The Simple Joys Of Summer, Fueled by Milk {Sponsored}

June 22nd, 2016

Summer is for bare feet, sunshine so bright it hurts your eyes, running through sprinklers, visiting local farms, playing in the dirt, mooing at cows, brushing up our checkers game, and doing all the other stuff that makes the long, hot days the best part of the year.

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We are SO excited that our school year is over and now we have the freedom to enjoy a schedule-free few months. But did you know more than 22 million children may miss out on milk’s nutrition this summer when they lose access to free or reduced-price meal programs at school? Although some programs like the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program help to deliver meals when school is not in session, the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program (which we use and love and appreciate so much during the school year) do not reach children during the summer months. That’s why food banks play an even more critical role in helping children access nutritious foods when class isn’t in session.

Fresh milk is one of the most requested, but least donated items at food banks, meaning children in need may be missing out on the essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, that it supplies. I never thought about that until I became part of this campaign – of course families want and need milk, and of course it can be hard to come by when food banks emphasize non-perishable donations. Now there’s something we can do about that shortage.

You can help feed a childhood in your community this summer with a small donation at milklife.com/give. A donation as little as $5 can deliver a highly desired and nutrient-rich gallon of fresh milk to children who need it most. Because all children deserve the chance to play, learn and grow, especially during the summer months when being a kid is supposed to be joyful and carefree. When you visit The Great American Milk Drive site and enter your zip code, you can direct your donation to the Feeding America food bank that helps right in your local area.

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We all love milk, but probably no one more than Linc. He couldn’t care less that it’s nutritious and a great source of protein – he just thinks it’s delicious. It also gives all the kids the energy they need to keep the fun going all afternoon. Sprinklers are basically the summer equivalent of baths in our house,  which is fine by me.

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For each share of Great American Milk Drive “Feed A Childhood” content with hashtag #milkdrive via Facebook and Twitter between 6/1/16 – 6/30/16, The Great American Milk Drive will contribute $1 to the Feeding America® network for the purchase of fluid milk, up to a maximum total donation of $5,000.

And as a thank you for taking the time to read about The Great American Milk Drive, they’re offering a giveaway to readers of this blog and the others participating in the campaign.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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June 20th, 2016

I have a weekend hangover from trying to do lots of fun stuff today. It’s not alcohol-related. It’s dehydrations/exhaustion/pregnancy related. Because this is just my life now. No drinking, but all the worst side-effects.

Sunday:

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Pretty sure I went to sleep with a much older guy in that spot

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Downtown looking very scenic

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Celebrating a friend’s birthday by stealing her shoes

Monday:

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Cuddles

Ironic or just awful?

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Shenanigans

Tuesday:

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Matchy brothers

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He said “This is how they’re supposed to go”.

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Even when she TRIES not to be in pictures, she can’t help it

Wednesday:

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He would live on those if I let him

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I paid money for the original Willy Wonka so we can watch it 100 times this summer

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At least they’re sharing?

Thursday:

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Very proud of his style

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Linc is “helping” carry the teddy

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Clean baby

Friday:

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When you need to make sure you have all your Hand & Foot cards

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In 24 hours, this will be a wedding

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He can just live there for the summer

Saturday:

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Perfect lake morning

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Picking up the essentials

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Pretending to be a real photographer

I am going to celebrate the summer solstice by sending all of my children to bed early, enjoying a long bath, and taking the maximum amount of Tylenol allowed before I put myself to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I will feel more like a capable human than a swollen pregnant monster.

Or more likely, this is just my life now. Yay, summer pregnancy.

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Where I Buy My Kid Clothes (Especially for Caroline)

June 17th, 2016

This is one of those posts that is ONLY interesting to other people who are currently living fairly similar lives to mine (smallish children who both have and do not have opinions on their clothes but have to wear something because constant nudity is not an option). Or possibly it’s good for aunts/uncles/grandparents/relatives/close-but-childless-friends-who-are-often-stumped-looking-for-gifts, since cute, good quality kid clothes are almost always welcome.

