Exactly three years ago, our family shared some very special news: that we were expecting our first child, a baby girl born in January of 2015. Now, at age two and a half, Alexandra August has some big changes coming up in her future… Ryan and I are expecting our second child! Alexandra will be Big Sister to a little mister! Baby BOY Wiese is due in February 2018.
After Bite, Alastin, backyard toys, beach bag, bottled water, bug bites, cleansing cloths, Hawaiian Volcanic Water, pool tote, pool toys, Summer Beauty, Summer's Eve, summertime, sunscreen, toy-lending library, Toybrary, Waiakea, wipes
This summer we’ve been spending A LOT more time outside: checking out the best playgrounds in Austin, visiting our neighborhood pools and checking out area splash pads. All those activities out in the elements require some extra supplies! It’s easy if the pool tote just stays in the trunk so it’s packed and ready to go for wherever we end up. Here are some products that are perfect for your summertime beach bag!
A Sweat-Proof SPF: ALASTIN HydraTint ProMineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 is lightweight, oil-free, absorbs quickly and has a complexion-enhancing tint to even out tone for light, comfortable coverage. Other sunscreens make skin slick and sticky. But ALASTIN HydraTint’s active ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, sop up excess oil and help create a mattifying effect on skin—so you can say good-bye to shine.
The best part is that it’s ideal to wear when you’re going to be active outdoors during the summer. It has a 40 minute water resistance rating, which helps wick off sweat and keep skin protected during a sweat sesh. Plus, since this is a mineral sunscreen, it won’t sting if it gets into your eyes. When you go out, consider this the only all-in-one skin enhancing, age defying, broad spectrum sunscreen you need. Here’s to effortless beauty—even when you sweat.
Instant Relief for Bug Bites & Stings: I was stung by a yellowjacket in my backyard last week and this stuff worked in a flash. I immediately iced the area, followed with a dab of After Bite, and the wasp sting was gone! After Bite has provided instant itch relief from bug bites and stings for over 40 years for adults and kids. The pharmacist-preferred, proprietary mix of soothing ingredients acts fast when you need it most so that bites and stings don’t ruin family fun. After Bite Kids is also available with a non-stinging sensitive cream that is gentle on kids or perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. Available at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Kroger, and at afterbite.com.
Rental Pool Toys: Don’t want to invest in a multitude of outdoor-appropriate toys this summer? —Toybrary to the rescue! Use your membership to Austin’s local toy-lending library to rent backyard, pool & bath toys this summer. They’ve got bikes & trikes, sit & spins, cones & parachutes, a mini Radio Flyer wagon, and lots more. Banish their summer boredom with new toys every two weeks! I picked up some fun cars & trucks, this tug boat Pictured above, and a little swing for my toddler’s dolls during our last visit. We can pop the cars and this little boat in the pool bag and we’ve got an easy enhancement for our outdoor play dates.
Hawaiian Hydration: Gotta admit: I occasionally entertain the indulgence of splurging on fancy bottled waters from across the globe. Pack a few bottles of this alkaline water all the way from Hawaii to feel a little fancy during your next day in the sun. Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water has just launched eco-friendly six and 12 packs of its award-winning alkaline water. Waiakea is not just the only certified CarbonNeutral bottled beverage in the country (helllllooo, eco-friendly), but it is also lauded for its wide variety of ethical initiatives that benefit communities both in its local Hawaii and across the globe.
Refreshing Wipes: Ever feel the need to freshen up? We’ve all had daily “not so fresh” moments, especially during the heat & humidity of summer! Whether running to a class or a meeting, post work-out with no time to shower, or even during that time of the month, Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths provide an easy and discreet way to feel confidently fresh. The cloths are lightly fragranced and quickly wipe away odor-causing bacteria. Available in scents like Aloe Love, Island Splash, Sheer Floral, and Simply Sensitive at CVS, Duane Reade, Walmart, Target, Amazon and Walgreens.
