Helping Your Children Understand Why We Celebrate Christmas
Whenever the holidays roll around I hear my kids constantly talking about the toys they want. There is a lot of wanting and I don’t hear them talk much about giving. I am not an extremely religious person (we don’t go to church every Sunday) but it is really important to me that our children understand why we celebrate Christmas and what acts of service we can provide during the holidays. I recently asked my audience how they taught their children the real meaning of Christmas after I shared what I have done because I want more ideas!
Here are some ideas to help your children understand why we celebrate Christmas:
Let each child choose from a giving tree: I was recently working out and saw there were still plenty of names left on a giving tree so I grabbed a few so each of my children can buy for a child. When I drop off the gifts, if there are still more tags I’m going to have to snatch them and hurry to buy their gifts too!
Gift your children 3 gifts from Santa: The three gifts from Santa represent the 3 gifts from the Wiseman to baby Jesus. I think this is an awesome idea!
Giving machines: Vending machines are now vending machines! What a clever idea. Instead of swiping your credit card and getting candy you can buy a sheep for a family overseas, a pair of shoes for a child, 100 meals for your local food bank. Let your child pick what they would like to give (keeping your budget in mind!). Right now there are 10 across the country, click here to see if there is a Giving Machine in your area.
Grocery shopping for your local food bank: Let your child pick out the food items and take them with you to drop the groceries off at your local food bank.
Gifting one present from Christmas morning: Wow, this is a good one that would take a lot of will from your child but would be so worth it. Have your child choose one of their gifts on Christmas morning to take to a shelter.
Welcome to my 2021 Holiday Gift Guide. I am always behind on gift guides because I am not an early shopper and I honestly don’t get into the holiday spirit until closer to Thanksgiving. I don’t even decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I know most of you are well into your shopping and I should have had all these prepared for you guys but it’s better late than never.
Some of us run hot, some of us run cold, some sleep in shorts, and others in pants. I tell you what, keeping our whole family sleeping comfortably at night can be a challenge. I have slowly been figuring it out and just got the final piece to help us out, our new SHEEX bedding. My husband likes to sleep with the temperature really low and has had the privilege of having a thermostat in the primary bedroom that controls only the primary bedroom and bathroom. Now that we split time between our primary bedroom and our guest room (if you know us, you know we have bad sleepers in our house and our primary bedroom is too far from the boys’ bedrooms), which does have a thermostat in it, and is right in the middle of our children’s bedrooms, we need to consider them.
Our youngest son is only one year old and he does sleep in a sleep sack but when the thermostat is set below 71 his little hands are cold when I get him in the morning. Our middle son moves a lot while he sleeps and never has his blanket on in the morning so I never want the room too cold for him. Our oldest son is not a good sleeper and finds his way into bed with us one way or another before the night is over, so he is not as affected. My husband and I on the other hand are always so hot at night I don’t let us put the thermostat below 71 compared to when we don’t have to consider the kids and set it to 68.
I really needed some cooler bedding so we could sleep comfortably and I found everything I needed from Sheex. The first step to sleeping comfortably is staying cooler with your bedsheets, you want them to be breathable and provide optimal heat transfer from your body so you don’t end up sweating during the night. SHEEX has a line of sheets called Arctic Aire that has a softer than silk feeling and is made from a sustainable material called Tencel. Tencel fibers contain submicroscopic channels that help regulate absorption and then release moisture for a restful and restorative night’s sleep.
I also got their mattress pad because I feel like most mattress protectors make you hotter in the night because they aren’t breathable. The unique shape of the fiber fill in this mattress pad prevents heat from accumulating in the material surrounding the body. This technology is designed to keep you cool and dry throughout the night by pulling moisture away from your body and enhancing moisture evaporation. I never knew there was so much thought and engineering put into creating bedding!
Our bed is topped off with the Arctic Aire Quilt and the Original Performance All Season Comforter. I planned on using just the quilt but with winter coming I thought the comforter would be useful. The quilt and comforter are both white but not the exact same shade. The sheet set does match the comforter perfectly. I actually like the contrast the quilt adds to the bed.
Everything I ordered from SHEEX is extremely soft, even the pajamas. I almost forgot to mention those. When I first pulled the pajamas out of the package they seemed like workout clothes because they are thin and made of moisture-wicking material, just like the sheets. My all time favorite thing about these is how non-restrictive they are. I once preferred to sleep in as little as possible but now that we have children and have to wake up at odd hours of the night I wear pajamas but I’m very particular. The joggers blew me away. When I first got in bed and into my sleeping position, on my tummy with my right leg up and bent, I didn’t have to adjust the pants at all! Very impressed.
I have been sleeping so well with my new bedding and pajamas and I’m so happy the whole family can sleep comfortably.
This post is sponsored by Sheex. As always, all opinions are my own.
My first trip of 2021 was to southern Utah with my mom and three little boys. I had been wanting to visit southern Utah and the National Parks since I moved to Utah and this was a perfect time. We started at Bryce Canyon then drove to Zion for a day before heading back to Salt Lake City.
As with Bryce Canyon, I was on the hunt for what hikes would be toddler-friendly, what to eat, and where to stay. My 4-year-old can do just about everything, my 2 1/2 year old I needed to really think of and I also had my 4-month-old with me that would be in a stroller or I’d be carrying in a carrier. All the things to consider and I got so much great feedback from you guys on where to hike. I also learned a little something that I want to make sure I share!
