Elisa & Babyzilla Makeup Tutorial!


We’re on YouTube people!!  You know how I recently fell in love with makeup and all things wonderful for face beauty?  Well, now Babyzilla has joined in the fun so we decided to do a beginner’s makeup tutorial and share with you on YouTube how we get ready everyday.  Disclaimer…I don’t let Babyzilla wear makeup everyday, she’s only allowed to “play” makeup with me and sticks to chap sticks and glosses on a regular basis.  After all, she’s only three and I want to keep her that way!

This was such a fun video to make and only afterwards when I was editing did I realize how expressive Babyzilla’s face is.  Sassy pants all the way!  I hope you like our “look” and at your request, we would be happy to do more makeup tutorials or any kind of Mommy and Me videos you may want to see of me and Babyzilla.

Babyzilla makeup
Our completed look…I still think that lipstick looks better on Babyzilla!
Babyzilla makeup 2
Get out of my spotlight Mama!

Below is the list of our beauty products:

What’s your daily makeup routine?  Do you have any tips and tricks for us?  Do you play “makeup” with your daughter?  Share in the comments section and enjoy the video!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Epic Mom Guilt and Embracing A Little Selfishness

There’s no such thing as a perfect child and therefore the fairytale that is a perfect Mom does not exist either.  Motherhood is different for everyone and survival is the goal for everyday – not Pinterest perfect, gluten-free muffins for breakfast and not homemade outfits from recycled curtains – let’s just say that Babyzilla is known to have a bag of Cheetos puffs for breakfast.  As a mom, I try to set lofty goals for myself but not too high in order to avoid disappointment later.  After all, my everyday goal is to not lose my temper too badly and avoid causing permanent damage to the kids, and that I’ll make it home with all kids in tow so I can put those little dictators angels to bed and have a bottle glass of wine and possibly catch some Netflix with Michael.

In all Mommy honesty, we have all those days where we hide in the bathroom to get an extra 2 minutes of Facebook viewing while risking a toddler going out the front door.  Just kidding…the seven year-old was watching her.  Oh, I mean, my unicorn was….

Shame Lady GOT

I want to share with you my top not-so-perfect-Mommy practices in order to (hopefully) let you have the honest conversations with fellow mommies.  The point is, the idea that a mommy has to be everything and do everything is not realistic (even with a badass partner like my husband!) and I refuse to emotionally beat myself up based on what some Pinterest mommy board tells me.  If you drop by on any given day, you will find that my house is probably messy, we are eating sandwiches for dinner, and someone may be skipping bath night because I want to relax and maybe run to the gym.  Mommy tip…dry shampoo works on kids too!

I could try harder to “do it all” but that would mean that I would have to be more selfless, and I refuse to give up myself.  Yep, I would rather have an hour at the gym and live with a messy playroom.  I can walk away from that playroom and not look at it all day.  I have to look at myself in the mirror and it will be a constant reminder that I didn’t take care of myself and hit the gym.  As a mom, I have to constantly weigh decisions based on everyone’s needs and sometimes, I am more important.  And, that’s ok.

Behold, my top three shameful Mommy behaviors that I’d like to say I’m going to change but I probably won’t because I accept that I am allowed to be a little bit selfish:

#3.  Daycare Hair.  I’m not capable of mastering simple hair styles.

Isabella Hair copy

I was blessed with a full head of thick, wavy hair that I can straighten, curl, or do anything with.  Unfortunately, I only really learned to do my hair two ways…down, or up in a ponytail.  I used to think that having a daughter would motivate me to learn how to braid and do all of the cool, girly hair styles you see on Pinterest.  Um no.  That did not happen and I struggle with doing anything with Isabella’s long locks besides plopping a bow in it or pulling it up in a ponytail.  Her daycare must see my struggle too because ever since Babyzilla began going there, she comes home with beautiful braids and hairstyles that I could never learn to do on my own.  One morning, she even told me not to mess with her hair because she was going to get it done at school.  Oh my.

#2.  Co-sleeping.  Sometimes, it’s just easier to coral them in one room.

Clones sleeping

Babyzilla and Antonio are both lucky to have their own bedrooms with queen sized beds.  But, they usually end up together in Antonio’s room.  Bedtime is tricky because on a good day, it only takes twenty minutes for people to settle down while on a bad day, this could take hours.  We let the kids sleep in the same room because Antonio is obedient about turning off the lights and following the routine we ask him to do.  Then lately, it never fails that Babyzilla comes crawling into our master bedroom at 5 AM and snuggles in between us.  I’m not getting up at 5 AM to do anything much less fight a threenager on going back to her own room.  I value my precious sleep moments that early in the morning and so I often have a tiny person wrapped around my head like a cat.