But I feel like I get a lot of compliments on what my children wear, both in real life and online, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share my shopping habits. This was supposed to be a pretty short, easy post to write and instead, I’ve spent almost 3 weeks on it. And I don’t actually get THAT many compliments, besides from my friends who probably already know where I got stuff. I’m sort of regretting how much effort I’ve put into this, actually. Think of all the naps I could have taken instead. But since I’m done now, and I love how adorable my children are, I present to you an extensive list of our favorite places to shop.

Sort of a disclaimer non-disclaimer: I don’t have secret affiliate relationships with and am not sponsored by these companies so this post is just me talking about stuff I genuinely like. I’ll mention any referral links if/when I use them.

STORES:

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Some of Caroline’s many Hanna dresses

Hanna Andersson: Probably my very most favorite of all the places to get kid clothes. The have Swedish roots and a very clean, classic aesthetic that means I never hate what my kids pick out even if they dress themselves. The pajamas really are the cutest and most comfortable we own and the kids always grab them first if they’re available. Sizes go from tiny baby up through kids size 16-18, which should fit Evan until he’s at least in middle school. Things we especially love: dresses, hats, pajamas, underpants. They run sales fairly often and I don’t allow myself to buy things at full price, but if you consider how well the clothes hold up (for your own multiple children or for selling/consigning later) they are a good deal. If you’ve never ordered from Hanna before and you use this link, you get 20% off your purchase and I get a 20% off coupon for myself which I will probably use to order yet another set of matching pajamas for my numerous children.

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Starting at top left: dress, shirt, sweater, fleece jacket, dress, fleece jacket, dress, snowsuit and sweater are all Hanna. 

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I have an actual addiction to Hanna Jams.

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Mini Boden for Evan and Caroline

Mini Boden: If Boden hadn’t sent me clothes (for the bigs and for tiny baby Linc), I don’t think I ever would have actually ordered from the site. Their stuff is not inexpensive. I often throw the catalog away as soon as I get it because I don’t trust myself not to spend too much. But seriously, this is a brand that understands how to design and make cute, fun, quality kid clothes. They have a current print in their girl’s section called Florasaurus that has awesome dinosaurs on it and Caroline gets compliments everywhere. Their boy t-shirts are fun without having cartoon characters printed on them, and their baby clothes are SO soft. Mini Boden sizes start at newborn, go up to 12 years old and their tween/teen line goes up to 16 years old. Things we especially love: matching brother shirts, baby rompers, anything with stars on it.

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Starting at top left: snowsuit, matching shirts, snowsuit, Caroline’s dress, Linc’s whole outfit, Caroline’s dress, Linc’s shirt & Evan’s shirt, Linc’s shirt, snowsuit, Caroline’s dress, Linc’s whole outfit, matching brother shirts AND Caroline’s romper are all Mini Boden

Polarn O. Pyret: Another Swedish company who makes classic, stripey children’s clothes. I ordered from them during their $5/$10/$15 sale and could not believe how much I loved the thickness and quality of their regular cotton. I’ve been throwing them in the dryer for more than 6 months now and they still look new. I especially love their socks for Lincoln – they stay on and they don’t get holes, which seems to be too much to ask for most boys’ socks. I really wish I had a baby girl to buy their baby girl outfits for, but I’ll just have to settle for gender neutral newborn stuff. Their sizes go up to 12 years old but I think their styles skew a little young. Things we especially love: SOCKS. Totally worth signing up for email to get socks on sale.

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One of Caroline’s favorite dresses is Polarn.

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Some of our Tea in current sizes – there’s tons more in sizes no one is currently wearing

Tea Collection: Tea is hit or miss for me, or more specifically for Caroline, but when I was looking through her closet I realized we own a LOT of it. I’ve bought SO many cute dresses on sale that she has decided are not her style. They base each season’s new clothes on a location/country and when I love the collections I LOOOOOVE them. When they aren’t my favorite I’m not even tempted. I never have quality complaints though, and their cotton is super soft, especially on boy clothes. Their color schemes are not what you usually expect in kid clothes, which can be really refreshing if you’re tired of primary colors and cartoon characters. Their sizes go from newborn to 12 years old and the dresses fit Caroline for at least 3 seasons because they make great tunics. Things we especially love: dresses, boys t-shirt designs.

