Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Our Picture with Santa

Like I mentioned in my holiday bucket list, getting Leah's picture taken with Santa was on the list!
Last year, Leah was pretty content meeting Santa. She didn't cry, but she didn't smile either.
This year, was a whole different story, as I guess she's old enough to know that sitting on a strangers lap (an old, big bearded stranger in a funny outfit) is pretty creepy. Haha. 
And just for the record, I WILL NOT be going back to the mall on any Saturday or Sunday until 2017. The traffic/parking/mall was complete chaos and the worst part was that I couldn't even get Chickfila for lunch because the line was 50 deep. (So I ate a mall pretzel for lunch instead, which was delicious!)

After our quick trip to the mall for a Santa picture, we headed to our favorite bookstore for a playdate with Leah's bestie. I love this bookstore because there is a train table, a play kitchen, and of course all the books you need. Or you could just ignore all the fun toys and just lay on the floor with your friend and laugh.

And that was our Saturday!
Hope everyone is having a great hump day, today! :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Holiday Bucket List

The holiday season is here!!
Time to bust out my Christmas CDs and listen to my favorite songs! ("Oh Holy Night" is my top favorite) Along with listening to music, there are a lot of other festive things I want to do this season, so I put together some of my holiday-must-dos and I can't wait to knock these things off my list!


1. Put up the Christmas Tree - We actually put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving morning and decorated it this past weekend. We usually do two christmas trees (one in the Living Room and one in the Bonus Room) but this year we just decided on one in the Bonus Room. It's super cozy, especially when we have our gas fireplace going!
2. Send Christmas Cards - This one is always on the top of my list! I love sending and receiving Christmas Cards. Last year, we made our cards through Tiny Prints and it was by far my favorite Christmas Card of ALL TIME. I don't know how I will ever beat it. Haha. But this year we had family photos taken and I chose one of my favorite family photos for it and I absolutely love the finished result!! We've used a lot of card services in the past, but Tiny Prints is my favorite one, there are so many modern options and they have very high quality cardstock! (I love the foiled ones!)
This year I upgraded to the gold envelope; I just love getting colored envelopes in the mail, don't you!? They just "pop" and stand out from the other mail.
3. Take our traditional Photo - Two years ago, CV and I took our "we are expecting!!!" picture in front of this Christmas Village in our neighborhood. We went back last year with Leah to show how much has changed in a year...but now, I feel like we need to continue the tradition and go back each year to take another picture.
4. Attend Christmas Village - For my Cincinnati friends, The Christmas Village I mentioned above is in Montgomery and has a light display and Santa event on weekend nights during December. We went opening night and it was super cold and super crowded, but still a fun event for kids.
5. Have "Breakfast with Santa" - Our city has a cute "breakfast with santa" event that is $5 for all-you-can-eat pancakes and you get a picture with Santa. I love family events like this!
6. Build a Gingerbread House - I hit up Michaels for Leah's gingerbread house kit and with my coupons it only came to $5!! We put it together last night and....well...I honestly thought it would be prettier. Haha. It's harder than it looks.

7. Watch Elf - It's my favorite Christmas movie!! If you haven't seen it - please go watch it tonight!
8. Make a personalized ornament for our tree - Another tradition is creating a personalized picture ornament for our tree. I've created Chris one every year since we met in 2010, and I can't wait until we are in our 50's and have a full tree of only personalized ornaments that I made year after year.
9. Put out cookies for Santa - I'm not into the "elf on the shelf" craziness, but I am into putting out Reindeer Food in the grass and putting out cookies for Santa! (Especially because I am Santa and I love me some cookies!)
10. Take a picture with Santa - Another tradition where we head to the mall and stand in line for a picture with Santa.  Here is last years picture. Tiny little Santa baby! :)
Well, that's my TOP 10 and I'm itching to start crossing things of the list right away, especially by mailing my Tiny Prints Christmas cards!!

Oh, how I have so much fun to look forward to this holiday.

What's the top items on your holiday to do list??? 

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Day In The Life - Week Day

Happy Monday, everyone! Since I've always loved reading "a day in the life" blog posts, I thought I would start out this week by sharing a day in the life of our family.  Here is our weekday edition with two full-time working parents and a 17 month old toddler.