#1.  Mommy Doesn’t Cook…My Daddy Only Cooks.  When my son was in Kindergarten, he proudly presented me with an “All About Mom” booklet that he had worked on for Mother’s Day.  The results of the first page sent me through a roller coaster of emotions and made me realize the way my child sees me through his eyes is so much more simpler than how I see myself.  The page read:

Antonio Kindergarten Mothers Day

So, my immediate reaction to the cooking comment was that it is true (kudos to Michael) and then I proceeded to laugh at the squash comment because i don’t even remember the last time I ate squash.  I am a chocolate and bacon type of girl.  Almost three years later and my son will now say that cooking is done 50% by Daddy and 50% by Mommy.  Yay for Blue Apron!

DSC_2007

Healthy eating and an active life style are important things I am trying to teach my kids, but I won’t ban McDonald’s from our diets…only the “chicken” nuggets.  I have slowly in the past couple of years embraced this whole cooking concept and we do cook for about half of the week.  Kitchen is closed on weekends unless someone wants to get fancy and make pancakes.

Guilt, shame and feelings of insecurity are things every mom struggles with on a daily basis.  Instead of focusing on the things I can’t do, I try to accept my faults and focus on the Wins of the Day as Kendra has so eloquently suggested to all of us.  Sometimes, those wins include reading bedtime stories and goodnight hugs and kisses.  Other times, it means celebrating that I squeezed in twenty minutes to workout.  A good litmus test on getting perspective is always hearing my son pray at night.  No matter how much I discipline him or nag him about everyday “stuff”, he always thanks God that I am his mother.  That and the fact that he says I’m sweet as pop tarts.

Antonio Mothers Day K

 

What Kind of Parent Will I Be

**Disclaimer, I am not pregnant and this is not me announcing that I am**

The hubby and I are ‘practicing’ making babies monthly now, hopefully soon one will stick and we will get a lil peanut but until then I want to share with you what kind of parent I will be.

What are my qualifications you ask?? Listen, I know everything there is to know about having a kid. I nannied starting as young as 15. I couldn’t even drive myself to my first gig however I was apparently responsible enough (or cheaper than good help) to take care of a 9 month old and a 1st grader every day after school from 4:00 until 6:30pm. I took care of kids in day care settings, babysat through college, and even post college on some occasions for friends with their own actual kids. I pride myself in being very knowledgeable as I have read a few books and ask my actual parent friends a ton of questions and pick their brains, so clearly I have this whole thing figured out. Plus there are the dogs, I think that in and of itself is great training, right?!?!

dogs bath
I hear my friends say you can never pee alone after having kids, clearly these two are warming me up for the big show.

Here is what kind of parent I will be and what my kids will and will not do.

I will not be the crazy new mom who calls her doctor for everything strange that happens to her body. I got this! Millions of women have gone before without the help of having their doc on speed dial. Who are we kidding, I call my doctor, my doctor friends, and nurse friends for anything and everything because being in the medical sales has caused me to become a hypochondriac. I have a feeling my doctor will fire me before 5 months.

I will not change my life for a kid, this kid will fit into our life. We will still brunch and travel and host great gatherings at our home as usual. Ha, I will be lucky if we get out of the house the first 6 months. I will have forgotten what a mimosa tastes like and forget having people over, I won’t even want a housekeeper to see what state of disrepair my house has fallen into.

I will have my kids sleep trained by 3 months at the absolute latest. Yeah, just like I have my dogs sleep trained. They never wake me when they need to pee, or when there is a thunderstorm, or when they decide it would be nice to play with their ball at 3am or when there is a full moon…I could go on.

I will not allow my kids iPads/iPhones at the table, in the car, or out in public as a distraction. I was raised in a time when we had to self entertain with stupid toys at the doctors office or play the ABC/123/License Plate game on road trips. If I can do it, so can my kids. Except when they can’t and I haven’t had a mimosa in 21 months and I want to snap and give in to their every whine just so I can sip on a damn OJ and Champs mommy drink.

office toy
Keeping kids distracted at the doctor since 1970’s.

I will not allow my children whatever they want for dinner, I am their mother, not a short order cook. And then I will be because after working all day and dealing with the craziness that is a 9-5 I won’t give a rats ass if you want hummus and Fruit Loops for dinner, if it will keep you from throwing a fit and get something decent in your stomach, I will pull up a chair and have the same.

I will keep my house and car clean. I can have nice things and kids too. I actually don’t think this one will be hard to accomplish. My girlfriend has discovered the perfect way to keep her adorable daughter entertained and her house clean at the same time. I mean, look at the genius mom invention!

No children were harmed in the making of this picture, actually she did this to herself.
No children were harmed in the making of this picture, actually she did this to herself.