There were two hotels I was debating between when booking our stay, Springhill Suites by Marriott and Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton. I chose the Cliffrose because when it came down to it, I just liked the way the interior decor was! The Cliffrose was perfect for us. Our room was right outside one of their heated pool and hot tub. We checked in to our room and immediately went swimming. My mom swam with the boys while Eli and I watched and ordered our dinner.
The next morning we ordered breakfast and I walked across the street to pick up a latte and a bag of beans from Feel Love Coffee. We ate and packed up our room to head off on our adventures before heading back home.
We chose to do the Riverside Walk which is a flat 2-mile trail that runs right along the river. This pathway is paved and I actually pushed Eli in his stroller on this walk in his Doona and we had no issues. The cool thing about Riverside Walk was that we didn’t have to stay on the paved trail, the kids were able to run off on these sandy side trails that went down to the water and throw rocks.
Most of this trail is shady since it is in a deep canyon and I’m glad we took our coats. We came across a couple of sunny spots, one of them we stopped for a lunch break and I was able to feed Eli before heading back to the car. There were also some deer eating and resting which was fun to watch. The boys were able to eat, throw rocks, and watch the deer all from the same spot.
The boys were starting to get tired and my plan was to drive home during naps so that at least 2 of the 5 hours they’d be sleeping. I still wanted to hike the Lower Emerald Pool Trail since so many people recommended it. By the time we go there, which was only a few minutes, Myles was worn out and did not want to go and there was no parking. I was very close to just driving home but we had come all this ways, so my mom drove around with Myles and Eli, trying to keep them awake, while Noah and I walked to the Lower Emerald Pool.
I hate to say this but the Lower Emerald Pool was not what I expected it to be. The water isn’t close to green and there was a tiny waterfall just sort of spitting water down. Noah did think it was cool that it was “raining” on us. It wasn’t too far to get to, from the parking lot it was 0.3 miles there and 0.3 miles back. I ended up giving Noah a piggyback ride all the way back because he was very sleepy.
There are so many really cool hikes that I wish I could have done and maybe someday I will go back. If you are planning a super short trip like I did I would suggest doing the Emerald Pool hike first since it is smaller and then do the Riverside Walk. We spent too much time and had so much fun at Riverside Walk that we weren’t all able to do the Lower Emerald Pool as a group.
A Staycation At The Hilton Salt Lake City Center + Visit To City Creek Center
Has it registered to you that Christmas is one week away! Settling back in Utah for the season took up a lot of my time and energy, unpacking, organizing, and decorating the house for Christmas! Until yesterday, I still had two people to shop for, and let’s not even mention the wrapping that needs to get done (luckily wrapping is therapeutic for me and just a bit time-consuming)! The boys have been a little stir crazy also. When we lived in Utah last season we were out and about going to so many places and now with COVID still around we are no longer going to the museums and play places. A staycation is what we need.
Planning fun activities for the boys, while I can be productive, is pretty much how I plan everything these days. They can play with cars and cardboard boxes while I open the boxes and organize them! Switching up our home routine and staying at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center and being able to finish my Christmas shopping at City Creek Center is just what my family needed! I let the boys know we were doing something fun and packed our bags!
We entered the immaculate lobby of the Hilton Salt Lake City Center and dropped our bags off in our room. We headed to City Creek Center to burn some energy and run around the enormous Christmas tree and finish our shopping, shopping here during the holidays is truly a Christmas experience. The boys hadn’t been there since last Christmas and Myles remembered everything. He knew all about the storybook lanterns and this year they are contactless! You just have to wave your hand over this one spot and the storybook lanterns turn on.
I surprised the boys with being able to go swimming, they could not believe it! We had wrapped up our afternoon of shopping, finished an early dinner, and went back to our rooms to grab our suits and do a little swimming! I was very happy watching the boys enjoy themselves so much. Myles is such a little fish, swimming everywhere, and Noah is completely content sitting on the steps squealing and splashing. Eli and I were easily entertained by the two of them!
The boys took their baths back at the room and we all got into our matching winter pajamas and just has fun. It was later than I had planned but sometimes it feels good to let loose and not be so strict on the schedule. We had such a wonderful stay at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center and loved being able to walk over to City Creek Center for some shopping and Christmas fun! This is something I would love to continue to do with my family and will be a great family tradition.
Live votre rêve!
This post is sponsored by City Creek Center. As always, all opinions are my own.
Today officially marks my first week in Salt Lake City. I am feeling so settled and comfortable even without a house. I love our condo, its location is perfect. The boys and I enjoy walking around downtown and they love riding the train/tram/trolley, the form of public transportation. We recently discovered the library which is something we love to do in any city we are in. I found a great coffee shop, Creek Tea where they have the best cactus nectar tea late and I get so much accomplished every time I’m there. The tea shop happens to be right below my new favorite workout place Maven Strong. I also went to Campos Coffee the other day and really loved it!
The first few days I was here were Jazz related so I now have a good feel of how the games will go, where to park, how the family room operates and who everyone in the room is. I still need a refresher on some names but everyone is no nice and I can’t wait to hang out with them more!
