Monday, July 28, 2014

A Week In San Diego, Part One

A couple of weeks ago we spent a week in San Diego, at another Airbnb rental (use that link for a $25 credit). This time we stayed in a condo a couple of houses from the beach and it was SO nice being that close to the ocean. We've been to San Diego in the past, but never with enough time to really relax and take it in, and this time I really fell in love! We stayed in the Mission Beach area and all of us really enjoyed it; it was a nice mix of things to do, restaurants, and of course, the beach right there.

Before I even get into this, I just have to add that this is an unsponsored post- I just really like using Airbnb! :) I've talked about it before but as our family gets bigger and bigger, we've found that renting one house for all of us on a site like that is a LOT more economical and much more fun than booking three separate hotel rooms for my parents, my sister's family, and our crew. Plus, with three little ones, nap times are infinitely easier on us as parents. Having a house with a few bedrooms means we can just bring our baby monitors and enjoy hanging out in other parts of the rental home, or in the backyard. This way no one is stuck in a dark room for a couple of hours on vacation. Although sometimes I do find myself napping right along with them, it's nice to have options! We still haven't tried some of the other home rental sites, but next summer we'll be traveling the East Coast and I hope to try them out.

Some of my favorite things about our week in Mission Beach:

-waking up early and running/walking along the beach and boardwalk. Although it's not really a boardwalk like the one I grew up with in NJ. It is a beach-walk? Walkway?

-The Olive Cafe, which was right across from the condo. The food was so good- I especially loved the chocolate chip scones, fresh out of the oven every morning.

-Some other restaurants we enjoyed: Mitch's Seafood, Rosaria Pizza, La Playa Taco Shop, Babycakes Cupcakes, and Chop Shop.

-The weather. I LOVED the gloomy mornings. It always burned off by 10am or so, but those cloudy, overcast early hours down by the water were some of my favorite times.

-All of our firsts: Henry's first time boogie boarding, Charlie's first time meeting the Pacific Ocean, the first beach vacation we've all taken together since Charlie was was awesome. Oh, and I can't forget my first time trying an acai bowl. Delicious!

Below are a million photos from our week, via my iPhone and regular camera. I had to split this post into two posts and I'll share part two tomorrow! xoxo

^a roadtrip essential!

^best ice cream at The Olive Cafe
^met up with our friend Kelly and her kids one afternoon- so fun

Giveaway: Win a 2-Night Stay at ANY North American Radisson Hotel

To kick off a week of travel-themed posts, I'm teaming up with Radisson to offer a two night stay at any of their North American locations. This is to help spread the word about their amazing sweepstakes going on right now, where one winner will receive free hotel rooms for life, via Radisson. So cool!

Today on Sometimes Sweet though, I'm giving away two Radisson vouchers, each redeemable for one night in a standard room, double occupancy. My family and I actually did a little staycation last year at a Radisson down by my parents' house and had the best time. Clean, spacious rooms and definitely family-friendly...thinking about it makes me excited to see who the winner will be!

To enter, see the widget below. Good luck- this contest is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Sleepover. Except Not Really.

Growing up sleepovers were a huge part of my childhood. My friends and I were constantly at each others' houses, staying up way too late eating snacks and sweets, giggling under sleeping bags and playing "light as a feather, stiff as a board." I have all happy memories. And the older I get, and the more I hear, the more I realize that having only happy memories associated with sleepovers isn't always the norm.

And so last night Henry had his first "sleepover." Except it wasn't really a sleepover, because his friend's Mom (one of my closest girlfriends) spent the night too. For us, that will always be the extent of sleepovers with friends. Either it will be with our longtime family friends, and it's more of a family affair with me there too at their house or ours, or we'll do more of a "sleep-under" where friends can come over in their pajamas, watch movies...then go home by 10pm. Or if it's a sleepover somewhere else Henry can do the same. And maybe that seems overprotective, but regardless of his age- four, ten, thirteen- I can't imagine I will ever feel comfortable letting him go to a friend's house to spend the night.

There are so many articles on the topic, and opinions vary, I know. But for me, there are too many unknowns, and hearing too many stories of sexual abuse has made me much more aware of those unknowns. At the root of it I wouldn't ever want my children sleeping somewhere where there could be someone else there that we don't know. An older sister or brother. A neighbor. A visiting relative. And it's not even that- I am fully aware that I cannot control everything and that abuse most often happens with people we already know, but I feel like if I can do anything to keep him even a little safer, I will.

