The West Coast Griswold family has thrown caution to the wind and decided to hitch up the swagger wagon for ten fun filled days driving up the coast of California! With three kids! Under four! One is two weeks potty trained! I’m hoping if I keep the enthusiasm level high enough I won’t think about what kind of crazy pills we were on when booking this little family adventure.
This past year Matt and I talked about wanting to make travel part of our family life and would love to do extensive traveling as a family as the kids get a bit older. So, inspired by JDC and Tsh’s family (a year long trip!) we clicked purchase on three AirBnB stops along the coast and we’re officially on our way on Thursday morning. Ten days is nothing compared to these epic trips but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere!
I realize that I sound very dramatic (always!) and very boo hoo, have to have a ten day vacation with your family along the coast of California buuuut…we are mostly a flying family not a driving family so I’m a little nervous about our first foray into road trip territory. I’ve packed all the snacks (so many snacks), brought along the car games and even snuck in an emergency DVD if things start to go downhill. Veteran road trippers with littles, my kingdom for your best tips and tricks please!
In case you were wondering (or not) our loose itinerary is to hit the road early on Thursday, stopping in San Luis Obispo for lunch and stopping in Monterey. We’ll head on up the coast to the Redwoods and Carmel before turning around and heading to Santa Cruz for a couple of nights. Any family friendly suggestions would be so welcome!
You can follow us on the snaps or on Instagram with the hashtag, #ahrensontheroad. Here’s hoping for happy trails!
We’ve finally arrived at the time to feed the baby stage! We are following baby led weaning approach again this time. TLDR version: baby eats table food…no purees, pouches or rice cereal. It worked so well for our family with the older kiddos (disclaimer…I don’t think its the perfect option for everyone, you feed your baby however YOU want! No judgies here) that we were happy to jump right back on the bandwagon and you may have seen disgusting snaps of Lucy covered in food. Sorry not sorry. I’m in mom-denial of how cute it is.
I’ve had a few fellow mom-friends ask how/why we’re doing it this way and what’s a blog for but to crow your mediocre parenting tips to the masses? So away we go.
The main logic behind BLW is that food before one is just for fun. Babies are still gaining most of their nutrition and calories from breastmilk or formula. Introducing table food (instead of purees) gives them a broader palate and hopefully(!) makes for less picky eaters in the long run. As an added bonus, babies are working on their pincher finger and fine motor skills by picking up food off their tray. The main bonus for moms: no money spent on expensive baby food or hours wasted in the kitchen pureeing your own food. Babies eat what you’re serving the rest of the family with a few modifications (softer veggies/no salt). In the last few years I think that BLW has definitely gained popularity and I’m getting a whole lot less, huh? That’s weird commentary on the proverbial park bench. A quick search of Pinterest will bring up a slew of meal suggestions.
With each of the kids we have waited until that magical six month mark to introduce solid food and like any good Californian, avocado has always been the food of choice. It’s soft, full of good fat and makes for adorable first food pictures. #priorities. Both Hudson and Harper were kind of, eh? I’ll try some but mostly I will chuck all of your carefully curated meals to the hangry chihuahua. A few months in they were definitely eating more than tossing and it’s been pretty smooth sailing until they turned into toddlers with opinions and super helpful suggestions on what they would like to be served. :/ Many a convo has gone down around our table regarding animal crackers as an acceptable main course.
Lucy though, what an animal! From the first time I strapped her into her high chair (this one! Love it) she has gone to town. There was no messing around with her. Everything we’ve presented she’s immediately picked up and down the hatch. She just barely has two teeth. I don’t know if she’s been watching us really closely or she’s realized that she’s the youngest of three and better eat while the getting is good.
I have been packing these pouches when we’re out on the town and I know there won’t be any healthy meal sharing options. I didn’t really have to worry that much about it with the other two but we seem to always be on the go now.
If you’re dipping your toe into the baby-led weaning pool, be sure to read up on choking/gagging/etc and then enjoy that hilariously disgusting baby smearing banana in their hair.
