How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)


This post is brought to you by VTech and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own and based upon my experience. 

Is it just me or are beach houses actually Toddler Death Traps in disguise?

Until I had an almost two year old, beach houses were synonymous with relaxation; big open doors that let in the sound of the ocean, tall, rickety wooden staircases that allow the perfect perch on the dunes and balconies full of wide open railings that won't obstruct the view.

And now?

Now all I can see is my toddler tumbling down those rickety staircases, plowing through those wide open doors and slipping through those insanely spaced railings. And nothing says, "hey mama, take a load off and relax" like imagining your child making it out the loosely bolted door and sprinting at top toddler speed directly towards the ocean.

Feel that? 
Yep, it's all of that relaxation slipping right through my fingers - and we haven't even discussed sunscreen yet.

So, what's a mildly anxious mom to do in order to ensure her toddler survives a week at the beach?

Pack accordingly.

As we loaded up the casual twenty two bags that were packed for this trip, I kept reminding Justin that no matter what happens, the baby monitor box was not to be removed from the car. And in case you didn't catch the undertone, that was a nice was of saying that I nagged the ever loving mess out of him and threatened his life continually if he somehow managed to move that box. Wisely, he chose to leave it in the car and the VTech Safe and Sound DM271-110 DECT 6.0 Digital Audio Baby Monitor with Open/Closed & Motion Sensors made it safely to the beach house.

And good thing it did because this happened roughly ten seconds after we arrived:

How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)




How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)

Yes, our son can apparently reach both the door knob and the deadbolt and has the dexterity/determination to open them both and free himself. Yay, vacation!
 
So, first things first we busted out the VTech Digital Monitor and set about toddler proofing that exterior door. What makes the VTech Digital Monitor my travel go to are two things: one is the ultra low energy Open/Closed Door Sensor and the other is the Smart Home Motion Sensor. We set the Open/Closed smart sensor up on the exterior door (using the mounting tape provided so we didn't damage the rental house) and programed the hand held parent unit to alert us if the baby somehow managed the get the door open and make a break for it. 

How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)

Take a peek at how the sensor works on a door with thick trim - we just rotated the two pieces to the Open/Close Sensor and it worked like a charm. 


 And let me be clear, there were 6 adults and one toddler in that house so he was extremely supervised (and two of the adults were his grandparents so you know he didn't have much personal space with all of that crazy grandparent attention) but toddlers are known to be wily and inventive creatures and if they want out, out they'll go. 

How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)

After booby trapping securing the exterior door we made a move to his make shift nursery.
Because the house was a rental, toddler boy was going to be camping out in his own room, Pack and Play style. It's been a hot minute since he's crashed in anything but his own bed so I had forgotten how short the walls of a portable crib are. There was no doubt in my mind that he could (and would) shimmy up and out of that crib without breaking a sweat. And guess what was right outside of his room? A staircase. So, we outfitted his room with both the audio monitor and a motion sensor to alert us if he made it out of the crib. 


We positioned the motion sensor half way up the way to give us a wider range and to accommodate for a crawling or walking toddler - basically if he made it out of that bed and was moving around his room, everyone in the house was going to know about it. Thankfully, the motion sensor also came with both mounting tape and screws so we were able to use the tape and not do any damage to the walls.

How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)

With the aforementioned six adults on hand, I had to laugh at my parents and child-free brother and sister in law as they watched us take over our communal beach house, toddler parent style. My brother kept saying, "so, the monitor tells us the temperature of the baby's room? and then it will tell us if the baby gets out?!". Ah, the innocence of a child-free newlywed. 

Once we had the space completely locked down and toddler security was tight, it was time for me to take a breather. I plopped that baby in his temporary bed, snatched up that parent unit and, thanks to the 1,000 feet of freedom it provided me, did this:

How To Toddler Proof A Beach Vacation (and still maintain your sanity)

for approximately 10 minutes.

And then we were back to this:


Thank goodness he's so cute!