I will not lose my cool and spank my child or raise my voice. When I was naughty I got a belt or a spoon or a hand or anything close enough to grab. Then there were the looks and the groundings. I don’t think those shaped me as a person at all! I don’t think learning to respect authority and what my limits were did any good for my development as a child or adult. Oh and being a strong willed child who pushed the boundaries never led to said spankings. Who are we kidding, I deserved everyone and probably more. And before I get all the emails saying spankings aren’t good for children, my husband and I  will make that call with our clones, you do you and we will do us.

I will not allow them to dictate what they wear or where we go. My kids will wear what I say and their very rare poor behavior will not cause me to change our plans and leave a grocery store buggy full of groceries. I think I have a decent sense of fashion and my children will appreciate that and agree with all my wardrobe choices for them. I will never let them leave the house in a Disney dress, a super hero cape, and their cowboy boots. Unless I am trying to get to a HH with a girlfriend and then I will care less what they wear as long as I can have one sip of a glass of wine, then they can wear what they want as long as they let me drop them off with a sitter, or a stranger. I will need the wine.

cj
His daddy loved the furry leg warmers!

I will not teach them bad habits or bad language. But if they do shout “Fu@&ing Move Dude” at random drivers then they surely picked that up from the nanny/day care/church pre-school because we all know I would never say anything like that, ever. Oh and I definitely wouldn’t wet my pants laughing when they do. And when my daughter reaches an age to start imitating me she wouldn’t do this.

belle
“Mommy, I want some fancy juice for NYE too!” *It was sparkling grape juice, don’t email me please.

Lastly, I will not stick to a single one of these because like every mom I know, you do the best you can to keep them happy and alive and not lose your sanity some days. But I know they will be worth it and I can’t wait!

What did you think you would or wouldn’t do as a first time mom?

If you are about to be a first time mom, this was actually a great article, http://www.parents.com/baby/new-parent/motherhood/what-i-know/

Amanda Sig

It’s THAT Time of Year: A Guest Blogger Helps Ease Parents into the School Year

I’m excited to introduce our readers to our friend, Teddi Fulenwider. I met Teddi through a local running group (many years ago when I still ran more than 10 seconds at a time). After over 30 years of teaching, Teddi decided to step away from the school environment and make a full-time dedication to educating other teachers. She also launched an iPad app that parents can use and customize to help with teaching kids to read, and getting them excited about reading. As an avid reader, I share her excitement about creating an environment that cultivates life-long readers, so I invited her to guest blog today on preparing kids for school. You can learn more about the Read with TedDee app, as well as connect with Teddi through her website at http://www.readwithteddee.com/

I know some of you are thinking what time of year?   Tax time?  Elf on the Shelf time? Diet time?  No, that time of year when parents feel they have not done enough to prepare their child for school – preschool, Kindergarten, doesn’t matter.  I want to tell you – you have!  I can say that.  I have the credentials to say that.  I have been in the education profession for over 30 years.  I have taught Kindergarten.  I have and continue to train teachers.  So again, I can say you have prepared your child for school.

Let me be clear, I am not bashing teachers or teaching at all.  In fact, the opposite, I have the utmost respect for teachers.   After all, I was one, came from a family of teachers and have a daughter and daughter in law who are teachers.  However, the line between the teacher’s job and the parent’s job has become blurred.

I visit with many parents who are upset and overwhelmed because they have been told or have heard from the BFF that their child needs to know all the letters and sounds before they enter school.  They need to know all the numbers and count to 100.  They are led to believe that the child should be able to write his or her name before entering school.  My response is always the same…Sooooooooo what will the teacher be doing once school starts?  Likewise, I have had teachers proudly share with me that they send home packets of ‘stuff’ for children to do over the summer so they are ‘prepared’ when they enter school.   Again, my response is…..Soooooooooo what exactly is YOUR job?

 For children in Texas, many of the skills teachers would like children to have are exactly the skills that are taught that year.   Would it be nice if every child entered school already able to do everything?  Absolutely!  That would be a teacher’s dream child.  You see, it wouldn’t matter what I did as a teacher, that child would be successful.  That leaves time for me, the teacher, to do ‘fun’ stuff that has nothing really to do with learning – enrichment yes.  Per the State of Texas children are not required to leave Kindergarten being able to read a book.  Many do because of what they are exposed to.  But it is NOT a reason to hold a child back or make a parent feel guilty because their child can’t.  Reading is a developmental thing as is most things we learn. (So a little side note – when your BFF shares with you that her child is reading at 9 months, just smile politely and realize that your child is doing something ahead of hers. It’s all developmental.)

kids

So what is YOUR job as the parent?  Your job is to provide experiences for your child, read and talk to your child.   Your job is to increase your child’s oral vocabulary, which in turn increases his or her background knowledge (schema) and in turn enables that child to make connections.

Your job is to use purposeful talk.  Instead of general talk, use specific language. It really is easy!  Here are some examples.