Affiliate links are used. You click and buy? I get a tiny slice of the pie. Thanks for keeping our pantry full of avocados. You’re the best!
Another post about flower fields. Get ready. Brianne and I loaded up the kids on a Friday morning after a flier for two free tickets magically appeared in my mailbox. I had never even heard of Cherry Valley but Matt was out of town and was probably thanking his lucky stars he wasn’t being coerced into a lavender field frolicking excursion.
Well. He missed out. Let me tell you! It was so adorable and charming I can’t even properly describe it. The fields are only open two weekends in the summer but there is restaurant onsite and an olive harvesting festival in the fall. Cherry Hill is about 90 minutes east of Los Angeles (basically the high desert) and it is HOT! But this adorable little farm is a little slice of paradise, tons of tall pine trees blocking the sun, which are also strung up with glass patio lights.
A jazz band was playing, food trucks and dessert bars were aplenty. It was pretty dreamy if I haven’t made that clear by all of my raving. Also, just so we’re being clear here, I drug my family here on my own accord, the festival doesn’t even know who I am.
We rode the pony wagon ride around the fields and took in the petting zoo (bunnies, goats and lambs) to appease the children.
We then dove head first into the gift yard of all lavender, everything. I managed to contain my enthusiasm and just came home with lavender sugar for lemonade and some baby balm.
So, local ladies, make sure to circle your calendar for next year. Take your gal pals or your main man and go go go to this adorable festival. And now what you’ve all really came for, children posed amongst the lavender.
This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.
…attention loyal readers, this here is a sponsored post! Before you clickity-clack on out of here know that we’re talking all about wipes and how they’re saving my butt (had to!) on the daily (and I’m guessing yours too)…
I remember my pre-baby glory days when I had all that leisure time to be assigning cleaning duties to each day (I sound so fun, right?) and I actually followed through on them. Fancy that. Three babies in and my main clean-up motto is “here’s a wipe”. I use them for everything, and I’m guessing you do too.
The short list: makeup remover, restaurant table clean up, grocery cart handles, car detailing-so fresh!, binkie + baby toy clean-up, that bathroom sink mess and of course their main dirty diaper duty. I’ve even given the kids wipes during clean up time and they go to town on the walls. What I’m saying is, wipes are basically the unsung heroes of parenthood. Can I get an amen up in here?
I store those versatile suckers everywhere (pro-mom tip: keep a pack + dipes in your car for blowout emergencies) and I dole out accordingly so when my inbox chimed with the WaterWipes + Target campaign, I was/am all in.
These wipes are the best of the best on the wipe scene with only two ingredients, 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. On my weekly (sometimes daily, let’s be real) trip to the mothership I tossed in a couple of packs in my cart to try out.
I love that Target has started carrying more natural options for kiddos, it keeps my errand list so much shorter (all the praise hand emojis for not another stop!).
It makes me feel about 1000% better handing them to the donut smashing toddlers in the back of the mom-van to clean their little hands and faces. No chemicals in their mouths or on their skin is a win in my book. They’re even endorsed by the National Eczema Association, which gets a high-five from me since I’ve got kiddos with super sensitive skin. If you’re wondering about durability, which I’ll admit, I’m always the skeptic on greener/all-natural products, you can bet these hold up on the changing table and for all of the rest of the messes that seem to follow our circus.
If you’re interested in winning a $100 gift card to Target(!!) you can follow on through the link below to enter. I am already jealous of the winners. Use it to stock up on baby essentials (wipes!) or keep it all to treat yo’ hard-working mama self. I won’t tell.
Prepare yourself for another post all about fireworks, grilling and children in matching patriotic gear. I will not let you down on all my basic-mom holiday documentation, but I’ll try to keep it brief-ish. Although I’m a little light on the pictures as the snaps have been eating all of my usual photo and video documentation, so make sure we’re besties there too.
On Friday we scampered on down the 405 to San Diego to spend the holiday with my Dad and step-mom as they just moved back from Boston. Can we get a huzzah for family living closer than a plane ride away? All the heart eyed emojis here.
We basically swam, ate, drank, napped. Repeat. It was glorious.