My biggest struggle, you may be thinking it’s the boys sharing a room which I was so worried about, but is actually getting Myles to wear clothes for this cool weather!!! Every day is a struggle, most days I let him wear shorts because it hasn’t been that cold until today and he did leave the house in pants and a long sleeve shirt but that was after many tears! I sure hope this doesn’t continue throughout the winter.
On to the boys sharing a room. It’s not so bad after all. Last night Noah was crying shortly after Myles went to bed so that woke him up and he came out to tell me Noah was crying. Myles suggested I tell him “shhh, it’s ok boy” which was so sweet. Noah does little cries throughout the night that haven’t woken up Myles which is amazing. Myles will cry out in the night and get out of bed to come to our room and that hasn’t woke up Noah which I am shocked by. I do have a noisemaker in there which helps and Noah is in the closet (the door is open!) in a travel crib so there is some space between the two. Whether or not the boys should share a room in the new house is still up to debate. I have 8 days to decide!
Yesterday I met up with another blogger, Krychele of Carnations and Lace with our boys to pick out some pumpkins. I met Krychele during NYFW and I had all sorts of questions to ask her since she was from Utah and I was going to be new to Salt Lake City. So fun we actually get to hang out now!
I am so ready to decorate for Halloween. I bought two little cute skeletons and one is already broken! Decorating the house may be one of the first things I do! My sister and her three boys come next weekend so I also hope to have the house ready enough for all of us to sleep there!
Yesterday was absolutely freezing. I knew it was cold but it felt so nice in the sun. Once we arrived at Cornbelly’s we realized how windy it was. Poor Noah was miserable and wanted nothing to do with anything. He didn’t want to walk, be held, play, eat, jump or swing. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to get back in the warm car and drive home. He was pretty bundled except for that right shoe that kept falling off. I had made a quick trip to the mall before heading out to buy a few warmer things!
A couple weeks ago my family boarded a Southwest flight to Orlando for our first ever trip to Disney World as a family. I took Myles to Disney in March 2017 with a few girlfriends and their children. We had such a great time we thought we should make this a frequent thing, maybe even bring our husbands along! All of our spouses play in the NBA so we knew they wouldn’t be jumping for joy with our proposal but if we told our husbands that the other guys were going we knew we could get them on board. This group was all on the Memphis Grizzlies together during the 2014-2015 season and are now scattered across the country on different teams. At the time of planning, no one was on a playoff team which meant we could actually plan a trip! Everyone’s off season would officially start on April 11th and we were free to travel. We hoped sometime in May would work since that would give a few weeks to relax and rest and was early enough before training started.May rolled right on by and there was no trip to Disney. The first week of June Michael got his list of work opportunities and obligations for the summer which included a trip to Orlando for the Jr NBA Global Championship and opening of the Disney’s NBA Experience Grand Opening. Yup, yup, yup! A work trip to Orlando meant there was another chance our friend family vacation could happen! I definitely encouraged Michael to take that work opportunity because the kids could be involved and there really aren’t many opportunities provided where the kids can join. Now I just had to check in with my 3 friends and see if their spouses were available which is the hard part. No secret here, they were available and our trip to Disney was booked!
Us girls had talked about bringing one of our parents/grandparents or a sitter along on the trip so we could have some adult time. I understood going to dinner without the kids but I wasn’t sure about going to the parks without the kids. Isn’t that the whole reason to go to Disney World is for your kids to experience it all? That is not the case. I’m still new to the whole Disney situation but people LOVE it! There were so many families walking around without children and there are thrill rides that the little kids can’t go on. We brought my mom along on the trip and I was so happy to have her. She is just like me but more calm about things making my life so much easier! She was able to join the fun during the day with everyone and she would watch the kids during naps and evening while the adult kids went on the rides and had dinner.
We all had Park Hopper Tickets and Fast Passes and one of the days we all had a tour guide as well so we were able to do a lot of jumping around. If you plan on visiting more than one park in a day you need to get the Park Hopper and if you want to not stand in line as long get the Fast Passes! You’ll also want to be organized prior to arriving. Figure out what rides you’ll go on at which parks and where they are located. If you have children find out what rides have height restrictions.
Day 1 //
We arrived on a a Saturday to the Grand Floridian, a beautiful white hotel with a red roof where the monorail system can easily take you to the parks. My mom, Michael, the kids and I started our vacation on the Na’vi River Journey in Animal Kingdom. It was so hot on this trip it was great to find rides that were in air conditioned buildings like the Na’vi River. I chose Animal Kingdom as our first stop to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari. This ride is always a hit for my kids since they are huge animal lovers. After the Safari we went to the Dino-Rama area. It is a dinosaur lover’s dream come true. The Boneyard is located here which is really cool, kids can dig up dinosaur bones. I quickly walked past this area because it was so hot, digging in sand did not seem like the best idea. We did all ride the Tricera Top Spin, except for Noah because he fell asleep.This wrapped up our fun for the evening at Animal Kingdom. It had been a really long day of travel plus a couple missed naps made the day even longer. We grabbed food at a quick service restaurant then headed to Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks. Seeing the fireworks was pushing it because they are so late and as I stated before, traveling and no scheduled nap. I had no idea how they boys were going to react to them but luckily it was a hit! We all were looking forward to a good nights rest!