At the grocery store

  • Color words in the produce department
  • Describing words with fruit- rough, smooth, prickly
  • Specific Words – apple, pineapple, lettuce
  • Concept words – sit in the cart, walk beside the basket
  • Math – weight, size

Parking lots – Math concepts

  • How many steps from the car to the door?
  • Which one is farther away?
  • Which one is nearer?
  • Color words – Do you see the red car?
  • Specific words – Jeep, SUV, car, motorcycle, tires, bumper

Playgrounds – besides having fun

  • science words, insects, (everything isn’t a bug!) grass, dirt, soil
  • high, fast, swing
  • position words- on the swing, under the slide, beside the slide
  • Writing with chalk

In addition to reading to your child everyday, purposeful talk is the most important thing we can do as parents to make sure our child is ‘ready’ for school.

And truth be told, your ONLY job to do before sending your child to school is to love your child and hopefully raise a compassionate person.  The actual learnin’ stuff is the job of the teacher.  SO the next time a teacher tells you what all you need to be sure and have your child know before coming to school you have two options.  First, you can smile politely and just say okay, thanks.  Or two, you can say, So, if I teach him or her all of that before I send him or her to you, what exactly will YOU be teaching?  Most of you are probably nicer than I am so my guess is hopefully you will at least do number one.   Promise me you won’t feel guilty and teach it all to your child!

 

My Favorite Things: Zulily Online Shopping

Zulily01
Babyzilla’s Flash t-shirt was originally meant for Antonio…oops, I misread the size chart

I hardly ever have time to shop at an actual department store, so I do quite a bit of online shopping.  When Babyzilla was just a baby, my mother-in-law  suggested I take a look at Zulily’s website because she had recently signed up and there were so many adorable kid outfits at reasonable prices.  It just took one browsing session to hook me onto Zulily sales.  If you are not familiar with Zulily, it’s an online store where you find heavily discounted products (clothes, shoes, health & beauty, toys, furniture, etc.) everyday and each collection is only available for a limited time.  They have unique styles you would not usually find in department stores and also familiar brands that you would see in department stores.  If you are thinking of buying from the Zulily website, I have some tips on how to maximize your shopping experience.

Tip #1: Zulily packages take a while to get to you, so order way in advance.  Zulily does NOT have two day shipping, like Amazon Prime, so you may have to wait anywhere from two weeks to a month to wait for your order.  It’s not that bad, but if your’e like me, you want instant gratification and also procrastinate so you order things at the last minute and expect to get them yesterday.  That’s not going to happen with Zulily so you may as well place your order, forget about it for two weeks, and then find yourself pleasantly surprised when that package shows up in the mail.  Last September, I ordered some Halloween outfits for the kids and I was tracking the package which seemed to have gotten lost.  I called the Zulily customer service number and the folks gave me a credit for my items and were extremely apologetic.  The items finally showed up and then I had some credits to spend!  I have placed about a dozen orders with Zulily and this was the one time I had a shipping incident.

Zulily02
Babyzilla often picks out her own outfits, so I will browse online with her to get her stamp of approval. Antonio, not so much.

Tip #2: Kid sizes run small, so make sure to size up.  Most of my Zulily shopping has been for my daughter and son, so I’m not familiar with how adult sizing compares, but the kid’s clothes does run small.  My kids are both big for their age so I often get one to two sizes bigger than what they usually wear.  Especially with tops.  I once ordered a Flash t-shirt with the intent on buying it for Antonio and it ended up fitting Babyzilla.  So, make sure you pay close attention to the size chart and go up from there.  I would much rather have a larger item than a smaller one because then I would at least be O.K. knowing the kids can grow into it.  There’s not much you can do with an article of clothing that is too small besides exchanging it or giving it away.  I have not had to exchange anything from Zulily and I’ve been sizing up since the beginning.

Tip #3: Extensive brand selection is their strong point.  I used to shop at several local boutiques for Mudpie items until I started noticing Zulily carries the same exact brand, at a discounted rate.  Why would you want to pay more for something you can get for less money online?  I felt a twinge of guilt for no longer shopping at the boutique but my pocketbook won that battle.  On the flip side, they also carry very well known department store brands like Spanx and Jessica Simpson in their collections.  I recently bought Babyzilla two Jessica Simpson bathing suits and Antonio a Nautica sweater at discounted prices that were way below store prices.  Again, there is a whole world of adult clothing and furniture and many other things that I have not yet experienced at Zulily because my shopping has been focused on children’s clothes.

Nautica
Antonio’s Nautica sweater is one of my favorite purchases
SWAG
Antonio’s Swag T-shirt by LC Trendz
Jessica Simpson bikini
Babyzilla’s Jessica Simpson ruffle bikini

Tip #4: Last Chance Deals and Ready to Ship!  Two gems from Zulily online shopping are Last Chance Deals and Ready to Ship products.  As indicated in the name, Last Chance Deals are sales which are nearing their end and you need to get a move on if you would like to purchase.  Ready to Ship! deals are marked with a rocket and will ship within two days of ordering.  These items are meant to be “fast track” items that can get to you in a much quicker timeframe than normal Zulily sales.