We even managed to sneak in a bbq with out of town friends who treated us to the most delicious bbq ribs I’ve ever had, sparklers and more swimming. Harper made sure to let everyone know just who was allowed to use fireworks on her watch. Video evidence from your favorite mama-razzi below.
We hustled backed to Pasadena on Sunday night so we could do our annual beach day with our friends in Manhattan Beach on the actual holiday. We have gone 0-6 children in 4 years between our families. Our squad of children is as impressive as our beach compound of tents, umbrellas, strollers and various sand toys. Basically all we were missing was a couch. Although we were not taking part in the flip cup and shotgunning beer festivities of our youth we had a great time and insisted on photographic documentation.
The moms enjoyed classy Rosé from a can (actually delicious!) while doling out all the snack and dads impressively filled up 1,250 buckets of water for the tiny architects crafting a sand villa worthy of princess Elsa.
The only downer of SoCal 4th of July (and I am being SUPER nit-picky here…per usual) is that there aren’t a lot of convenient places to watch fireworks and the backyard pyrotechnics are illegal because…uh, fire. BUT! This year we must have timed our ride home from the beach perfectly as all of the desperadoes who smuggled in outlawed fireworks across the state lines put on an impressive show. We convinced our crew that, “wasn’t this the best, we totally went to a fireworks show! Yay!”
I would be remiss if I did not mention how thankful our family is for the men and women serving our country and protecting our freedom. We love you and are so proud and thankful!
My apologies for not crafting a pun-tastic title for this post. It was a blazing 95 degrees on the day of the party so my memory of what went down is a little hazy as we were all just trying to survive the fun heat.
Hudson had enthusiastically declared a “race car party!” when asked how he’d like to celebrate the big 0-4, so I tried to make his little motor loving dreams come true with the least amount of work possible. 😉 I sent out adorable paperless invites from Minted (for free!). Did you even know they had those options? So cute!
I tried (tried!) to keep it simple with the decor + backyard shenanigans for the parents.
I had my sister blowing up all of the balloons for the arch the night before by hand (mouth?) since the balloon pump was broken. We cried a little inside each time the heat popped one of those suckers. It looked much fuller and more impressive at the beginning of the party. But guess what? Toddlers don’t care. They were much more impressed with the giant poster of Mater gracing our garage door.
I had grand plans for the dessert table but the heat threw us for a loop. The donut tire stacks had to wait inside until just before the devouring them. Along with the cupcakes and wrench cookies. We have strict family rules about having ridiculous amounts of sugar present at birthday parties. Obviously, all of the parents love us.
I hope we’re snapchat friends and you saw the sugar cookie wrenches because I can’t seem to find a single picture of them in their party styled glory, which is a dang crime.
I was so proud of them and the ridiculous amount of time I spent working on them. I mean come on, they were sprayed with metallic, edible glitter.
Race cars and track tape kept the kiddos entertained. We also wheeled out all 400 of their ride on toys for all the kids to fight over. 😉
Harper’s delirious face during the birthday song really captures how we were all feeling.
Just like that, we’ve got a four year old in the house. Happy Birthday Hudson, we love you!
I think all of us parents start off with the same smug resolution of not letting our homes become a wasteland of primary colored plastic in the name of childhood entertainment. Then we have kids. Or maybe you were able to stave off the invasion of Little Tykes longer than we were but somehow, the garish crap arrives and takes over.
Exhibit A, my children making me regret my child will never pre-baby words for the first (definitely not the last!) time.
For the most part I don’t mind as it won’t be like this for long and all that carpe the diem motherhood crap you read on Pinterest. Plus, most of our toys are returned to their baskets by the end of the day so it’s not always crazy town up in here.
BUUUT…That being said, I do appreciate when designers take the time to take some aesthetic considerations for baby items and toys that tend to take up residence in the living room for a longer duration (swings/exercise mats/jumpers/etc). I ran across a truly beautiful wooden baby gym online but of course it is made and sold only in Australia. It is also upwards of $300 and I frankly, I have better things to be spending that kind of money on. So, to the internet I went in search of something more reasonably priced and actually available in our country and I came up pretty empty handed.
