Thursday, May 25, 2017

4 Mama Daughter Eyewear Looks for Summer


4 Mama Daughter Eyewear Looks for Summer

I'm going to start this post (sort of) off-topic and say that one major thing I've learned as a parent is that you're not likely to do things the way you think you're going to do them. I mean, I was absolutely certain my kids would never use iPads (until they were much older), that they would never eat sugar or even non-organic foods, and that the kids wouldn't sleep in our bed. (Let's just say that none of these things have gone as planned, and I totally cool with it.) I was also sure I would never do the "mommy and me" dressing thing with Essley. And while we don't dress alike the majority of the time, she has been big into wanting to wear "matching things" lately, and I've been pleasantly surprised at how much fun that is for me as well.

Most recently, Essley has been fascinated by my glasses, and asking to get glasses of her own. (While you guys mostly see photos of me in contact lenses, I actually wear glasses most of the time.) So when the opportunity arose for Ess and I to get several pairs of super cute, just-for-fun matching frames from Visionworks to wear as accessories showcasing four different spring/summer eyewear trends, we were both really excited. And today I'm sharing some photos from these different looks with you, taken on a few different occasions over the last couple of weeks.


Look 1: Pretty in Pink. My daughter and I may have a lot in common in terms of what we like, but when it comes to colors, we are on opposite sides of the fence. I'm a neutrals girl, and she is all sparkles and 100% pink. She stops strangers to tell them pink is her favorite color, and if she had it her way, every single item in her wardrobe would be a shade of that color. So it only makes sense that her favorite pairs of our matching frames are these pink-embellished beauties from Chelsea Morgan and Visionworks. I admittedly only own one pink clothing item - this tunic/dress I picked up at a Free People in Arizona last year - but I love it, and it's the perfect piece to pair with these sweet, feminine frames. And Essley's pink dress (one of many she owns) goes perfectly with them as well.


Look 2: Shopping Chic. When we have a mama daughter day and I ask Essley what she'd like to do, she often suggests the library or the park - but more times than not, she says "lets go shopping!" And I am admittedly always up for that. Essley is hilarious about her shopping dates - she always has to carry a purse, put on pretend makeup, and wear her sunglasses. My personal favorite pairs of matching Visionworks frames are these babies from Guess. They're super chic and make us feel all fancy, even when our shopping excursion is just a grocery store run.


Look 3: Summer's a Breeze. Essley and I are both big fans of summertime, and when I told her we were going to have a summer-inspired adventure on a warm day last week and explore outside looking for dandelions and flowers, she was thrilled. She asked if we could both wear our "summer whites" dresses and matching boho fringe sandals, and I happily obliged. We also decided to accessorize with our summery blue Chelsea Morgan frames from Visionworks. I loved how the tropical blue arms popped against our white outfits. We're both excited to wear these pretty matching frames all summer long.


Look 4: Always On-Trend Tortoise. When it comes to eyewear, I have always been a tortoise shell fan. It's classic, it's neutral, and it looks good on everyone. My daughter, on the other hand, likes her frames to have a little more personality. And that's why our Vera Bradley frames from Visionworks - which feature explosions of colorful wildflowers on the inside of their tortoise frames - are the perfect combo for both of us. We like to pair these on-trend frames with our favorite on-trend dresses - these pretty patterned, off the shoulder numbers.



Okay, let's hear it. Who else secretly (or not so secretly) loves twinning with their little ones? Anyone else have matching eyewear? If not, I highly suggest heading over to your local Visionworks. They've got the largest selection in the industry, which means you're sure to find the perfect fashion-forward frames to go with your and your babe's personal styles!


This post is in partnership with Visionworks. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese


Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese


You guys know by the recipes I tend to post here that I like to create meals that are quick and easy. I think one of the reasons I disliked cooking for so long was due to the time involved in making elaborate dishes from scratch. It took me a while to realize that it is indeed possible to prepare meals for myself and my family that can accommodate a busy lifestyle by saving time, but are still nutritious and delicious. I've found that the key to doing this is, like most things in life, balance. A balanced plate that contains, for example, one frozen item (frozen prepared foods are a great time saver and there are so many new dishes and flavors to choose from!) alongside a unique salad or homemade veggie dish, makes for the perfect meal. And today I'm sharing with you my current favorite - lentil and spring green salad with baked macaroni and cheese.

Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese
Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese

Makes 5-6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Mac and Cheese
1 package Stouffer's Family Size Macaroni & Cheese

Salad
1-1/2 cup of steamed lentils
1 bag of organic spring greens
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
handful of raw almonds

Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 lemon

Prepare the Stouffer's Family Size Macaroni & Cheese according to package directions (either in the oven or microwave). For the salad, put spring greens into a large salad bowl. Slice tomatoes in half, and add to bowl, along with lentils (I buy them pre-steamed) and almonds. Toss. For dressing, whisk together the olive oil and mustard, then cut lemon in half, squeeze in juice, and whisk again. Pour dressing over salad and serve alongside the mac and cheese.

Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese
Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese

Everyone in this house is a big fan of this meal. The lentil and spring green salad perfectly balances out the rich flavor of the macaroni and cheese, and it ends up being a hearty, delicious dinner or lunch that is incredibly simple to put together - which for working parents of a three year old and a one year old is a lifesaver. And I love how the Stouffer's Mac & Cheese recipe includes real, simple ingredients, like freshly made pasta, cheddar cheese, milk and butter.

We know that everyone wants to eat better but needs inspiration and simple solutions to choose from so they can make it a reality more often. This dish is just one of endless possible combinations that work within the concept of balancing your plate. To build a balanced meal, use frozen prepared foods as your base and pair with an easy-to-make side dish made of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy. It's a great way to enjoy a nutritious, tasty meal without the effort of making an entire dinner from scratch.

Easy Lentil & Spring Green Salad with Mac & Cheese

If you try these recipes for your balanced plate, I'd love to hear what you think! And if you want to see this meal being prepared, stop by my Instagram and check out the short video I put together the last time we made it.


Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

8 Ways to Encourage Imaginative Play In Children


8 Ways to Encourage Imaginative Play In Children


I remember picking Essley up from preschool early in the year and her teacher telling me that she had a "very active imagination" when she played - and, as I often do as a newish parent, feeling little unsure as to whether or not that was a good thing. So I went home and did some research only to find out that not only was it a good thing, it was something that is a crucial part of their development and should be actively encouraged. We had always participated in pretend scenarios when playing with her, acting out different parts and creatively make believing, and it was reassuring to find out we were doing something right. But I wanted to find out more about how we could continue to nurture this type of play. So I did some more research, and also began to try out different ways to encourage it. Today I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned that seem to be the most successful (and I'd love to hear about your experience as well!).


1. Choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Open-ended toys encourage creativity and imagination because they can be used in completely different ways. Building sets and costumes or dress-up clothes are great examples of these types of toys.

2. Provide your children with art supplies. I am constantly amazed at what Essley can create with some crayons. Drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, etc. are not only great for developing fine motor skills, they also help foster an incredible sense of imagination.


3. Get involved in your children's pretend play. Don't just observe - play and imagine alongside them. If your little one says he or she is a giraffe and eats leaves from trees, encourage and participate! Saying, "wow you're such a tall giraffe!" is great, but actively playing along side them and pretending you're a giraffe too takes imaginative play to the next level, by helping them learn about interaction and relationships.

My Little Loves

4. Get your kids outside. Kids seriously lack outdoor time these days which is having adverse affects on them physically and mentally. There is no better place to practice in imaginative play than outside. Take a hike or walk in the woods, ride bikes, or just let your little ones explore your backyard or local park.

5. Create Storytimes. We absolutely love books around here, and going to the library is one of our kids' favorite activities - but we also make time to just sit around and tell stories. When Essley gets involved and begins adding to the stories with her own tales, it's evident that her imagination is really at work. Even at 16 months, we are seeing Emmett start to participate in story time as well. The act of storytelling is a proven way to help children develop their imaginations.


6. Put on music. In addition to the benefits that come along with dancing, music stimulates children's brains in a variety of ways. When music is playing, Essley will use it as a background for acting out little plays and pretend situations, and it's so cool to watch. And while Emmett is much younger and still in the parallel play phase, it so obviously encourages his imagination when music is playing as well.

7. Let them explore. Whether we're on adventure at a local play place, at the library, or at the park, we encourage Essley and Emmett to explore the colors, shapes, textures, and sounds around them. Giving kids freedom to explore allows them access to endless possibilities for make believe.


8. Put children in environments outside of the home that focus on imaginative play. Allowing kids to practice creative play independently, away from their parents, is an incredible way to expose them to new experiences and encourage them to pretend and create on their own. This is one of the reasons we started Essley in preschool at 2.5 and chose the preschool we did (their program is play based). It's also something we take into consideration with childcare. And it's why I love the idea of KidsPark childcare service so much (and wish so badly we lived closer to one of their locations!). KidsPark is a really cool, super unique, custom child care option that focuses on imaginative play through a recreation setting that features games, art, indoor play structure, drama, and stories, in an environment that encourages freedom to explore. Everyday they offer fun featured activities like cooking, arts and crafts, sensory exploration, and hands-on science. And in addition to the wonderful opportunities they provide for kids, their childcare is available by the hour, including on evenings and weekends (they're open until midnight on Fridays and Saturday!). There are no reservations needed either, which means parents can keep appointments, run errands, enjoy a date night, or do whatever they want without having to make plans in advance. They also make a great back-up solution if your regular childcare doesn't work out. For us, the biggest challenge with childcare is finding babysitters who we trust that can take the kids for just a few hours during the day while I work from home, and/or who are available without a lot of notice if I have a last minute project come up, etc. KidsPark would be the perfect solution. And all KidsPark teachers have an Early Childhood background and pass all background checks, so you can feel at ease when you drop off your little ones. While we don't have a location near us, we've researched where they do have locations so we can utilize them in our travels. I'm really looking forward to it.


