If you’re like me, you’ve seen Thirty-One Gifts products around the web. Honestly, I’m not sure why I’ve never tried any of their cute bags! When Jolie was born, I bought every kind of bag known to man for every possible scenario. Most often, I bought thermals (seriously, I have like, 10) because I was always needing something cold. Lucky me, Thirty-One consultant Alicia offered me a Thermal Tote to check out and lucky for YOU, she also included one to giveaway!
My original intention was to take it on a picnic with the kids, but since it’s been gloomy here recently, I decided to raid the kitchen and see what I could fit in the tote. The Thermal Tote is literally the perfect size! I tried kid size sports drinks and even had enough room for ice packs:
I packed a fake lunch for myself with ice packs:
I packed a going-to-grandma’s bag for the kids:
New moms, this is great for breastmilk storage! I own a single pump that didn’t come with it’s own storage bag and this one’s just the right size, even with extra ice packs.
The Thermal Tote has a front pocket that would be perfect for utensils, napkins or nursing accessories. They’ve thought of everything, friends.
I’m so excited to be giving one of these bags away! Here’s how to enter:
1. Check out Thirty-One’s catalog and leave a comment with which thermal tote you like best.
2. For an extra entry, join Alicia’s Thirty-One Facebook group here. Leave a separate comment saying you did.
3. For a third entry, invite a friend to join Alicia’s Facebook group and leave another comment saying you did.
The giveaway is open until Friday and the winner will be announced Saturday! Good luck!
**In the meantime, for the month of May, you can get any thermal for 1/2 off when you spend $31! Thirty-One offers a lot of different thermal bags and they can all be personalized! Alicia is currently doing a fundraiser for Relay For Life with any purchases. Go support a great cause and get yourself a cute thermal!
For the past couple of months, I’ve started posts on some photography tips and deleted them all. I’d really like to be helpful in taking pictures of an ordinary life while honing photography skills! I think it would be a fun regular feature of this blog and, hopefully, helpful to readers. So, to you the reader: whaddya say?
What do you want to know about photography that can be explained on a blog? What would you like me to write about?
Leave it in the comments or email me! I’d love to be as helpful as I can!
(Disclaimer: if your answer to either of the above questions is “nothing” or “please, shut up”, I am not offended.)
My Jo Bug,
You just turned three! You are so good at telling me how old you are, too. You say, “I am free yeaws owd.” very proudly, baby girl. I recently read the letter I wrote to you last year on your birthday and it’s amazing to me how much has changed!
Let’s be honest, this year was a tough one for us, wasn’t it? Your sister was born and took so much of my attention and you had to split my affection! I’ve been tired and worn when you wanted to play and I’ve been impatient with you when it wasn’t your fault. I’m sorry about that, Jo Bug. You have really done fantastically with the transition; you have never tried to hurt Rowen in any way and you always understand when I can’t tend to you because she needs something. You are such a good big sister and Rowen’s lucky to have you. You did have a few weeks of randomly waking up in the middle of the night. Daddy and I think you were just dealing with a lot of emotions you couldn’t express and needed some extra love. We are still surprised how well you transitioned into being a big sister as a 2-year-old.
Nowadays, you love making Rowen laugh and helping me teach her new things like signing “more” and waving. Though you don’t like it when she cries. You’re at that age where it’s satisfying for you to tell her , “Stop Wowen! NO!” very firmly with a shake of your finger. You do love saying good night to her and giving her a kiss and hug. Rowen likes it, too. You think it’s so funny to get in Rowen’s face while I’m changing her diaper just to tell her, “Wowen, you have a stiiiinky diapuh!” and watching her laugh at you. You’re so good at bringing her toys when she is bored or upset. And you always make sure someone knows if Rowen has dropped a toy out of her reach. Sometimes you will ask to play with her and the two of you will play for an hour alone in her room. You love helping give Rowen a bath. You’re quick to get your stool so we can stand at the sink together and play with Rowen in the sink. You don’t like to be without each other and it’s so fun watching you grow up to be true sisters.
I guess it’s no surprise you’re such a good big sister since you are growing to be such a good little caretaker! You thoroughly care for all of your special stuffed animals and baby dolls, bathing them and making soft beds with blankets around the house for them to sleep in. Their favorite sleeping spots are apparently your bed and Mommy’s closet; I always find someone sleeping there! I was really happy to find a bath tub set for you to use with your animals and you bathe them all the time! They always get cuddles after bath time and songs before bed. You like having little charges to care for because you are such a sweetheart.
You loooove your daddy! While he’s at work you like to talk to him on the phone and you’re constantly asking me if it’s him every time the front door opens. Last week, you even wanted to make him a card. When I asked you what it should say you thought about it and replied simply, “I wuv you!”, then you were so pleased to decorate it with stickers and crayons. When Daddy gets home, you would play with him all night if you had a choice! You love to play around on the floor, doing your special flips and tickles and tunnels. And you love to build blocks together. I’m honestly not sure which one of you is having the better time.
The older you get, the more I realize how much you are like your Daddy. Your thinking processes are already so similar! You are very interested in the way things work. You are most certainly an introvert like him; you really appreciate time to yourself. You’ve got a sweet tooth just like Daddy and you even look more like him every day! Lately you’ve been singing a lot of songs from Daddy’s current music like Keane, Fleet Foxes, Zee Avi, Adele, Amos Lee and Alicia Keys (though “Count On Me” will always be your favorite and you still ask for it a lot). It’s pretty fun for us to hear you randomly break out into song and Daddy especially appreciates your song choices. You guys are going to be buddies for life, I just know it.
