Friday, August 8, 2014

Niagara Falls with a toddler (and baby!)

We were a little bummed about not going on the annual beach trip to Bald Head Island, especially because my sweet Godson Henry was being baptized. But, keeping in mind we just moved our kids twice this summer and I am about to go back to school, we decided it was best to either stay home or make a smaller trip.

Matt suggested Niagara Falls, and at the last minute (about 24 hours before!), we pulled the trigger and made reservations. We weren't able to find his passport in our mess of a garage, so we knew we would only be able to visit the American side. We still had a great trip, though.

Before a million photos, a few tips if you are planning to travel to the American side of Niagara Falls:

1. Find your passports (adults) and birth certificates for the kids. Though the American side was beautiful, clean, and not crowded at all, there would have been a lot more to do on the other side.

2. If you stay on the US side, stay at the Comfort Inn at The Pointe. It was inexpensive, accommodations were clean and comfortable, and we literally looked right at the entrance to the park (Niagara Falls is a national park, if you didn't know:) It may not be the fanciest hotel, but you can look it up and see how many people agree that it is fantastic. Also, the breakfast is not to be missed.

3.  Don't bring your double stroller!  We don't have one, and that ended up being the best way. The paths can be steep, and I can't imagine pushing TWO kids up the hill in a double. We just brought Rhys' travel system and Larkyn's umbrella stroller.

4. Don't buy the Discovery Pass if you have little ones. For adults or older/more adventurous kids, it is a great value. But for us, we never knew who would be cranky, who would suddenly be scared, or all those lovely unknowns that come with 0-3 year olds. I kind of cringed that we didn't actually "do" anything other than go see the falls each day, but did I want to put our family through a boat ride when one of them is terrified of water? We asked her at least 20 times, hoping she would say yes to the Maid of the Mist. No luck.

Cave of the Winds would have been cool and we saw people on that tour. They were absolutely drenched and it is not stroller accessible whatsoever. Last- if we had had a rainy or really hot day, we would have done the Aquarium. The locals all recommended it, but I didn't want to go inside when it was so nice out. So technically, we spent ZERO dollars on enteraintment because the park is free. PS- if your kids stay up a little later, there are fireworks a few nights per week and the falls illuminate every night.

5. Be ready to drive if you want to see things OTHER than the Falls. There is lots to do across the bridge in Canada or if staying in the US, further East in the little towns along the lake (Olcott and Lewiston). It all requires packing up and heading out. You can see all of Niagara Falls USA in a day, so plan to take a day trip or two.

6. Bring layers. We went in August, which was absolutely perfect weather. Breezy and sunny (which means a little chilly in the morning).

7. Ask around (which I do on every trip). Every time I bought something, I casually got some information out of each merchant. People love to tell you about where they live. That is how we found where to buy Niagara wine without going to a winery (The Trading Post, 427 1st Street).

OK, business out of the way. Here is a glimpse of our little trip up North!

 Both boys happy to be out of the car

 Prospect street, where we stayed. Since it is all part of the park, it is SO clean and pretty!

 Minutes away from our hotel, the Three Sisters Falls to the left
 On the observation deck. Rhys was asleep.

 Looking the other way off the Observation deck at Rainbow Bridge (where you cross to CA)

Across the street from our hotel were our favorites: NY style pizza by the slice at Mario's (we LOVED it and are picky pizza eaters) and ice cream

The next morning, we walked across the pedestrian bridge over the rapids. It was a beautiful walk and we were the only ones out at 9 AM.

 We were headed to Luna Island for the prettiest views...

 Luna Island. This is looking at the 3 Sisters, Observation Deck, and Rainbow Bridge. That lookout is not stroller accessible yet (but the entire park is under construction to make it all accessible-yay!)

Another reason Luna Island was awesome: rainbows galore! 

He didn't get to go down there because of the stroller issue, but Matt and I took turns taking Larkyn down there. He doesn't look concerned.

 I wish there was a better way to photograph Horseshoe Falls from the US. It was cool to be right on top of it, but you can't see from this picture how massive it is all the way around

I think this was a really fun trip for her. This was the first time I saw her really comprehend a vacation. She was excited every time she saw our hotel, got over her fear of elevators, and enjoyed the sights of  new place balanced with a schedule that was not overloaded. That is just her speed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

House Tour: Big Girl Room

This was Larkyn's room at our old house. When I designed it, there was no Pinterest and owl decor was tough to find. It felt unique, serene, and innocent to me.

When buying our new house, I knew I had to transition her room to a Big Girl room as well as furnish a new nursery for Rhys. To balance the budget, I needed a way to keep most of her existing decor but remix it to represent the spunky, vibrant girl that she is. Come inside!

I started with the bedding. I knew I wanted Pottery Barn to match the feel of her old Hayley set. When I found the Daisy Garden set, it was perfect. It has strips of the green gingham, ties in with the flower/bird/owl scheme of the old room, and is so cheerful. Even better, I found it on eBay for 50% of the retail cost.

