gingham girl

May 30, 2016

Matching Sets- Plaid
Gingham matching separates- street style
Gingham top- Old Navy
Blogger Style- Matching Sets
Georgia Blogger- Spring Style

You know I love a matching set, you know! So when I was shopping around for some last minute warm weather appropriate attire, and saw this top and bottom, sold. Not only do I love that they compete each other as one solid outfit, but then I can break them up and create so many more outfit options. Cost per wear my friends, and they are both currently on major sale (total side eye that I paid full price like three weeks ago). 

But, I really cannot complain about a damn thing because I am loving the heat!! I don't care that the humidity is slightly suffocating coming from Alaska. Or the fact that my children literally think their skin is melting off, I still love it. I am a desert rat by nature. The last few days everywhere we have gone in the middle of the day, at the hottest point of course, we are the only crazy people out. The park....vacant. The botanical gardens....ghost town. The playground with the hot metal play set....all to our heat resistant selves. I have no doubt that we will wise up at some point. After all this is not our first rodeo in the south. We just cannot get over it, the sunshine, the warmth on your skin, the overabundance of vitamin D being absorbed into our deprived pale skin, it's glorious. Living in Vegas and Arizona before, I never really complained about the heat until of course I would burn my leg with the hot seat belt, so I have truly enjoyed shedding the layers. 

One thing hasn't changed though....I am still incredibly grateful for the automatic start on my car. Ha! So thank you Alaska for making it clear that I needed that. I thank you, and more importantly Caspian thanks you. Pretty sure at this point our poor dog is like what the hell people? First you stuff me in a car for three weeks. Parade me around from hotel to hotel. THEN you dump me in the middle of a sauna and expect me to be happy. 

His new favorite thing, ice cubes. 

Alaska to Georgia | part 3

May 29, 2016

And we are back for the never-ending road trip....we have now made it to British Columbia! Honestly, not one of these pictures below will do this place justice. And I just don't think any camera could capture the beauty that is Banff, Canada. If you have never visited this place, please for your sake, add it to your travel wish list. Chris and I did not want to leave. So much so that we added another day to our stay. Even living in Alaska for four years, I have never seen mountains like this. Jasper National Park is breathtaking. We kept pulling the car over and just staring at everything around us. This clearly pissed off our children to no extent. 

Let's just get to some pictures. 
Jasper National Park, Canada
Moraine Lake, Jasper National Park
First was a drive around Moraine Lake, which was when I think we truly started to lose our children. The allure of the trip started to wear off at this point. The "where are we?" "how much longer?" "why are you taking a picture of another mountain!!!???". I think Chris and I just turned up the music really loud and continued on this 40+ mile scenic overload. It was magical, and I wish I would have been thinking straight enough to get my camera out more. 
Ice Fields, Jasper National Park, Banff, Canada
Ice Fields, Banff, Canada
Another awesome place that we drove reallyyyyy slow through were the Ice Fields. In Alaska we went to all the road accessible glaciers, and they were awesome. So seeing some in a different place, with entirely different landscapes were incredible. If it didn't start snowing while we were driving around we probably would have unloaded everyone (against their will) and hiked around. But, we were losing daylight (something we aren't used to in the summertime in Alaska) and the kids were declaring war on our sanity as they would not stop fighting and our patience was running on empty, so we called it a night and headed to our hotel. 
Fairmont Hotel, Lake Louise, Banff, Canada
Fairmont Hotel, Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Fairmont Hotel, Banff, Canada
We knew immediately upon researching hotels that we wanted to stay at the Fairmont Chateau, right at Lake Louise. When we got in at night, we saw nothing. So you can imagine our loss of consciousness when we woke up to these views! Beyond stunning. Beyond. It also happened to be my birthday, and Avalon's the day before, so this was like the best birthday present ever. I guess for me. Avalon was more or less asking for a princess dress and a "willy willy bid take". Thankfully the shops in the lobby had a pink embroidered dress and matching purse that Avalon spotted from a mile away, that only cost us her middle school tuition, so that was cool. But really, what a way to ring in 29 for me. 
Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Banff, Canada, Lake Louise
Lake Louise, Banff, Canada
After we took in the views from the room, we decided to hike around the lake. It just got more beautiful with every step. Chris and I have now made a plan to come back to Banff as some sort of celebratory consolation prize if we can get all of our kids through high school without a stint in juvy. Setting the bar real high!