Tip #5: Utilize their great website and app.  I have the Zulily app on my phone and I can shop, track, and view my latest orders from the palm of my hand.  This can be a little dangerous if I have some time to kill…The order status on their website and app make it very clear to see the status of your orders.  This is helpful when you’re like me and you forget when you placed the order and need a reminder on when to expect that fun Zulily package.

IMG_1007

In summary, buying kid clothes from Zulily has been a convenient and enjoyable shopping experience for me so far.  I will continue to find frilly outfits for Babyzilla and cool t-shirts for Antonio.  My next adventure on Zulily will be to buy myself something.  Have you ever shopped at Zulily?  What is your favorite online store to buy from?  Happy shopping!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Parent Survival Guide for the PTA

Imminent-Ned

Let’s get one thing straight…PTA is an essential group to any school’s success.  They establish a sense of camaraderie with the parents and work closely with teachers and the administration for the sole purpose of improvement.  There’s always a group of super parents who constantly remind you there is a function you need to attend, or a fundraiser you need to participate in and you can’t help but wonder, “Why did I make eye contact?!”.  There’s no doubt the PTA means well for your school but there is also all of the school politics, drama and personalities you have to manage if you are a member of the PTA.  I joined the PTA when my son was in Kindergarten and knew absolutely nothing of wading through mysterious the waters of PTA.  Here are my words of wisdom for surviving PTA and becoming an influential role in your child’s school while maintaining your sanity.

pta

Be Involved.  In order to stay in the loop about what is going on at your child’s school, you have to talk to other parents (especially those in the PTA) by attending meetings, after school events, or volunteering for functions.  As a working parent, I don’t have time to stand around and chat during morning drop-off, or plan coffee dates, but I do try and attend PTA events whenever possible.  Especially when my son insists on attending because all of his friends will be there.  Michael and I tackle events together (we are both socially awkward so we tag-team) and it makes it so much easier.  Like with everything else, it seems awkward meeting strangers and making small talk, but there is always someone who you find you can connect with and BAM!, a friendship is formed.  These are valuable relationships because other parents in the  PTA can provide you with key information on teachers, other students, events, and even your own child.  If they spend a lot of time at your school, they probably see your child more than you do and can provide insight on how your child is doing.  As a working mommy, I appreciate these folks and make a point to catch up with them when I have the luxury of having lunch with my son.  Also, don’t engage in gossip.  It will inevitably come up that someone wants to share a story or concern about another parent or child and will bring it up to the group and it will be so tempting.  I navigate through this by changing the subject and asking a question about something completely different.  It’s not worth gossiping about other parents because everyone in PTA talks and it will undeniably get back to them.  And, that’s awkward.  Instead, focus on positivity you will create by being involved.  My son is so proud of me for being involved at his school and gets really happy that other kids, parents and teachers know who I am.  He thinks, “Wow, my mommy is pretty important!”.  Bless him, my sweet boy.  And now as a seasoned member of the school, I make sure when I see a new parent that I say hello and make them feel welcome.

pta camp
PTA Conference in Houston in 2014

Be Kind.  There’s no doubt that anytime groups form, personalities and roles will reveal themselves.  Some PTA groups form cliques and you just have to remember how you felt back in middle school when you felt left out and ignore becoming one of those people.  I don’t restrict myself from talking to any of the cliquish groups.  I talk to everyone and don’t respond to negativity.  Also, please don’t post things on social media that could put someone in a bad light or attack anyone’s character.  If you are like me, many of the PTA parents are my friends on FB and that leaves me and my life open for the world to see.  Stay classy on social media and in live interactions with PTA parents.  We are all adults, so even if drama or conflict arises, I don’t engage in it and instead deal with coming up with solutions to help the school become a better place for my child.  Sometimes, you will have to deal with parents who spend hours at the school and feel a sense of ownership and entitlement to it.  Try and find a common trait with folks like this to neutralize them and make them feel more at ease with you.  Sometimes, people seem defensive because of the fear of the unknown, so show them you are there with the common goal to make a positive change and contribution to your school.  And do it with a smile.

pta moms
PTA Moms at the movies

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”.  Last year, I agreed to hold two PTA positions.  Well, it turns out as a working mommy, that was not a very good idea and it resulted in me being a lousy contributor to my duties on the PTA.  Don’t be afraid to commit to only do what you know you are capable of doing.  Otherwise, there could be feelings of resentment and tension between you and other PTA members.  If your PTA is as awesome at the one at my son’s school, then they should provide parents with different levels of involvement.  For example, some folks can contribute more time, while others prefer to contribute with money.  Every contribution is appreciated and it results in a positive environment.

