Live – Laugh – LEARN


Teaching a toddler ANYTHING is a pretty tough task – one that involves a lot of love, a lot of energy, creativity – and most importantly – lots & lots of patience! Jax [my 3yo] is incredibly independent. He wants to do everything his way and only his way. Watching him try to put his shoes on solo is one of the cutest yet irritating things to witness.  Actually, AJ [my 1yo] is a lot like that, too. Come to think of it – so is Ben [my 13yo]. Wait a minute – maybe all kids are like this? Feel free to chime in here. Ha!

Truth – I’m a super hands-on mom. Ever since I had Ben, I’ve been that mom who crawled around on the floor, built epic pillow forts, and really tried to focus creative learning through silly fun, love + affection. Well – that works until they hit toddler. Oh and trust me – it’s way more of a challenge once they hit teenager. While I’m still trying to find ways to educate Ben so that he will actually listen + execute, I have found something Jax really enjoys and I find to be incredibly educational! Win win – right? Truth is – kids don’t always want their parents teaching them. It’s a great thing to let them learn + explore, all on their own. Independence builds confidence and thats where this blog post comes into play.

The world is a different place now – the world you and I grew up in was tech free. Friday nights were for manhunt, we rode our bikes anywhere and everywhere and forts were legit – constructed and utilized by kids only! Our parents only expected us home in time for dinner/dark. RESPECT was very commonly heard + seen throughout friends and families, and life was pretty grand. Raising kids in the world today is a bit of a challenge. I kind of feel like a phsyco helicopter mom – I’ve got a spying app on my teenagers phone – a phone he JUST received well into 7th grade.  Anyway – back to the point here. I’m just not a very techy/tube time kinda mom – especially when it comes to my littles BUT on days my husband works super late or we have just played literally every game one could possibly come up with – I will allow a little bit of screen time while I’m making dinner. No internet, no YouTube, no babysitting apps. Strictly LeapFrog Academy. You guys – it’s seriously such a great app that I feel comfortable with my toddler using [with parental supervision, of course – bc somehow – the second you turn your back – these little buggers always find a way to get on YouTube + end up on the Genevieve Playhouse channel. Doh!] SO get this – The app contains more than 1,500 interactive games and activities and was created for kiddos ranging in age from 3-6. There is a specific curriculum for each grade level which is amazing. Jax can navigate through the preschool level games just fine with minimal assistance – and for me personally – I get to sit back and watch him figure most of this stuff out on his own + watch his little brain work in ways I’ve never seen before. This toddler friendly virtual classroom sits in a category of its own – one that really lines right up with the trajectory they will take in paperless schools nowadays.

So if you’re a busy mom – like myself – and need screen time to alter the mood, give yourself a chance to whip up a nutritious meal, or maybe you just need a little mental cleansing moment of mommy me time – download it here + thank me later;)

What we love about the app

Jax will start school in the fall so this has really been a great prep for him

The graphics are actually really appealing to the eye

It’s educational, entertaining, + easily accessible

The membership pricing works for our family [$7.99 mo] first month FREE!

Play on any device – no wifi required! Can we say hello plane, train + long automobile rides?

No adds – no add-ons

… and more!

Anyway – check it out here + you’ll get a one month free trial on me!

x

Happy Learning!

Renee

*This post is sponsored but all opinions are my own.

WeeSleep + Me

Motherhood – how do you define it? I would say it’s an instantaneous life changer in the most perfect imperfect ways. Exhausting yet exciting. Frustrating yet fascinating. Tapped out yet totally tuned-in to every single part of it all.  As I sit here typing out this post with my bulletproof mushroom coffee in hand, I see AJ on the sleep monitor. I can’t believe he’s two already – the pace in which those years flew by absolutly blew my mind. He’s two – TWO [as of yesterday] Seriously like wth. I swear it felt like just days ago he was gagging on mashed up peas + still mastering the art of a painless latch. Those sleepless nights with an ongoing need for a caffeine IV drip seemed like just yesterday. And now – he’s speaking full sentences. He’s singing songs. He shows love + compassion. He’s SLEEPING! And not just sleeping, but sleeping a solid, consecutive, uninterrupted 13 hours a night – and in his OWN bed. He’s living the toddler life and I can’t believe we’re here.

