Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  So happy the weekend is almost here.  It's been a doozy of a week and our weekend is going to be even crazier, but tons of fun.  We have a birthday sleepover party, a company-wide family picnic day at Six Flags in the morning, then we travel an hour for a soccer game and then back to our side of town for a baseball game.  Then I can guarantee I am going to crash.   

As usual, I'm linking up with some of our favorite bloggers for Friday Favorites and have a fun assortment of stuff things to share.  

First up one of my favorites is when my family wears coordinating outfits!  When my kids were little I dressed them in matching and coordinating outfits almost daily, but now it is very, very rare.  However, for Easter this year it all kind of worked out.  I had bought my dress at the Lilly Pulitzer sale at the end of last summer and knew I wanted to wear it for Easter.  The girls dresses are Lilly Pulitzer for Target that still fit them from a few years ago because they ran so big and the Mr. happened to pick up a pink striped polo for Boo-Boo at the Masters this year.  It was like it was meant to be!

After church on Easter we changed into comfortable clothes and made our way to my in-laws' home for the afternoon.  The kids hunted for eggs, we played outside and even enjoyed a quick boat ride.  Their favorite thing from that day that they loved playing with was this Super Duper Spinner.  It's like a giant disk swing and it is so much fun!

Gigi bought it and has it hanging in front of her house. You can sit or stand and it holds up to 650 pounds so the kids can all climb on it.  We're in the middle of a big yard project, but when we are done I'm planning to order one (or more) of these and have them at home in our yard, too! 

Are anyone else's kids obsessed with Fidget Spinners?  It's the new craze and my kids would say this is certainly their new favorite thing.  I would say it is a favorite of mine because it keeps them happy and entertained in the car.  I had no idea what they were when my kids were telling me "everyone at school has them."  

Let's just say we can add this to the list of things I wish I'd invented.  They are small hand-held gadgets that you hold at the center and spin around.  Yep, that is it.  And for $20 you can have one of your own.  Seriously, why didn't I think of this.  They are apparently nothing new.  They were originally invented to help people with anxiety, ADHD, people with bad habits like nail biting and other focusing issues.  Well somehow this little gadget exploded in popularity overnight and now every kid around wants one.  We found ours at a local toy store, but Amazon has them, too! 

Anyone have kids that play sports?  If so that probably means you deal with your fair share of stinky shoes, cleats and equipment.  Last week I came across this Stink Stoppers spray and it is my new favorite thing for keeping my kids sports equipment smelling fresh.  I'd tried lots of other methods, but this seems to work the best so far.  After they take off their cleats, shin guards, etc. I just give it all a quick spray and it really freshens them up and eliminated the odors.  So much better than it smelling like a sweaty locker room!  I will probably be buying this spray in bulk over the next few years!

This is kind of random, but my new favorite spot in my bathroom is this little corner. I used to have my jewelry, lotions, and other stuff all spread out all over my counter, but I decided to put it all on a silver tray to kind of contain it all in one spot.  The result is a much tidier bathroom counter.  The silver tray was a wedding gift and we used it when entertaining, but not that often so now I get to put it to great use every single day.  I did the same thing for the Mr. on his side of the bathroom, but used a painted clay bowl instead so it would look a little more manly.  He keeps all sorts of things in the bowl and empties his pockets there each evening so it has worked out great.  

My last favorite this week is this amazing letter.  My daughter is taking the statewide standardized test this week.  Last year she felt stressed, pressured and overwhelmed by what she thought was such a big and important test.  Her teacher this year is taking an approach that I completely agree with.  She wrote this note to her students and when I read it I was brought to tears. I am so thankful for wonderful teachers like this one that make such a positive difference in my kids lives.  This was definitely my favorite thing I read all week long.  

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!!  

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Atlanta Attractions: Chattahocchee Nature Center

It looks like Spring is finally here to stay. The temperatures are remaining steady and here in Atlanta we've all moved our party outdoors. Our Spring Break was a few weeks ago, but rather than make way for the nearest beach we decided to check out some of our favorite local spots (and even try a new adventure or two).

Atlanta offers so many fun family activities, and there are tons of fun places to celebrate Spring outdoors. We thought about making a trip to Stone Mountain, or heading back to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens since we had so much fun their during our visit in the Fall, but The Cutes desperately wanted to do something with animals. While we love the Zoo, I-85 had just collapsed before the break and Atlanta traffic was not something we were willing to battle. Even for adorable animals. After brainstorming we realized one of our favorite places a little closer to our neck of the woods would satisfy everyone. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a great little gem, and an easy place to let kids explore and enjoy a lot of hands on activities.

One thing I love about the Nature Center is that it never seems to be crowded. Even on a beautiful sunny day during a school holiday it was enjoyable, and felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. 

For those of you not familiar with the center, or who live in Atlanta, but haven't been yet, I would say if you have a nature lover in your crew it is definitely a spot to put on your radar. It is located in the heart of Historic Roswell right off the Chattahoochee River, and is a large park, garden, rehabilitation center for wild animals, and an education center all rolled into one. Not to mention it is located right across the street from several large playgrounds, bike trails, and more!

You enter through the center's main building and on the ground floor there is a fun space for kids and adults to explore and learn about everything from fossils to rocks to animal wildlife and everything in between. The children's area has nature centered books, coloring materials, and even a real microscope for kids to check out up close and personal some of the things they see everyday.

Most times we've visited there are special scavenger hunts and challenges the children can try. The Cutes had a blast trying to build there own Fairy home. Even Baby Cute was getting into trying to make something out of the tools they provided. 