Average Weekday:
7:00AM: I wake up at 7am and immediately jump in the shower. I literally sleep until the very last second until I absolutely have to wake up. #notamorningperson
7:30AM: Leah wakes up anywhere between 7am-8am. CV get's her out of the crib and changed/dressed for the day. She eats milk and Cheerios for breakfast, and sits on the floor in the living room and eats it while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (rarely), or walks around the house causing trouble (always): putting her hands in the dog food bowls, playing with mommy's makeup, and creating a mess throughout the house that I try to clean up before I leave the house at 8AM.
8:30AM: When CV is ready for work, he puts Leah in her car seat and drops her off at daycare around 8:30am.  The daycare schedule is: breakfast 8:30am, plays, eats lunch 11:30am, naps 1-2pm, snack 3pm, plays, etc. They also have music time, art time, and a variety of other learning activities throughout the day. 
8:00AM-5PM: Meanwhile, I leave for work at 8am and arrive 10-15 minutes late every day. (Oops!) I work in treasury, so my job is a lot of meetings, analysis, projects and more meetings. I usually go home for lunch and let Paisley out and start a load of laundry, or run errands and grab something quick to eat. There aren't a lot of people at work to eat lunch with like at my last job, so instead I make my lunch breaks more productive. 
5:00PM: I leave work at exactly 5pm so I can rush to pick up Leah! (I really do miss her all day!) Right when we get home, I put her in her Step 2 push car and push her to the mailbox to check the mail. She loves checking the mail when we get home.
5:30PM:  I prepare Leah's dinner and put her in the highchair by 5:30pm.  I make all sorts of things for dinner, but it's always something quick because she's always hungry.  Last night, I made these, but Leah was more interested in just eating strawberries for dinner. You win some, you lose some.
6:00PM:  After she eats, we play and wait for daddy to come home from work. 
6:30PM:  Leah takes a bath every 3rd day unless she gets really dirty, so on bath nights we bathe and play in the bathtub and then get into pajamas. (I am always in charge of baths, and CV usually cooks while I am doing that.) If it's not bath night, we either take a walk or have family play time (complete with dance parties) and then get into pajamas.
*BTW: How adorable are these fun bath letters from Nuby!?! We love them!

7:00PM: We always offer Leah a drink and a snack before she goes to bed. This always helps her sleep through the night to make sure she had enough to eat.
7:30PM: We take turns rocking Leah to bed with a sippy cup of milk. She is usually always asleep by 8pm.
8:00PM-9PM: After she falls asleep, then CV and I finish making dinner and sit down to eat. We usually watch recorded episodes of Jeopardy while we eat dinner.
9:00PM: I hand wash all of Leah's sippy cups and prepare her bag for daycare for the next day.  I'm also either washing dishes, folding laundry or cleaning something before we settle down on the couch to watch a little more TV before bed.
10:30PM: I'm finally in bed for the night, goodnight.

So that's an average Monday-Friday at our house. It's very go-go-go and very little time being spent with Leah since we only see her for less than an hour in the morning and about 2-3 hours at night. I guess that's the life all full-time working parents go through.  Good thing for weekends so I can soak up all my time with my sweet weekend day-in-the-life coming soon.

*I wrote a day-in-the-life post before I had Leah. The biggest change is that we used to go to sleep at midnight or afterwards. way could I do that anymore! :)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday Five

I haven't participated in a Friday Five in a LONG Time, so please welcome me back as I list five fun things we've be up to lately...
+ Riding a Train:  Leah and I (and our friends) went on the Lebanon Railroad Fall Flyer.  They advertise this as a fun fall event to ride the railroad around Lebanon, but honestly I thought it was a snooooooze fest. I'd much rather do something where Leah can run around a little bit more. I have honestly no idea why it's all the rave, other than getting a "free" pumpkin at the end (admission was $15, so it's really not free) - do people really like to sit and ride a train for an hour and look out the window at trees? Apparently so, because it was crowded.
But there was one fun thing about it?? Having a sucker for the first time. She loved it!
+ Park Fun:  We've been to the park a few times lately to play on the playgrounds and I just love it! Usually we go on the weekends with CV, but I took Leah after work/daycare one day and we had so much fun just the two of us. She loves the slides and swings the most.
Isn't the double swing so much fun???