But let’s talk about the sleep sitch – If you told me one year ago this child would sleep solo + through the night before age 7 – I would have laughed in your face. “Ummm do you even know my kid? He’s a boob-obsessed stage five clinger who watches me shave, sh*t AND shower! He sleeps right smack in between my husband and I and legit lives in my shadow. I have fully accepted the fact that we will co-sleep until he’s in grade school and you know what, I’m okay with that.” [probably adding in an f-bomb or two]

Boy was I wrong.

Not even on the hunt for a solution – a beautiful angel came to me via my DM on Instagram:), and her name was Janey Reilly  – founder + expert Infant & Toddler Sleep Consultant helping tired families all around the globe. I thought… Sleep consultant? What the heck is a sleep consultant? Little did I know, they were about to change our lives.

A few hours later, my husband got home from work. I couldn’t even wait for him to say “honey I’m home!” before I exploded with so much excitement! [I’m pretty sure he thought we had just won the Mega Millions.] Anyway –  I shared with him the exchange between Janey + I and he totally bought into it. He’s in. Doubtful of a successful outcome, he said “anything to bang my wife alone in our bed again…. right? Let’s do it.” #men

So we started out with a FREE 15 minute consultation. Right away, there was this bond – a connection – a sense of security and trust we felt with Janey.  I believed her when she said “AJ can do this, and so can you.” To be honest, the whole thought of AJ actually sleeping through the night in 10 days or less was laughable. Mind you – we had been co-sleeping for a solid YEAR – and he only slept with his mouth wrapped around the boob. We had actually reached a point where I couldn’t even slide it out because he’d wake up. Truthfully, I felt pretty defeated just going into this whole process, but, like anyone else, desperate times call for desperate measures. After speaking with my husband, we had decided to go ahead and book the Rescue Me [virtual] Package. This program is ideal for families with children under 2.5 years old [and still in the crib] who want to receive more personal attention + support throughout the entire sleep plan process, which is something I knew I was going to need. I had chosen the start date – AJ ‘s first birthday and the day my husband had to jet-set to Africa for a 2 week work trip. I love a challenge – and I knew that I wanted to do this on my own. I set the goal to have AJ sleep through the night, in his own crib, without nighttime feedings – in 10 days or less – all before my husband returned. The coolest part? We did just that.

Night 1 was an emotional challenge with a successful finish. Very minimal crying – with loads of interaction. And after an hour of learning the new way, AJ slept 10 straight hours and IN HIS OWN CRIB! He had never even stepped foot in his bed until this first night. I couldn’t believe it. We followed the customized schedule to a T and it worked.  It actually worked! The days and nights to follow were definitely difficult for all of us, but right away, we could see the light at the end. I had received so much support + reassurance from Janey that I knew this wouldn’t fail, and it couldn’t fail… she was there every step of the way. As for AJ – he felt so much love, comfort and trust throughout the entire process. He became more confident + comfortable around his crib and in his day-to-day activities. He was happier – clearly fully rested. We also eliminated the nighttime feedings! You guys – I couldn’t believe how much we had accomplished in <48 hours. I was so proud of him throughout the process, but I was also proud of myself. I felt like Wonderwoman!

By the end of the 2 weeks together, we were living a whole new life. A life I never imaged would be attainable. Nighttimes became enjoyable. Bedtime was no longer feared, or dreaded. The nightly rock, paper, scissor games with my husband over who will do bed came to an end. Fast forward one year, 4 vacations, a flu or two, teething, loud poker nights, and super late sunsets –  regardless of the situation – AJ has slept 12+ hours every, single, night since going through the program.  One thing I do get asked a lot – is was it worth it? Emotionally and financially? And all I can say is “Knowing what I know now – I would have paid 3x the amount. My only regret is not knowing about sleep consultants sooner – I would have gone through the process with all of my kids.”

