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Friday, May 27, 2011

Good Night Chicago – Fountains and Bridges

So for my vacation recap, you heard about my last minute passport issue, our stay at the Grand Sunset Princess in Playa del Carmen, my mommy guilt and our day at the Zoo and Nature Museum. On our next day in the city, we took Mia to Millennium Park and on an architecture boat tour to complete more pages of her Good Night Chicago book.
Mia loves looking at herself in mirrors and pictures. Surprisingly, she didn’t care for the Bean. She was much more interested in people watching (there were A LOT of people on the beautiful Friday afternoon) and trying to make friends.
After getting food from Caffe Baci, we picnicked in the park. I ♥ laying on a blanket in the grass on sunny summer days J  It was Mia’s naptime when we took her over to the fountains, and she clearly wasn't in the mood for them.  She's so much bigger in the stroller now compared to October!
Hello, fantastic fountains.

Doug and I always wanted to do a boat tour and luckily there was a recent Groupon for it ($17 instead of $34) J We walked from Millennium Park to the Wrigley Building to board our Wendella boat. Mia did well for the 75 minute ride enjoying the “wa-wa” and breeze in her hair.

Greetings, Chicago River and bridges. 

Greetings, Navy Pier and Ferris wheel. 
Hello, great Chicago buildings reaching up into the sky.

It’s fun being a tourist in your own city sometimes J mmmk you're probably sick of hearing about us and our vacation. Back to artsy fartsy...In the next few weeks I'll have a special Girl's Night Out, Hello Kitty 5th Birthday Party and a Shabby Chic 1st Birthday Tea Party to show you! Have a wonderful long weekend!  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Night Chicago – Lincoln Park Zoo

Last year I decided to recreate Mia’s Good Night Chicago book. There’s actually books for a lot of different cities, check them out here. Last summer we took care of a few pages strolling around the Museum Campus and then Navy Pier for her birthday. To make up for leaving her behind while we were in Mexico, we spent the day at the Lincoln Park Zoo and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
*Tips* The LP Zoo is always free and the Nature Museum (right next door) was free because it was Thursday. There’s various free museum days in Chicago, I use this website to check when/where they are. Also, the Zoo parking lot is like $20 or something but you can find FREE parking on the street a block away. Hooray for a FREE day in the city!
Good afternoon, gorillas. Isn't it fun to visit the zoo?
This poor hippo kept running in place as if he could get through the glass. Look at his smooshed nose! He kept going at it for awhile too. Poor guy L
Mia pretending to be a giraffe hehe
I had never been to the Nature Museum but knew that it's a site for weddings and that it had a butterfly haven. Butterflies freak Doug out so he didn’t stay very long in there while I snapped away at the beauties. I don’t have a macro lens, but this would’ve been perfect for those who do!
Looks like Mia had a good time J Check back tomorrow to see where else we took her to ease our bad parent guilt!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sorry we left you behind…

...but we got you this little guitar!

I mentioned earlier that Doug and I went on vacation. Without Mia. Using excuses like it was for our anniversary, all parents need alone time, it would be more stressful than relaxing and we weren’t sure about the food/milk situation in Mexico. I really didn’t think I’d have a problem being away from Mia for four days. I knew I’d enjoy my quiet time in the sun with a book and drink in hand. J

But it turns out I felt some major mommy guilt. And not because I missed her (don’t get me wrong, I did). But because there were so many other babies there having fun. Mia would’ve loved splashing in the water, sitting on the beach in her sunhat and running around making friends. L I asked some parents how their babies were doing on the trip and they said it was going well. Although some did say they wish they were alone ha. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side?

So to ease our guilty conscious, we bought her a little guitar haha. No no, we also took the next two days off to roam about the big city with our little girl. Come back tomorrow to see what we did. So do you leave your kids behind? Or where do you vacation with them?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Riviera Maya - Grand Sunset Princess

We decided on a get away to Riviera Maya thanks to a weekly Travelzoo email which pointed me to a special. We stayed at the Grand Sunset Princess Resort ($80/day/per person all inclusive) for 3 nights/4 days. It received 4 out of 5 stars from 2000+ Tripadvisor reviews (always a great travel resource).  It was our first time doing an all-inclusive and first time in Mexico. Here’s my review...