On the same floor is a theater where you can attend one of the center's Creature Feature sessions, as well as the Explore area where you can interact with several exhibits to learn more about Georgia's watershed, forests, and how things are all connected to one another in nature. The Cutes love this area!

Explore has a few animal inhabitants (fish, turtles, opossums, and snakes), that the kids love. It reminds me of a mini aquarium and zoo wrapped into one.

A lot of the excitement in this area though comes from the interactive exhibits along the way.

Most things are hands on or have something that kids can take with them as the explore the property and trails.

The Nature Center is self guided so you can take as much or as little time as possible in each section. We always make our way around this area and then head outside, and then come back again at the end so the kids can circle back around and explore anything a little deeper than they did the first time around. 

One thing I think is neat, especially if you have older children, is that you can borrow these backpacks filled with activities and tools to get a more hands on experience while you are outside on one of the many trails. Seriously, they have thought of every single way to make learning fun and to get everyone more involved.

Once we were outside, we made way for the main reason we came - the animals! All animals at the center are rehabilitated local animals. Some are rehabilitated and returned to the wild, and some make the Nature Center their new home.

The Cutes love visiting each and every one. L.C. calls the eagles "her eagles" and even has names she  has given each animal on site.

Aside from the eagles there are several different species of owls, a few hawks, and even a vulture.

While still inside the center we got up close and personal with one of the scalier inhabitants at the center, but this mommy is thankful that those stay mostly hidden.

Along each nature trail there are several interactive educational outposts. I love these because they spark conversation and make little ones think a little more about what they are seeing than just trees, flowers, or animals.

The Cutes favorite one on the whole property is the bat one. It's a large tree with different species of bats molded into it. There is an information stand close by for them to learn about each one, but they have a blast just playing around in it.

During our visit two different events were going on. The Roswell Azalea festival was just wrapping up, but we were lucky because some of the azaleas were still in full bloom.

And they were gorgeous! I am so jealous and wanted to cover my back yard in these pretty orange ones!

The second event that was (and still is) going on was the Fairy House trail. At the head of the trail kids (and adults) can find materials to build their own fairy houses. Then along the trail there are little homes that the fairies have hidden and the kids (and adults) have to find. 

I wasn't sure what to expect, but The Cutes had a blast during this activity and thought it was so fun when they spotted one. They came in all shapes, sizes, and decor. 

Some were elaborate and well hidden, and others were a little more natural in their furnishings. Either way my two were smitten with the idea, and couldn't wait to get back to the center to re-build and even better fairy house than they came up with the first go around.

We ate snacks, and soaked up every bit of sunshine we could.

(Looking at one of the bat boxes on the trails.)
Before we knew it, it was late and time to head home - before the real bats came out.

We love that this special place is practically in our backyard so that we can visit again soon, but even if you aren't as close I would definitely say it is worth the trip.

Have you been to the Chattahoochee Nature Center? Or do you have something similar in your hometown? Share with us!

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Explore Atlanta: The Chattahoochee Nature Center located in Roswell, GA

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fashion Fix: Dressing for the Derby

In just a few weeks the Mr. and I are going to be heading to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the Kentucky Derby.

I could not be more excited about this trip.  It's like this sporting event was meant for me!   With its rich traditions deeply rooted here in the south, its every preppy girls dream!  From donning beautiful spring pretty dresses, topping it off with a stylish hat and sipping on mint juleps all day, I can already tell I'm going to love pretty much everything about the derby.

I've done a lot of reading and research about the derby and was surprised to find that the Kentucky Derby is the longest running sports event in the United States. Over the years, many traditions have formed, but dressing for the derby has stayed the same.  Beautiful spring dress in pretty pastels, florals or bright colors are sure to make you derby ready and no matter what style you choose, something preppy to express your inner southern belle is a must.  

Quite possibly the most popular tradition associated with the derby are the hats!  Wearing a hat at the derby is supposed to bring good luck so that is how that tradition began! High fashion, style and elegance can be seen all over Churchill Downs.  I'm probably most excited about this part of getting dressed up for the derby.  When I was a little girl I LOVED wearing hats. I would always look forward to Easter so I could wear an Easter hat to church and sadly this is a tradition that has kind of died.  I have the fondest memories of my grandmother helping me embellish my Easter hats with silk  flowers.  

The verdict is still out on just what I'm going to wear, but thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite combinations I've found so far.  I know lots of people attend derby parties so hopefully this will help give everyone some inspiration.  You can see my Pinterest board HERE with lots of fun ideas!  

Loft has this pretty one shoulder eyelet dress in pink fizz and it so feminine. I just love the ruffle at the top and the scalloped hemline! 

I thought it would be perfect paired with THIS blush pink hat.  That bow is so pretty and preppy and I like the idea of a monochromatic ensemble in different shades of pink. 

There is nothing quite as classic as a white dress and this Lilly Pulitzer lace one with fringe detail at the waste makes it unique.

Navy and white is one of my favorite color combinations so I think this hat would go well with the white dress and be the perfect classic style for the derby.
Vineyard Vines is actually the official clothing sponsor of the derby and they have such cute things for the big day.  I just love everything about this Run for the Roses dress paired with the straw hat and seersucker bow.  

Lastly, this lovely Lilly Pulitzer print is so bright and fun for spring. The colors are so vibrant and I love the pink detail on the neckline.  

Paired with a simple hot pink hat, I think this would be a darling derby day outfit! 

And let's not forget about the guys!  The Mr. isn't usually one to dress overly preppy, so I'm super pumped to see him in seersucker and a bowtie.  How handsome would any guy be in some of these?!

Click picture to see more details.

I'd love to know...are any of you attending the Derby this year?  Anyone going to a Derby party?

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