The flow of our evenings are pretty damn perfect and we have WeeSleep to thank for that. WeeSleep gave us our life back, and now, I would like to pay it forward. I have decided to take part in the WeeSleep Consultant Training program that will be offered here in Seattle this fall. Motherhood is my passion – and if I can help you make it more enjoyable by simply getting some sleep – we all win. I would love nothing more than to be a part of your family’s sleep success story so stay tuned for updates as I embark on this new mom-life friendly adventure.

x’s and z’s

Renée

Tired now? Reach out to WeeSleep for your FREE 15 minute consultation. You won’t regret it:)

 

 

 

Maynard Maui Getaway 2018 – Hyatt Maui

Maynard party of… 7?

Hey you guys! Happy [Maui] Monday! We are back to life + reality after a nice long week at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort + Spa. Talk about a much much needed adventure.

This past trip – we mixed things up a bit + traveled with FAMILY! My brother and my SIL were able to sneak away from work to meet us on the beautiful island for mai tai’s and memories. Talk about the perfect little combo. This was the first vacation I’ve taken with my brother in well over a decade and honestly, it couldn’t have gone any better. It was so nice to see him and his wife bond with their nephews in a vacation setting. Tossing the kids around in the pool, holding their little hands for beach walks, sea turtle searching…. makes my ❤ extra full. Not to mention – we had a little HELP! Bracy + I were able to sneak away for some SUP, snorkel + extra smooches:)

This Maynard + Ward Maui Getaway was a game changer for our family – we all grew a little closer, held each other a little tighter, and made some of the greatest + happiest memories we will never forget.

Thank you for reading + allowing me to share my family with you:)

All about that H20

If you’ve been following my journey, you know my Ben. You also know that my Ben is a teenager:) And if you have a teenager, you know this phase is a tough one. But being able to take him out and spend some QT on the water – seeing him smile the way he did – brought us so much closer. I worry about that… losing that tight bond + connection as they enter the inevitable emotionally driven moments of puberty. I do find that carving out special time for him on a regular basis strengthens our relationship to a level I can only hope is indestructable.

When we lived in Florida, we spent all our days on the water. This day on Maui, made us feel at home. When we weren’t loungin’ in the ‘Ohana [family] beachfront tent [which I highly recommend booking in advance] we were snorkeling along side the hone [turtle] + SUPin’ above the beautiful reefs. All of the snorkeling equipment was available right at the resort – keeping things super simple for us. And a special thanks to Chris with the Ka’anapali Surf Club who graciously shared his local insider tips on snorkeling hot spots giving us the most surreal underwater adventure imaginable.

Pool Time!

The pool at the Hyatt was pretty much home for the week. There was something to do for everyone. The swim up grotto pool bar, waterfalls, awesome slides! Best part? The kiddie pool was fantastic!

Lu’au Baby!

Listen. You can’t go to Maui + NOT hit a Lu’au – it’s probably one of my favorite things to do on the island and THIS Luau was something special. Drums of the Pacific   offered an unforgettable evening filled with conch shell blowing, the beating of the drums, the echoes of the Hawaiian chant, the delicious food, the drinks – literally it was such an incredible experience for the whole family.  This lu’au took you on a journey throughout the islands of Polynesia through song + dance, wrapping up the night with an INSANE fire-knife dance finale!

Wildlife

My kids LOVED the animals you’ll see throughout the resort. Parrots, penguins, fish – the list goes on! We were lucky enough to meet up with Pono who gave us a “behind the scenes” wildlife tour where we were able to feed + bond with the animals! If you find a little free time during your stay at Hyatt Maui – I highly recommend booking this experience! And be sure to give Maddie the parrot a big kiss from all of us:)

That Sunset Though…

Maui is one of those places – actually it’s the only place I’ve ever experienced this immense desire to move. It’s a place I can actually envision us living. It’s a place that feels so much like home to me. For weeks after each trip, Bracy + I discuss ways to make it happen. Maybe one day?:)

Thanks for following along! Maui has been an annual tradition for our family that I hope we continue for the rest of our lives, with hopes that the boys will carry on for generations.

Whats your family vacay tradition? Comment below + share a story of your own!

PS: If I all of a sudden go “missing”, chances are you’ll find me right. back. here:)

*partnered with Hyatt Maui for this post, however, all opinions are my own.

When Luxury + Family Collide [Maui]


Maynard Maui Getaway 2017. Aloha! And Happy Monday!

So here we are you guys, a year later, plus another [baby], + the best Maynard Maui Getaway in the books. Not gonna lie… this most recent trip to the incredible [brand spankin’ new, btw] Westin Nanea Ocean Villas , Ka’anapali will be one we’ll never top. Never. Period. It’s a fact and I’ve accepted it.

Now let me tell you a little bit about this property + why we loved it so much. The little bits of info you’d never know unless you’ve experienced it for yourself first hand. This new beachfront Westin is no Westin at all. In fact, it sits alone, at the very top of a category beyond 5 stars. Singles, couples, families, honeymooners – this property offers enjoyment for everyone! Truth:: I get goosebumps as I write about this super unique place, one I hope to be able to bring my kids back to year after year.

What’s in a name?

Nanea (na-neh-ah) is a Hawaiian word that means to be in a state of relaxation, leisure, + tranquility. This resort is like no other in ways that can only be experienced during a stay. The details, the auras, the authentic Hawaiian vibe really have a way at putting you into the most peaceful place you’ve only dreamed of. One you’d like to stay in forever. Something I really appreciated was that the [local] staff would share stories and unique details on the ground-on-up construction time-lapse. Their heart’s lie deep within this property. You really do get a sense of care + respect when speaking to just about  a n y o n e  working on site. Something you have to remember, is these employees watched this property go up from dirt, as most worked at the neighboring [sister] property, The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas.   [pro tip: stay at one resort + use the other! Something that’s also unique to this property is that you’re able to property hop sharing the pools and ammenities!]

The Decor

One of the things my husband + I absolutley loved about the Westin Nanea was the attention to detail + purpose by incorporating the history of the island and of the Hawaiian people in the construction + creation of this new property. One of the ways in which they delivered that experience was with the Hina’i, a traditional Hawaiin fishing basket. The Hina’i represents a basket of stories, which is the hope + expectation of the resort and it’s design. From the lobby to the light fixtures, locally created artwork in the villas to structural murals on the building, all being focal points throughout the property that give the guests inspiration to create and share a story of their own. Any Moana fans out there? Check out the floor in the picture below. What do you see?

The Food

The Westin Nanea makes dining quite simple. When you’re not shopping on property in the convenient Kauhale Market + cooking in your villa or BBQing near the pools, feel free to start your mornings off at Mauka Makai [meaning toward the mountain, toward the ocean] The relaxed + upscale menu is inspired by ancient Hawaiians, who drew their physical and spiritual sustenance from the land and sea around them. Pro Tip:: definitely try the mango Bellini paired with your coffee + the corned beef hash. It’s served with the most amazing chorizo gravy that will make your mouth want more. So yum. If you’re feeling uber hungry, try the buffet:: a never ending option loaded with the freshest fruits, tender smoked salmon, delightful pastries, and more. 

Lunch daily was poolside for us.  Waitstaff circled around the pools carrying yummy frozen drinks + snacks from Inu [the Hawaiian word for drink]. The smells were undeniably tempting. Dine poolside, in a private cabana, or in the wide-open restaurant with stunning views of Kā‘anapali Beach, the resort, and the swimming pools. Pro Tip:: Definitely order the Edamame + the Tuna Poke Bowl. Ahh-mazing. *Be sure to ask for Jake. He was the kindest, most knowledgable waiter I have ever met. Jake taught us so much about the menu: the story behind it, how the food was caught + prepared, and the rhyme/reason behind it all. Jake was a very memorable part of our trip and not because he introduced me to the Macadamia Nut Chi Chi [my go-to poolside cocktail made with Ocean Organic Vodka, macadamia nut liqueur, pineapple chunks, coconut cream, + pineapple juice] We sure do hope to see him again some day!