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Horse dress, Evan’s shirt, flower dress are Tea

SITES:

Facebook Resale Pages: If you’re currently thinking I must spend thousands of dollars on kid clothes if I’m shopping mostly on those three sites, you’d be right. But I only buy directly from those brands a few times a year. I buy far, far more second-hand from resale groups. My favorite is the Mini Boden & Hanna Andersson BST page, but there are lots of them for lots of brands, like Crewcuts and Tea Collection. That’s the beauty of these brands – they last a super long time, through multiple children, and even if YOU buy something full price you can resell it later. So far I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the moms on those boards and I’ve bought everything from bathing suits to shoes for all 3 kids. On the MB/Hanna site people can list other high end or boutique brands on Fridays, so it’s a good day to browse. Be warned though, it can be super addicting, especially since everyone uses Paypal and Paypal can feel like pretend money instead of actual money. This is in bold because it is where I buy probably 75% of our current wardrobe. All the girl’s Tea, three of the Hanna pieces and about half the Mini Boden in the pictures was bought resale.

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Party dresses all from Zulily

Zulily: I have a love/hate relationship with Zulily. I’ve bought some GREAT stuff from them, including a handful of Jelly The Pug dresses, some of Caroline’s favorite shoes and many nice Christmas presents. On the other hand, their shipping can be so expensive it cancels out the savings and it’s sooooo slooooooow. I’ve installed/deleted the app from my phone dozens of times, because I find myself shopping aimlessly and buying things I don’t LOVE love just because they’re available. Sometimes my world’s collide and Hanna Andersson has stuff on Zulily, which can be a great deal if you log in early enough and grab the good items before they’re gone. If you use my links to Zulily, open a new account and actually buy something, I earn a $15 credit. I think I’ve earned 3 total in 5+ years of using them, so I won’t hold my breath.

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All three of Caroline’s dresses are from Zulily

ThredUp: ThredUp is a resale site for kids and women (including maternity!) so I’ve spent a ton of time browsing around their app while rocking a baby to sleep or waiting for the bus. Everything is used but what I’ve ordered has been in great-to-brand-new condition. The good thing about ThredUp is they don’t seem to value brands like Hanna or Boden as much as people on the Facebook sites do, so you can get them for a few dollars less. The BAD part about that is I wouldn’t send those higher-end brands to them to consign. I sent a huge bag of stuff we didn’t need or want hoping to earn some credit but only got $13. That’s less than half than what I would get if I consigned them locally – but it was less than half as much work, too. Even if selling is disappointing, the app is still a good place to find deals – they often have sales, run coupon codes and if you sign up with a referral link you get a free $10 credit to spend (I also get a credit if you spend your’s). I’ve had good luck with all three sizes – big boy stuff, medium girl stuff, and baby stuff. I got an email this morning that you can get 40% off your first order using the code: SUMMER.

BOUTIQUE/SMALL BRANDS:

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Some of our cutest boutique clothes

Rainbow Waters: Lindsay is the talented mama behind this adorable brand on Etsy. These are fun clothes, in crazy patterns and bright colors rather than mature, muted styles but if kids can’t dress like that sometimes then who can?? Obviously everyone needs a dress with dinosaurs and unicorns in outer space on it. Besides fun stuff like rainbows and stars, she often stocks Star Wars prints for both boys AND girls, which I appreciate as a mom with a daughter who loves Star Wars just as much as her brother does. She also does matching sibling pieces (in case you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of matching).

The Measure: This brand is super popular amongst photographers because it looks beautiful in pictures. It’s also fun, original, eclectic, comfortable and some of Caroline’s favorite stuff. I bought a baby-sized version of that pink stripey dress for my best friend’s daughter to take matching pretend-cousin pictures in Charleston and it was so cute I can barely stand it. She just started making grown-up sized versions of one of her dresses, which would be amazing in a boho/sunset/wildflower family photo session. There’s also a resale B/S/T page on Facebook for The Measure so even if you don’t get more than 2 seasons out of the dresses you can resell (also helpful if you’re looking for a sibling match).