Since Matt is in the furniture industry, finding a bed was easy. This is the American Signature Colorworks full size bed. I hate the way the rail looks, but safety first, right?

No more pale yellow walls. The paint color, Sherwin Williams Moonraker, is greenish-yellow that I love even more than the Benjamin Moore Moonlight in the nursery. And that was the existing paint color!

Instead of individually hanging the PBK letters (which we painted white from off-white a few years ago), I got a canvas, painted it (3 different times to get the right blue, and it is still too bright!), added ribbon, and hot glued the letters. I know, hot glue and PBK...blasphemy...but at some point, you just want a project to be done.

We kept the same curtains, lamp, glider, and accent table from her nursery because, why not? Can you tell she has a favorite author already?

I love the way that the wood floor warms up the room. It might be my favorite part!

I re-worked the wall decor to only use one PBK shelf instead of two because, to be honest, I'm not crazy about them. (1)I hate that they don't make their stuff in regular white, (2) These are AWFUL to hang and (3) The little railing blocks your view of anything you want to put in them. I spent too much money on them to waste them, so I'll put one in each kid's room and I tried stacking things to have a better view.

I finished her footprint project this spring, which is one of my oldest and most re-pinned ideas!  I got the tree from Hobby Lobby last week.

This wall was fun for me. If you know me, you already know that I have lots of patience for humans and that is about it. I hate waiting for things in the mail and DIY projects need to be done NOW. Anyway, last night, I searched etsy for and found some perfect instant downloads. I wanted art that represented Larkyn and wasn't run of the mill.

We have her favorite song, her initial, her favorite food (we could easily make a gallery wall with donuts, sprinkles, waffles, pancakes...), and a fitting quote for Miss Sassafras. I easily downloaded the files (ranging from $3.50-$8.00) and printed them at Staples today. That is washi tape from Michaels because I actually don't want to see a hammer and nails for a very long time.

She has a great closet, which will be a project for another day. Or year. 

Larkyn is so excited about her room that she shrieks to anyone who comes in (including the pizza man and ATT installer) "COME ON!! COME SEE MY PRETTY PINK ROOM!!"

Monday, August 4, 2014

House Tour: Master Bedroom Part 1

It is kind of funny that this is the first room I am showing you, because it is nowhere close to being finished and I conveniently left out the mess that still exists up there. But, we are close enough and I wanted to show you what I've done so far.

The only carpet in the house is in our upper level, starting with the steps. I decided to break my gallery wall into pieces in this house. This is obviously the Hall of Larkyn.

At the top of the steps, I added some white curtains and some flowers in my favorite CB2 wall vases. And no, that's not laundry on the steps.

It's Sebastian, who is forbidden to be on our bed in this house. Here is another angle so you can understand the layout. The white wooden wall is all shelving around the stairs. We need to cover Matt's closet with a curtain too, but we don't want it to get in the way. Still thinking on that one.

Love that shelving. Since only one of us was the English major, we have a few different uses for them. Everything that was once in my writing desk (which is now at my mom and dad's house) is now boxed up and on the shelves. This week, those boxes are 5 for $10!

Beyond the shelves is our bed, which used to be bedded in navy and gray. This time around, I felt like going brighter.

The bedding is Trina Turk Coral Trellis, nightstands from Target, and the art is a Michaels canvas with shades of peach, coral, and gold craft paint. We need lamps, I know. Mercury glass? To the right of the bed is the shelving and a walkway where there is just enough room for Matt's million shoes.

To the left of the bed is my closet (again, an easy access door idea?) and another window. Our first purchase was a window AC (glam!) because the upper level of Cape Cods are technically attic space, so they get HOT). If you are looking for one, this unit is amazing and not terribly expensive.


I've only shown you one half of the room. The other side, across from the bed, has yet to be completed! It has built in shelves, our dressers and TV, and attic access. Once that looks a little nicer, I'll add it. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Our great outdoors

Typically in the summer, we do a LOT of activities out of the house. When we were in our rental last month, I tried to stay out of the house as long as possible, actually. Now that we are in the new house, I want the kids to finally feel settled and begin to explore their surroundings. This was our week at home...

 If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen our deer encounter. We have walked down the street to the cemetery every night since then to see our "reindeer" friends.

 It may seem a little macabre to walk my kids through the cemetery, but...could you ask for a more peaceful setting? Plus, my little animal lover gets some wildlife time.

We were treated to two babies tonight

 Rush Run runs alongside our neighborhood

 In the backyard, she plays with soapy water on her picnic table

 And she is always making me some "carrot thoop"

Of course, this little guy is always just along for the ride

It is a little unreal that walking one way down our street leads the hustle and bustle of High Street and the other way leads to a little sanctuary. I'd say we are pretty happy.


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