My mom, the boys and I went downstairs for breakfast then headed to the parks (Michael had to work so he couldn’t join us). Our first stop of the day was to Hollywood Studios. When I went to Disney in 2017 I didn’t come here so I was curious to see what it had to offer. We were signed up to see The Beauty and The Beast show and had a little time to spare so I rode the Rock ’n’ Rollercoaster and laughed so hard, by myself, LOL. I couldn’t remember the last time I had rode a rollercoaster, I love them! We also jumped on the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the great thing about that ride is it is air conditioned and a great place to sit and cool down. Back to the show we went, Myles was a little nervous and looked uncomfortable throughout the show and Noah looked like he was in a dream, he could not take his eyes off the show. Our next stop was Toy Story Midway Mania which is a fun interactive ride that my mom and I enjoyed more than my kids! Points were tallied throughout the ride so we got competitive!
Everyone thought Myles would love Slinky Dog Dash but he was a bit scared. It is a wonderful rollercoaster for kids, you only have to be 38” to ride. It was Myles’s first ever rollercoaster and the lap bar was pushed down a little too tight so he kept saying his stomach hurt on the ride and I don’t blame him. I was laughing my head off riding with him but was trying to be comforting at the same time. We wanted to end our morning on a more relaxing fun note so we did the Dumbo ride which is a classic ride that goes in circles and up and down. Noah loves that ride too! After this ride we tried to keep the boys awake on the ride back to the hotel for a quick little bite to eat and long solid naps. Which luckily happened.
Myles coudn’t stop talking about the safari ride so after naps we went back to Animal Kingdom. We got to see some new animals that weren’t out the previous day so it was well worth it. Noah was more awake than the first time we went so he was able to enjoy it more. After the safari we went to the Festival of The Lion King which is an amazing show! Myles was once again a little nervous and Noah kept climbing out of my lap to go be in the show- very different personalities! It was a quick trip second time around at Animal Kingdom but the days are long at Disney so there is no problem headed back early if you feel like you’ve covered enough ground. The adult only dinner was this night was I needed to get back to get ready!
Reservations were at 8:00 pm at Capa, the rooftop restaurant at the Four Season Resort. Michael and I were the first to arrive which isn’t the norm but it felt so good! I sipped on a cocktail while enjoying the views from the balcony. During dinner the girls sat on one side and the boys on the other. We realized we had a lot of catching up to do and there was no reason to be talking over our spouses! Dinner lasted hours and could have lasted much longer but they closed so we had to skedaddle!
A car was to be at our hotel at 8:15 am to take us to the Disney NBA Experience Grand Opening. After the official work portion for Michael was over the boys were able to play games and enjoy the facilities. If you are a basketball fan I highly recommend coming here. It also would be a great place to add to your itinerary if you know it’s going to be a rainy day.After the NBA Experience we met up with
After the NBA Experience we met up with all our friends at Magic Kingdom since we hadn’t done that park yet (other than to see fireworks). There is soooo much to do at Magic Kingdom. If you have young kids make sure Magic Kingdom is at the top of your list. There are rides all of the park and it’s big so look at a map and plan accordingly. We did Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo The Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, It’s A Small World, the carousel, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Tomorrowland Transit. We were about to head home to put the kids down for naps and to dodge a storm but remembered we hadn’t got family photos in front of the castle so we quickly walked there. We did not beat the rain but we did get our photos!
We all went back to our hotels to get the kids down for naps so we could go out and do adult rides. The adults went to Animal Kingdom to ride Expedition Everest. We all rode this ride but a handful of our crew were scared! Including my husband! I knew he wasn’t a roller coaster type of person so I was really proud that he did it but a few of the others were shaking and nervous too! I loved it so much I did it twice, the ride goes backwards!! We also went to Pandora which was amazing!! We got to ride Avatar Flight of Passage just before they had to close it down, we were very lucky. Michael liked this ride and he isn’t a roller coaster person so I highly recommend this ride to everyone, especially if you want to know what it feels like to fly.
We also hopped over to Hollywood Studios so we could ride the Tower of Terror and the Rock ’n’ Rollercoaster for those who weren’t scared. Walking around the park without our children had such a different vibe. It was like we were in high school with our friends, dating and riding rides at an amusement park. So much more fun than I could have imagined. The guys had to go workout and shoot so we parted ways.Us girls checked in with the kids to make sure they were all set for dinner and bedtime and we went to Epcot for our reservations at Chefs de France. While we waited for our reservation we walked around while sipping on frozen rosé. This was such a fun girls night. To find true friends in the NBA is unusual and I am so lucky to have found so many great friends through the NBA. There have been a lot of girls come in and out of the Memphis Grizzlies and I was the one that remained. Even when girls left because their husbands/boyfriends got traded we still kept in touch. A big season is coming up for me because I am the one who has left. I am headed to the Utah Jazz and I’m looking forward to meeting the players and their wives and hopefully we can build more life long friendships. I was grateful to be able to talk to the girls about our big move since they had all done this a few times.
This was our last day. My family headed to the Four Seasons where our friends were staying to enjoy a character breakfast and a day at the pool. You never know what you are going to get with 5 kids ages 4 1/2 – 1. There was a lot of food on the floor and toys scattered but so much fun!! There were so many pools to play in, the babies loved the kid area because it is all very shallow with plenty of fountains to run through, it’s also near by the entrance to the water slides that my mom, Michael and I loved and to the lazy river which we all loved! I love this group of friends and to be with them and our children was just the best.