This was also probably one of the funniest outings we had with the kids. Lake Louise is a total tourist hot spot. So many people taking pictures of this magical place. But then the attention turned to our little family. Or what we consider to be little. The tourist population happened to think that we were a very large family. So many people stopped us to ask if all the kids were ours. How far apart they are in age. If I gave birth to them all. And if we would mind if they took a picture of us. Just the WEIRDEST thing ever. But hilarious. It didn't matter if we laughed off the picture and kept walking, people still snapped away. So now I can just imagine as they show their family back home their trip to is Lake Louise, just so beautiful. Here is the jewel colored watered that needs no filter whatsoever, oh and here is this family of six with a dog. 
Fairmont Hotels, Banff, Lake Louise
Speaking of Caspian, we did something I never thought we would do. We got a dog sitter. Yes, that is a real thing for a hotel stay. For my birthday we all really wanted to go out to dinner, so the only logical thing to do was get a sitter for Caspian. The Fairmont has sitters that will come in and watch your dog, so that was a bonus. We all got dressed, the sitter took Caspian on a nice walk, and we headed to dinner. It was such a treat to have a nice night out when on a road trip. 

It was all worth it, and I seriously cannot wait for the day that we get a chance to go back to this place. I feel like we could have spent a week or even two, and not soaked in all that this place has to offer. 

Bananas! Take me back!

But alas, it was Georgia or back in the damn minivan we went. 

break time with the babes

May 26, 2016

J Crew Ruffle Sleeve Top
J Crew Striped Ruffle Sleeve Top
Ruffle Sleeve Top Outfits
Spring Trends- Ruffle Sleeves
Mom Style- J Crew Ruffle Top
striped top // shorts (super old, just ordered these) // hat // shoes (similar here)

Hello Friday! I hear there is a long weekend brewing, but truthfully I barely know the date. We are coming to the tail end of this trip now, logging three weeks on the road! WHAT! It is crazy. What's crazier is that Chris and I are kind of sad it is going to be over. The kids are ready to be done though. They just want to get into their new house, sleep in their own beds, and play with all their toys. Can you blame them? No. 

But Chris and I have been having so much fun, that the thought of resuming real life is slightly depressing. So let's not even go there for now. 

I think some of the funniest moments with the kids have been when they are finally let out of the car to play. We always find a place where no one is around so the kids and Caspian can do whatever they want. The challenging part is trying to teach the boys that they are no longer in the back woods of Alaska, and dropping their pants to be one with nature when nature calls is indecent exposure, to which Pierce says, "I don't know what that means, can I pee here or not?" as his pants are around his ankles. 

We are a work in progress. 

I guess the one thing that takes the sting off of this trip ending is, I get my closet back. I have truly missed my shoes. Rotating between just a few pairs is not easy for me. I know...I know...first world problems. Chris makes fun of me enough as I sit in the passenger seat shopping online and having items sent to family, since living out of my minivan is not an acceptable address. But when the kids are fighting in the car and no one can hear over one another yelling, retail therapy is the answer. Or maybe intervening would have been the correct parental answer. 

We'll never know. 

I miss breastfeeding...there I said it.

