the app so it was easy to get people’s photos done and send them on their way to get a drink or more snacks. To keep with the snowflake theme I even made little snowflake cookies for the party—so sweet! You can see how the cute fridge magnet keepsakes turned out…it was perfect because it was an easy thing to make at the party and the kids liked helping with the stickers too! I love that Instax wants to highlight the importance of sharable memories, encouraging people to “don’t just take, give” and that works out perfectly with how we like to do party photos. Usually we have everyone take two photos of themselves so they can take one home and also leave one with us so we can remember who was there that night—everyone wins! 

Overall, I love a night with friends and family celebrating the holiday season and I’m so glad that we were able to capture memories of the event and give a gift of a Christmas memory to our guest as well. Hope your Christmas season is one to remember too!

xo. Laura

*This post is sponsored by FUJIFILM INSTAX®; but, as always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for helping support this blog and our family!

July 15, 2019

Whatever Lola Wants

Hi all! You may have seen my post on Instagram about a really scary weekend we had with Lola recently where we had to go to the kid’s emergency room twice over a weekend but I’m so happy to say that Lola is doing great and see seems pretty much back to normal now which is a huge answer to prayers!! Trying to get life back to “normal” now but feeling so grateful to have our best girl back to full strength…here’s what else I’m loving lately!

-Got Lola a few of these vintage looking wooden car toys—they make me so happy to see them around the house and she’s super into cars right now too.

-Totally getting one of these next time I need a baby gift—so cute.

-I can’t tell if this dress is insane or amazing but I kind of love it!!

-Lola hates being all wrapped up in a towel after a bath so maybe one of these is the answer?

-In case you missed my whole post on it, this really is an amazing potty training book and I can’t recommend it enough! We still have some accidents here and there but overall Lola is doing so well and I love how the book outlines a whole plan and helps you troubleshoot issues too.

-Cute toddler swimsuits really are the best part of summer if you ask me…

-Saw this little wooden play makeup set in a store this week and it was so cute! In the past I’ve had unsettled feelings about letting little kids play with makeup or things like that thinking that I’m not sure what message it sends them, but then I realized recently that toddlers don’t actually care about makeup at all, they just want to do what they see Mommy or Daddy do—no matter what it is! So in that sense I’d much rather have her play with her own wooden set because when she’s gotten her hands on my real makeup, well, it’s a lot more work to clean up!

-We used one of these natural rubber bath mats in Lola’s bath for a while now and I love that it’s a non-toxic way to keep the tub non-slip. I think I’d like to get one of these though for washing her hair as she still hates to have her hair rinsed and get the water in her eyes.

I can’t believe we are already halfway through July and this summer is flying by so fast! I really need to make a list of all the things I want to do before it’s over and finding a really good soft serve ice cream place that has rainbow sprinkles is the top item on my list for sure!

xo. Laura


June 27, 2019

What Happened When We Tried The “Oh Crap! Potty Training” Method

You guuuuuuys, I’ve been keeping a secret from you for almost 3 weeks now and the secret is that we’ve been potty training! Why keep it a secret? Well, for one thing it’s exhausting so I kind of didn’t want to put in the time of giving continual updates about it and I figured it would be a “two-steps-forward-one-step-back” kind of process (which it totally has been) so I didn’t want to broadcast successes because I knew it would take a while for it to all really fall into place. Now, all that being said, we are only 3 weeks into the process so it’s not all working perfectly yet but we are so proud of Lola and it’s been amazing to see how proud she is of herself in the process, and honestly, that’s been the best part of the whole thing. I’ve never seen her get more excited about anything than she does of a successful potty trip and I love the reaction every time. We did the Oh Crap! Potty Training method solely because of how many of you Moms recommended it to me on my Instagram. I had never heard of the book until that point but I really love how she breaks the process down into manageable stages and has a lot of troubleshooting material in the book as well so you can realize you have a problem and just go look up that section again to remind yourself how to handle it (we did that a lot). It’s basically one of those 1-3 days of being naked at home methods and then you venture out with small outings and longer ones as they get more confident (and no underwear until 3-4 weeks in) but she has so many great tips and approaches to different things that we found so helpful.