PTA parents have a lot of passion for your school’s success.  Meeting them may be awkward at first, but it will result in important bonds and friendships that will help you through your child’s school years.  These are the parents you will be able to call to pick up your child if you are running late, or that can share pictures of your child’s school event when you can’t make it.  Appreciate these people!

Are you a parent in the PTA?  What has your experience been like?

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

 

 

Family Photos: How To Get Your Unicorn Photo

IMG_9932
This year’s unicorn…Klein Family Photoshoot 2015 – Photo by Abby Knowles

We have all wandered over to the Awkward Family Photos website and had a good laugh, while secretly hoping we don’t ever appear on there.  Thank-you-baby-Jesus that my Mom doesn’t know how to upload pictures to the internets.  I never understood the obsession with taking family photos until I had my son.  Then, I wanted to broadcast my most prized possession to the entire world so everyone could see just how adorable he really was.  And then, I realized that having the perfect family photo was also important because this gem would then be shared with all of my friends and family through the both dreaded and loved Christmas Card.  After eight years of taking family photos, I have some words of wisdom to share on how to successfully survive and pull off a great family picture.

Research Photographers.  I have been lucky to find many talented women who do photography on the side, and cost significantly less than photographers who do this professionally full-time.  I’ve searched reviews, googled and have stalked photographers before approaching them about photographing my family.  That’s the beauty of the internet.  Most photographers have websites you can browse and determine if their style fits your needs.

Natural Sunlight is Best.  Head outside to take your family pictures.  Studio photos often look cheesy and unless you live in a mansion, outdoors pictures make for the best backdrop.  One of our first family photoshoots was done outside, and I will always love the contrast of the soft colors of our clothes against the bright green grass.  I was still new to family pictures at this point, so our outfits are not on par, but I was also pregnant and only thinking about comfort and keeping cool.  Thus, the mumu with birds.

Family Pic 1
I was super prego during Klein Family Photos 2012 – Photo by Tina Rogers 

The Art of Picking Outfits.  Please don’t wear matching white shirts à la the Kardashians circa 1990.  Instead, coordinate the guys and girls and choose a color scheme.  For example in 2013, I happened to find the same blue gingham shirt for both Michael and Antonio.  Thank you baby Gap and Nordstrom’s.  Gingham is a busy pattern so I decided Babyzilla and I would wear something more neutral so it wouldn’t compete with the blue.  In 2014, I dressed the family in the least “matchy” set of outfits and the results were still great.  While sitting on the blanket, Michael and I discovered we could secretly tickle the kids from behind and managed to get Antonio to smile.  Babyzilla would only smize.  Nailed it!

Kardashian Family Pic
The Kardashians
Famipy Pic 3
Babyzilla makes her debut in Klein Family Photos 2013 – Photo by Esther Huynh
Family Pic 12
Klein Family Photo 2014 – Photo by Abby Knowles

Be Creative.  Two years ago, I got a wild hair and decided I wanted a theme.  My good friend Hannah was taking our photographs and came up with the idea to have a Mad Hatter tea party at our photoshoot.  I immediately loved the idea.  The kids were 1 and 4 at the time so the props were perfect in keeping them engaged.  And, once we had enough shots of us sitting at the table, we let the kids run around and took some action shots.

Family Pic 4
Klein Family Photo 2013 – Photo by Hannah Piles
Family Pic 11
Klein Photo 2013 – Photo by Hannah Piles

Set Your Standards Low.  Be flexible.  Especially with kids.  Babyzilla refuses to smile (or look at the camera) and Antonio can’t stop moving.  Yet somehow, we manage to pull off the unicorn of family pictures every year while also squeezing in some adoringly sweet sibling shots!  A good photographer will be patient and adjust to your kids.  They will know how to bribe your children into smiling, how to work with different poses, and will allow for multiple breaks.

Family Pic 10
Klein Kids over the years.

Pinterest Inspiration.  I love any website or app that organizes the internet for me.  Pinterest does a great job of providing inspiration for absolutely anything you can think of.  I looked through Pinterest this year and found this picture where a family was wearing formal clothes instead of jeans and scarves.  I was immediately inspired for us get fancy for our family pictures!

IMG_0056
We got fancy for Klein Family Photo 2015 – Photo by Abby Knowles

The key to family pics is to just go with the flow.  You may be asked to truck through mud in high heels or climb around the rolling hills of a golf course and that’s OK.  Just smile and act natural.  In the end, you will end up with a beautiful snap shot in time of your loving family.  And it will all be worth it.  I promise!

Do you take annual family pics?  Share your advice in the comments section.

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

The Galvestonian: A Beach Hotel Resort Review

Galvestonian 2b

Escaping to the beach is one of my favorite pastimes because I can actually relax there.  Yes, with today’s hectic life which includes exercise, meetings, kids, meetings, work, meetings, dinners, meetings, cooking and so many other things (and meetings), it’s a miracle when you get a solid two days to do absolutely nothing.  This is when I will turn to my husband and we immediately think “Beach!”.