+ Trick or Treating: We did a little trick or treating with cousins this year. It was so cute seeing Leah pick a piece of candy from people, and also fun watching her ride in a wagon with her cousin.
+ Bubbles and Dance Parties:  Two of Leah's favorite things are Bubbles and Dance Parties. We had fun with these every day while we were in OBX, and continue doing them at home.  Leah's favorite song right now is Meghan Trainer - Me Too. She will dance her little diaper off when she hears that song.
+ TV Shows: And I must end with talking about two amazing TV shows that I am hooked on this season! Because after all the park adventures and dance parties when Leah is sound asleep, CV and I usually plant ourselves in front of the TV, so I'm glad I found two shows I love.  
- This Is Us: If you haven't seen it yet, please go On Demand and start watching them from the beginning, the first episode made me cry happy tears so hard.
- Secrets and Lies: If you like mysteries, this show is SO GOOD. Again, you must start it from the beginning of this season (it's a new story with new cast every season), I seriously look forward to Sunday nights now so I can find out what happens next.
And both shows are on regular TV so you don't need cable or Netflix!

Thanks for joining my Friday Five post.
What have you been up to lately???

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Second Annual OBX Vacation

If you follow me on instagram (jaxvollat) or snapchat (jvollat), then you already know I've spent some time recently vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX). I thought we were going to have to cancel our trip last minute because our vacation was the week after the Hurricane hit - but luckily it didn't hit OBX too hard. We saw a lot of flooding while we were there, but luckily OBX was still in great shape for visitors.
We vacationed here last year with my husband's family...and we all returned again this year to celebrate my FIL's 70th birthday and have a second annual OBX family vacation.

Like last year, we rented two homes on the beach. Each home has 8 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, 3 refrigerators, theater room, 12 televisions (which always seemed to be on football), shuffle board, pool table, arcade game, heated pool, hot tub, and walking distance to the beach!
I about luxury! We are so lucky we get to stay in such nice homes.
Every day, I took a walk on the beach by myself and it was so nice to breathe in the fresh air and listen to the waves! Definitely my happy place.
 Our days mostly consisted of eating breakfast with the family, playing with bubbles/toys/cousins/dogs, swimming in the pool...
...going to the beach and watching the waves or the family play Frisbee or wiffle ball...

...eating lunch, watching football, going out to dinner - or having a big group dinner, playing shuffleboard/pool/watching more football, watching the sunset, and then making s'mores or sitting outside around the fire pit at night.

Some of my favorite memories from this vacation:
+ morning walks on the beach
+ finding a huge conch shell in the ocean
+ watching leah play with bubbles
+ leah having fun in the pool with Bebe
+ a fun lunch date with CV and Leah at a Mexican restaurant
+ beating CV and his cousin in shuffleboard
+ Matching family T-shirts
+ Ghost Crab walks
+ Italian dinner to celebrate the FILs birthday

It was the perfect escape from our regular work week....and it reminded me how important it is to take vacations to unwind and recharge.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Be a Pineapple

Be a Pineapple:
Stand Tall. Wear a Crown. Be Sweet on the Inside.
Ya'll, I am completely obsessed with Leah's Halloween costume this year. For being a store-bought costume - I really feel like I got the BEST one of the bunch. I mean...what's cuter than a pineapple???
She had a "truck-or-treat" event at her daycare last week, so she had fun walking from car to car to collect a few pieces of candy (which I ate in the car on the way home). We also did a little bit of trick or treating on Halloween night with a few cousins - I couldn't miss the opportunity to show off her adorable costume and get this mama some more candy. haha.
And just incase you're wondering, last year Leah was a ladybug. See here. We didn't get to trick-or-treat last year or go to any parties since Leah was recovering from HFM, so I'm glad this year will be more fun.

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween.
Follow us on snapchat (jvollat) or instagram (jaxvollat) to keep up with our adventures...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Cincinnati Fall Festivals and Making Friends with an Alpaca

One thing I love about Cincinnati is all the fun festivals they have around the city during the Fall season. We have visited three so far, and have at least two more on our to-do list before the season is over, but I wanted to go ahead and share some pictures and tell you a little bit about what I liked (and disliked) at each one. (For my Cincinnati friends..)