For example, Lola was pretty scared of using a public bathroom pretty early on so we followed her advice not to push and force her if she really didn’t want to go in and try to use the potty and we would keep the little training potty in the car and offer her the choice of going in the car or the big bathroom. She would usually pick the car (and go successfully there) but we would keep taking her in to bathrooms to just visit them or have her come help Mommy use the potty when she wasn’t too scared and eventually she would sit and try and actually use the potty there too! I tried to be conscious of making it more fun and less scary by things like letting her pull out a lot of paper from the TP holder (she’s not allowed to do that at home) or making sure not to use the electric hand dryers (SO LOUD!!) but honestly I think just doing it over and over again in different bathrooms for weeks helped. We would go out for quick trips to stores, the library, or Starbucks just to use their bathroom and basically head home—it felt a little insane but I think it really helped acclimate her to different bathrooms.

I bought this seat to keep in her diaper bag (I guess we just call that her backpack now??) for when we are out and we use this little potty at home and still bring it in the car if we think we may need it as a bathroom alternative (or if there isn’t one very nearby where we are going like a park). I thought Lola might have trouble sitting on the potty for very long (she’s such a busy girl) so I bought this light that she loves at our pediatrician’s office and a glitter wand that both helped keep her seated for longer when trying in the beginning. Once she decided she wanted to use the big potty at home (surprisingly early on) we got her one of these to keep in that bathroom and she uses this stool for the potty and to wash her hands (I added some non-slip strips to the bottom feet and across the steps too).

If you have a more strong-willed kid, it can be an extra challenge as they start to push back and say “no” when you tell them it’s time to sit on the potty, but the book was super helpful with that as well and we tried being more firm with telling her it was time to try (when there was a small amount of resistance) and when to drop it and say “ok, come tell me when you need to pee then” when there was a lot of resistance. Making her sit when she was adamantly against it never resulted in successful potty use, but dropping it and letting her tell us usually went much better (even if it took a little pee on the floor to get her to realize she did have to go).

Also, other side note that the book suggested is that sometimes privacy is the only thing that finally releases the pee or poop into the potty and I’ve definitely found that to be true at times. Most of the time Lola wants us right by her and doesn’t want us to leave but I noticed quickly that pretty much every time she had a time out in her room after potty training she would pee or poop, even if she had just gone recently, and it wasn’t out of anger (she’s actually usually quite happy in time out-haha!) but it was because she was left alone and she would automatically just release whatever she had stored up. Even 3 weeks in if she has a lot of false alarms (with poop especially) I will sit her on her little potty in her room and go to get something I “forgot” in the other room and I just stand in the kitchen until I hear shouts of joy about 20 seconds later…it’s kind of funny actually!

Like I said, we are still not perfect every day but she’s doing so well and we’ve even had some successful meals out at this point and that feels amazing. Since she sleeps with a sleep sack and in a crib we are delaying the night training until she’s in a big bed so we’ll still have some diapers to wash until then, but it will be a lot less for sure. I’ll try and come back for a Part 2 update in another month or so as I know some kids may have problems pop up later in the process, but for now we are so proud of Lola and how well she’s doing so far. Hope some of this was helpful for you other parents making the leap out there! Sending you a virtual hug right now if you are in the middle of it, you can do it!!

xo. Laura

May 24, 2019
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Whatever Lola Wants

I love this picture from our beach trip at the beginning of this month! I feel like I need to get her the next size up in that shirt, it’s so true for her and it always makes people laugh when they see her in it…

-Love this ruffled romper. It’s the perfect summer outfit for getting her a little dressed up!

-In anticipation of starting potty training soon I got this toy they have at our doctor’s office (she is mesmerized by it when there) and we’ll give it to her when we want her to stay on the potty longer. That and this glitter wand are in my toolkit for that event…

THESE. SUNNIES. NOW. PLEASE. Also, these are the ones she’s wearing in the pic above. I already have them in two colors, they are just too cute!

-Sweetest little matching set.

-By the way, we took this travel stroller on our recent trips with us and I loved it. It folds up so small and is so easy to open that it may end up replacing our other stroller for most of our trips around town too—it’s that good.

-Really want to get this book for some summer outdoor ideas with a toddler.

-The perfect summer staple to pair with high-waisted shorty-shorts!

-Adore the print and cutout on this swimsuit.