Anthropologie Hits and Misses: The Perfect Dress


Note: I meant to publish this before we left town and totally forgot - and now it's Sunday, the last day to save 15% using the code SUMMERPERK on the entire Anthropologie site. I wish someone in the store had mentioned that to me before I paid full price last week but I'm here to make sure that you don't miss out! 


As I was packing for the beach, I realized that as soon as I got home I have an event to attend....and not a damn thing to wear. To top it off, it's one of those events where there isn't a dress code but everyone will somehow get the memo to wear something fabulous. Because I didn't have much time, I ran to my go-to dress resource, Anthropologie and tried on pretty much everything they carried in my size. This is a rather large round up which means you're about to see a rather large number of fails! As always, if you make it to the end of the post, I've saved the worst/best fail for last!

Wearing Size 10



I don't know what it is about the Midi length but I can rarely pull it off. This dress was no exception. The print is really pretty in person and the pattern looked like it was strategically placed to slim you down but the length just didn't do it for me. It somehow makes my 5'9" frame look dumpy and I need no help pulling that off. 

Verdict: no way.

Wearing Size 10


While I didn't think this dress was special enough for my event, I did think it was cute in a sort of '40's school teacher on the prairie kind of way. And then I realized something was happening in the boob area. Something bad. I don't know if the dress I tried on was defective, or if my boobs are defective, or if this dress was sewn by a T-Rex, but no matter what happened, the stitching at the empire waist is just so bed.


Verdict: no ma'am.

Wearing Size 10


So here's the thing about this dress: it's OK. If your trouble areas are tummy/hips/thighs then I would highly recommend this dress. The dress itself is sheer but it comes with a tank top style slip and you could wear a nude regular bra underneath (so no strapless). The length is also great for tall girls and, as a bonus, the hem is tiered so the back is actually longer. On me, I thought it was a bit baggy and that the color really washed me out. I think it might have been a good idea to try on a size smaller but I didn't think about it at the moment, I just assumed it looked bad on me and moved on. Bad move. I think this really could be a great dress if the fit is right.

Verdict: I passed but maybe should have given it a better effort.

Wearing Size 10


I actually really liked this dress (and like the other color even better, but my store didn't have it) and think the selfies aren't doing it justice. The length is perfect and also longer in the back, so perfect for tall girls, and the waist is super slimming. You can wear a regular bra underneath but I thought the top maybe emphasized the size of my chest a bit and that is just not the look I'm going for these days. Minimizing is where it's at for me. 

Verdict: Not for this event, maybe if I had a daytime wedding or Baptism to attend.


Wearing Size L


I freaking love this dress. It's flattering, insanely soft, the perfect length, regular bra appropriate and unique. At first I couldn't imagine it would be flattering but it really is - I was after something fancier for my event so I was a good girl and did not buy it but I can promise you that I will once it either goes on sale or I scrounge up enough pennies to re-stock my bank account! 

Verdict: not right for this event, passed but long for it.


Wearing Size L


Oh this romper. Even if you are scared of rompers (I kind of am), I highly suggest you try this one on. The sleeves make me feel like it's OK that all that leg is showing and fit is so flattering. It has a little tie at the waist and pockets - and even better, the back is open! I know this goes against my bra policy but I plan to wear a little lace bralette under it so that will show but I think I'm going to pull it off. I plan to wear it with my nude heeled sandals and big earrings. 

Verdict: bought it! hope I can rock it...

As a bonus, this little romper is also adorable! I'm actually wearing a Medium but it's a little short in the crotch, which is why I chose to go for a Large in the romper above.



Wearing Size L


So, I tried this dress on basically because I felt like I was striking out and not finding something that said "hey, I'm fashionable and cool and slim and fun!". While it is pretty, it's totally not my style and I felt weird in it. The length is nice but the chest is odd and made my boobs look huge. There's a lot going on with flutter sleeves, a lace up tie and an extra ruffle just under the bust. It just didn't work for me.

Verdict: nope.

And now, for the worst fail of the day.....a little number that I tried on and thought would be oh so flattering

And maybe it would have been....

Wearing size.....


If I hadn't accidentally grabbed and then shimmied into a size 6. 


Needless to say, I couldn't get it zipped over my boobs, and it seemed a little snug on my stomach....

but, on the upside, I did think the skirt of the dress was fun! 


Ugh, next time I'll check the sizes before I almost need to be cut out of a dress.

Feeds to Follow: The Artists

So, here's the deal: it's no secret that Instagram is going through some growing pains. Some of us love it, some of us hate it, some of us couldn't care less. I don't so much love it but am taking the opportunity to go through the accounts I follow and see if I really think they should be popping up in my ever changing feed.  As I was combing through, I thought it might be fun to highlight the feeds that honestly just make me happy - beautiful colors, photos, babies, cookies, art and faces make for a happy scroll through Instagram, wouldn't you say? I compiled a list of my favorite artisans in all different mediums who I think ya'll might just love to follow.

And as always, I have zero battery life on my phone when I decide to do screen shots.
At least I'm predictable! 


Jonathan Caleb Cake


Let's not mince words here, Jonathan (owner, creator, mastermind of Jonathan Caleb Cake) is beyond talented and his feed is a work of art. No detail is neglected and each shot makes me want to throw a party solely to have a reason to buy/stare at/devour one of Jonathan's masterpieces. If you spot a flower on one of his cakes, look closely because no matter how real it looks, it's actually made of sugar - if you spot a texture, check again, its probably hand painted marble. As if his cakes weren't gorgeous enough, he releases his macarons in limited batches announced via Instagram perfection and features flavors like Mint Oreo and Blueberry Pie. I beg him on the reg to open a brick and mortar shop here in Greenville just so that I can go there and hang out with his gorgeous creations - and he promises that he's working on it for me!


@demiandolive
Demi and Olive


I met Anna when she attended the Creative Council Conference but didn't have a chance to fall in love with her Instagram feed until I got home - and I fell hard. Her paintings are lively, bright, colorful and fun, perfect for bringing a little color into your feed. Her feed and her work have a heartfelt touch (see if you can spy her feet in some of her shots of her pieces) and seem to welcome you into her home and studio. Her cactus series might just be my next art score.



@lauraparkerphoto
Laura Parker Photography


Many of you know my sweet friend Laura as a blogger but now it's time to get to know her as a photographer. Her photography Instagram feed is full of sweet newborn babies, couples in love and gorgeous families. Laura loves to shoot in the hills and valleys around her California home (and, if I'm not mistaken, on the mountain where she was married) and the way she incorporates nature feels a tiny bit magical. And P.S. If you're someone who needs their baby fix in a safe and non-committal way (uh, guilty), go ahead and give Laura a follow.



Jessica C, Make Up Artist


Oh man, do I consider Jessica to be a master at her craft. Nearly two and a half years ago, I met Jessica when she wrestled my pregnant face into submission just before our Maternity Photo Shoot. She worked so quickly and was so fun to talk to that I honestly didn't expect much when I looked in the mirror but I was blown away with what I saw. She has the ability to make a woman feel like her absolute best self - or her sexiest self, most glam self, most romantic self - you name and she can do it. And Jessica herself is a canvas that doesn't take her life too seriously. Gotta love a girl who looks like a super model and posts ridiculous photos of herself on social media!

P.S. She has an amazing hair and make up YouTube channel!



Bonus and completely unrelated to talent of any kind:

@Betches
Betches

So, if you have a problem with swear words or don't find humor in sarcasm, this one is not for you. I think their feed is hilarious and literally laugh out loud at some of their posts so it's worth the add to your follow list for the humor factor alone.

Ok, off you go to hit that little green button!
All photos belong to and were borrowed from the accounts tagged in this post .

5 Things You Don't Know About Me



 Today I'm copping to a few things about myself that might surprise you. And no commentary on number 5 please, my husband already reminds me how ridiculous I am every time I share my concerns. 

1. I have never clipped Gray's nails. Ever. I'm mostly afraid that I'll hurt the baby but also a little grossed out by the process. In fact, toenails are my least favorite thing on Earth. If Justin accidentally brushes his feet/toenails against my leg in bed I jump away like I've been electrocuted. Weird but true.

2. I'm a proud theater nerd. All through high school (and middle school) I was in theater and loved every second of it. Of the 6 musicals I did from 7th grade to senior year, I can still sing every word to every production - with the exception of Pirates of Penzance, because, frankly, it is the worst. If I could choose any talent to have, it would be to be a  Broadway level triple threat so that I could star as the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (way to set super particular fantasy goals, Stephanie). In a more realistic dream, I take a theater only trip to NYC and see as many shows as possible including Hamilton and the revival of Fiddler.

3. I originally went to college to get my degree in broadcast journalism. During my sophomore year, I had a professor who told me that being in the news industry was a very lonely life of moving, working terrible hours and sacrifice (like friends and a potential family). He also shared that he did not think I could hack it, lifestyle wise. I believed him and changed my major to corporate communications...and have moved three times in 5 years. 

4. At this moment in time, I simply cannot imagine being pregnant again or adding another baby to our family. It just doesn't seem feasible or even sound like a tempting idea. I do think we will eventually have another baby but it feels like we're a long way off from entertaining the idea. 

5. I am completely terrified of ghosts (and aliens). I don't like things that we can't explain but seem plausible (for example. you cannot possibly tell me that we could be the only intelligent life forms in the entire Universe. Nope, not buying it).  If a commercial for a scary movie about ghosts/haunted craziness comes on I have to change the channel immediately. And, since I'm being honest, sometimes I consider the idea that maybe Sasquatch hunters are on to something but only when I've watched to many docu/mocu-mentaries on the Animal Planet. 

And on that note, I'm off to watch Yeti Or Not. 


Nothing To Report, In The Best Way

This weekend was a perfectly imperfect weekend. We did absolutely nothing and somehow accomplished almost all of our To Do List. It wasn't exciting or spectacular but it was simple and at home and just what we needed.

We have a new routine on Friday nights where we order pizza from our favorite "fancy" pizza place down the street, sit on the porch and drink wine and try to decompress from the week. Last week was a tough one and we needed the decompress time (and the cocktails) by the time Justin made it home. In case you're wondering, our go to pie is topped with prosciutto, basil and caramelized onions.

On Saturday, we had grand plans to get the entire house scrubbed and back in presentable shape. Justin commented recently that we have never cleaned a house as much in our lives and yet we've never lived in a dirtier house. Toddlers are no joke. Our kid can wreck a spot in seconds and we can barely muster the energy to follow behind him and keep it deep cleaned. Truth be told, I'm proud of us if we muster the energy to simply pick up the playroom at the end of the day knowing it will be trashed again seconds after he wakes up the next day. Anyway, we cleaned what feels like every inch of this house on Saturday (and tackled the yard) and while it wasn't sexy, it was good. We managed to squeeze in a walk to coffee and donuts and a cheesecake based lunch in between our cleaning sessions, so I think we balanced our hard labor with a little fun. 


On Sunday, Justin spent the day on the golf course while Gray and I learned more letters, baked a loaf of banana chocolate chip bread and lounged around. Considering it was supposed to hit a solid 100 degrees by mid-afternoon, we spent minimal time outside and I'm OK with that. Southern Summer, I'm not quite ready for you. 

This week is full of work, school and blogging things - all to get ready to hit the road for the beach before the weekend! Gray wasn't so into sand when we visited this Spring so I'm crossing my fingers that we'll have a beach babe this go 'round. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

A Jumble Of Things

Hey friends!

 photo by none other than Christa Rene Photography

So, I wrote a little post that was published on Moms Without Answers today and I thought I would mention in here as it's a follow up to one of my most popular posts "A Letter To My Friend, The Toddler Mama". Go take a peek and tell me what you think! 

Also, I don't have a photo of me wearing it yet (coming next week!) but you guys, I am obsessed with this dress! I've worn it to a meeting/the office, a girls night and a coffee date all within the last week. I'm wearing a Medium (oh that's right, working on my summer body!) and it is just the right amount of fitted and boxy, if that makes sense. It is a true midi length and hits at my mid calf so keep that in mind if you're a petite (as I am not). I'm going back for the olive color for sure!

For those of you who asked on Snap Chat (oliveandtate), the counting app that Gray is obsessed with is called Talley Tots. It took him a few tries to be able to do all of the activities but he is crazy in love with it. He begs for it when he wakes up in the morning - and all I can think is "well, at least he's learning".... I highly recommend it! 
 
And with that, I'm off to find a glass of wine! 


Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

This recipe is for Allie, who brought the Heaven that is Halloumi cheese into my life.

It's no secret that I have an intense love for Bruschetta. I crave it in the Summer and really prefer to make my own - fresh, bright, quick and an easy to use up all of those Summer veggies, who could say no? 

A few weekends ago, I learned that there is a cheese from Cypress that is specifically meant for grilling. Halloumi is briny, salty and a bit like feta but with the texture of a mozzarella. It holds it's shape when grilled (or fried in a pan) and doesn't get gooey - you can slice it for salads, sandwiches or, in this case, bruschetta! I simply cannot recommend this recipe enough - it's super easy and would really be impressive on a charcuterie board with prosciutto and olives. You can adapt the recipe to serve as many as you like but this version will happily serve two adults for a meal or 4 who are snacking (or just me after I spent the afternoon photographing it). 

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta


1/2 block of Halloumi  cheese 
1 cup San Marizano tomatoes, diced 
1/4 cup red or white onions - I use a mix of both
1/8 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 baguette baguette, sliced
Balsamic Glaze to drizzle

Method
combine tomatoes, onions, basil, olive oil and vinegar in bowl
mix and set aside

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

brush bread slices with olive oil, place on sheet of tin foil

Place block of Halloumi on a hot grill (either directly or on tin foil)
sliced bread on hot grill

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

watch both - cheese should only take 2-3 minutes per side on the grill (I do all 4 sides)
flip bread slices, grill until brown

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Once browned, immediately slice the Halloumi cheese, 

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

 place on grilled bread slice

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

 and top with the bruschetta mixture using a slotted spoon or fork.

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Garnish with Balsamic Glaze

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Serve warm

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Grilled Cheese Bruschetta

Seriously, I'm betting this will be the new number one recipe your friends beg you to make!

Linking Up with Kristy for the A Little Bird Told Me link up 

All the Shiz



Do you ever have one of those days when you really think you are crushing it - dishes are loaded in the dishwasher (and you remembered to start it), dinner ingredients are actually defrosted or, shockingly, fresh, emails are answered, baby is content - and then it occurs to you that the reason you had so much free time is because you were actually standing someone up at a meeting you scheduled weeks ago?

Yeah, that was me today. 

And, honestly, that's exactly what the last week has felt like. After traveling for a wedding over the holiday weekend, I just couldn't get us back on schedule. It didn't help that the baby was sans a school to attend until today, so we spent much of the week entertaining each other. Add in a husband who is working on a big project and pulling a schedule I thought we ditched when we left Maine and voila, before I knew it, a week had passed and I hadn't typed one word on this blog. 

Our wild toddler animal did go back to school today and he is in love with his new classroom, mostly because it has a train table. I had a harder time leaving than he had with me going - and by that I mean he did not even acknowledge my presence and I awkwardly stood by the door until I looked at the teacher and said "so, I guess I'll go now...". 

Basically, I have no Mom Chill.

My goals on his school days have changed as things around here have changed and I'm trying to set myself up to manage everything that I've (happily) said yes to. He now hits up Mother's Day Out three mornings a week and I spend one of those mornings doing SAHM things, one doing Olive and Tate things and the third working at my office job. Or at least that's my grand plan. I'm such a creature of habit that sometimes Summer flusters me with all of the flexibility and non-scheduledness, so I'm hoping to give myself a little structure to keep things afloat around here. 

Translation: this past week was a fluke and I'm getting my shiz together!  

See you kids tomorrow.

 P.S. I really wanted to say a curse word but said "shiz" instead, which now feels a little weird. Just go with it.

P.P.S. Willow Crowns is launching the new Americana Capsule collection tomorrow - go see all of the prettiness that we put together here!