And I know it's easy now to say "no sleepovers." I have a baby and an almost four-year old. Simple stuff because they don't know the difference. But I wonder what it will be like when I have a preteen begging to spend the night at a friend's house, and feeling like I'm making my child miss out on fun times? We'll see. If I've learned one thing over the past four years as a parent it's to never say never, so I won't...but I at this point in our life I can't imagine I'd ever be okay with it.

I'm curious on your thoughts, too. Where do you weigh in? Are you all for sleepovers, or will they be something you won't or don't allow? I'd love to hear your opinion.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Links

I did a post for Little Hip Squeaks awhile back but never shared the photos here- how cute is this crown from Little Blue Olive? I'll show off Charlie's little crown in a week or so in his room tour (finally sharing it!) but this is definitely Henry's favorite "dress up" item. He keeps it right on his dresser and so many afternoons I will find him wearing it, imagining he's the King of some far off land, or reading books on his own. Love it.

Annnd, happy weekend! I'm so excited about these next couple of days. I feel like we've been going non-stop lately, and although this weekend isn't slowing down either, sometimes it feels good to have big, full days. And I hope whatever you find yourself doing this weekend, some part of it involves good food and the people you love.

Some links-

First, I wanted to share an important site- my friend's sister is battling colorectal cancer and her Alma Mater, the University of San Francisco has set up this GoFundMe page to help. If you have a moment, please check it out.

The other true story behind ‘Orange Is the New Black.’

Check out this Tumblr account. And here's some more info on it too.

The perfect picnic.

I love this canvas tote!

Photographer captures the beauty of adoption.

My current desktop background.

Etsy love: this tea towel, this bib, and this blanket.

Nobody's graduating in four years anymore.

One of my dear friends just opened a new shop- check it out. I especially like this print.

On on roadtrip wishlist: Yosemite.

Just look at these GORGEOUS photos of my sweet friend Christina and her husband Robert.

This buffalo chicken recipe looks so good.

Falling in love with Jenny Lewis, a primer.

I really want to try this lipstick color!

No, I actually don't have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.

Arizona, then and now.

Wishlist: this dress, ALL of these dresses, and to be here.

Happy birthday, Henry and Marie! So, so cute.

What did your childhood sticker collection look like?

18 things you've been doing wrong your whole life.

Whatcha know about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

I love this post: All Boxed Up.

And two more great posts- A Simple, Intentional Life and To Be Sad For What Isn't.

And finally, some favorites from the Nordstrom Anniversary sale via my rewardStyle affiliate account- click on the image to jump over to the item- happy shopping!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Date with My Boys...and an Awesome Giveaway from Ergobaby and Nena & Co.

It's amazing how essential babywearing has become for our family with the second baby. I did it here and there with Henry, but once Charlie came along it really became a necessity if I wanted to get anything done...and now that Charlie is moving and grooving, it makes going out with both boys a whole lot easier.

So when Ergobaby and Nena & Co. asked me to share a bit about a special afternoon out with my boys, just the three of us, I was game. Our everyday looks a lot like this...minus a photographer following us around making everything look perfect. ;) But really, whenever the three of us head out it's usually Charlie in the Ergo and Henry holding my hand. This works for us. The carrier allows me to keep Charlie close while also being able to play and hang out with Henry. Hands free, ready for adventure. Add in the perfect diaper bag to the mix- the Day Bag II by Nena & Co- and we're set. I love how many pockets it has, and I especially love that it's not actually a diaper bag. This makes it double duty, and totally usable after the baby phase is over.

This time we were down at my parents' house, so we decided to head over to The Coffee Shop in Gilbert for some of their delicious birthday cake cupcakes. Have you been there? Henry had a great time running around, and we found the most beautiful spot under some shade trees for a picnic. On a side note, for parents of more than one child, isn't it funny how things change with baby #2 (or 3 or 4)? As a baby Henry never tried anything with sugar until his first birthday cake- I was so vigilant about that- but there we were, sitting on the blanket, letting Charlie try the cream cheese frosting. So I'm guessing with our next child he or she will get the whole cupcake by age 1. ha. But anyway it was such a fun day, and surprisingly not too hot. If you're ever in Gilbert I definitely recommend a stop by this area. Joe's Farm Grill is there too, which is another place we love.