Yep, I am one of those crazy people that loved/loves breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and I will never be the person to tell another human being what to do with their nipples. Hell, when I got pregnant with Ace I was 21, the thought of breastfeeding kind of creeped me out. I was like....umm....I don't know. Now my mom on the other hand was like, no you will breastfeed and here are some books to read and articles to skim and scan, and here is the number to a lactation consultant in your area, and a years supply of oatmeal to keep that production up....and I was still like, ehh we'll see. I will try anything once. Well, almost anything. So when I had Ace and he immediately latched on I was like, well okay then, we are doing this. And the love affair began. 
I miss breastfeeding, there I said it.
For all my babies I was an on demand milking machine. I never did the schedules, or wrote down feeding times, I just reacted off their cues. Ya hungry? Lets eat. Is that the right way to go about things? Who knows. I will never claim to be any kind of expert in the parenting field. That just seemed to work for us. We also co-slept (and Odette is still in our bed) so breastfeeding was just easy in the middle of the night once I mastered the old roll over and let baby nurse laying down thing. Chris will be the first to admit that he probably has gotten up a total of five times in the middle of the night in six years of having babies. Not that he wouldn't, or he didn't when I would wake him up. But at night I always felt like that was MY time. I loved having that alone time with each baby, when the house is quiet, it is just you and them, you can hear their little gulps as they hold on tight to your finger. Those moments were mine. And no matter how tired I was during that time, I miss it. 

I wrote this post about how I felt about my boobs after Avalon stopped nursing. Little did I know two days later I would be standing in my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test. I did in fact get lucky enough to breastfeed another baby! 

Breastfeeding is a lot of work! And there were times with Odette that I thought we would never make it. Not because she didn't want to, but more because my other children would burn down the house at some point. With three children running around, breastfeeding was no longer that relaxing time when baby and mom could sit down and catch our breath. We had to breastfeed on the move! Chasing Pierce around the house. Grabbing Avalon off the counters. Standing while helping Ace do his homework. I cherished our time at night even more. 

I was hoping that Odette would give me more time than the other kids. All my other babies cut ME off around ten months. Avalon gave me close to eleven. And Odette went a year. But they all decided when they were done. Which I guess in hindsight is for the best. I never had to wean any of them. They rejected me. How? I am not totally sure. My only theory is that I never stopped them from eating or drinking when they were interested in real food. Each older child would leave a sippy cup somewhere and a baby would pick it up and discover a magical substance inside, not breast milk. So on and so forth. They just wanted to be part of the pack and when the sippy cup hand out was going on, they wanted to be included. Again, since I nursed on command, if they were full from something else obviously we wouldn't be nursing. As this continued they all just lost interest. It was heartbreaking for me each and every time. But at the same time I was usually getting my first signs of morning sickness as well.

This is the first time in six years that I have stopped nursing without being pregnant again!! I kind of don't know what to do with myself. It is liberating in a way. My body is mine, all mine, I am not milking or incubating or anything. I can wear clothing that doesn't have to be altered in anyway to accommodate a belly, or an easy access point for a baby. It feels good, but at the same time I can't help but feel like this chapter just can't be over.....can it?

And no. This is not a precursor to a pregnancy announcement. I am cooking nothing but caffeine in this body. These are just my thoughts. I miss you a little breastfeeding and that's okay.


May 24, 2016

lace top nordstrom
braided jeans
lace tops for spring
nordstrom blogger outfits
topshop shoes-nordstrom lace top- cropped denim flares

Downtown, downtown, doooooowntoooown. Did I get that song stuck in your head? Sorry. Happy Tuesday. I wouldn't mind being back in Seattle, walking around down town with my coffee and my gang of children. Oh and my dog, who has an affinity for eating anything and everything left on the sidewalk. His poor insides at this point. 

But, back to downtown and all of it's amazingness. I think it goes for all cities that their downtown is the place with the most character. I loved growing up in Vegas, and all the First Friday events would be down near Fremont street. All the local art artists displaying their pieces, tattoo shops opening their doors, some of my favorite streetwear stores blaring music, and all the people walking the streets. Good times. I was happy to see that Anchorage had it's fair share of First Friday events, although I was only able to sneak away from my broad for a few, it is still such fun to see people so passionate about what they do. 