One of the biggest changes this year has been no more diapers! You potty trained pretty easy, big girl; it was done in 2 weeks. Thanks for that! You are even good at using public restrooms. A couple weeks ago, we went to the bathroom together and you announced very loudly to the whole bathroom, “You peed in the potty! Good job, Mommy!”.
You sleep in a big girl bed, which you love being in! You’ve never been hard to get to bed, we tuck you in and you go to sleep. You stay in bed for naps, too, even when you shared a room with me and Daddy for a little while. Every morning, you wake up and we use the potty, then I hear you read books to yourself in your room for the next half hour. You read the same books almost every day; your current favorites are “No David!” and “Zoe Gets Ready”. You also like to make up your own stories and recite books from Mom-mom’s house from memory. It’s pretty impressive, big girl.
Most of the time, you’re compliant and pleasant and sweet. Once in a while you get a little sassyThis has been the year of “Noooo, I dooon’t!” as a response to everything from “What do you want for lunch?” to “Jolie, come here.” When you get frustrated, you like to hit the floor or throw your bear around, which can be pretty funny to us. You usually come around on your own and lament, “Ohhh, poor baaayaa!” as you retrieve him. We’re all learning how to navigate your toddlerhood with you. I know we’ll all come out unscathed.
As cheesy as it sounds, you are teaching me daily to live in the moment and to enjoy life. You affect my decisions, present and future, and I will be a better person because of you, I’m sure of it. I’m convinced you will be a powerhouse, sharp as a tack and so smart. The kind of woman will you be? She’s who I want to be. I feel like I already know her and she is beckoning me to join her pursuit of changing the world. Let’s do it, baby girl. I love you!
Last month, Drew and I left our kids with our parents, flew to California, stayed in four star hotels and ate out at every meal for TEN DAYS. Yes, I wrote that correctly. We were kidless in 65 degree weather in February for over a week. And so, we aptly named this trip “Treat Yo Self ’13″. We took a ton of pictures and I’ll be posting highlights in several parts over the next few weeks, starting with San Diego and Coronado!
After a whole day of Drew puking upon arrival, we were both really happy for him to be feeling better and to get out into the sun!
Breakfast at Snooze in Hillcrest:
A visit to Balboa Park:
While in San Diego, we attended the Storyline conference (which I can’t recommend enough!). Since we were kidless, we had all the time in the world to discuss our dreams and our future – what a novelty! After the conference on Saturday night, we ended up at a Denny’s at 11pm. Why? Because we could. One of my favorite memories of the trip.
We stayed on Coronado with Drew’s aunt and uncle, who were gracious hosts! Exploring Coronado the next day:
Too many selfies:
More to come!
Fifteen years ago, 13-year-old me wrote a note to a boy, trying to save face after my friends told him I had a crush on him. He wrote back and started a hand-written note series that spanned over a year and over 150 pages of notebook paper, worksheets and torn paper scraps. He became my very first, oh-so official boyfriend (who was in HIGH SCHOOL, no less) and those 150 pages chronicled our adolescent, short-lived relationship.
That boy was Drew.
It’s a funny thing that Drew and I were each others’ very first significant others, our first Valentines. In actuality, it has nothing to do with the fact that we’d later fall in love and get married, in fact, we “dated” for 4 short months in 98-99, broke up, were acquaintances for almost 10 years, then fell in love as completely different people in completely different circumstances. During those friendship years, I dated other people and didn’t give a lot of thought to our little immature romance. We ran in different circles and didn’t see each other a whole lot.
I never could get rid of the notes, though. I kept them in a box, all 70+ of them, folded neatly, stuffed in the closet; I’d toss them one day, I thought. I don’t know why I kept them. And, unbeknownst to me, Drew kept his, too.
When we started dating in college, we couldn’t believe we both still had the notes (and our college friends had a lot of fun making fun of us over them). Over the past 7 years, we’ve had a great time getting them out periodically and feeling ashamed over the lameness of their content. Now, all 150+ pages live in a folder, organized chronologically from start to finish (complete with intricate folding patterns). They are filled with really boring details about our lives that we thought would interest each other (I’m going to the doctor’s tomorrow, today I visited my grandparents), too many pop culture references (all of the music that we were into, including K-Ci and Jojo, Shania Twain and the Backstreet Boys. OH and Celine Dion. Yep.), and a few lame attempts at inside jokes.Seriously, a lot of it is embarrassing (Drew’s response to my break up note has a hand drawn heart broken in two, for real), but they’re a part of our story and today, I’m sharing the very first ones.
Some highlights: Basic translation of my thoughts: “I mean, I like you, but only kind of and no offense, but you should totally ask me out because I’d probably definitely say yes, but I’m not going to be too eager so I wouldn’t, like, faint or something.” Let’s be honest, here. My diary was full of pages about Andrew Ackermann and I totally would’ve fainted. But, like I said, I had to save some face.
Some highlights: “nagging…that’s just how girls are.” (you’ve come a long way, honey), “I like being nice to ALL the girls”, and just to make sure I got the point, FRIENDS (OKAY?!?!).
We are such different people now, but it’s so fun to look back and imagine how our then-selves would react if we told them we’d share a bed one day. Fifteen years, one marriage and two kids later? I’m so glad to have these.
After using random.org to generate a comment number (with Drew as a witness), comment number 9 belonged to a former bride and soon-to-be mama Becky!
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. I’ll be hosting more workshops in the future and giving away more seats. Congrats, Becky! Can’t wait to see you!
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