I did run across this pin of an IKEA wood baby gym hack that I thought had some great potential. I didn’t care for the finished black and white of the original (Not that it is bad. It just wasn’t the look I was going for) so I decided to try and hack the IKEA Leka gym and mimic the dip dyed look I loved of the Bella Buttercup toy.
I don’t really have any process pictures as it is pretty self explanatory. I painted the two leg supports with pink non-voc paint leftover from Harper’s dresser. I decided against trying to remove the spinning toys on either side based on the tutorial above. I just covered the birch wood with butcher paper to protect it and then just painted them while attached (to be clear, the toys come attached to the bar). It worked really well!
I cut the plastic toys off of their holders and strung some felt wool balls from the top. The bar also holds those ubiquitous plastic rings too. So we use those for hanging our other favorite toys.
I think it turned out so cute! I love pairing it with the sheepskin rug, also hailing from IKEA. Lucy seems to like staring up at all her little toys and of course the big kids love it since it’s a new toy that isn’t theirs. 🙂
Ikea is seriously my favorite place to find streamlined, cute toys (and home stuff) that can totally be customized. Tell me you’ve seen our play kitchen? It is seriously my pride and joy. 😉 I’ve got a few other Ikea makeovers for you coming up soon!
We recently headed south to San Diego for a dual sayonara/first birthday fiesta and I managed to strong arm the family into a side trip on the way home.
I had seen families frolicking in flower fields all over Instagram (Texas bluebells, anyone?!) and hit up my trusty know-it-all, Google to find some flowers in our area for this snap happy mama. Ain’t no shame in my instagram-mom game. I came across the Carlsbad Flower Fields and our road trip detour was officially scheduled.
Pro-tip: skip the ticket line and buy online. Since we went on a weekend, it was PACKED and the line was wrapped around the parking lot (and we were there early, thanks to our little chickens cockadoodle-dooing at an ungodly hour). I ended up buying our tickets on my phone and we smugly waltz on it ahead of the crowds. I’m assuming weekdays would be a little less intense with the hordes of people but these fields are only open a few months a year so, maybe not.
I wish I could say the kids were as thrilled as I was to see my favorite flowers in glorious bloom but…toddlers don’t care.
They were perfectly happy with just the wagon ride around the grounds and pose for all the photos, so long as it involved a piece of large farming machinery.
The amount of cajoling it took for these photos is ridiculous.
A stranger took pity on us and took a few family photos for us. Harper was obviously thrilled for this impromptu photo shoot. Thankfully my standards have sunk to laughably low in terms of what constitutes a keeper picture. Everyone in the frame? 2/3 kids looking at the camera? Perfect, basically Christmas card material.
I had to include this one because everybody wants to know if I “style” Lucy’s bouffant. All I can say is, she didn’t get it from her mama.
Of course I got suckered into the take-home bouquet and upon checkout the cashier cheerily informed us it was LADY BUG WEEKEND, ISN’T THAT FUN! What does that entail? Oh, a mesh bag of live lady bugs but did we mention, THEY ARE FREE, SO HOW FUN! Disgusted doesn’t quite cover our reaction to our newly acquired charges but we accepted our fate and prayed the entire ride home that those 367 bugs didn’t somehow escape into the back of the van because of course Hudson had to hold them the entire way home.
We cut them loose in the garden as soon as we parked the van in the driveway and they have since flown the coop to greener pastures gardens. I hope you caught all of the fun on snapchat.
I showed you Lucy’s little nursery nook awhile ago but wanted to share an easy peasy project that I thought added a lot of impact, her fabric mobile. It was super simple to throw together two of these in an hour (I used the set to decorate for Harper’s pancake party). I have seen a few tutorials on Pinterest but they all started with a wire fruit basket and that seemed like such a pain to procure so I just hacked it (as I do). Here’s how…
2 embroidery hoops in staggered sizes (small on the bottom/large on top)
Bakers twine/fishing wire/something to tie the two hoops together. I used bakers twine because that’s what I had on hand and it worked beautifully.