-Um, yeah, I may need to get this before summer is over for some outdoor fun!

I still need to do a beach recap post, we had such a fun time in Rosemary Beach, FL and I want to make sure I get those photos together before too much time goes by. Maybe I need one of those companies that makes little books for you off your Instagram or phone photo albums automatically…is that what the smart busy Mom does nowadays? 🙂

xo. Laura

May 23, 2019

Our Weekend Trip to Indianapolis!

While Todd has certainly seen (more than) his fair share of cool cities as a touring musician, we haven’t gotten the chance to explore many cities as a family together since Lola’s been born. Usually we travel to cities we’ve been to many times to see family and friends but when Indiana Tourism asked if we wanted to partner with them to come and explore Indianapolis, it sounded too fun to pass up (FYI here’s a useful tool if you’re planning a trip to Indy soon)! We actually have friends that live there that we hadn’t seen in forever, so that also seemed like a great excuse to visit with them a bit while we were there. We were actually just coming back from a beach trip a few days before leaving for our Indy weekend and I thought I could probably shake the sand out of the bags and throw in some new underwear, but I saw that the weather was going to be in the 50’s and low 60’s so I had to make a few changes to our wardrobes to coincide with the new weather report…

Packing up the car!

Our drive up to Indy went pretty well despite hitting some Friday rush hour traffic but we made it in time to grab a quick dinner near our hotel (and pet some pretty horses!) and settle into our room at the beautiful Conrad Indianapolis hotel before putting Lola down for the night. The hotel was able to provide us with a pack and play already set up which was also super helpful for traveling with a kiddo. We had a really sweet cheese/cookie/wine gift waiting for us at the hotel when we arrived and you can see that Lola was very excited about digging into that platter!! The Conrad is such a beautiful hotel and I love that they also highlight different works of art throughout the space and have art inspired by fellow Pittsburgher Andy Warhol in the main lobby area. The Conrad was also in the heart of the city so there were lots of places nearby to walk to for anything we needed. The hotel also has a beautiful indoor pool with a huge skylight that we swam in the last night we were there and it was so nice to be able to take Lola down to the pool and just unwind for a bit before bed.

On Saturday morning we got up and went to brunch at Petite Chou in the Broad Ripple area of town and even though we did so many fun things on our trip, this brunch was one of my favorites. I love brunch and all things French so to be able to eat brunch with my family and feel like I was back in Paris was a big win for me. Even though it was a little chilly that morning, we decided to sit outside since the patio was so special and they had heaters out there so we felt perfectly comfortable while we ate. Of course, keeping a busy barely 2-year-old in her highchair is always a challenge so we had a backpack full of cards and books and crayons at each meal and ended up using pretty much every item to keep her entertained! That’s for sure a hard part about eating out with toddlers but I want her to get used to sitting in a chair for a whole meal out so I think we just need to do it more and more until she gets used to it. She’s such a good eater at home, so that’s never a problem there, but she’s so distracted to be out and about she just wants to run around and explore and make new friends rather than eat anything…she actually did eat a lot of the French Toast I ordered (I love when people put butter and sugar on top like they did) and Todd got the Broken Yolk option which was really good too. And what’s a brunch at a Parisian cafe without a latte in hand, am I right??

Anyways, after our delicious trip down our Parisian memory lane, we headed out to the Indianapolis Zoo to take Lola on her first zoo trip which Todd and I were super excited about. I asked her which animal she wanted to see on the ride to the zoo and she said “air-pop” (which means “airplane”)—such a classic toddler response, haha! Lola loves birds so we were so happy that we got to see the Just Look Up fly over of a team of macaws since they are so colorful and huge. It was so fun to walk around the park, see the dolphin show in the aquarium, and show her real versions of all the animals we talk about constantly. I was happy to see how much the zoo promotes visitors getting involved in saving endangered species and helping to rid the oceans of deadly plastics as well (that was a big campaign over near the aquarium exhibits). We had watched a Daniel Tiger episode earlier that day with a lizard in it and she had asked to watch the same specific episode twice in a row (which she’s never done before) so she was so excited to see real (and giant!) lizards at the zoo later that day in the Desert Dome. The zoo also has a butterfly garden as well next to the zoo at the White River Garden (and butterfly gardens are always magical in my opinion) and you can get into the garden with your zoo admission price.