I was happy to walk around the parks with Michael, my mom and the boys during our first family Disney trip. Since we were there for Michaels work we were provided a guide for the duration of our stay which was extremely helpful. I know not everyone has access to a guide but they can take up to 10 people so it may be worth it for a splurge if you can share it with another family. When preparing for your trip you will absolutely want to get a map of each park. Figure out what rides your children can do and where they are located. There is a lot of walking to be done and you don’t want to take any extra steps if you don’t have to.
Like all holidays in my life I never know if my husband will be around or not. Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate that romantic love but mine may be on the road but I do have a lot of love for my boys and I am always with them so here is to celebrating Valentine’s at home with your little ones. Now that Myles is getting older it is fun to teach him about holidays and what they mean.
Crafts are something I love to do and I want my children to do them as well. I don’t have time to do crafts like I used to and now I am encouraging Myles to paint and color and to be creative. A couple years ago I made an adorable “LOVE” sign and a photo of Myles makes the “o”. I need to make something with a photo of Noah this year and I’m not sure what! I looked on pinterest and didn’t find any ideas for Valentine’s art so I’m going ot have to get creative but I did this site with a few great crafts my Myles, I think I’ll have him try the pencil eraser one!
I also love baking and Myles loves to help me do that. He is always in charge of mixing the batter. When I bake with the boys I make sure to make something somewhat healthy so we can enjoy eating it together. I saw this recipe for yogurt hearts and now I want to try and mix things up and try my own recipe. Of course my version is getting closer and closer to being very unhealthy so maybe I’ll have to limit Myles to just one heart. Back to my recipe, I’m thinking of mixing vanilla greek yogurt and a little bit of powder sugar and adding a blended strawberry or two for color, after mixing that completely I’ll swirl in a little bit of melted white chocolate, pour into heart icecube molds and pop in the freezer. This sounds so good to me and I have no idea if it will work… I think I’ll be heading to Target to buy some ingredients and practice this recipe. Any bakers out there have any tips??
How sweet is Myles sharing his strawberries with me?After a romantic holiday with my kiddos I may just have to have a glass of champagne or maybe just sparking apple juice. Whatever it is I choose to drink I’ll put it in a champagne flute! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
I am not that type of person who gets done up at home with her children. My children are too messy and I get food or spit up on me multiple times a day. Even though it is Valentine’s Day I am keeping it simple at home with the boys. I will have to save a nicer outfit for a postponed V-day date with my husband.
Women go into extreme nesting mode while they are pregnant. Everything needs a home, the nursery should be perfect and nothing out of place. That wasn’t the case for me. Of course I would love for everything to be in its place but with living between 2 states and a toddler it just wasn’t going to happen for me. I have a nesting mode part 2 which is when my babies become mobile. Having clean floors is an obsession when my babies start to crawl. We wear our shoes throughout the house, we have a dog that opens the door on his own from when he is outside and the floors just get dirty, even when they are mopped once a week. I was thrilled to be able to work with America’s Best Carpet & Tile to get area rugs and tile cleaned.
We stop and drop to play anywhere in the house and our tiled hall is filled with natural light and Noah and I often chase Myles up and down this area and end up on the floor. We have a small nook that has a rug and some baby toys that the kids end up on but now that Noah is a pro crawler he is off that rug in a second and on to the tile floor. Having clean floors is so important with little ones, Noah puts everything in his mouth, including his fingers so to know the floors are clean gives me a small piece of mind.
Like I mentioned before, the toddler, the baby and the dog means sticky hands, spit up and mud are all common yucky things that end up on our floors. Every once in a while to get our floors and rugs professionally cleaned is a must. Ever since America’s Best Carpet & Tile came to my house I have been obsessed with looking at the floors. Our tile is so crisp and clean and there is not a spec on our area rugs. I am loving our clean floors and my babies are too!
Spring cleaning is just around the corner so it is the perfect time to get your tile and rugs professionaly cleaned. Enter below for a chance to win a 3 room floor cleaning (carpet or tile) from America’s Best Carpet & Tile!
Enter HERE! This post is in collaboration with America’s Best Carpet & Tile. As always, all opinions are my own.
Earlier this week I had the privilege to stay in the Governor’s Suite at Big Cypress Lodge. Hunting isn’t really my thing and taxidermy can sometimes make me feel uneasy but Myles is such a huge fan of animals that I knew he would absolutely have a blast and this was a must do! When we arrived in our grande suite I was so giddy, I think it was because I was so excited for Myles. Nothing beats experiencing life through a child’s eyes.
The idea of a staycation is a unique one. You may think if you want to get away on a vacation you should leave town and experience something unique and different but there are so many unique things in our city. People from all around come to visit the Bass Pro Shop and Big Cypress Lodge located in the iconic Memphis Pyramid and we are within 30 minutes of this tourist attraction. By the way, did you know Big Cypress Lodge was listed as Forbes 10 Best Hotels during its first year of opening? Staying at this hotel is an experience. There is so much to do you can be easily entertained without leaving the pyramid.