Galvestonian 1

I have been going to Galveston and Port Aransas since I was a kid, so I was pleasantly surprised to recently discover a new spot in Galveston called The Galvestonian we had not previously been to.  The Galvestonian is one of the newer resorts in Galveston and unlike all of the busy places on the Sea Wall, it is tucked away on the northeast shore and it’s right on the beach!  Here is my review of our first weekend getaway at The Galvestonian and all it has to offer.

Price: 5 out of 5 stars  5 out of 5

There are tons of places to stay at in Galveston and you can definitely find a cheaper place than The Galvestonian, but I found it very reasonable compared to other resort-like condos in the area.  First, I signed up on their newsletter so I could get email notifications when they have any deals going on.  This is how I found out about their latest special of getting a 4 night stay for the price of 2 nights.  I immediately called and booked got our reservations booked.  Very easy.  Usually, you can just book your stay online through their website but the special deal was limited to the first 20 callers who had received the email.

Galvestonian 3

Service: 4 out of 5 stars4 of 5

The staff at The Galvestonian was friendly, kind and very helpful.  We were late arriving for check-in so they called me to make sure that I was going to make it and also asked for an ETA to make sure someone would be at the desk waiting for our arrival.  I was impressed.  My only reservation for providing them with 5 out of 5 stars is when I made my reservations over the phone, they took down my email incorrectly and I never received and confirmation email.  I had to email and request a confirmation, which they immediately corrected and called me about.

Family Friendliness: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5

It can be difficult to find vacation spots that are truly family friendly.  I found The Galvestonian a delightful exception in that they go out of their way to accommodate families with children.  I will explain more by sprinkling bits of information on the rest of this post.

Amenities:  5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5

Galvestonian 4

Pool My family loves to swim and a pool is essential to any vacation trip we make.  The Galvestonian has a huge deck with a pool that overlooks the beach and beach towel service in clear view.  Complimentary swim diapers are available at the front desk for baby guests.  Wow.  I was impressed.  We also enjoyed complimentary breakfast consisting of quiche, juice, coffee, fresh fruit and donuts.  We had our breakfast outside on the deck where there is plenty of seating and provides a picturesque view.  There’s plenty of room for tons of people to enjoy the pool at once without getting crowded.  Antonio is a strong swimmer and was all over the place.  Babyzilla likes to jump off the side and swim to Daddy.  There’s also hot tubs for a more relaxing poolside experience.  Again, plenty of space for both kids and adults to share the pool.

Galvestonian 5

Beach – One of the main advantages of staying at The Galvestonian is that it is one of three resorts located directly on the beach.  All of the spots on the Sea Wall require you to walk across the street and then find a place in the crowded beach.  The east beach is practically secluded and is extremely private.  We love this about this spot.  Plus, it’s cleaned every day.  Our frequent trips to the beach mean we have accumulated tons of beach/sand toys.  And guess what?  We forgot them and didn’t realize it until we were on the road.  I was pleasantly surprised to find our condo unit had a bag full of sand toys and then as we made our way to the beach, there is a huge area where you can find any kind of sand toy you can imagine to borrow and take to the beach!  They have sand toys, athletic balls, wagons, Frisbees, and tons of other swimming accessories for guests to use while there.  In order to enjoy the umbrella chairs the resort offers, you have to make reservations way in advance.  We didn’t know this but managed to book one last minute.  It costs $35 and you get it all day.  Standard price in Galveston.

Galvestonian 6

Other Amenities –  There is a huge picnic area with BBQ grills and plenty of seating if you want to grill your own food.  They also offer bikes for riding around town.  A workout area with treadmills and a stationary bike for you overachievers who work out on vacation.  And, a computer center for online usage.  The rooms have Wifi so we just used our laptops in our rooms.  You know, because we are those crazy work people…

Rooms:  5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5

Galvestonian 7

Amazing.  Clean, very modern and extremely spacious.  We stayed in a single bedroom unit which is one of the smaller rooms you can stay in, and found it very comfortable for a family of four.  We had a full size kitchen, a dining room, living room, bedroom, bathroom and two balconies overlooking the beach.  The Galvestonian offers 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom and 5 bedroom units.

Overall rating:  Almost five stars!overall stars

I will definitely pack up my family and make another trip to The Galvestonian!  Overall, a family friendly resort with amazingly beautiful views, private beach, luxury rooms, impeccable grounds maintenance and just a pleasure to stay in!  You can bet I’ll be checking their upcoming specials!