Dinners at The Westin Nanea felt so elegant yet kid-friendly; a combination that very rarely sits together. This is definitely an important quality to our family as my husband and I love to “fine dine” with kids in tow. The menu was created by Executive Chef Ikaika Manaku with fresh, local ingredients sourced from mountain to sea. Our Faves:: Start off with the Kula baby mesclun greens. It’s topped with fennel, Waimea cukes, local cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, Kā‘anapali beets, and a lavender dressing. Next, try the Yukon Gold Gnocchi. It’s served with charred Hawaiian orange butter, toasted macadamia nuts, + a garden herb essence. Seriously incredible.  Main course options are all perfection, but be sure to save room for dessert! My husband + I had 1 fight in Maui and it was over the last bite of the Baked Maui; House-made pound cake, meringue, Lappert’s Hawai‘i coconut ice cream, + macerated Kula strawberries. Oh my yumm.

Spa Helani
Let’s talk about the most relaxing, rejuvenating experience of my life.  I ended up living the dream with an 80 minute massage. And get this:: I am honored to say I was the VERY FIRST to try the NEW Nanea Ritual.  This ritual was introduced in honor of the Nanea’s recent opening, soothing guests into a dreamy euphoric state of relaxation, or Nanea in Hawaiian. The ritual begins with a symbolic cleanse; using a ti leaf to cast away any negative energy lingering in the room. Next, you will choose your oil blend for the ritual. I chose the gardenia blend as it’s one of my favorite scents. Smooth, self-heating porcelain lava shells are then used to massage the chosen oils in a rhythmic pattern on the skin. You guys:: this was [seriously] without a doubt the most relaxing massage I have ever experienced.

The Bed.
It’s Heavenly®. Need I say more?

The Pool

The pool at The Westin Nanea was the one place we were consistantly at every single day. From sun up to sun down, the boys were splish n’ and a splash’n at the baby beach, cruisin’ down the water slide, and playing in the kiddo pool or splash park. We spent one full day in a private poolside cabana where my hubby and I enjoyed yummy drinks + treats while the babies napped and Ben watched surfing on the flat screen TV! I highly recommend booking a cabana, especially if you have littles!

You guys:: whether you’re traveling with the kiddos and looking for a cultural experience like no other, in love on your honeymoon, or simply flying solo, this is one place you need to hit. The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas on Maui will forever be a special place for my family. You can for sure count on us going back.

A big Mahalo for letting me share our Maynard Maui Getaway Part II with you!  Feel free to scroll down to check out the rest of our pics:)

xo

Renée

 

*partnered with Westin Nanea for this post, however, all opinions are my own.

There were 4 in the bed…

…and the little one said, “Roll over! Roll over!” So they all rolled over and one fell out!

Hey you guys! Hoping all has been well since my last post FORRREVERRRR ago. It’s laughably pathetic how finding a little quiet time to sit at my laptop to write seems unfathomable. With that said, my hubby has graciously offered to keep the babies busy and quiet for a bit… so lets rock n’ roll.

For those of you who follow me over on my Insta /@Floridaray18/ you know that my husband + I share a bed with the babies. A small bed. Yeah. It’s tight. Imagine sardines. Well that’s us. For months, Bracy + I have been on a massive hunt for the prefect upgrade. So below, I’m going to take you through our king size upgrade process! Part one, that is:)

To be honest, my heart has mixed feelings on this whole king size bed thing. I love to snuggle + am probably the most annoying person in the world to sleep next to. My husband would never admit this, but I would put money on the fact that he wants to chop off my legs and beat me with them most nights. I do this weirdly obnoxious thing where I have to, and I mean HAVE TO rub my feet against his, at a pace that sits somewhere between a skip and a jog. I do this until I fall asleep. Now apparently once that happens, I then swing one leg up and over my husbands back, and there, it must sit until Jax comes creepin’ down the hall, dragging his water, a blankie, the pillow, Moo Baby, and his little orange basketball. Yup. All of those things MUST be in his bed in order for him to fall asleep. Which means all of those things must end up in our bed in order for him to fall back asleep there.