Now, walking the streets of downtown with my family is different but oh so good. The nights have turned into days, and my children are the first to point out the interesting things. Like the man on the corner playing the piano, and how beautiful he sounds. And Avalon stopping to dance. Or the mural of gum on the wall that has my children wondering why I don't let them chew gum at all. Or what about the lady with her head phones on that is keeping her jogging pace up at the red light? Ace said "mom, she is not messing around right now". No she isn't, and isn't it wonderful to see? Or the man patrolling the streets handing out one parking ticket after another? Clearly not making someones day, but all part of being downtown right? 

I think this trip has been great for Chris and I because selfishly we are going to places that we have wanted to go. But the best part is seeing these places through our kids as well. Their interpretation of everything. The comments, the tantrums, the adventure. 

Loving every minute of it. 

That's a lie. Loving about every other seven minutes of it. Because seven minutes it probably how long it takes me to get everyone buckled back in the car. 

Alaska to Georgia | part 2

May 22, 2016

Could also be titled, The Yukon. This is probably the part of the trip that just seemed the longest because the driving was insane. The "towns" or places that you would even consider staying a night in are few and very very very far between. So the amount of time spent in the car was plentiful. But, I think we do a rather decent job of breaking up the hours for the kids, so they seem to be in good spirits. Plus, as you will see, the amount of animals that we stopped for kept everyone on the lookout. So shall we get to it? 
We started out the journey in Whitehorse, YT which is probably the most built up town there is in these parts. Housing all your normal amenities. Coffee shops, large scale grocery stores, a Walmart, and a small local pharmacy for a pickup of Dramamine, (or Gravol in this region) for Avalon and her never-ending battle with the winding roads. After a quick stop over we headed right back on the road for a long stretch of 12 hour driving. 
We always try and find a campground or rest area that is big enough, and far enough off the road for the kids and Caspian to let loose. Since we have a cook-top with us for cooking while camping, it really comes in handy for lunch or dinner if need be. We always try and make a healthier option for a meal, rather than hitting up yet another drive thru. Plus the kids can wear themselves out before we load them back in the car. Truly, I think this is the only way we are surviving this journey. The kids look forward to the next place that they can collect sticks, throw rocks, and run around and be as loud as they want without Chris and I having to tell them to keep the noise level to a semi-deafening tone. It works though, it works. 
Here is a small town with quite the character, Watson Lake, YT. They have this license plate memorial if you will, or as Chris would tell you, graveyard. There are more than 75,000 license plates there, and as I was fascinated by this Chris kept coming up with stories about how they got there. I'll let your imagination wonder.....if you are an avid Law and Order SVU fan like myself you should have fun with this. Or not so fun. Lock your car doors. Kidding....
The other thing that is a lifesaver, is the camping. I know so many of you have left me comments or sent me snaps like "you guys are crazy for camping with four kids and a dog", but seriously it is a thousand times easier than the hotel stays! Yes, a shit ton of work to unload all the gear, set it up, and then load it all back in however many hours later. But the kids are so happy to be exploring and free to roam around, that Chris and I would probably set the tent up a hundred times over. 