Where does your family take vacations?  Let us know in the comments section!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Kids on a Plane: Packing Travel Tips

DSC_0613 copy 2
I love traveling.  We probably pack up the kids and head to the beach a dozen times a year.  So, when we planned a trip to my home country of El Salvador that included six hours on a plane each way, I had to make adjustments.  After all, taking a six and two year old on an international flight can either be the greatest experience of their little lives, or a torture chamber in the clouds. Luckily for us, Antonio and Babyzilla had a *mostly* smooth flight from Dallas to El Salvador…Here are some packing travel tips for all of you brave souls who haul your kids around the world.

DSC_9819 copy

Tip #1:  Purchase seating with extra room.

The amount of preparation for this trip was key to avoiding a toddler meltdown. It all started with the purchasing of the tickets. We paid extra money to fly in the larger cabin where we would have slightly more room than regular Economy class which was well worth it.  This proved genius when Babyzilla refused to sit in her own seat and insisted on sitting on our laps.

DSC_9826 copy

Tip #2:  Personalized backpacks with goodies.

Next, I decided to make a special backpack for each child that would contain plenty of goodies, snacks and ways distract them during the long hours in the sky. Everything inside was labeled with each child’s name so there would be no crazy fighting over what was inside.  Here are the contents of each backpack and thanks to the magic of the Dollar Tree and Target, I spent less than $20 on everything!  And don’t be ashamed of carrying iPads, iPhones or other electronic devices.  These can be lifesavers when traveling with a child that can only be calmed down by watching the same movie over and over and over again…

DSC_9802 copy

DSC_9829 copy

Travel5

Travel6

Kid Backpack
– plastic containers
– ziploc bags in two sizes
– crayons
– pens
– coloring books
– sun glasses
– activity books
– stickers
– LED light
 Toddler Backpack
– plastic containers
– ziploc bags in two sizes
– crayons
– pens
– coloring books
– sun glasses
– Elsa magnet dress-up doll
– activity fun purse
– stickers
– LED light

Tip #3:  Headphones.

Tuning out the world can work wonders with toddlers.  Over-stimulation is likely to occur with little ones because a traveling environment is full of people and noises.  And for older kids, headphones provide a way to escape and tune out their younger sibling.  Hehe.

DSC_1171 copy

Tip #4:  Blankets.

Blankets not only help keep your child warm on those freezing airplanes, but also provide something soothing, familiar and comforting from home.  Whether you are riding on a plane or on a long car ride, blankets will make your child’s trip more comfortable on a bumpy ride.  You can use a blanket as a pillow, barrier between siblings, or shade to block out the sun.

Tip #5:  Dress in comfortable clothes.

Before I had kids, I used to think Crocs were the ugliest shoes in the world.  Now, I think they’re genius!  Comfortable, slip-on shoes that kids can take off easily is a must when traveling.  Next, dress kids in loose layers.  My kids get hot easily so they always have to have short sleeves on underneath.

DSC_0560 copy

So, there you have it.  Babyzilla refused to sleep one wink during the whole trip but thanks to our travel activity packs, she was entertained.  And no one pooped their pants during the airplane ride which may or may not have happened a couple of years ago on a trip to Cancun.

Do you travel with your kids?  What tips can you share?

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Back to School Clothes for Kids

Image 8-23-15 at 9.27 PM (1)

Happy Back to School Day!  Today, I want to share with you my favorite place to shop for kid’s clothes where you get the most return for your investment.  I head to Gap Kids for my back to school shopping needs.  As you moms out there know, it feels like you have to buy clothes for your kids every couple of months which means you have to be smart about where you spend your money.

Cost. Gap Kids always has clothes on sale or clearance and their selection is great for elementary school aged kids. My son started second grade today (Wow!) and nearly every piece of clothing I bought for him came from our local Gap Kids outlet store. Shirts, shorts, pants, underwear, socks and jeans all came with a discounted price.

Style. My son is not picky about what he wears and I pick out is clothes 99% of the time (Fridays are Minecraft t-shirt day).  I know this luxury won’t last much longer but for now, I keep it simple. Gap Kids boy’s clothes range from preppy, to laid back, to sporty so there is a wide selection for every kind of kid preference.

Comfort & Durability. Did you know that Gap Kids come in slim, regular or husky sizes?  Perfect for any size kid.  And, their clothes are really well made to stand up to rough play in the playground.  The t-shirts are 100% cotton and super soft.  I’ve been known to try and squeeze into one of my son’s shirts.

Here’s my very proud 2nd Grader sporting the latest sales and clearance items from Gap Kids sprinkled with other pieces from Carter’s and Polo Kids!

Image 8-23-15 at 9.27 PM (2)

DSC_2513 copy

DSC_2527 copy

DSC_2521 copy

3NBGreen

Image 8-23-15 at 9.27 PM (4)

DSC_2545 copy

DSC_2595 copy1

DSC_2613 copy

Here’s the Gap hiker shorts in a different color, worn three different ways…

3NB kid fashion

Where do you take your kids for Back to School shopping??  Share your shopping adventures with us below on our comments section!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig