How to Create an Outdoor Living Oasis

How to Turn Your Patio Into an Outdoor Oasis

Extra Living Space, Yes Please.

With spring here we are spending every second we can enjoying the sunshine.  Last year, when we moved into our new home it was late August and our patio was the last “room” I was thinking about.  We had a small patio table and chairs out there and didn’t end up spending too much time out there (probably because it was unwelcoming and we had no privacy from our neighbors.)

This spring I made it my goal to create an outdoor living space that our whole family would enjoy spending time hanging out in.  I knew we needed more privacy and wanted it to feel cozy, yet kid friendly.

Starting from Scratch

Before Patio

Our blank canvas was a small pavered patio. I decided to go with more of a seating/lounging area rather then an eating space.  This is the four piece set from Safavieh, just like any room inside make sure the furniture isn’t going to overpower the space.

Safavieh Patio Furniture


Can We Get a Little Privacy?

One side of our patio looks directly at our neighbors patio making it feel like we have little privacy, especially when they are outside.  Creating an outdoor privacy screen changed the whole look and feel of the patio.  For under $75 I created the one below (and it was super easy!) I’ll be sharing a DIY on this shortly!

Creating an Outdoor Privacy Screen

Going Green

I really wanted a raised garden bed on our patio to grow a few veggies and herbs.  I looked at many home improvement stores, but was disappointed in price and selection.  That’s when my sister and I decided to tackle it ourselves, we drew up our plans, headed over to home depot, and built our three tiered raised flower bed.  The best part is, we built it for under $40 (a single raised flower bed at the store was $150!)  I’ll also be sharing the DIY on this shortly too because it’s a must!

Three Tiered Raised Flower Bed

The raised flower bed added color to our patio, but to create an oasis-like feel I had to add more.  I added two hanging fern baskets, flowers, succulents, a potted plant from ikea (only $12) and clematis (climbing vine) that grows purple flowers and should climb up the trellis and create even more privacy.


We specifically went with furniture that didn’t have sharp corners or a glass top coffee table to keep the patio kid-friendly.  I also didn’t want toys to take over the whole space (like everywhere else in our house…)  Trying to avoid a mess of toys, I took our old butcher block from Ikea that was collecting dust in the storage closet and stained it the same color I used on the flower bed.  y adding two plastic bins to get on the shelves that the kids could keep their outdoor toys in it became a great storage piece.  I also poked holes in the bottom of the bins so rain water drains out of them.

Butcher Block Storage

Keeping it Cozy

I added two strands of patio lights, a rug, and throw pillows to complete our outdoor oasis.  The lighting is amazing at night and really makes it feel cozy in the evening.  Adding a rug and throw pillows added texture and warmth to the space, I was originally going to skip the rug, but it brings the whole space together and I’m so happy I didn’t skip it.

Finishing Touches

I’ve said it a million times, but I’m never really finished with a room.  I’m still thinking about adding a small grill, umbrella, or a gas fire pit table.  For now, I’ll just plan and browse until I find the right ones to add to our outdoor oasis.

Outdoor Patio Oasis

Products I Used

Patio Set 


Throw Pillows


Butcher Block Storage

The plants came from a variety of stores including: Home Depot, Menards, Ikea, Green World Green Houses 


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9 Ways Spring Motivates Moms to Live a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

Mom and Henry on Patio

Spring Motivation

I used to always say Fall was my favorite season, but I switched teams to Spring after having kids.  To me “spring ahead” is like a fresh start to me, almost like the new year.  It’s easier to get and stay motivated in the spring time and here’s why…

Growing Succulents and Coffee


     1. More Daylight-  Is there anything better?  I get more done throughout the day because my day actually feels longer (in a good way!)  The shortest day of the year (December 21st) only has 7 hours and 54 minutes of daylight.  After daylight saving we work our way up to the longest day (June 21st) with a whopping 16 hours and 33 minutes!  That’s over double the amount of “day!”

     2. Warming Up- Obviously, along with spring comes the warmer, and most of the time “better” weather.  I’m not sure about you, but the nice weather gets me going.  During the cold, winter months I really just want to stay snuggled up all day watching Netflix.  And lets be honest, the kids rule the house so watching ‘Special Agent Oso’ all winter can be draining.