**Pictures taken with my 6 year old Sony Cybershot - I have some fear of sand getting in my camera lens or having all my stuff stolen from the beach - therefore no DSLR on vacation L**

Resort Groundsbeautiful and very well kept. Loved the little cabana seats near the front of the hotel for lounging.  Lots of pools to choose from so you could either be partying with a DJ at a chatty swim up bar or quietly secluded from others.

Beach – The resort is big, so the walk from the front of the hotel to the beach was probably 10 minutes. Plenty of beach chairs and huts/tables for shade. Didn’t like how the first row of seats must be purchased/reserved. Also didn’t like the vendor huts obstructing my peaceful view. The water was clear enough to see fish swim RIGHT next to you. Freaked us out a little, but was very cool. There must’ve been a sandbar or something because you could be standing FAR out. Doug liked that and how peaceful and calm the water was, given he doesn’t know how to swim.

Food - Not particularly good. But not inedible. I was always able to fill up and eat a full plate without complaints. Wide variety of “specialty” restaurants to choose from. Again, not that they were particularly good, but at least there was a variety.

Drinks – Weak. Questionable whether the “Corona” from the tap was really Corona. The mixed drinks were pretty much ice + flavored mix + Gordon’s Rum. Having a few was fine, but I don’t think you’d ever get drunk off them. I almost wondered if I’d prefer to be at a normal hotel paying for real drinks.
I also decided at 530am before our flight to cut myself some bangs despite Doug screaming "DON'T DO IT!!" Still don't know how I feel about them. But I needed a change before vacation.

Rooms – Pretty nice. Minus the brown warm water we had one evening. Not cool. It went away after running the water for a long time. “Stocked” fridges = 3 big water bottles, a few bottles of pop and 2 Modelo beers.

Entertainment – There was live music and a short show every night which we took in from the plentiful outdoor seating. The open walled lobby bars were also enjoyable in the evening. Our favorite was hearing the music from afar while sitting at the cabana seats close enough to talk to others yet far enough to seem alone. We never felt like we were trapped on the resort nor had the desire to leave.

We booked a shuttle from the airport to the hotel in advance through It went smoothly and was the best deal for $100 or so (roundtrip for 2). I should’ve booked our dolphin swim in advance to save $50. It was so much fun though! We also got to hug this 1500 lb manatee and feed him. His mouth was SO weird! How does he get so big off only fruits and veggies?!?

All in all I wish the trip were a day longer. And maybe we should’ve brought Mia - more on that tomorrow. But we still had a good time. As for the resort, overall I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5. Where have you vacationed lately?

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Passport Needed ASAP

Hola! Doug and I just got back from the warm beaches of Riviera Maya J You'll be hearing about it all week...

Exactly one week before our international trip, I made sure my passport was ready to go. Weeks prior to this, I remember thinking to myself, “My passport was renewed in 2005 before I studied in Europe, less than 10 years ago…I’m good.” Then when I went looking for it, it completely did not occur to me that I got married two years ago (my name changed) and I needed a new one! Ahhh! We were leaving in a week!
When Googling how to go about resolving this minor last minute issue, a lot of not very authoritative looking sites came up. When scrolling nearly to the bottom, I finally found a (.gov) site.  So for an extra $60, I was able to make an appointment and get a passport within 48 hours. I was surprised that some people in line needed their passport for travel that very day! And apparently they can make it happen, who knew?! I was impressed with how smooth, calm and organized the process was. Don’t make the same stupid mistake as me, check your passport when booking your trip!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

DIY Diaper Cake with Picture Instructions

I already showed you a diaper cake I made for Sandy's baby shower with a really lengthy tutorial without many pictures. Last week my old manager asked if I could help her make a diaper cake for my other old manager. And of course I agreed J

So here is another tutorial, that’s hopefully easier to follow with more pictures. Keep in mind no two diaper cakes are the same.