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Lilla Barn: I discovered Lilla on Instagram, although I cannot remember how exactly. They’re a combination of two of my favorite things: a Swedish aesthetic and a small, handmade business. You can order from their website, but I definitely recommend following on social media as well for sales and discount codes. They do a lot of gender neutral stuff for babies, which I love, as well as beautiful girl’s clothes. Caroline is about to outgrow them (sizes go from newborn up to age 6) but luckily Linc and Baby 4 will get plenty of use out of their clothes.

KPea: Cute fabrics, super good quality sewing and there’s very little chance another kid shows up at a party in the same dress (the social horror!!) means Caroline loves KPea. I mostly stalk them on Instagram for new patterns and sales. They do an “outfit of the week” with a nice discount that put prices for a hand-made dress on par with a new dress from Baby Gap or Gymboree. They also do mommy & me matching, so if you’re especially adorable and want something fun for the beach or a holiday or a party you could absolutely find a set.

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From top left: dress Lillabarn, dress Lillabarn, dress The Measure, shirt The Measure, dress KPea, dress Rainbow Waters

Almost all of these pictures came from my 365 (last year) or 366 (this year) projects, because these really are the clothes my children wear and play and live in. Some of them are now terribly stained and faded and we only pass them on as hand-me-downs to friends we know will wear them for playing in the mud. Some of them I’ve treated much better (see also: my obsession with laundry) and I’ll be able to sell or consign so I’ll get quite a bit of my money back – which will probably go towards more kids clothes.

There are lots of other places I shop (Target, duh) and I’m not at all  a snob about brands if the clothes are cute and last longer than one wash. These are just the brands that we consistently love the best. Feel free to leave me links or suggestions to other shops (especially boutiques or resale sites!) I might love!

 

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Connecticut Open House Day {2016}

June 13th, 2016

We went to Gillette Castle a few years ago for Open House Day, because although the castle is really neat and you *could* spend a lot of time walking around and looking at everything, it’s hard to do with kids. We decided to go back again this year, because I love doing things for free so there’s no preesure to spend a long time there if the children aren’t into it. I guess this year they were as into it as you expect children to be, although Linc was only into it if someone was carrying him.

There are also a lot of great hiking trails all around the castle that used to be part of Mr. Gillette’s miniature train system, but it started to rain and we didn’t get very far. I was also wearing a 30 lb toddler on my back and 20 lbs of pregnant on my front (don’t ask how that happens when my husband is carrying zero pounds of children) so I was happy to keep our hike short.

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Evan was running and fell and scraped up his knee. Caroline was rolling down a hill and rolled right into a rock. They are obviously having a WONDERFUL TIME.

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Despite the fact that we look very along in these photos there were definitely a lot of people out enjoying the free admission day. Please feel free to admire my talent for keeping them out of the pictures.

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June 12th, 2016

Schooooooools out for summer! Schoooools out for…slightly more than two months!

Sunday:

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I asked E to make about 24 of these. I think he made 100.

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There are SO MANY THINGS I love in this photo

 

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These are going to be a big hit this summer

Monday:

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Three of a kind

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Unimpressed with my OB appointment

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My kids, their kids, all the kids

Tuesday:

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New shades

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More #lakelife

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He chewed right through that packaging in the store

Wednesday:

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One tired bebeh

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STOP JUDGING ME IT’S YOUR FAULT

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Really surprised I didn’t get struck by lightening at the bus stop

Thursday:

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We’re all winning at shoes

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Linc saw them feeding this sea lion and is now obsessed with sea lions

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It’s called a pinch pot, he’s very proud

Friday:

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GOOD BYE SCHOOL

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So sweet I can’t stand it

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Why does he suddenly look SO BIG??

Saturday:

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Seriously, who is this big kid????

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This house comes with a disembodied floating head!

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Twins

I had a really busy weekend, especially today, and I’ve been able to mostly avoid the news and the internet. Not enough to miss what’s been going on, but enough that I haven’t let myself think about how sad I am for our country and the world my children are growing up in. Mostly I’m just going to keep the kids away from as much reality as possible so they can continue to live in a world  where we only use kind words and problems can be solved with hugs.

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