Henry and Mom jumping

3. Windows Open-  Instant mood changer.  Fresh air flowing through the house makes me feel ready to conquer anything, even if it’s cleaning.  Which bring me to #4.

4. Spring Cleaning-  I know it doesn’t sounds like a party or anything, but having a sparkling clean house leaves me feeling less anxious and more relaxed.

spring cleaning

5.  Get Outside-  Everyday that is weather permitting we either go to a park, walk, bike ride, play a sport, or try swimming.  Getting outside and moving more makes me feel so much better about myself.  Most of the time you’re getting a good workout in without even realizing it!  Also, the runts are staying active, having fun and burning off all their energy.

 6.  Saving Money-  Along with spending more time outside I find myself spending less money.  We are busy playing outside and having fun for free.  During the winter we are always looking for fun indoor activities, but those all add up quickly.  If you’re anything like me it’s hard not to spend that extra money on cute spring/summer clothing!

Vivian Walking at Park

Henry going down slide at park

     8. Eating Healthier- Don’t get me wrong, on a nice warm day there is nothing better than an ice cream cone! I do find myself eating more fruit, veggies, and salad. Combined with all those walks and exploring outdoors, your waistline might be shrinking with little effort! Score!

9.  Confidence Boost-  Spring time really brings out the best “me!”  Less anxiety because of a clean house, boost of happiness from fresh air and sunshine, (AKA Vitamin D) thinner waistline, thicker wallet,  and most of all creating special memories with my kiddos makes me feel like a million bucks.

Fishtail Braid and Off the Shoulder Top Vivian Playing at Park Holding Hands with Vivian Piggy Back Ride Fishtail Braid up close Henry Climbing at Park

Outfit Details

Off-the-Shoulder Top // Distressed Jeans // Colorful Sneakers // Kids Moccs // Vivian’s Dress // Floral Headband // Baby Cardigan // Henry’s Shorts // Chambray Button Up // Stackable Rings //

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What to do when it rains on Vacation

When it rains, it pours…

Raining outside

…and temps drop 45 degrees, it storms, it sleets, and it gets extremely windy.  Okay-okay you get the point; the weather was really shi%$*.  Don’t get me wrong, I checked the weather before we left but was in denial and hoping they were wrong.  I packed beach goodies, shorts, sundresses, and t-shirts. We had everything but jackets, hats, and mittens (which is what we really needed.)  The first few days it poured all. day. long. and with the rain it dropped from 75 degrees down to 35 degrees and turned into sleet. Once the rain passed, we were hopeful – but it stayed cloudy, cold, and windy.  The sunny, beachy relaxing vacation in Myrtle Beach was now a cold, cloudy “what now?’ vacation.

Money Sucker

Lazy River and Ocean

The hotel we were staying at was on the ocean and had an outdoor pool, grill, hot tub, and lazy river.  When we booked this vacation our airfare was pricey, but we justified it with all the free outdoor activities we would be enjoying while we were there.  Well, you guessed it… we kissed those activities goodbye when the high was 42 degrees with 30 mph winds. So we had to get creative with our activities without completely breaking the bank.  A women in the elevator said it perfectly, “This weather has turned an inexpensive relaxing vacation into a money-sucking stressful one.”

Go explore

Downtown colorful buildings

We stopped the pity-party and put on our thinking caps (more like googling-fingers) and started looking for things to do. It was too cold and windy for any extended outdoor activities. Now, I don’t want you to think we were being babies, we are Minnesota people, we know the cold and it was cold.

cold outside

Our saving grace was wonderful suggestions from others. If you have Instagram or Facebook reach out and ask your friends and followers for recommendations, I got so many great ones from my “Insta” friends, places to eat and see.  Below are a few places we tried out had a great time!  We also mixed in “free” activities too, because things can get expensive quickly! Look up local malls (window shopping and people watching can be a great time!) libraries, boardwalks, and zoo’s (we have a free one here in Minnesota!)

House of Blues 

Vintage Music

Live music and good eats, does it get any better?  Check out times online to see when bands are playing or even pick up concert tickets!  We went to the one in Myrtle Beach, but they have locations in 11 different cities so you may be close to one! The interior and exterior of House of Blues is fascinating in and of itself.