This time we stayed at Liard Hot Springs, which let me tell you, if you ever find yourself in the Yukon you must make it a point to go here. The campground was beautiful, and they had a wonderful playground for the kids as well. The hot springs were simply amazing. Chris was like a child running  after the ice cream truck down the boardwalk to get there, and he couldn't have stripped his clothes off fast enough to get in. Granted it was 33 degrees out, but he was just a little excited. The kids were apprehensive at first, because well, it's hot. But the water was glorious, and the scenery can't be beat. Needless to say this was a highlight of the trip for everyone. 
The rest of the drive on the ALCAN was like a wilderness safari. We saw more animals in these 400 miles than we saw living in Alaska for four years. At one point we saw 16 black bears in 42 miles. It was insane!! Also abundant were the bison.....on the road. The kids were losing their minds with these guys. And the animals are not phased by cars. No need to do your best Ludacris impression, because no bitch, there is no get out the way! So we soaked it all in. We watched them, and Caspian practiced his manly bark, and all was well. 
One thing that I am so grateful for when it comes to road trips, is that Chris has no problem stopping at all the insane places I randomly yell at him to pull over for, last minute of course. Most of them begin with the sentence, "yep, we're gunna die". But I need to see these things. The man with the wood carvings, had to see it. The lady that sold dolls in her front yard, yep stopped there. The coffee place that advertised with "no tea here" I mean....they spoke my language, even if the coffee was hard to choke down. But by far the best was this place in the middle of nowhere selling cinnamon rolls and knives. We went in and just saw a tons of knives, Chris said "I don't think this is the place", then a lady walked in and I said "we saw a large sign on the road for cinnamon rolls, please tell me they are here". She said "yes, they are out back how many would you like?". Chris said "four" I said "six". They both looked at me like I was I was crazy, and then six piping hot cinnamon rolls were purchased that day. 

But no knives. 

a shopping pit stop

May 20, 2016

dress worn as a shirt (similar here and here) // jeans // chambray shirt

All my days are starting to run together, but sometime, I think a few days ago we found ourselves in Bellevue, WA because I needed to eat at one of my favorite places. Maggiano's. I needed to eat all the bread dipped in olive oil. I needed to eat two orders of raviolis with a side of sausage. I needed to eat a Maggiano's salad with that house dressing that will make you slap yo mama! I needed it you see. And everyone else in my traveling circus needed it too. Then we kind of split up, Avalon and I walked across the street to Nordstrom, because after all those carbs the only real way to work them off is shopping. The boys and Odette went to get Caspian and unleash their energy on the local park goers. 

When Chris and I lived in Washington many moons ago, we spent a lot of time in Bellevue and Seattle. So coming here was kind of like coming home for us. All of our first memories, and years together were spent in Washington. 

And then you spend the last four years in Alaska, and coming to the city is kind of overwhelming! Chris and I both kept making jokes about how slow we moved, and how crazy other people drive. When in reality we used to drive the same way. We used to weave in and out of lanes just trying to beat the rush. We used to speed around downtown looking for a parking spot. Not we function on Alaska time, with a minivan at capacity! 

But it is fun to come back and see how much has changed. How much has grown. And that goes for myself, Chris, and our family too. So it is fun to come back to these places, relive old memories, and make new ones!

I hope everyone has a great weekend! We will be chugging right along.....

What I learned from my child's first year of school

May 19, 2016

My oldest baby has competed his first year in school, actual school. Kindergarten is done. Because of our move we had to pull him a couple weeks early, but that didn't seem to be too big of a deal. The last couple weeks are more play than anything. I can still remember the first day of school for Ace. I was a thousand times more nervous than he was. I had so many thoughts and emotions running through my head. You see Ace is quite the shy child when out of my grasp. This is how it has always been since his first year of pre-k. He is the ever so kind, respectful, and great listener to his teacher. I don't get that version of him at home, but I am happy that those are the actions he displays at school. Truth is, he is wound a little tight while he is there. Ace is anxious at school. He is anxious about unknown situations. He is cautious, he analyzes the people and things around him and assesses his level of comfort, then he moves in for the kill. I admire this about him. 

But sending him off to school for a full day away from me was hard. I was afraid that he may not feel comfortable with his teachers to ask for help, or go to them when there is a problem. Would he be too shy to ask someone to play? What about other kids, will they be mean? How will he handle being excluded on the playground? Packing lunches, what if I give him something he can't open, will he ask for help? I mean so many questions run through your mind, stupid or not, you just want to protect your baby. This is the first time, at least for me, that I would not be there every step of the way. That he may or may not be influenced by others. That his feelings might get hurt. 