Hint: it’s not flowers. It’s not chocolates. It’s not a store-bought greeting card. Many moms are over-scheduled, burdened by the day-to-day routine, and weary wearing the hat of caregiver for the whole family. We mamas keep this ship afloat, fo’ real. While we manage it all and love doing it, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming being everything to everyone. Sure, our hearts melt at a hand-crafted creation made with love from the littles but Dadas, consider breaking from the traditional gifts this Mother’s Day:
–What service would provide a momentary vacation from her daily responsibilities at home?
–What hobby did she enjoy pre-kids but is kinda missing out on these days?
–What is a luxury she could use & enjoy but just simply would not buy for herself?
Yes, her heart is bursting with love for your family, but what about the refreshing power of time for herself? –Self-care isn’t selfish! A long brunch with the girls, a week of dinners delivered-in, a surprise mani-pedi appt. — these are just a few thought starters. It doesn’t even have to be fancy or expensive…a drawn bubble bath or a morning to sleep-in goes a long way. I’ve rounded up a couple more ideas below:
A Toast: Breakfast in bed is certainly a treat, but a glass of rose’ is even better! Pour, serve, and cheers to her. After the kids go down to bed, escort her out to the back patio…think about & share a few words about what she means to the family or what you love about her as a mom. Perfect for sunset-watching and porch-rocking, these new canned wines are portable, safe around the pool, and easy to pair with even the most casual of meals from the grill. The Chicago-based Backpack debuted in September and is available in two blend varieties, Cheek Rose’ and Snappy White, in four-can packs. Backpack Wine offers a unique combo of great-tasting, quality wine in an approachable, rebellious and fresh manner.
Adults-only: Ok, family time is the BEST but we all could use a little adult-interaction from time to time. –We need to talk predictions for Game of Throne’s last season with people who are actually allowed to watch the show! Child-care cards from Toybrary hold a $25 value, which can go toward daytime drop-in care during the week or Parents Night Out on Saturday evenings. Date-night? Summer blockbuster on the big screen? Appt. at the blow-dry bar? –The gift of a child-free excursion is up to her! Whether she’s thinking a couple’s candlelit dinner or lunch with the ladies, these gift cards are little tokens of your support toward her independence. Might just give her the push she needs to get out there and reconnect with an old friend or try that new restaurant in town.
Two years into this whole parenthood thing, I’m just getting used to the concept of “date-night.” When you’re married & childless, any occasion, day-or-night, can be turned into a “date”…heck, your whole life outside of work is one big date! And score! –each dinner out, movie, concert, whatever all result in getting to take your hottie home at the end of the night. Young married life is pretty freakin’ great. International travel. An MBA. Spontaneous weekend getaways. Fancy meals at hot new restaurants. I look back on that stage fulfilled to have gotten so much time together, just as husband and wife.
Then comes baby in a baby carriage! #Blessed, but married life as you know it won’t be the same for at least 20+ years. I’ve talked about Fearless Mom before but just as a quick refresh, it’s a moms lecture series with small group breakouts that meets weekly on Wed. mornings. It’s a ministry of Lake Hills Church here in Austin and it’s been a place of comfort, learning, and camaraderie for me as a mom. I’ve absorbed so much parenting truth. Things like:
- Marriage: how the parenting pendulum swings between wife and mom
- 20/20 Parenting: discipline for the next 20 years, rather than the next 20 mins
- Mom Guilt: be aware and intentional with your thoughts – YOU are enough
- Social Media: Wherever you are, be all there. #putdownthephone
All. of. this. Seriously, I’ve loved it so much! If you’re not in Austin, you can follow along at home. Anyway, one of the lessons of the past couple sessions has been to set a date night and keep it regularly. –But it’s hard, y’all! Here are the reasons why we’ve never been able to keep a regular weekly date night:
- Babysitters are expensive. No lie, I had a professional nanny who babysits on her off hours quote me “$15-$17/hr. for one child under the age of 5.” –Ugh, our ‘one child under the age of 5’ goes to bed by 7:30. The sitter may be super-qualified, but I just can’t allow myself to pay someone $17/hr. to sit at the house while my little one sleeps. I need to find some good minimum wage-level high schoolers in the neighborhood, for real.