In addition to Bracy, myself, + the copious amount of unnecessary nonsense, we’ve also got, count ’em up, one and now two tiny humans in bed. Yup. That’s right. I said two! AJ has been a comfort nurser since the birth canal, so we can count on him being tucked in my armpit at all times. Now look. I do not and will never ever condone co-sleeping. It’s something that, to be honest, terrifies me, hence the fact that I haven’t deeply slept in roughly 18 months (pregnancy + new babe). You hear the horror stories, you’ve read the books. It’s such a frowned upon scenario with much to debate in our society. In other cultures, it’s the norm. This is definitely a hot topic, one I’d rather not get into the semantics of in this blog post. Moving on.

The Hunt

Oh the infamous, almost forever lasting king size bed hunt. One of the most frustrating items you would ever shop for ever, in your life, guaranteed. I mean think about. The average person will spend about 229,961 hours in their bed in a lifetime. Crazy, right!? So with that said, you for suuuuure have a big decision to make! Not to mention, beds are super pricey. For us, we did the shopping, the research, and the review reading all online. We are not the type to go testing out beds in a furniture store, and to be honest, those stores do not want the Maynard’s in there either. I can already see it. Jax jumping across bed after bed with dirty shoes and cheeto fingers. Agh! I’d give them 8 minutes before kicking us out.

We currently own the ever-so-popular Tempur-Pedics and Sealy’s… they are great and all but we wanted to try something a little different this time. The whole giant bed in a tiny box fascinates me. It’s funny… friends of mine joke about their EPIC return policy.

The Winner

After an almost 12 month search for a king size bed, based on research alone, we have decided on… drumroll please… the 4Sleep Mattress:: The Most Comfortable, Supportive, & Cooling Sleep Experience Available®. Now let me tell you the why we went this route::

  • 4Sleep was started by a husband + wife team. I truly admire marriages that can rock a business together, too. Super admirable, and totally goal worthy.
  •  They market their gel memory foam mattress as “the mattress that will forever change the way you sleep.” SOLD.
  • I’m a sucker for a good visual. Their website is clean, easy to nav, + to be honest, quite pretty.
  • We were definitely diggin’ the Edge support system – there is an additional layer that runs along the side edge of the mattress. This 2.5″ foam layer helps reinforce the edges for both sleeping + sitting, preventing their collapse. This is an important element to me simply because of the babies in our bed. It may or may not make a difference in their safety, but it’s keeping my mind at ease.
  • The 4Sleep mattress is a 7 out of 10 on the firmness scale (10 being the most firm). This places it on the firmer end compared to most other online mattress companies, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Apparently, the feel is similar to that of traditional memory foam, just not as extreme. I’ve got a few chronic lower back issues that my chiropractor tends to weekly. Personally, I cringe at the thought of a soft + squishy bed.
  • Cooling on Demand cover is made from the same type of breathable, moisture wicking and cooling fabric used in high performance sports apparel.
  • Maintains Ideal Sleep Temperature (Both absorbs and liberates body heat as needed) with Cooling Gel Memory Foam
  • Motion Control (Not feeling your sleep partner. A must)
  • Responsive Bounce (No sinking or cratering)
  • The Price Is Right:: They sell their King size beds for $999. The shipping is free, comes in 2-5 days, compressed in a box. Still mind blown over that whole concept. Whoever stuffs these bad boys in a box, mad props.
  • 4Sleep offers a 10 year, full replacement limited warranty. That’s pretty nice.
  • They offer you a 100 day trial! Whaaaat? How great would it be if you could try everything for 100 days?!
  • Although this totally cracks me up, it still offers piece of mind when knowing 4Sleep has a pretty sweet return policy. If for any reason within 100 days from the date of delivery you are not completely satisfied with your 4Sleep Mattress, you call ’em up.  They do ask that you give your mattress an honest 30 days as it sometimes takes a few weeks for your body to fully adjust to proper alignment.
  • And lastly but proudly, 4Sleep is made right here in the USA! Go Team!

Y’all… I will certainly keep you guys posted. As soon as our new bed frame arrives, I’ll share some new thoughts + additional pics. But in the meantime, head on over to www.4sleep.com and check ’em out!

Are you thinking of upsizing or have you recently gone from a Queen to a King? If so, why? Love it? Hate it? Share your thoughts below!

 

xo renée