Barefoot Landing

Barefoot Landing

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t walking around in shorts and flip flops, but it was fun to visit all the shops and it was free to walk around and see a little bit of North Myrtle Beach (warming up while shopping!)  We also got to see baby tigers brought in from the Myrtle Beach Safari to the Preserve Station at Barefoot Landing.

Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium

It was entertaining and fun for all ages!  Henry loved seeing the scuba diver swimming with the fish and he even gave her a high five!  It can get a little expensive for a family, but make sure to check with your hotel to see if they sell discounted tickets! We saved over $25 buying our tickets through the hotel!

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

baseball arcade game

We did our best at picking a “nice” day to go to the boardwalk, but it turned out to be extremely windy and only about 45 degrees.  So, we found this awesome arcade and played games for a couple hours, we had a blast!  ‘Baseball’ is only .25 cents and very addicting!  To whoever recommended this arcade to us on Instagram, we thank you!

Go Karts


Its something we normally wouldn’t do, but we had a blast (I promise this is just a badly timed picture!)  It was Henrys first time riding in a go-cart and he loved it (he thought he was the one driving!)  We took turns sitting out and holding Vivian and after we were all a bit chilly we went inside and played some arcade games.  Our favorite here was ‘Deal or No Deal.’

Headed Home

Molly on the Beach

Of course the day we were headed home it was nice out, which made it harder to leave. There is really “no place like home” and we were all ready to sleep in our own beds again.  You can find this swimsuit here, along with other amazing one pieces!

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DIY Cake Smash Photos (When you’re not a Photographer)

Vivian Cake Smash

You Don’t Have to be a Professional

As most of you know, Vivian just turned one and I wanted fun pictures to look back on.  It’s a hot trend right now to do “cake smash” pictures, so I decided to try out my own (I am not claiming these are professional quality.)  I did them with Henry too, but  his birthday is in the summer and it was ideal to do them outside!  With Vivian’s birthday in the middle of winter I had to get clever to do them indoors.  My biggest concern was my background, and secondly attractive lighting.  I don’t have a studio or even an area set up for photography, so I made my own with things I had around the house (and so can you!)

**This post is not a knock against professional photographers.  They are talented people and I admire their work and love getting professional portraits taken too!  This is just showcasing another option when your budget is tight or you’re in a pinch for time.**


photographer cake smash supplies

Here’s what I used from start to end:

White Bed Sheets– The bigger the better – I used a king, but a queen would work well too!

Tape– I used clear packing tape to hold up my sheet you will see below.

Rug or Blanket– A rug is preferred, pull it up to the sheet to give a seamless look, if you’re in a pinch a blanket could work.

Cake– I was lazy and bought mine, but you can easily bake one!

Props– I used a cake stand I made from a glass cup and plate from the thrift store, $3 banner from the Target dollar spot,  a few flowers for on top of the cake from Trader Joes!  All my props cost me under $15.  (Candy hearts were for bribery!)

Camera– Yes, I have a “nice” camera, but your iPhone will take nice pictures too!  If you’re not blowing them up too big and you have good lighting, your phone can take incredible photos, especially close-ups.


photographer cake smash set up

I like to tape my sheet to closet doors, but it is key to have your light coming in from behind you.  Tape the sheet to a wall or closet door that is opposite the wall with a window, this will give your pictures the best lighting.  Try to get the sheet as tight and wrinkle-free as possible and then pull your rug or blanket to where the sheet meets the floor.


Taking Pictures

Don’t be afraid to try a little bit of everything.  Different angles and poses and just keep clicking, my favorite shots are the candid ones.  Sometimes the ones you least expect to turn out are the best captures.  Since you’re not paying a photographer for their time, take advantage, change outfits and props as you please!


Henry was feeling extremely left-out so he took it upon himself to bring up a spoon from the kitchen to have some cake!

Henry and Vivian Cake Smash


I use Lightroom editor, it is an expensive purchase if you’re not using it a lot.  There are a lot of free editors out there that are adequate.  My favorite free PC editor is Fotor and on my phone VSCO.

Also, when editing multiple photos from the same shoot I highly recommend creating your own preset or using one from your app to give all the photos a similar look!