This has been my favorite festival so far because I really felt like they considered toddler aged children, so Leah had a lot of fun activities to do.
Admission: It was $9 for me (bought my tickets online for a discounted price) and Leah was free.
 She absolutely loved looking at all the animals, they had goats, turkeys, ducks, chickens, goats, and maybe a few more that I can't remember.
 They had an amazing sunflower backdrop that made the best pictures! (always a pro in my book).
 They had a mini pumpkin patch just for the little kids. (And also had a large one for the adults/big kids)
Their hayride was a little too long for what I wanted (I believe it was 30mins!), so I was thankful they had a cute little 5 minute ride for kiddos.  Any kid under three had to ride with an adult - so Leah and I took LuLu Bell for a spin. It was a fun little ride and so glad they had something fun like this for kids!
They also had other games for kids, like the egg drop race, fun cut outs to take pictures in, they had corn mazes (I believe they had a big one and one for small kids, but we didn't do it), slides, and much more. They also had a market where you could buy fruit, jam, candy apples and etc...and also had one food truck for those who wanted to eat lunch there. 
All in all, it has been my favorite so far.

So far, this one is my least favorite one.  Sure, they have hayrides and corn mazes (these cost extra), farm animals, and all the same stuff a lot of the other festivals have, but I just didn't love it.  
 Admission: Free
Maybe because it was really hot the day we went and we were all sweating, ha, but I really didn't love the set up of the festival. They did have the best animal selection though, pigs, cows, goats, alpacas, horses, chickens, ducks, etc. So we did enjoy looking at all of the animals. However, they (the animal keepers) did seem a little unorganized as they didn't seem to be ready for visitors. When we got there (an hour after opening)...they were feeding the animals and cleaning their bowls and such. I kind of felt like we were in their way when we were there.

 Our front they have big huge piles of pumpkins, but I did notice some were open and rotten...and all of them were dirty...nobody took any effort in washing them down before displaying them. 
(At Blooms and Berries, they had cleaned off all of their pumpkins...they were clean and ready to take home!)
They did have a market that was cute, sold Halloween and fall decor, apple cider, candy, etc. I don't think I saw anything "fresh" though - no fresh apple bundles or baked goods or anything like that. So anyways...this one was my least favorite.  We went last year too and didn't love it. So we probably won't go back to this one.

Another festival we liked...but I would have loved it if we planned it better. Unfortunately, this festival is only for one weekend out of the year, so you'll have to go next year if you didn't go this past weekend.
Admission: $8/adult, Leah was Free
I absolutely loved that they let you in the cages to personally pet the animals.  Leah got to make friends with an alpaca, which was the sweetest animal there. (The alpacas at Shaw Farms were mean and spitting everywhere.) She also got to meet a little bunny named Clover.  They had other animals too (goats, chickens, roosters).
 Now, the part where we should have planned better....
1. It was a long walk up to the sunflower fields and we did not bring a stroller, so we had to carry Leah the whole time.  Next time: Don't forget my stroller. (They don't let you have the stroller on the field, but you do need it to get there!)
2. It was a little muddy on the field and the ground was crawling with caterpillars. Next time: Wear Tennis shoes (one caterpillar bit my foot!)
3. Beware of sweat bees and other insects! (Leah got stung on her hand)
4. They let you walk the fields and cut your own sunflowers.  Next time: Bring scissors!

The sunflowers were $1/stem or $10/dozen.  I absolutely loved the concept and would love to go back next year more prepared. We didn't go home with any sunflowers...honestly by the time we walked all the way to the field (uphill) we were tired...haha...we took a few pictures, looked at some sunflowers and started walking back down.
They also had hay rides, horse drawn carriages and pumpkins for sale (clean ones!!) and instead of a Fall Market where the others have sold apple cider and jams and such...this one had food trucks (pizza, bbq, etc) and also had a few vendor tents as well.  It was a fun little festival and I would definitely go back.

So there you have it....our three fall festivals so far.
I have a few more fall festivals planned for Leah so I'll be back soon to tell you all about it! 
Cincinnati friends - any recommendations???