Friday Favorites 7/28

I'm not sure how we are nearly in August but we've been trying to pack in as much fun as possible into our summer.  Only 2 more weeks of Summer for my girls:(  My mom, the girls and I have an annual trip to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk but this year we decided to stay in Monterey and just drive over to S.C. one day.  Is it just me or is there NO WHERE to stay in and around Santa Cruz. We've stayed at several places and are always disappointed.  I hear the Dream Inn is great but its way too expensive.  Anyways, our decision was fabulous because we loved staying at the Hyatt in Monterey.  It's a resort on the golf course and had the best family friendly amenities.  The staff was also extremely friendly and went above and beyond to make out stay fabulous.  We particularly liked the fire pit for s'mores and the pool area complete with games like corn-hole and life size Connect 4.

Our first day we went to Dennis the Menace Park and the beach.  The park is one of the best I've ever been to and the girls had so much fun.  It was just barely cool at the beach with the sun peaking in and out.  The girls were able to wade in the water and I was able to wear shorts.  As someone who is always cold if I can wear shorts its quite warm.

On day 2 we drove around the bay to the boardwalk where we spent the whole day having so much fun!  Both girls are major thrill seekers and only love the big rides.  Madi was tall enough this year for several of the rides and I loved hearing her giggles.  The weather started off a bit cool but the sun came out and we had the most gorgeous day.  Luckily it was warm enough for Logger's Revenge where we got pretty soaked.

The rest of our trip we spent relaxing, swimming and exploring.  Madi was a bit of HUGE pill which made some moments of our trip difficult but overall we had the best time and it's one of my favorite things we do all year.  

I've been a part of a local non-profit, PINC since 2009 which raises money for other local non-profit organizations.  We specifically choose beneficiaries that serve woman and children.  This year we selected Heart of the Horse Therapy Ranch that works with special needs children and those who suffer from PTSD.  Our event was in June but just recently we presented the check to the organization.  It was such an emotional event seeing the people they serve and delivering a check for $75,000.  I'm so proud of PINC and to think how this money will change lives.  If you'd like to learn more about PINC check out the website.

Emily has been doing gymnastics for several months at Gymnastics Beat.  Recently, Emily had a showcase where we got to see her use some of her new skills.  My mom takes Emily to all of her lessons so it was such a treat to go and see her perform.  She really enjoys her classes and exhibits so much strength.  

This is how I celebrate National Ice Cream Day... two flavors of ice cream between two homemade chocolate chip cookies!

For the first time this year we did an evening boat trip on the lake.  The weather in the evening is perfect and the no one is at the lake.  We had dinner on the boat, swam a little bit, and took an evening cruise.  It was lots of fun and I think we'll have to do it again soon.

Boy give me Summer Days all year long.  You sure can't swim all day and eat popsicles in the pool during Winter!  Madi and I had the best day hanging out with friends this last weekend while daddy and Emily went camping.

Emily and Daddy had the best time camping and Em caught her first fish.  They came home with the biggest smiles and the dirtiest feet.

Emily lost her second tooth but the first died from a fall and the dentist had to pull it.  So this was the first one that got loose and daddy got to pull.  

Back to School Shopping

What happened to starting school after Labor Day?!?!  The school year seems to start earlier and earlier every year.  This year I really feel it because Emily is starting Kindergarten and Madi is starting preschool.  As much as I don't want Summer to end I am fully prepping over here.  The silver lining to Back to School prep is SHOPPING!  I'm sharing some of my favorite picks with you and my favorite sales below (so you don't have to spend the time searching).  Emily is going to a school that requires uniforms so I've included some uniform items as well.  I was very pleased to find that many of the children's store sell uniforms and at affordable prices.

My Favorite Back to School Sales:

Old Navy 30% Off Any Order

H&M Up to 50% Off Back to School

Pottery Barn Kids Use Code FRIENDS for 20% Off

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale till Aug 6th

Macy's Use Code WKND for Extra 20% Off

Little Passports Use Code BTS15 for 15% Off

Gymboree Up to 70% Entire Store

Janie & Jack Up to 70%

Crazy 8 50% Off Uniform Shop & 30% off Backpacks

Almost all of the above shops work with Ebates.  Sign up to receive cash back on all your purchases.  I'm so obsessed but who wouldn't be; it's free $$$.

Emily has to wear a uniform but how could I resist a twinning moment with these adorable outfits.

If you know of any shops that are having great sales please let me know.  I'm always looking for great deals.

Black Ruffle Top & Jeans

You don't typically think about wearing black in summer but there are ways to make dark colors work for this season.  It's more about the structure, cut and style rather than the color.  I love this ruffle top because it's so unique.  It's very lightweight with a fairly low back so it works great during the hot days and nights of summer.  I love a dark wash skinny jean because as a girl with curves I feel best in a dark wash.  My shoes are black as well but since they are a wedge they can work for this season. My latest bag I snagged is from Lauren Ralph Lauren and it's fabulous for anyone on the go.  I love the structure of the bag which is timeless and classic but the crossbody strap makes it functional for when my hands are full (usually holding little hands).  No outfit is complete without a little bling so my go-to bling is paired perfectly with this simple look.  

The color is not what makes this look interesting; it's all the details.  My rule of thumb is it's one or the other; either details or patterns and color.  So if you gravitate towards dark colors don't worry about wearing them in summer; you can still get away with it.

Shop my bags, jeans, sunglasses and jewelry here as well as a similar top and shoes.

Items received in exchange for this review.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Back To School Prep & How to Make it Easy

I can't believe I'm already preparing for Back to School!  I feel like we didn't even get a full summer so I'm very much not ready for school days but once we get into the swing of things it will be nice to have a routine and have some more time sans kids to get things done.  Back to School can be one of the craziest times of the year so I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you to not only make the transition easier but also to add in some fun and keep the smiles flowing from Summer Fun to School Days.

Being prepared and ahead of the game is my number tip.  Do as much as you can the night before because the morning is so crazy no matter what.  In our house we always lay out the next days clothes as well as pack lunches.  I suggest involving your kids in both of these processes because it teaches them responsibility and it gives them confidence.  I also feel like they have some buy in power when they help make decisions and are more likely to feel good about the activity when they helped with it.

To make your child's lunch more fun try adding a snack that they love and will make them smile. Our kiddos love Goldfish®  so this is a special treat in Emily's lunch.  I also love including lunchbox notes to make Emily feel special and loved!  I found these Lunchbox notes HERE.

This will be the first time in Emily's life where she is gone all day every day and so I am planning quality time when she gets home from school.  First order of business will be washing her hands, putting her shoes away and hanging up her backpack.  But after business is taken care of a special snack and activity is in order.  Again to make life easier we prep snacks ahead so it takes less time to get from the pantry to the plate.   Again I love involving my kiddos when I can so Emily made this Goldfish® Trail Mix which makes her feel so big and appreciated.  As you can see from the video it's very simple for little ones to make on their own.  {Side note...I just told Emily what we were doing and she ran with it.  This isn't scripted, rehearsed or reshot over and over.  She loves doing this kind of stuff and is always talking about blogging.  Kevin asks me, "What are you creating?!?!"}

Although educational activities are super important Emily will be learning ALL day so I'm planning activities that are just fun.  The goal is laughter and smiles; not learning.  I created this Tic Tac Toe board for our family and you can download your own copy to use.  This game combines fun and a snack.  We play the game and then when we're all done we share Goldfish® and some smiles.  It's the little moments that we will always cherish and although our kids might not remember these moments they'll definitely remember the feeling!

For more fun ideas with Goldfish®  click HERE.