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Weekly Roundup- Teething Baby, Tired Mom

Cool Digs, Neat Finds

I’ve been really missing summer and warm weather the past few weeks.  Most of all, the lack of in-season fruits that come with the summer.  So, I was pretty excited when Aldi had strawberries and blueberries that were delicious and inexpensive.  If you don’t shop at Aldi yet you need to give it a try!  Their produce is hands down the best I’ve come across when taking price and quality into consideration ($1.50 for a carton of strawberries!)  Vivian is teething and a semi frozen strawberry is a great soother!  Also, here are five ways we use our fruit other then just it eating plain:

  1. In Jello (and a little whipped cream for an easy dessert)
  2. Smoothies (I “hide” spinach in Henry’s too!)
  3. In pancakes
  4. On top of a little (or a lot) of ice cream
  5. Homemade Parfaits

Here is the link for my Nike ‘Thea’ sneakers I’ve been getting questions about!  They are under $100 (originally $140.)  They are so comfortable and honestly perfect for almost any casual outfit!  Bonus points, they are ideal for chasing a toddler around. #stylingmom

We also went and strolled around downtown Saint Paul and visited the winter carnival this weekend.  If your in Minnesota, its a fun, free activity that is family friendly.

Teething Baby vs Everyone

It’s no secret that I’m a coffee lover.  But, this past week I feel like I could have bathed in coffee and still not had enough caffeine to get me through the day.  At the end of everyday I found myself exhausted and wishing there were more hours in the day to get things done.  Anyone else?  Laundry, cleaning up, blogging, family time, cooking dinner, working out, catching up on emails and maybe even sneaking in a shower.

On top of feeling like my list was growing and I wasn’t accomplishing anything, Vivian suddenly has six teeth coming in all at once!  Yes, you read that right, four on the top and two on the bottom, all working their way through at once.  A teething baby is no joke, I feel so bad for her too. She is less interested in sleep and more interested in nursing all night long.  As a result I’m in full zombie mode, which brings me to… Need. More. Coffee.

Also, I still cannot wrap my brain around her being one this week!!!

Vivian wearing Rags to Raches - Teething Baby

…And Then

This is how my weekly roundup started.  Then I read the news that an Instagram friend’s son passed away.  He was right in-between the ages of Vivian and Henry and had the biggest brown eyes.  I suddenly felt horrible for raging about sleepless nights and teething baby, these “problems” were now trivial.  I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child.

My heart aches for this mama, her love for her children oozes through her Instagram feed.   She is honest, kind, and makes every mother feel like they are the best mom in the world.  Some people just see Instagram as a social media app, but to me it’s much more.  I’ve “met” so many amazing people and connected with so many great moms.  This mothers honesty in her journey made me feel like I had known her for decades.  Instagram is a community and I ask that you pray and send positive and uplifting thoughts to this mom and her family during this tragic time.

Molly Nursing Vivian





Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Him

Valentine’s Day. The pressure is on to find your guy/hubby the right gift to say you love and appreciate him.  Or, you just started dating and its awkward, you don’t want to go too crazy – but want to do a little something.  You don’t need to spend a fortune, I’m all about personal heartfelt gifts.  No more stressing over finding the right gift, below are some budget-friendly ideas that he will love.

Travis Mathew Polo

Your guy doesn’t have to be a golfer to appreciate a nice Travis Mathew polo.  I myself love them for my husband because they are so versatile, he can dress it up or down.  They are perfect for work, golf, or a nice date night.

  1. Iris Zamir 
  2. Oxblood Hammond
  3. Dark Blue Casey


Travel Coffee Mug & Water Bottle

As lame as these sound, these gifts are so appreciated.  My husband has a 40 minute commute (give or take) and he says having coffee that stays hot and water that stays cold makes the drive more tolerable.  I’ve tried out both myself and may order my own — they’re awesome!

  1. Congo Snap Seal (Matte Black) Many other colors to choose from
  2. S’well Teakwood Water Bottle Variety of options



These aren’t the shoes you see everywhere.  Kickslogix has a great selection and high end unique style without the price tag.  They have everything from dressy to athletic.

  1. Rainmaker
  2. Brogue
  3. Zambia


Me Undies 

Matching undies, need I say more?




This is a gift that you both get to enjoy together, and thats what Valentine’s day is all about!   You order him four bottles of wine tailored to his liking (red, white, dry, sweet etc.) and have them delivered straight to your door!  I’m attaching tags to my bottles to add a little extra love to each bottle (see below!) The best part is this gift lasts past Valentine’s Day!