After checking in, we were shown our room and went over our itinerary for the evening and following morning. Rooms are designed to bring the great outdoors inside with rustic-elegant guest rooms
and suites that resemble vintage log cabins. It took some convincing get Myles to leave our hotel room to go to dinner. He was impressed with all the large taxidermy from ducks to elk along with all the bass we could see swimming down below from our balcony. Luckily we were dining at The Lookout where we got to take a ride up the country’s tallest free standing elevator so it didn’t take too much to persuade my rambunctious toddler to head to dinner. There is an observation deck with panoramic views of Memphis which provided a lot of entertainment while our food arrived. There I also a 10,000 gallon circular catfish aquarium behind the bar that both my boys loved to look at. My husband and I both ordered the steak which was delicious and cooked to perfection and we got Myles the kids chicken tenders which I snuck a bite of- also delicious.
After dinner we had an hour of bowling. Bowling was entertaining of us adults as well as the boys. If you haven’t been to the Fishbowl it is a bowling alley that makes you feel as if you are bowling under water. The bowling balls are brought up through the mouths of sharks, alligators and large fish. The balls themselves are large eyeballs and underwater images. Bowling here is also an experience in itself! Noah loved looking at all the lights and movement, Myles again loved the animals and bowling and mom and dad got to have fun too!
In the moring we headed down to Uncle Buck’s for breakfast before the stores even opened thank to my early risers! Uncle Buck’s is located on the ground floor where the bowling is located. Once again we were surrounded by fish giving my little ones all the entertainment while we got to enjoy a delicious breakfast!
We had such a lovely time I had to offer my followers a chance to win this experience! You can click HERE to enter to win a one night stay at Big Cypress Lodge!
Today in the mail I received Noah’s birth announcements and I cannot believe how much he has changed in the past 10 weeks. Noah and Myles are very different babies and had extremely different entrances into this world. If you missed Myles’s birth story you can read it here.
As you know from reading my other story I had an emergency C-section with Myles and a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) with Noah. Having a VBAC was so rewarding because it was something I really wanted to try but I wasn’t sure my body was capable of.
During my first appointment after finding out I was pregnant, and every appointment after that, I was asked if I wanted to schedule a C-section. I always got emotional when I answered the question because I was confused and I didn’t know what decision was right. I wanted to experience a vaginal birth but I wanted what was safe for the baby too. I also didn’t want to go through the pains of labor and end up with a C-section as I did with my first delivery. I was told I was a good candidate for a VBAC because I was young and in shape, the only thing that put me at a slight risk was that this delivery was within two years of my cesarean. My plan was to wait till the last minute and decide at that point. If I felt like the baby was really big and had a chance of getting stuck I was going to schedule a C-section.
I didn’t feel as much movement during the early stages of this pregnancy and I actually felt that was a good sign because Myles was so active in utero and is quite the active little guy today. I figured I was going to have a calmer baby, one that wouldn’t outrun me by 2! I learned during my first ultrasound that the reason I wasn’t feeling as much movement was because I had an anterior placenta. It was nothing to be concerned about, I just wouldn’t feel as much movement because the placenta was in the way. The doctor later informed me that the baby’s umbilical cord was not attached to the center of the placenta. For a split second, I was really scared but was once again informed there was nothing to worry about and the doctor would want to keep an eye to make sure the baby was growing properly. I like to find the positive in everything and in this situation the baby had a chance of being a little smaller which to me meant I had a better chance of pushing him out and having a VBAC! What was really comforting is that one of my sisters twins’ umbilical cord was barely attached at all and although born at 30 weeks he is perfect. Towards the end of my pregnancy, another little issue popped up. Noah was face up. He was head down but face up which can cause issues with delivery. Babies can rotate themselves during labor and there are certain positions to help the baby rotate also.
One week and one day before Noah’s due date I was taking the dog to the vet to get groomed so he would be fresh and clean when we brought the baby home. I noticed some cramping during the drive to the vet and wondered if it was a sign of labor but the cramps were so inconsistent I figured it was Braxton Hicks. This pain continued throughout the day and I stayed busy. While Myles napped I was doing some work that turned into me tracking my pain. I was having pain every 8 minutes consistently but the pain was only 15-30 seconds and that varied. I told my husband what was going on but was very nonchalant about it. I met my sister and her family for dinner and wasn’t sure if I should share with them what was going on. I didn’t want to get any ones hopes up thinking I was in labor and about to have the baby when I was probably having false labor pains. The cramping was pretty bad and every 8 minutes I was silent and stopped talking so I decided to explain why I was acting so strange. When I got home that evening it was a perfect night so Michael, Myles, Rio and I took a walk and talked about what was going on. I was coming up with every excuse not to be in labor because I didn’t want to be that girl who goes to the hospital thinking she’s in labor only to be sent home. My only concern was how I was supposed to fall asleep.
I somehow fell asleep but was waking up every hour because I was uncomfortable and at 3:15 am my water broke! That, I was NOT expecting. If you know me, you know I didn’t have anything packed so I started doing that right away. I didn’t wake my husband or call my sister (who was on baby call) until I grasped the situation. I knew I had to deliver within 24 hours since my water broke but it was so early in the morning I felt bad having my sister come over or to call our parents. By 4:00 am we were up and ready to go and my sister was over so to stay with Myles. I had thought I was going to be really emotional leaving Myles and that he wasn’t going to be my only baby but I didn’t have those feelings once labor began, I was just excited to be on my way to meet my other baby!