- Movies are pricey, too. Many of the cinemas around where we live are these new luxury-style set-ups where you choose an assigned seat in a comfy leather armchair and have servers wait on you throughout the show. Plus, all those bigger recliners with tables and wide aisles for food service = less space available in each theatre. Anytime we get an itch to go to the movies on a whim, it’s like NO –tickets sold out a week ago.
- I’m tired, honey. Frankly, I’m tired all the time. But I’m especially sleepy after like 9 p.m. And honestly, on a Friday night with a glass of red wine in his system, so is the husband…I’ll catch him crashed out on the couch by 9:30 at night. Also, no one enjoys looking down at their watch during a date. If I do happen to get a second wind and want to party ’til midnight, the child’s still waking up at the same early bird hour that she always does the next day. Um, where are the babysitters for the morning after?
But still, the notion of prioritizing your marriage during parenthood remains so important. At Fearless Mom, I’ve heard it put like this: Connect daily. Date weekly. Retreat annually. So, dating doesn’t need to happen at night, right? Here are some alternative date-night periods where we’ve carved in some couple-time:
- During Preschool: Our little one goes to a half-day program twice a week at the local church. They call it Preschool, but it’s more of a Mother’s Day Out. It’s rare, but if the hubs is open for lunch, I’ll throw out the idea of a lunch-date…he loves to eat out, so it’s not a hard sell. Sometimes we’ll drive to the East side to check out the latest buzzed about restaurant that just opened. But really, any meal out that we can eat together, hot & uninterrupted, is “date” enough for us!
- When the Grandparents are Around: Whether they’re visiting us or if we’re home for the holidays, we try to find an opportunity to sneak off for a moment to ourselves. Just get in the car and find something to do outside the realm of parenthood! Usually, it’s just us going see a movie or grab a drink with a friend. BUT If you can get Grandma to sign-off for the overnight shift, this is an ideal chance for a one-night staycation at a hotel. It’s amazing with the illusion of a real vacation can do for tired parents’ souls.
- Daytime: This is our key window! I’m all about the day-dates vs. date-night. Saturday mid-day is a great time for your weekly date. Babysitters are less likely to be booked up, and the littles are awake & energetic so they’ll be earning that hourly rate 😉 Plus, there are opportunities for fun, active, outdoorsy dates. Something to spice-up that married dating game besides the usual dinner & a movie, ya know? We recently went on an indoor skydiving day-date that I can’t wait to tell y’all more about. Blog post on our experience at iFLY coming soon!
Australian wines, date night ideas, Drop-off Childcare, eye lift, EYE-V Moisture Boost Hydrogel Patches, Hopes End, Nerium International, new beauty products, Parents Night Out, red wine, self-care, Toybrary Austin, treat yourself, under-eye patches
Treat yo’ self, Mama!
The Eyes Have It: EYE-V Moisture Boost Hydrogel Patches by Nerium InternationalTexas-based anti-aging skincare company Nerium International has just launched their newest product: EYE-V Moisture Boost Hydrogel Patches. These babies are an easy & indulgent way to hydrate, smooth, firm and brighten the under-eye area. They partnered with world-class Korean chemists and product designers to pair advanced hydrators like aloe vera leaf water, echinacea, lavender, and green tea. The convenient 20-minute patches feature a special ThermoReact technology that work with your own body temperature to create an instant “eye lift.” Pop in the refrigerator before use for an extra cooling effect.
A Taste of Something New: try a glass of Hopes EndHopes End is a wine inspired by the true story of thousands of 19th century free settlers who journeyed to start a better life, and instead arrived in dismal Port Misery, South Australia. The Angove Family were among them. Dr. William T. Angove, a young doctor, found his livelihood mixing elixirs, and soon, wine—the perfect antidote to adversity. Hopes End Red Blend 2015 is a wine that stays true to its origins while satisfying a palate that seeks the unexpected. The wine begins in the sunny, sandy loam over limestone soils of South Australia, and ends with intensely flavored, darkly intriguing wine. Carefully selected parcels of Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec and Petit Verdot were picked in the cool dawn at perfect ripeness. Each lot was assessed and unified by our winemaker to create a luscious, berry- driven profile that’s intriguing and indulgent. Find Hopes End soon at Kroger and Targets in Texas.