Use the code ‘RAISINGBUDDIES for $22 off and free shipping on your order of four bottles of wine ($30 total!)


Great Lakes Clothing Company

Okay, so I know this is a whole store and not one specific item, but my husband is a huge fan of their brand.  They have some really cool “manly” items.

  1. Bottle Opener
  2. Koozie
  3. Leather Coasters
  4. American Flag Hat



If you haven’t heard of Spotify you may want to get out of your cave more often.  My husband and I are huge fans and use Spotify daily.  It’s perfect for commuting, working out, or just relaxing.  If your guy already has an account you can upgrade his to ‘Premium.’ He will be pleasantly surprised when he has 20 million songs at his finger tips and no commercial interruptions.  Bonus points if you create his first playlist!


There may be affiliate links throughout this post.  




The Truth About Instagram



I feel like I’m writing a speech for winning an oscar or something, “I’d like to thank everyone who supported me…” But, really you guys – 30,000 followers! I’m so amazed and feeling pretty grateful, so thank you! I used to see people with 30k followers and think their life was perfect looking.  Somehow having a bigger number of followers creates a bigger facade that they are “better” or have no problems (everyone does!) I just want to keep it real with you. I’m literally sitting on my couch drinking my lukewarm coffee, watching my third straight episode of ‘Paw Patrol.’ I just changed an explosive diaper, tossed in a load of laundry and I’m looking like I haven’t seen civilization in weeks.

My kids aren’t always dressed in cute clothes and either am I (I wish I was!)  I worry about stupid stuff and my house is a disaster 90% of the time (toys are going to be the death of me!) I’m a hot mess, you’re a hot mess, okay lets be friends! I’m sharing 30 random things about myself because I think the small things are what make you. So, lets be real and get to know each other! Cheers to 30k!


1.  I didn’t like my husband when I met him for the first time. (Here we are in our “College days.”)

2.  I hate the dentist, like seriously, I’d rather give birth than go to the dentist (but, I still go.)

3.  I dreamt of being a mom since I was a little, it seriously is a dream come true.


4. I played hockey through high school (I was even captain.)

5.  I hate ranch dressing and tomatoes! Yuck!

6.  Have have two sisters who’s names also start with “M”.

7.  I’m a sucker for all Starbucks seasonal drinks.


8.  Actually, all coffee in general.


9.  If Henry would have been a girl, we would have named him Norah.


10.  Derek and I’s first dance song was, ‘Our Love is Easy’ by Melody Gardot.


11.  I actually like vacuuming, but I hate doing dishes.


12.  I love following Cara Loren and Amber Fillerup on Instagram.


13.  My whole family is obsessed with golf.


14.  I hate when people refer to me as a “young mom” (you wouldn’t call someone an “old mom!”)


15.  I would much rather take a bath than a shower.


16.  My favorite channel is HGTV, I’m a huge fan of Fixer Upper. #Jojoismyspiritanimal


17.  I love trying to be organized, but I’m not really good at it.


18.  Target is my second home.  Somedays we just go there to wander around (maybe come out with a throw pillow or two!)


19.  I’m always up for trying a new Pinterest recipe, especially using my crockpot! (Here’s one of my favorites!)


20.  I’m a born and raised Minnesotan.


21.  Ryan Gosling and John Hamm are my two celebrity crushes.


22.  Isla Fischer and Blake Lively are my lady crushes.


23.  I would love to have a “big” family.


24.  I consider myself a movie and tv show “buff.” Mostly due to my husband.


25.  I HATE when people chew loudly. This is by far my biggest pet peeve! Anyone else?


26.  I love interior design and appreciate all different styles.


27.  I am a god awful singer.


28.  As a kid I wished my hair was stick straight, but now I appreciate my wavy hair.


29.  My “dream” place to travel to is Sweden.


30.  I overthink and worry about everything. Most things? Some things? Ugh…






Adventures in Puerto Rico (Part II)

The second half of our vacation we checked out a few different beaches (keep reading to find out why some were a bust!) We also went to TPC Dorado Beach, Old San Juan, and checked out Plamas Del Mar.

Anyone who knows my husband and Dad knows we weren’t going to Puerto Rico without them trying out a new golf course.  They picked out TPC Dorado Beach and claimed they picked it for us ladies too.  We laughed at first knowing they really only cared about the golf, but after our day there we were in heaven too!  The guys went golfing and we received days passes to the property, including the Ritz-Carlton Reserve which had the most gorgeous beach and pool area!

Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Vivian’s Hat
Vivian’s Swimsuit
Auntie Nini’s swimsuit 
Henry’s Swimsuit 

Everything on the property was beautifully groomed. The paths, beaches, pools, and parks.  Gorgeous! There was also a waterpark on the “golf course” side of the property. It had a huge lazy river, water slides, splash pads, waterfalls, a number of pools, and sandy play area  .  It had something for every age which was great for us!  We also learned that Ricky Martin (we heard is super friendly to everyone) and a few other celebrities live on the property too!

TPC Dorado Beach Watermill Adventure Park

Henry’s Swimsuit

Mid-week we all woke up early and drove down the coast to check out beaches. I hate to say it, but it was a fail.  Not so much on our part, but we came to the conclusion that you get what you pay for in Puerto Rico.  There’s a reason resort beaches were the best, because they are clean and kept up.  We stopped at at least ten beaches during our vacation and every one of them was run down, with trash scattered including broken bottles, stray dogs and cats wandering, (it was heartbreaking) and abandoned restaurants.  It was depressing to see these could-be beautiful places turned into dives and dumpsters.  Has anyone else traveled to Puerto Rico and found this?  We also looked the beaches up online before we headed there and they all had decent reviews and immaculate pictures!  I’m not saying we were looking for a fancy beach either, just one that we weren’t all going to get Tetanus from.

On Friday we drove into Old San Juan, I think this was one of my favorite things we did.  It was so beautiful, full of character, and had a lot to see.  We first went and saw the El Morro Fort.  I highly recommend it if you’re ever there, it was only $5 a person and the kids were free.  The Fort’s construction started back in 1539 and I still cannot fathom that!

El Morro Fort Old San Juan

Henry & Vivian’s outfits
Grandma’s outfit

After Walking through El Morro Fort, we wandered through the city and explored the old buildings and went into some of the shops and restaurants.  My favorites were a small Gelato shop and a fancy waffle and coffee restaurant.

Downtown Old San Juan

Molly’s romper
Molly’s Sunglasses
Vivian’s Headband

On our last full day we took a drive to a different part of the island, Palmas Del Mar.  My sister and parents stayed there a few years ago and loved it.  We stayed at Plamas Del Mar Beach Club for the day and enjoyed the pool and the views of the ocean (the tide was too high to swim there.)

Palmas Del Mar Beach Club

Henry & Vivian’s Swimwear 
Molly’s Swimsuit
Auntie NiNi’s Swimsuit
Auntie NiNi’s Sunglasses
Derek’s Swimwear

We had a blast on our vacation and I’m so proud of how the babies handled traveling!  I’m feeling grateful for the experience, but now I have the “travel bug.” Our next stop is Myrtle Beach, SC this spring, and we are already counting down to time until we can head out there! Any tips for South Carolina? For more future travel plans,  the husband and I are obsessed with Sweden and hope to someday visit there! Where have you traveled to and recommend?


Adventures in Puerto Rico (Part I)


We are staying in Dorado, Puerto Rico on the northern coast last of the island.  It is our first big trip with all of my family.  My parents, my sisters Maddy and Mallory, Mallory’s Fiancé, and of course my husband and our littles.

For our first couple of days we decided to hang out by the ocean and pool and just soak up the beautiful weather and scenery! Vivian is like a little fish and is fearless. (Unlike her brother!)  Henry met friends by the pool- including a little Indian boy who refused to wear his swimming trunks, it was hilarious!

Maddy & Molly’s Swimwear: LEAH (lace up side) & KARA in Onyx 

Henry’s rash guard & trunksMinnow

Vivian Sun Hat: Flap Happy

Swimsuit: Minnow

On Monday, we took a catamaran ride for the day.  Our first stop was an island for swimming, walking the beach, and lunch.  The second stop was a reef where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea for snorkeling!  I don’t have many pictures because I forgot my SD card for my camera in my computer… (oops!)  But, I did have our GoPro, so we got a lot of cool videos!

This weather has us never wanting to return home! It’s the little things that make vacation so special (I know that sounds so cheesy, but its true!)  Seeing Henry and Vivian play in the sand, swim in the ocean and explore things they’ve never seen makes my heart swell! On top of it all, they aren’t just doing these things with their mom and dad; their Grandma and Grandpa and Aunts and Uncle too!