We arrived at the hospital, and since my water had broke and I was having contractions, I knew we’d be staying. We arrived at triage and had the normal routine. I did have to get hooked up to oxygen and I was thinking, here we go again. We called our parents, even though it was 4:30 in the morning, and let them know what was going on. We were very excited as we headed to labor and delivery. I was progressing much faster than I did with my first pregnancy. In triage, I was 3 cm and by the time I was in the delivery room I was 5 cm. While I was there my doctor broke my second membrane of water (I had no idea we had 2 membranes of water!)/ That got me to 6 cm and we were moving right along. The baby was still face up but I was feeling confident I’d be able to deliver this baby. I got my epidural and once again it didn’t hurt. This anesthesiologist was very informative, I learned so much and had felt like it was my first time having an epidural. During my first pregnancy, I was in so much pain and convulsing that I must have completed blocked out the epidural process.
I still was feeling more pain than I wanted during contractions but apparently I was supposed to because they don’t want you all the way numb, I could also still feel and move my legs. Eventually, I could only feel the strong contractions. The nurse said I was at 9 cm and she could feel the baby’s head and I would be ready to push soon. She was going to get me the peanut ball to help get Noah to turn face down and asked me to do a practice push first. Turned out I was ready to actually push and Noah had roated himself on his way down the canal. It was so weird because I had no idea what I was doing and how to push. I could not believe I was about to deliver my baby!!! It was such a smooth delivery. I only pushed for 4 contractions and at 9:09 am Noah was born. On the last push, my doctor did use the vacuum to help Noah out because he was in a little bit of distress. My doctor was so calm, I had no idea the baby was showing any signs of distress and was so thankful for that. They put little Noah on my chest, Michael cut the chord and it was beautiful. I couldn’t believe everything had happened so gracefully. I got to do skin to skin for over an hour. It was strange holding my baby but having no idea what is size was. He nursed, our family came to visit and it was relaxing and exciting.
They say labor is quicker with your second child and that was the case for me. I was only in labor for 6 hours from the time my water broke to the time he was on my chest. They also say each child you have is bigger and bigger. Luckily for me, that was not the case. Myles was 8 lb 7 oz and Noah was only 7 lb 4 oz and his head was in the 33rd percentile. So thankful for that little head, otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to get him out! I will say pushing is hard, I thought every blood vessel in my eyes was going to burst!
As far as recovery goes, a vaginal recovery is easier than a cesarean. The best part about it was that Myles was able to sit on my lap in the hospital. If I had had a C-section there is no way Myles could have sat on my lap because he is so active. The strange part is I only had to be in the hospital for 24 hours. I delivered Noah Friday morning and by Saturday afternoon I was at home. I should have rested more at home but it’s hard with a toddler and our house is very spread out so I was walking a lot more than I should have. After about a week I felt much better! I am so happy I was able to experience a VBAC and feel very fortunate with both my deliveries because I now have 2 perfect boys.
This blog post is from the delivery story from the birth of my first son, Myles Alex Conley, in 2016. I started to write the birth story of my second child when I realized I never wrote one for my first!
My deliveries could not be more different. I experienced a Cesarean (c-section), not by choice, with my first child and a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) with my second. I had heard before having my first baby not to make a birth plan because the chances of it going as planned were slim and I would only get let down. I had a little plan in my head because that’s how I work but it was simple and I had an open mind to any changes that might happen. Of course, I wanted to get my baby in my arms the safest way possible.
With my first pregnancy, I was really looking forward to delivering my baby. I worked out my whole pregnancy, I was healthy and strong and my body was made to do this. I was going to get an epidural and push my baby out. I knew I wanted an epidural because I wanted to enjoy the delivery process and not be in excruciating pain the whole time. Baby boy had been measuring big throughout my whole pregnancy. I didn’t want to go past my due date because I was afraid if he was too big I wouldn’t be able to push him out, he would get stuck and I would have to have a c-section. Well, that is exactly what happened. The one thing I imagine every women really does not want is to go into labor and to have a c-section.
A lot of women are dilated towards the end of their pregnancy, whether it’s 1 cm or 4 cm. I was only a 1/2 cm 3 days before my due date and the baby was measuring big. Due to Myles’s size I was scheduled to be induced the day after his due date. The idea of being induced sounded awful because you start things the night before you plan on having your baby and it’s a long process but I wanted to be safe. Another reason I didn’t like scheduling an induction was that knowing when labor was going to start made me nervous. The whole idea of being in so much pain is a little scary and I prefer to let it just hit me when I’m not expecting it.
At 5:30am, the morning of Myles’s due date, I unexpectedly experienced my first of many contractions. I could not believe I was going into labor on my own and I was so excited. At first, I thought I was just having some cramping but after counting and keeping track I knew I was in labor and I needed to get ready. After walking around, packing my hospital bag (I’m a last-minute type person), and trying to eat I decided to wake up my husband and get this show on the road. Actually, I still wasn’t ready because knowing the next time I’d be home I was going to be a mom and have a baby and life was going to be so different made me emotional. I wanted to take the dog on one last walk and finish little things around the house that I feared I’d never have time to do with a newborn.
It was around 8:00 am once I got to the hospital I was 3 cm dilated so I was admitted to labor and delivery. We called our parents and family to let them know the good news. Before we even left for the labor and delivery room there was a drop in the baby’s heart rate so they hooked me up to an oxygen mask and had me move into a couple of different positions until everything was back to normal. That was scary but since it was my first time in labor I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t and knew I needed to stay calm. Once I was in the labor and delivery room I got really bad chills. I could not keep my body from shaking. My mom told me she got the chills after delivering so I was prepared for that but not during labor. The shivers were only an issue when they told me to stay still while I got my epidural. I was 4 cm dilated when I got my epidural and I don’t remember much about it. I remember sitting on the side of the bed, hunched over, hugging the nurse and shaking/shivering like crazy. I remember thinking it didn’t hurt at all and getting my IV hurt way worse.
Once my epidural kicked in I decided to try and get some rest so I rolled over on my side to get comfortable. Baby boy did not like that. There was a drop in his heart rate and a team of doctors and nurses came rushing in, there were more than 10 medical staffed people in the room, an oxygen mask was placed on my face once again and I was getting flipped left, right, and on all fours, I felt like a rag doll. Things definitely weren’t going well and I was trying to make eye contact with Michael who was behind all the staff. He had a worried look in his eyes and I was terrified but knew I needed to stay calm to help my baby. I had my epidural, my IV, the internal fetal heart rate monitor, and the oxygen mask, there were wires and cords everywhere and I was getting flipped left and right leaving me to be all tangled. Keep in mind I had an epidural so I couldn’t really move my body myself. I could slightly but it was the medical staff that was moving me.
The doctor broke my water to see if that would help and I honestly don’t know if it did. I know that was one of the grossest feelings in the world and at some point Myles’s heart rate returned to normal and the machines stopped beeping and the staff left. Michael and I were no longer interested in resting. We were trying to process what just happened and what to do next. The doctor told us we needed to really consider a c-section since this was the second time the baby’s heart rate had dropped. What we came to find out, was that the baby wasn’t handling the really strong contractions or contractions that were really close together. My body also was not progressing. I had been at 6 cm dilated for hours and it was now 6:00 pm. I couldn’t be given Pitocin or anything to speed up labor because it was the labor itself causing the baby to go into distress. Not long later the machines started beeping again, an even larger staff of people rushed in, I was hooked up to oxygen and tossed left and right until the baby’s heart rate was stable. We made the decision to have a c-section because that was what was safest for Myles.
We were told I would get wheeled into surgery and Michael would get scrubs on and we would meet up once I was prepped. I hated that. I was nervous and anxious and now I was being separated from my husband. Once I got to my new room in surgery I was lying down flat with my arms out to a T and my legs in a diamond shape. I felt like a frog that was about to get dissected in biology class. I was still shivering so warm blankets were placed over my arms. I met an anesthesiologist and he explained what he was going to do. Since I had an epidural no additional needles were needed. I was still shivering really badly and he gave me something and it stopped almost immediately, I don’t remember what it was or why I couldn’t have had it earlier but I felt much better. Before the anesthesiologist left he applied pressure to my belly and asked when I stopped feeling the pressure to make sure everything was working properly.
All of a sudden I felt extremely nauseous. I was told that would be a side effect and I asked the nurse what I should do, she told me to tell her when I felt sick. I was like, “I feel sick right now!”. Being stuck on my back with my arms stretched out to my sides all I could do was turn my head and just in the nick of time a nurse was there with a bag. That was awful and I even had to ask her to wipe my face for me. Finally, I started to feel better, I was no longer shaking and Michael finally came in ready to go with a hair net and everything. He sat next to me behind the curtain. There was a little window in the curtain so I could see when they started to pull the baby out. There was so much pressure it was very uncomfortable, it wasn’t painful, just uncomfortable. Myles was really low in the birth canal since I labored for so long before the surgery started so there was an extra amount of tugging and pulling.
Once the pressure stopped I immediately heard crying and I started to cry. Above the curtain, a little (actually kinda big) baby popped up and I got my first look at my son, he was then taken to the side to get any fluids suctioned out. They cleaned and measured him, wrapped him up, and handed him over to Michael. I could not stop crying. I was so relieved and excited and I just couldn’t believe I was a mom, we were a family. Michael sat next to me with the baby while I got put back together. After I was stitched up they put Myles on my chest and wheeled me to recovery where I got to bond with the baby and finally do skin to skin. Michael went out to share pictures with our family and to update them on my recovery. While Michael updated our family my b0nding with Myles took off, he was rooting around and I was able to try and nurse and he latched on right away and it was the most perfect moment and beautiful experience. Myles was born shortly after 7 pm and I didn’t see my family till after 10 pm! Once they started to come into the room I started crying all over again. I was so happy and overwhelmed.
I stayed in the hospital for four days. I was scared to go home because I didn’t know what to do. At the hospital I was changed, cleaned, fed, the baby was changed and cleaned. All I had to do was feed the baby and recover. Recovering was no joke at first. I couldn’t laugh at all because the incision hurt so badly, I couldn’t sneeze or cough. I could but it hurt soooo bad. Walking was a challenge as well as going to the bathroom but each day got better and better. When I got home the dog was so happy to see me I was very protective of my incision but then he bumped into me and I thought I was ripped open, I had to go to my room and cry. I didn’t want to alarm anyone but I needed a moment to myself. My first full day at home my mom, sister, aunt, and I walked to Starbucks while Michael stayed home with Myles. It was the slowest walk I had ever been on but it felt so nice to get out and about again.
The hardest part with this delivery was the emergency part, I think if you were to have a scheduled c-section it wouldn’t be so bad. What I hated the most was having to wait to do skin to skin. In the end, our beautiful boy is here, he is now days away from turning 2!