No Sitter? No Problem: Parents Night Out at Toybrary Austin
Parents, meet your built-in babysitting solution. Treat yourself to a night out — you deserve it! Sitters can get expensive and sometimes it’s hard to trust a new person alone at home with your child. Wanted to share a fun & different childcare option in case anyone is stuck without a babysitter on #datenight… Every Saturday, locally-owned & operated Toybrary Austin will watch your little one from 5:00-8:00 p.m. while you go participate in grown-up activities. Just bring snacks or dinner, a water bottle, diapers, a change of clothes, and a lovey if your child needs it. For children ages 1-5. Sign up: email@example.com or 512-765-4174.
They’ve just opened a plethora of presents under the tree and were drug to more holiday events than they can count. As much as we try to make them feel special and not forgotten after the Christmas chaos, winter birthdays aren’t the best. Everyone’s coming down from that yule-tide high and ready to just #NetflixandChill. After those packed schedules that come with the holiday season, people are beginning to settle back into their regular routine and at this point, are frankly partied-out.
Personally, my summer birthday was awesome: close enough to the end of the school year to keep in touch with friends on event details, yet everyone was already bored & eager to gather for something fun, and there were boundless ideas for celebrating in the summer sun…I vividly remember amazing birthdays spent at the wave pool, the water park, and more.But what to do when the dreary days of January & February have most of us ready to hit the fast forward button to Easter? My little one has an early January birthday and last year I kept it low-key for her first birthday celebration. Admittedly, that approach was due to me feeling like I was still getting my shit together has a new mom and couldn’t fathom adding party planning into the mix. So we went for something small and intimate, no guest list to manage, no decorations to fuss over. I have a little twinge of mom-guilt over it, but we ended up skipping the traditional 1st bday party in lieu of a morning of simply doing an activity she loved. We chose to spend a couple hours at Little Land Play Gym before a Tex-Mex lunch with my parents joining us. A true Texas babe, her first birthday dessert was an avocado tres leches cake from Dos Chivos.This year, I am kinda taking the opposite approach… Thankfully it is now in my capacity to take it up a few notches for her second birthday. We’re throwing our little one a Texas “2”-Step themed party. To kick things off, we are hosting local children’s music artist “Mr. Will” Dupuy for a live performance at our home. Y’all, he’s soooooo good: his kids songs sung with a Texas-country twang, laid back cowboy style, and jokes for the parents that go over the little one’s heads make for a kids concert that all attendees will enjoy. My daughter Alexandra has one of his branded t-shirts and whenever she sees it, she starts singing Wheels on the Bus…it’s super cute BUT…imagine how she’s going to flip her lid when she sees him live and in concert right from her living room!Lunch will be catered by Austin’s famous Franklin Barbecue. –Have y’all tried their brisket? Some swear it’s the absolute best in Texas. This Eastside joint is a favorite of President Obama, celebrities, and famous chefs. However, due to their 2-hour wait (like at least 2 hours standing outside in line, with no guarantee that there will be any left for you when it’s your turn to order), we’ve never tasted its deliciousness in the 5 years we’ve lived here. There is a workaround, though: Pre-Orders. Place your large catering order online in advance and walk right up to pick it up at the designated time your choose. –Score!
Now, I know random things like Cedar Fever, toddler tantrums (these have officially started for us!), and last-minute guest cancellations can possibly put a damper on the day, but I’m hoping we fondly remember her epic second birthday party. I’m unabashedly looking forward to a pretty fantastic morning of music and BBQ. However we choose to celebrate birthdays, wether it be small & intimate or over-the-top, I hope my little one grows up knowing how valued she is each and every day of the year.
Any other new moms suddenly have toys on the brain? Interacting with toys is now a daily part of our lives and it’s my mission to figure out some best-buys in the playfulness department. So, I consulted Toybrary Austin owner (and thus, toy connoisseur) Liza Wilson to get her feedback on which toys are top-notch. –We’re talking best types of toys and the best brands to buy! Before she opened Austin’s local toy-lending library, she was a teacher, working with ages 2 through high school. Although preschool is her happy place, she’s experienced in public, private, and Montessori schools and believes play and learning go hand-in-hand.
Why does my daughter seem to go weeks, even months, only playing with a handful of her toys while the rest sit ignored? “Children’s brains are evolving very rapidly between the ages of 0-3. It’s their full time job to learn! They need lots of new stimulation on an ongoing basis. Once a child has ‘conquered’ a toy, it’s time to expose them to something new. If they are not playing with a toy, it’s likely because it has become boring to them and they no longer need to explore whatever the concept is. The toys that she plays with are the ones that are helping her learn.”
What are some quick tips & tricks moms can do to boost engagement, imagination, and self-guidance in the playroom? “One of the most effective practices is to rotate toys. Put the majority of your child’s toys in the garage or another unused space, and just pull out a few at a time for your kids to play with. This keeps a cycle of seemingly new items available to them. Research shows that kids cannot focus on more than 7 toys at one time. If there are more than 7 available, the rest will get ignored (causing piles of clutter). Even with only 7, these eventually become commonplace and it’s time for kids to move on to a new stimulus. That’s definitely the right time to pull out new toys and either get rid of the ones they are bored with, or put them away to try again later.”
What types of toys typically generate the most interest at Toybrary? “It’s funny, there are always new and fascinating toys on the market, but the old standards remain the most popular: dinosaurs, dolls, cars & trucks, pretend kitchen items, costumes, and all animals. The slide, bikes, trikes, and push carts are also enormously popular. Toys don’t need to light up or make any noise for the kids to love them. In fact, it’s much better on everyone’s mental health if they don’t!”
What are the signs of a high-quality toy?
“Wooden toys are almost always the highest quality toys, for several reasons:
- They are easy on the earth. Plastic never goes away and fills our landfills.
- Because they are wooden, they are naturally simpler. We want toys to provide a stimulus for kids to be creative, not passive. Eliminating the lights and noise causes kids to be much more interactive with toys, which means their brains are working a lot harder. In other words, instead of the plastic cow “mooing” at the kiddo, he/she should be working on learning to make all kinds of animal sounds on his/her own. This is learning.
Another sign of a high quality toy is that it has multiple uses/teaches multiple lessons. In other words, it promotes “open-ended” play. Blocks are a great example. Many toys focus on just one skill, like pushing a button. With open-ended toys, there is no limit to how many different ways they can be used. Kids can build a tower, a castle, a farm, a house, etc. with blocks. Because of this, blocks are interesting and stimulating for years!”
What are some of your favorite toy brands? “I love the European toys the most (especially Haba & Janod). –This is not to be snobby! It’s because they are generally truly more child friendly. The colors aren’t just yellow, red, and blue like they are often are in the U.S. They use beautiful oranges and purples as well. The toys are sturdy, well made, long-lasting, beautiful, and classic. You don’t find sexy or violent toys coming from Germany or France. That being said, Plan Toys, KidKraft, EverEarth, and Manhattan Toy are great American companies, and I love Green Toys as well. Their toys are simple, durable, attractive, and long lasting!”
ATX Moms: Try before you buy! Check out these brands and more at Liza’s toy wonderland, Toybrary. Plus, there are options to stay and play, drop-in childcare, and educational activities like excellent classes for kids and useful parent workshops. There’s always a new carefully selected speaker or special event going on there to add to your calendar!