I couldn’t help but take a million and one pictures of Stinky Pete on the beach, she was just too funny!  She loves the sand and water, but she takes big handfuls and tries to stuff it in her mouth (gross!)

Vivian Sun Hat: Flap Happy

Swimsuit: Minnow

At night, we’ve been playing board games as a whole group, which may sound lame- but its been a blast!  I highly recommend the game ‘Wits & Wagers’!  We’ve also been playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’ which can be quite interesting with your parents.  Later this week we plan on going to TPC Country Club Dorado and also checking out Old San Juan.  Stay tuned for Part II of our Puerto Rico Adventures!


Puerto Rico or Bust!

We’ve had our holiday vacation to Puerto Rico planned for months and I have been nervous about the flight with our littles for just as long. We’ve heard horror stories of babies crying the entirety of the flight. Henry is a ball of energy 24/7 (he seriously never sits still…)  I didn’t know how he was going to last being contained to one seat on an airplane!  Armed with some advice from a few mom groups I belong to we prepared the best we could.  Side note, I know good parents that try anything and everything and their kiddos still aren’t happy to be flying.  But, I am sharing what worked (and didn’t work) for us to have a successful and easy flight.

The flight from Minnesota to Puerto Rico is roughly 4 1/2 hours long (give or take) plus the time you sit on the runway before take off and after landing. We took off around 7am and landed around 2:30pm (2 hour time zone difference.)

  1. Comfy Clothes-  We left our house at 4am so we had the kids sleep in their outfits that they were wearing to the airport.  Because we were traveling on Christmas Eve I wanted to be festive. So, naturally, they both wore their new Christmas Gap pajamas to the airport!
  2. Know the Rules-  I read through the TSA rules on breastmilk, baby food, liquids, snacks… yada yada yada before I packed our carry ons so I knew exactly what I could bring.  To my surprise you CAN bring baby food that is over 3oz (within moderation) in your carry on as long as its in a separate zip lock bag that can be looked at security check.  I also needed to bring Vivian’s medication for her ear infection that was well over 3oz and the same rules applied, zip lock bag that TSA could easily see.  I had zero issues getting through security-it was a breeze.
  3. No Carseat- Yes, you read that correctly, NO carseat.  We decided not to bring Henry’s carseat with after a few moms shared their flying experiences with me.  I am so happy we didn’t bring it!  TSA recommends carseats that are 16″ wide and Henry’s seat is 20″ wide so it would have been taking up a huge portion of our row.  Also,  we kept him busy by rotating seats with him and he slept on my lap and I could stretch out my legs while he laid on me.
  4. Take Advantage- Strollers and carseats are free at baggage check and you can bring your stroller all the way to boarding the plane before having to leave it.  Take advantage of this, it makes navigating the airport 100 times easier!  Also,  people with babies and toddler get to board the airplane along with first class, I recommend this because getting situated and getting carry ons stowed away takes much longer with little(s).
  5. Snacks, Books, iPad, Oh My!-  To keep both kids occupied we packed snacks, a few books, and loaded the iPad with (pre-downloaded episodes) ‘Paw Patrol’, ‘Special Agent Oso’, ‘Octonauts’, and the new movie ‘Secret Life of Pets’.  Henry didn’t watch all of these, but it gave him options to pick from which was nice.  We also packed play dough, a puzzle, coloring book, and a couple small Transformer trucks.  Rotating playing with each toy kept him busy for most of the flight.
  6. DockATot-  I almost didn’t bring it.  I had so much already packed and my carry on was full and even my husband thought it was going to be “just another item.”  But, let me tell you I am thanking my lucky stars that I decided to bring it!  I set it at our feet on the airplane and during takeoff I nursed Vivian, she fell asleep and I set her in the DockATot.  She slept in it for 3 hours!  It was amazing and I will be bringing it along on our flight to Myrtle Beach in the spring! #lifesaver


All of these things helped us get through our flights with minimal problems.  I’m not saying it was perfect, Henry and Vivian both had a couple small rough patches, but overall they were rockstars and I am so proud of them. You know it’s good when a couple families of 4 (now teenagers) mentioned how well our kids handled the flight, they were so kind, and very impressed!