Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Boredom Busters with Pearachute

So this past year, Charlotte took ballet. I pretty much wanted to enroll her for my own reasons- the adorable tutus, the tiny slippers, the buns (or pigtails in her case). Needless to say, she wasn't as thrilled about the prospect of choreographed routines as I was. She lasted 2 classes, and the teacher (very kindly!) suggested that we try again when she was older.

A similar thing happened to Bryson and t-ball last year- he lasted 3 practices and promptly declared himself anti-baseball for the season. I definitely wish we could have taken a sample class instead of committing to something my kids weren't too sure of.

This is why when I heard about Pearachute, a website that offers flexible access to some of the best classes in town, I was incredibly relieved. They have partnered with dozens of kid-friendly businesses to offer unique and flexible classes: Pump It Up (bounce houses), British Swim School, Windy City Fieldhouse, Pow! Gym Chicago (Superhero classes!!), Sweet Buddha (dance classes at a candy store- seriously, I will be the mom getting my sugar fix on while my kids jam), Pinstripes, Kid City (a mock mini city for kiddos), and much more.

Here are the benefits I see to using Pearachute:
  • Flexible cancellations: If your kid catches a bug or isn't feeling the dance vibe and prefers to bounce instead of boogie, you can cancel or change classes up to an hour before.
  • No commitment: You don't have to commit to a weekly class, so you won't be paying for violin when you are on vacation.
  • Last minute choices: Got cabin fever? Choose from hundreds of classes available seven days a week to fit how you are feeling.
  • Book from your phone: No calling to register, no forms to fill out. 
Want to see Pearachute in action? One of my favorite bloggers and friends, Keely of Lollygag Blog, has taken her troupe on a few adventures! Check them out here.

They have an amazing deal going on this summer: Unlimited Classes ALL SUMMER LONG for only $199! This deal, which just launched today, is valid 6/1-8/31. I plan on taking advantage of it. Bryson has summer camp 5 days a week, and Little Miss Charlotte and I have zero plans. I have been secretly freaking out...and now? I am going to Pearachute into some fabulous new finds.

***Win a Summer Pass to Pearachute***

But wait....there's more! The lovely, brilliant, kind people at Pearachute have given me a summer pass to give away! Want to win? Simply comment on what classes your kiddo loves below or on my Facebook page, and make SURE to let me know how to get in touch with you if you win! (e-mail address, Twitter handle, whatev). I will pick a winner at random at noon CST on Friday, June 3rd.

A huge thank you to Pearachute for making my summer amazing, and making the summer of a lucky winner amazing as well. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had a Baby

Now that I have two babies under my belt, I have a some fabulous hindsight. There are so many things I wish I knew AND so many that I am thankful I didn't! In honor of the Best of Bump Club and Beyond event that is hitting Chicago this summer, I want to share my top 5 things I wish I knew before my first little one came into this world.

1. Lower your expectations. That perfect dinner you had time to prepare? Nope. Accept that putting something on the table is a major victory. And frozen pizza counts, especially in those first few months. Oh, and the pride you take in a spotless kitchen/family room/bathroom? Flush that down the drain. It isn't really important. IF you can afford someone to help clean the house, hire them now. Communicate these lowered expectations to your partner.

2. Know who to listen to. When it comes to babies, everyone has an opinion. Here's the catch- they have never had your baby. They aren't in your situation. For me, I trusted my pediatrician, my mom and my instincts. Figure out who you trust, and just smile and nod to everyone else.

3. Sleep is SUCH a precious commodity. I never understood what exhausted meant until I had a baby...especially one who didn't sleep much. I didn't realize that when babies feed every three hours, you count from when they start to feed. For example, midnight feeding. My son took 45 minutes to feed, then I had to pump for 45 minutes, then I had to try to get back to sleep myself. By the time that happened, it was almost time for the next feeding. I was probably certifiably insane at one point, which isn't safe for anyone. Hire a babysitter for a few hours so you can take a nap. Skip cooking dinner, put some sandwich stuff on the counter, and go sleep. If you are having a hard time sleeping because you are anxious or just have insomnia, talk to your doctor. Between meds and therapy, you can figure a way out of the hole.

4. Figure out who the "new" you is. I was terrified to lose myself after having kids. I have seen so many moms just completely absorbed by their children's lives that they don't even know who they are. Ok, so you won't be ruling the beer pong table anymore (at least until you can find a competent sitter), but maybe you realize that you have a knack for making homemade granola. Who knows. Just figure out what makes you tick now, and do the new you.

5. This too shall pass. Most important- any phase, issue or challenge that your child presents will pass. It might take a different form, it might take a while to work out, but things change. Kids grow, change and learn every day. Just because your little guy is refusing to eat today doesn't mean that he won't be gulping down the bottle tomorrow.

Want advice from some experts? Win a ticket to the hottest baby event of the year!

The Best of Bump Club and Beyond
When: Saturday, June 4th from 9:30am to 3:30pm
Where: Swissotel, 323 E. Wacker Dr, Chicago
What: EVERYTHING you need to know about babies from the experts!
  • Check out the hottest gear at the Galt Baby Pop Up Shop, plus exclusive discounts
  • Find out how to the HAPPIEST baby on the block with Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block
  • Gearapalooza seminar with Jamie Grayson, The BabyGuy
  • Thousands of dollars in giveaways including strollers, high chairs, portable cribs and more
  • Lunch, beverages and snacks included
 Want to attend? Grab a ticket here, or WIN one by entering via Rafflecopter below.

***Giveaway includes one all access pass and one significant other ticket***

 Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to Wear an Off The Shoulder Top

I am going to peel back the curtain on a mom issue a little here. After having two kids and hitting 35, strapless bras aren't my fave. That is all I am going to say on that topic, but you get it. When I was in my early 20s, I remember going out sans bra even. That idea is simply ridiculous now.

When the off the shoulder craze started, I was down but a little leery of foregoing bra straps. It came down to two options- first, find a GREAT strapless bra. What makes a strapless great you ask? First, it needs to have gel along the inside band to grip and stay up. Second, it needs to have 3 clasps. Also, no demi cups. Please. I am not Nicki Minaj. Homegirl looks fabulous, but not exactly the look I am going for.

Second, you CAN do an off the shoulder with straps. Make sure the straps are as thin a possible and don't actually look like bra straps, but more like cami straps. I have a collection of Coobi bras- they are available in about 65 colors, fit almost everyone, and cost around $20. I grab mine at my friend Grace's store Ella Louvi.

Also, you can do a top with cutout shoulders- still baring a little skin but not full on "my top is going to fall down if someone tugs hard" feel.

This dress I grabbed from Target- although on me it is a tunic because of my build. It was on clearance for oh...around $12. I paired it with leather leggings, a patent belt, contrasting graphic shoes and threw on a black leather moto jacket because it has been FREEZING here the past few weeks.

Here is a slightly blurry photo, but I wore this dress during the day with my kids to the Field Museum that day with the black Coobi. PS- we were in front of the monkey exhibit making monkey faces...

If you want do a shoulder cut-out, I adore this peplum version I grabbed from Ella Louvi. I love that it is fitted at the waist, so you don't have to worry about styling it.

I paired this with a high-waisted skirt, red pumps and a red Kate Spade envelope clutch. My earrings are from Ella Louvi as well- incredibly lightweight black long fringe that you can't even tell are on your ears.

Are you up for this trend? Or is it just not in your wardrobe wishes?