That Hatchimal on their Christmas list gone out of stock? Tired of kids with their eyeballs glued to a video game? Or (in our case), does your toddler actually play with the box more than the toy inside? Consider giving the gift of shared experiences this year! –Not only shared experiences, but a gift the whole family can use year ’round. I’m talking about the gift of memberships: wether it be season passes to a local amusement park or an annual family admission package to their local zoo; memberships are a unique way to ensure you give the gift that keeps on giving. Here are a couple GREAT options local to Austin:
- Thinkery: Austin’s official children’s museum is a wealth of opportunity for fun & learning for families with kids of all ages & stages. They put on a slew of summer camps, reserve a “Baby Bloomers” morning just for the littlest crawlers, host a number of special events throughout the year, etc. As my “Community Placement” with Junior League of Austin, I volunteered there a couple years ago to help with summer camps and kinda feel in love with the place. Their exhibits are rooted in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education — it’s almost as if you can see the little cogs spinning in their minds as they interact & play. The Family Membership is $99/year and grants general admission for a family of four at each visit BUT there are a number of pricing options to suit each family’s needs, including monthly giving.
- Toybrary: A library is to books as Toybrary is to toys. –Super-cool concept, right!? Toybrary is a toy-lending library and kids’ birthday party venue that also offers drop-in childcare. Parents and children can stay & play and then check-out their favorite pieces to take home for awhile. Here’s the dollar-by-dollar breakdown: the average family in the U.S. spends $740 a year on toys if they have one child, and $1,200 a year on toys if they have two children. (PRWeb.com) With Toybrary memberships at $40 per month & a year’s membership adding up to $420, the savings most families see is over $300 per year! If you go once a week, and check out 3 toys each time, the kids get to use 12 toys per month. But don’t forget, families can visit and exchange toys as often as they like.
I got up this morning to a gloomy rainy day in Austin, tired from staying up late to watch election results and pre-coffee cleaning of an epic poop-splosion by the toddler (it went all directions: both up her back and down into her toes, dripped from the crib onto the carpet…so yeah, I woke up with bells on.) However, this was a cringe-worthy wake-up-call for the history books: the outcome of Election 2016 was finalized. Donald Trump is President. For me, the news was shocking, sobering, imminently grave, and unshakably disappointing. Note: Republican friends, ya don’t have to stop reading here…this post is not about Hillary, it’s about Jesus.This selfie snap = my mood driving from home this morning: angry Mozart on blast and wearing head-to-toe black, almost as if in mourning for the future of our nation. Well, the Lord has a way of speaking to our hearts at exactly when we need to hear Him, amen? I’m thankful the Pastors at the church where I attend a weekly parenting lecture series decided to be dynamic and timely and go off book to take a minute addressing what was weighing on all our hearts. Before we began our regularly scheduled “Fearless Mom” lesson, the leaders took a few minutes to advise us mamas on how to talk to our kids about the election.The full video of their 17-minute message is linked above, but from my notes, I wanted to share some Scripture-based takeaways that helped me begin to Keep Calm and Carry On:
- 1 Chronicles 28:20 — Tell your kids to be courageous (and model that behavior!)
- David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”
- 1 Timothy 2:1-4 — Honor the office and pray for those with the position to succeed
- I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
- Hebrews 13:8 — In an uncertain era, we cling to the truth
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
And finally, allow me to throw in the verse that will be my personal prayer for Trump: Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
May God Bless America.
Austin-area kids are invited to rock their hearts out at The Domain’s the third annual Hush Hush Music Bash, a free music festival for kids on Saturday, October 8, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Baby Alexandra & I went last year and had an absolute blast! Such cool family event and a nice ACL-alternative.
KB Whirly will kick off the bash at 3 p.m. Known for his earthy, folksy, bluesy and always upbeat music, KB incorporates storytelling, improvisational song writing and interactive music making in his one-man band. Next, The Que Pastas will hit the stage at 4 p.m. This local kindie (kid+indie=kindie) band’s uplifting, highly interactive and ridiculously funny performance is sure to thrill the kids. At 5 p.m., Sonia De Los Santos’ musical stories will inspire messages of joyful community music making and cultural bridge building. Performing songs about history, art and culture, El Tule Band will perform at 6 p.m., finishing off a night that will have kids begging for more.
In addition to getting down and funky at the main concert, kids will enjoy hands-on activities, giveaways and more, all on the lawn outside iPic Theaters.
For more info, check out the Facebook event page. See y’all there, Mamas!