1-2 yards of fabric (I used inexpensive linen found at the DTLA fashion district)
Faux flowers, the amount and style is up to you. I could see this being really cute with paper flowers or even felt. I just used a few swags from Hobby Lobby. I want to say they were around $15 each.
**The cost for each mobile is really up to you. The faux flowers make up the bulk of the expense (save those 40% off Michael’s coupons). I happened to have quite a few leftover from a wedding shower I hosted a year ago so I wasn’t really out much. You could also do a pom pom trim or other inexpensive cover up if you don’t like the look of the flowers or need to cut costs.
Start by separating your embroidery hoops, you’ll want to use the inner rings, the ones without the hardware on it (although, if you need four mobiles you could totally cover the hardware with fabric).
Decide how much longer you would like your inner circle to be from your top. I just eyeballed it but would guess it is about 4 inches lower. Tie the two rings together with your twine (again, totally eye balled this). The picture below shows how the hoops are tied together from the inside. I apologize that I don’t have great process shots but I hadn’t planned on a tutorial so these were all taken after the mobiles were completed.
You’ll also want to cut two pieces of twine/ribbon to string up your finished mobile. They’ll cross in the middle of the hoop to create an X. I wanted mine to be really secure so I could use it outdoors so I cut three equal pieces of string and braided them together for a thicker support system. Fishing wire would also work great.
I used exactly two yards of fabric to outfit both mobiles, you can use more or less fabric depending on how sheer you would like it to be. Cut two inch strips of your fabric (for the love, do not measure!). This is where linen or really cheap cotton is a plus, it rips very easily. I just snipped across the top of my fabric in approximate two inch increments and then tore it all. I like the rustic feel of it but you could definitely use a rotary cutter if you want a cleaner look.
Fire up that hot glue gun and go nuts. I found it easiest to glue the fabric to the front of the hoop and then tuck a little bit up and over the top and glue to the backside of the hoop. I hope this photo makes that description a little clearer.
Once your fabric is adhered, decide on your trim pieces (I used the faux flowers). I thought it was helpful to start with the greenery. It covered a lot of my gluing sins and is much less expensive than the large flowers. Add the flowers last and any accent greenery pieces that you might want to hang a bit lower on the hoop.
That’s it! I hung mine from the ceiling using c-hooks. It makes it really easy to move around (if you’re planning on using for a nursery or party decor).
Have holiday pictures, will post. Sorry, not sorry. We survived outdoor (the only way!) egg dyeing with two toddlers and enjoyed planting our magic jelly beans again this year. We actually made it to early church (still making up for Christmas Eve). I smartly outsourced Easter brunch to our church youth group, pancake breakfast and no dishes for the win! Unfortunately, we failed at a full family photo, so children in coordinating outfits will have to do.
Ain’t no party like a toddler egg dyeing party. We were a bit overenthusiastic with the glitter and neon kits.
This year the kids sort of got the hang of an actual egg hunt. By that I mean they realized there was stuff in the eggs. Both preferred to open each egg, devour the spoils before moving on. Needless to say, we were not the big winners in the neighborhood hunt.
This is the second time we’ve planted the magic jelly beans that sprout into lollipops overnight. I admit that it is completely ridiculous and indulgent but I can’t help it. The kids love it and I am nothing if not over the top for holidays.
Can we just talk about the size of these baskets?! They fit a baby. Literally. Lots of paper grass to fluff those suckers up. I thought about buying the smaller size this year but I already have the monogrammed liners for everyone. I’m in too far at this point. This has to be a ploy by PBK for me to buy more stuff, right? I mean, their Christmas stockings are just as ridiculously giant. At least they’re adorable and they fit a baby. 😉
I am not ashamed of the amount of candy bribery that was happening to catch these few pictures. I’m sure the neighbors were super impressed with our parenting skills.
And that’s all she wrote folks! It was a beautiful day celebrating with our little family. I hope your holiday was filled with just as much seersucker, matching outfits and treats as you could handle.