All of these fears could come true, and then he could really love it. 

In the beginning it was an everyday battle to get him to go. He would say things like "but mom I am away from you for so long" or "when I look for you, you're not there". This broke my heart. But it is all a learning process and I had to learn to let go too. Talking with some of the other moms gave me assurance that they were feeling and going through many of the same things. 

So, what did I learn from kindergarten this year?

-Kindergarten is a lot of work for the parents. I am talking projects, homework, snacks, party supplies, volunteering, and just the general staying on top of things. Free dress days, crazy hair days, days off school, forgotten lunches, spending lots of time at the lost and found for a pair of gloves that never seem to stay on. I am not complaining about the work that comes home, it is all part of having kids, you just kind of go.....okay, am I making this damn Valentine's Day box or are you? You need how many cookies baked by Friday? And I'm sorry can you please give me the list of allergies for the snacks one more time? 

-Your child will learn things from other kids that will make you go....huh? Once you do your morning send off, that's it. Get back to your car and hope for the best. Most of the things Ace comes home and tells me are hilarious. The drama starts young. You kind of have to reiterate that just because someone else says something doesn't mean you can say it. There is a lot of just be kind and respectful, dinner conversations. 

-The school is going to teach your child one way, and they may not exactly learn that way. Be your child's advocate!! I seriously cannot stress this enough. We all don't learn the same way, we are all wired differently, maybe something needs to be explained a different way in order for it to click. I respect and admire teachers, and kindergarten teachers get a special place in my heart. It is hard enough homeschooling Pierce for a couple hours a day, times that by 20 and no thank you. So I can understand that they are teaching the way that fits the schools curriculum and standards. But kids are not a standardized test. And if your name happens to be Ace you have to dive a little deeper for him to be like okay, that makes sense. You can't just tell him 2+2=4 he wants to know why, and how, and who came up with it. So speak up for your child, tell his or her teacher that at home we are doing this, or he or she really seems to respond to visuals. Kindergarten is jam packed with information, and it moves quickly. All of a sudden your child is spelling words by sounding them out, he is reading, he is writing....a lot, he is test taking, and when he gets overwhelmed so will you. So slow down. 

-Kindergarten is all about learning. For your child and you. I learned so much about Ace this last year. How he learns, what he is really interested in (math, which is quite shocking). He is so open about things, and I hope and pray our relationship stays that way as he gets older. I learned so much about myself. Mainly that I have the propensity to go to prison if someone hurts my child. All those mama bear instincts come charging out the second you find out someone was mean to your kid, or a teacher yelled at them, or your child cried at school. I learned that I always need to take a step back and really play off of Ace's emotions. He is the one that has to go to school everyday. And I just always want to be a support system for him, and all my kids when they are in school.

-Lunches!!! Lunches are the bane of my existence. Lunch making is a daunting task, and now I understand why my parents paid for us to get hot lunch three times a week growing up. The lunch making is ridiculous. I highly suggest to moms who's children are starting kindergarten next year to Pinterest, Google, whatever else you can search to find fun lunch ideas. Trust me your child does not want a sandwich everyday for the next nine months. Ace is a pretty adventurous eater, so I had fun mixing it up for him. But, sometimes he would come home and tell me he hated his lunch and I wanted to just throw the lunch box in the air and say I give up, eat grass!!

I think the only other thing I can say about kindergarten is, buy a really big fridge! Or make a wall for your child's art work. Because they come home with A LOT! And Ace always wants to keep everything. Some stuff I of course kept, but I would try and rotate out the old with the new and just hope he didn't ask me where his Thanksgiving hat was, or why his Christmas tree was taken down. I also kept his first and last math test. Just little things I will want to show him later.

All in all, I cannot believe I have a first grader! It all goes by so fast. So enjoy the kindergarten days when your child makes a mad dash to you after school to give you a hug. You know, before they are too cool to kiss their mom in front of their friends.


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