Who is more wild, Lola or the animals?!

After the zoo, we took Lola back to the hotel to take a late nap and I just soaked in all the hotel cable (we don’t have it at home anymore so it’s a treat when out now) and was so happy to just chill out and watch Bridesmaids on TV (best movie ever, right?) and have a few peaceful hours to relax. Isn’t that what all Moms live for?!

Once Lola woke up we all got ready to meet our friends Aaron and Lindsey for dinner at Hedgerow Bistro and since they also have a 2-year-old and a baby we made it an early dinner so the kids wouldn’t be too tired during the meal and we’d have a fighting chance at finishing all our food. Hedgerow is such a pretty place, the staff was so friendly, and our food was delicious as well—I got the Mole Braised Short Ribs and they were unbelievably good so I only shared one bite with Todd and I knew that their warm cookie desert would be a total hit with Lola and I was right (add a scoop of ice cream to yours—you won’t regret it)! Todd ordered some of the Gulf Shrimp Hushpuppies and the Crispy Fish Tacos and they were unbelievably good as well so I definitely kept sneaking in a few bites in when he was talking. I was also laughing because every time someone came back from the bathroom they mentioned how amazing the bathroom candles were and that you “just had to go in there” to smell them. They were right though, they did smell pretty good!! Even if you are constantly trying to pass kids crayons and keep them in their seats it was still so special to see old friends and have our kids meet each other. Lola and Ruby were a bit unsure of each other at dinner but they were the sweetest little set of best friends at the end of the night, running up and down the hotel hallway shrieking with delight that they had a friend that loved to run as much as they do—it was so cute!!

The next day we packed up our room and checked out of the hotel before heading out to brunch before our last activity of the trip. We tried to go to a more trendy brunch spot but with it being Mother’s Day the place was already packed early in the morning and since we had a hungry toddler we went to a place nearby with a shorter wait. For breakfast I tend to like either cuter spots or diner atmospheres and Yolk is more on the diner side of things. I got more of a traditional “some of everything” breakfast platter so I could share with Lola but for my own treat I got a potato pancake side and I was so happy to eat those since I don’t see them on menus very often! If you’ve every had a good potato pancake with applesauce and sour cream, then you know why I love them! It felt nice to be out and about on Mother’s Day morning and see all the other moms coming in with their kids (some little kids and some grownup “kids”) sometimes holding flowers or presents. It was heartwarming for me to watch and I felt so grateful to be with my Baby on that morning too.

After brunch, we went to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum which was also Lola’s first museum visit (a lot of firsts on this trip!). I was wondering what things would be there that a 2-year-old would be into, and while there is a lot of awesome stuff for older kids I was so happy to see that they have a whole wing devoted to the “5-and-under” crowd with water tables, musical instruments, climbing areas, and lots of fun ball activities. She could have definitely spent hours in there for sure! They had amazing dinosaur exhibits and a train area that just made her whole face light up (she loves trains) as well as a Paw Patrol wing with lots of slides, play kitchens, and ball games that were also perfect for her age. We were just about to call it a day after seeing so much cool stuff when we realized there was a restored carrousel on the top floor, and well, we just couldn’t resist giving her a ride! I tend to get dizzy easily so Todd took Lola and I was the designated picture-taking and wave-each-time-they-come-around parent and while she was rather stoic her first few times around, she started smiling and really enjoying it by the end. It was so cute to see her and Todd doing such a sweet thing together—it felt a little surreal to be honest.

Once we got into major toddler-meltdown-phase we decided it was time to head back home and let Lola take a nap in the car and she slept for almost 2 hours in the car (which is a long car nap for her) and happily watch Daniel Tiger for the rest of the ride (rather than needing a new activity every 10 minutes) so I’m counting that as my Mother’s Day present from her for this year. I’ll take it!!

Traveling with small children is not easy and sometimes I feel like I’d rather stay home than go through all the hassle that can come with being away from our routine, but I’m so glad that we decided to go on this trip and we made so many special memories that I’ll treasure for many years to come (you can plan your next trip to Indiana here!). Thanks for riding along on our little trip to Indy!

xo. Laura

*This post is sponsored by Indiana Tourism; but, as always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for helping support this blog and our family!