Have you used KidsPark before? If not, click here to see if there is a KidsPark location near you! How do you encourage imaginative play in your children?


Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Just Another Desert Hang - An Outfit Post


Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)
Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)
Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)

Last month, I shared an outfit post where Essley and I were just, ya know, hanging in the Sonoran desert in unintentionally matching dresses. And I mentioned in that post that these days, the vast majority of the outfit posts I share (which are probably 3-5 a year, if that) are taken on annual Arizona vacations, because the scenery is just so beautiful. So it will come as no surprise that this outfit post was also taken on our trip there in April. I almost didn't share these photos because in all honesty, the dress looks a lot better in person - the golden hour sun sort of washed out the details of the cut and pattern, and it almost resembles a hospital gown in these shots if we're being honest. But in real life I am smitten with the dress, and the background scenery is just to good not to share. So here we are.

Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)
Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)
Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)
Casual Boho Style (via Bubby and Bean)


I wonder if our backyard looked like this if I'd shoot more outfit posts, or if it's just not my thing anymore in general. Regardless, I have a feeing that even if it comes down to only being one of these posts a year, I'll never give up shooting them when we're in the desert. Even when the outfit may be a little lackluster, the landscape makes up for it. Give me all the cacti and desert sun, man.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kids Water Safety Tips + A Summer Fun Kit GIVEAWAY!


Kids Water Safety Tips


There is little in life my kids love more than going swimming. When we went to the Dominican Republic in December, and then Arizona last month, all they wanted to do (basically the entire time we were on vacation) was play in the pool. Right now, Essley actually has a count-down going on to Memorial Day - because that's the day the local swimming pool opens for the year. They're both signed up for swimming lessons this summer, and we'll undoubtedly be purchasing season passes to the pool. And Essley has a couple of friends with pools at their houses where she'll have summer play dates. Swimming pools are going to be a big part of our lives in the coming months.

While the whole family is excited for pool season, I'm admittedly a little nervous (as I think most parents are, by instinct). Swimming pools are magical places for little ones, but they can also be incredibly dangerous. Thankfully, I recently learned about a concept known as the A, B, C, D's of water safety that The Zac Foundation put together to help parents remember important ways to keep kids safe. Since May is National Water Safety Month, and I'm sure many of you are gearing up for pool season yourselves, I thought I'd share what I've learned with all of you today (along with some of my favorite pictures of my little ones having water fun over the past few years). And when you're done reading, there's also a summer fun kit giveaway to enter at the end of the post to celebrate summer water season's arrival. Woohoo!


A is for Adult. An adult should always be present when children are in or around water, and should always have an eye on the children (and not be distracted by phones, etc., or walk away, even for a minute). Never let kids be alone near a pool, ocean, lake, or river.

B is for Barrier. If you have a pool or spa, make sure to have barriers to keep children safe. Examples of this would include a fence around your pool, a lock on the fence for which only adults have the key, a lock only reachable by adults on doors that lead to pool areas, an alarm that beeps if doors or windows to the pools or open, and an alarm that goes up if the surface of the water is disrupted. Children should also be taught to never a pool gate unless an adult is present.


C is for Classes. Kids and adults should take water safety classes. Children should take swimming lessons where they learn water safety, and adults should take classes in CPR and First Aid. If you have a pool, have a phone close to it at all times, and teach your children how to call 911. And as a family, find ways to talk about how to be safe around water.

D is for Drains. This is something I honestly had never even thought about before, but it is profoundly important. Teach all swimmers to stay away from all pool and spa drains. Make sure that any pool or spa you or your kids swim in has been inspected and is up to code. If you have a pool or spa, install emergency shutoff switches to shut off pumps, and if a drain cover becomes loose or falls up, makes sure to immediately shut down the pool until it is repaired.


In addition to the A, B, C, D's of water safety, I've learned even more about water safety on The Zac Foundation's website. Parents Karen and Brian Cohn co-founded The ZAC Foundation in 2008, in honor of their 6-year-old son, Zachary Archer Cohn, a natural and accomplished swimmer who passed away after his arm became entrapped in a pool drain. In Zachary's honor, they created this incredible organization that works to save the lives of children through educating parents on water safety and pioneering water safety standards. Pretty wonderful, right? Please take a minute to watch this informative video on one more thing to know before your kids jump in the pool (I am so glad I watched it, and I've passed it on to everyone I know who owns a pool). And for more water safety tips, sign up for the ZAC Foundation's newsletter right here.



And now for the giveaway! I'm teaming up with the ZAC Foundation and a few other bloggers to give away 15 summer prize packs, each of which includes a bag, towel, book, water watcher card, t-shirt and wristband. To enter, just use the form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway runs through May 26th and is open to US residents who are 18 and older. Winners will be randomly selected and notified by The ZAC Foundation by June 1. Only one winner per household, please.


Big thanks to The Zac Foundation for consistently working to spread awareness about water safety, and for the great prizes they've donated for this giveaway! Have a happy - and safe - swimming pool and water season, friends.


Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

ALSO FIND US HERE: INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // TWITTER // PINTEREST //  BLOGLOVIN'
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