And something else to love? Ergobaby and Nena & Co. have teamed up to do a Summer Good Vibes giveaway! Up for grabs: an Ergobaby carrier in this awesome, summery teal color and a one of a kind Day Bag II from Nena & Co., both featured in this shoot.

To enter, head over to the giveaway page on the Ergobaby Facebook for all the details. Good luck!

And of course, here are some photos from our afternoon-

Photos by Lauren Ristow for Sometimes Sweet
This post was sponsored by Ergobaby and Nena & Co.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letting Go


Recently I've come to this place in my life where I don't want to harbor anger or bad feelings for anyone. And it's not like I ever wanted to, but I wasn't at a place where I understood how important it was to just let go. It's hard though, to just move on. And it's especially hard for someone like me who has a tendency to obsess and obsess until I feel crazy! But somehow over the past year or so I've managed to become someone who can just let go. It seems almost impossible, and it absolutely seemed impossible when I first started on this journey, but over time it has become easier and easier.

So anyway, while trying to avoid getting all Oprah-y/Dr. Phil on you, here's what has worked for me:

1. Realize you cannot change anyone else's behavior but your own- everyone lives in their own reality.

So many times I've thought to myself "why does he/she do that?!" and become so frustrated that this person was reacting in such a way. First things first, I had a long, hard look in the mirror after reading this quote- "We have a tendency to want the other person to be a finished product while we give ourselves the grace to evolve." Did that hit you as hard as it hit me the first time I heard it? I'm sure many of you can relate when I say that this really applies to the way I think sometimes. I'm absolutely guilty of not understanding how on earth someone could do this, think that, say whatever, and wonder why they just don't get it. But not only can I not change someone else's behavior, but I should try not to judge it, as if my way is the only way or the right way. And that's not to say if someone is especially rotten we should just shake our heads and say, "oh, that's them!" and excuse bad behavior. But in day-to-day encounters it's important to remember that everything does not revolve around us or our way of doing things; each individual has their own reality they live in, full of their own truths and reasons for their actions. When I remember this I am able to accept that not only can I not change someone else, it's futile to even try, because we will always be coming from two different places with two very different ideas about the hows and whys. And a disclaimer here- I don't want to discount working through something with someone different than ourselves; I'm talking about simply accepting that there are many ways to do something, and to recognize that our way isn't the best or only path even though it certainly may feel like that from time to time.

2. Put your energy in the right place.

Have you ever found yourself telling yourself not think about something, yet continuing to think about it, over and over? Or maybe discussing and rehashing with a friend, talking in circles about the same thing the entire time you hang out? What an epic waste of energy! I'm not successful all the time, but I actively try and remind myself "This is what it is. You have done what you can. Going on about it in your mind (or with a friend) with no new information isn't providing clarity, you're only giving the negative thoughts more power." Yes, I talk to myself. And yes, it works! By being firm in not allowing myself to devote any more time to this or that, I allow myself to move past it and be free of it. It might be visualizing a stop sign in your mind whenever your thoughts start going there, or just getting up and physically moving yourself to a new place, leaving your old thoughts behind, but find a tool that works and use it!

3. Forgive.

Easier said than done, right? For many years I would be having a great day but then out of the blue I'd be reminded of a person/situation and my stomach would immediately hurt. It sounds so silly typing that out, but it's true- my negative thinking was physically affecting me. So one day I decided that I was done. Holding onto these feelings wasn't making me feel good, and completely holding me back by keeping me in the past. By truly forgiving, even if you're only able to do so in your mind, will bring an immediate release. In my own life it's something I had to work on continuously, but after awhile I felt free and I was able to be in the present, and move on. Awesome.

Before I go I should also add that I might sound like I know what I'm talking about here, but I don't, really. I'm figuring this all out just like anyone else, and I just wanted to share what's worked for me. I'm still learning everyday how to be better, and even though these things have helped, I still have to remind myself of them regularly. Being an emotional person has its downfalls (like worrying or thinking too much about feelings), but at the same time I love how passionate I am about everything and how much I feel, and I'm sure many of you can relate to that too. Just wanted to end on a positive note.

I haven't written a post like this in awhile, and it was fun. Thanks for reading. :)