Basic Materials:
       1 box (96 ct) newborn or size 1 diapers
       1 wrapping paper roll or 2 paper towel rolls
       Baby girl hair ties or rubber bands
       2 spools of ribbon (1 large and 1 medium width)
       1 cake stand/base
Optional Adornments/Gifts:
       1 hooded towel
       Numerous packages of burp cloths
       Numerous packages of wash cloths
       Numerous packages of onesies
       1 hat and socks set
       2 flower lollipops
       3 little jingly animals
Total Cost: ~$100
Total Time: 3 hours
1.   Roll each diaper and secure with hair tie/rubber bands. In the same manner, roll some wash cloths, burp cloths and onesies, trying to make them similar heights.
2.   Stand a bunch of diapers up and start gathering until they form a circle. Tie loosely with a string. Add more until you get desired shape and size. Make this your base (1).
3.   Cut wrapping paper roll in half. Remove two diapers from your base (1) where you want your support (wrapping paper roll) to go. Keep in mind that the support should go through the next two tiers (2&3), so place them towards the inside of the base (1).
4.   Repeat step 2 around your wrapping paper rolls making tier (2) smaller than the base.
5.   Fold towel lengthwise to be the same height as base (1). Wrap around base tucking the top over a row of diapers. Neatly fold excess towel underneath base so it lays flat. Our towel wasn’t long enough and used the matching wash cloth to cover the gap. Secure with pins. Make sure you tell Mom that there are pins in her cake!
6.   To cover the outside of tier (2), repeat step 5 with burp cloths. We also covered the top of this tier by sticking washcloths on top and tucking it in. 
7.   Repeat step 4 with wash cloths, burp cloths and onesies to make tier (3). Cut wrapping paper rolls so they do not extend above this tier (3). Remove a diaper from the center of this tier (3) and replace with wrapping paper roll. Repeat step 4 to make tier (4).
8.   For our topper, I put a diaper in each sock. Then they were able to stand inside the (upside down) hat. I removed a few wash cloths/burp cloths/onesies from the center of our top tier (4) to make room for the hat and stuffed it in.
9.   Tie wide ribbon around each layer of the cake. Secure with a pin. Tie narrower ribbon in the center of each wide ribbon. Secure with a pin.
10. We stuck the lollipops in the top and secured the little animals with a pin. They’re saying taa-daa! J
I hope this tutorial was easier to follow than my first one! What do you think?

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Replying to Your Comments

Now that I have more followers (hooray! Thanks for reading J) I also get more comments. Which I love to hear what you think, keep ‘em coming! And I want to reply to you and say thank you. Or answer your question. Or ask you a question. But for those of you with Blogger accounts, some of you don’t have an email linked to your profile. Which means I receive your comment as an email from “YourNameHere” I’m guessing you didn’t know that? Or you want to remain anonymous because of creepers out there, which is totally understandable. But I didn’t know about the noreply-comment thing until I read Darcy’s better blogging posts. Read this so I can reply to your comments please! It makes connecting with others so much easier! And then I don't have to stalk you to find out your email. jk. kinda. J

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

15 months


Mia just turned 15 months old last week! Or as Doug said to Mia, “You just finished a quarter and had good results. Another three quarters to go until you’re two.” That's a business man for ya. 
It’s hard to believe all the things she can say and do already *tear* Now that it’s nice out, we can take her monthly pictures outside. Sorry we had to leave you inside Trails (the horsie that was in almost all 52 pictures the first year).
She loves "ba-by" watching on the see saw, swinging and sliding.  She would play at the park for hours if we let her J
Hope you had a great weekend! Even though it felt like a cold, windy and wet October here. Which is crazy considering we set a record high of 90 degrees last week! Why won't Spring make an appearance?!

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