Xavi Turns Two: TWO-rannosaurus Rex Party

My baby is officially a ‘Big Boy’ now!!!

(or so he says)

Our original plan this year was to travel as a family since the holidays were pretty hectic, I wasn’t sure I was ready for party planning stress but then with Marco’s crazy schedule at work and with some prior commitments at Cassie’s school we had to postpone travel plans and so I told Marco that I’d just throw a playdate for Xavi. We’ve come up with a small local mom group here in Muncie and we rotate houses to hold play dates so I figured it would be a perfect time to host a playdate (on the day of Xavi’s actual birthday), at least we could somehow celebrate Xavi’s birthday, right?

Then mom guilt started kicking in, I mean Cassie had a pretty big birthday celebration last October and when she turned two during our first year here in Muncie, we didn’t know a lot of people yet even then we had a big party for her. I almost considered just having a small party at Escapades like when he turned One but I wanted to be comfortable at home so exactly 5 days before his birthday I decided a theme for the playdate and officially made it a playdate birthday party by sending out an invite.

 

Dino Invite Template we got from Zazzle

Everything was going to be last minute so I decided on a theme that would be easy to execute and since Xavi already got a dinosaur suit from Pilica for Christmas and a dinosaur balloon that we didn’t get to inflate, might as well go with that theme. I also used pretty much all of his dinosaur toys to somewhat decorate the place. The rest of the supplies were from the dollar store and Walmart and I did a bunch of easy DIY projects that I will touch on in this blog post.

First dino toy spotted as a centerpiece, I randomly just put them all over the place.

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For the backdrop, I just used two different shades of green crepe paper rolls that I got from the dollar store and Walmart. I cut long strips just above floor level (or however long you want the strips) and taped them on the wall alternating. I printed some leaf templates I found on line on different shades of green colored construction paper and placed them on top of each other so I could cut them all at once. I did the same for the dinosaur prints but this time on brown colored construction paper, decorate as desired.

Above are the templates I used for the backdrop I made for Xavi’s birthday, Click on them to use.

We ordered our goodies from our favorite chef here in Muncie, Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie and I was so glad that she was still able to do our order considering that we asked her last minute.

Dino toy #2 spotted along with the white chocolate pretzels aka “Dino Fossils”

Xavi’s chocolate Dino cake

Toy #3 spotted with the letter board

I reused the ballon garland strip from Cassie’s birthday and just popped all the leftover balloons from her birthday. I bought 12-pack green and gold balloons from Walmart and  15-pack white balloons from the Dollar Tree and filled the strip up once I inflated them. The big dinosaur balloon was the one we got from Pilica and you can get that at your local Target.

Loot bags were done last minute as well, we had left over sandwich bags from Cassie’s birthday and I searched for a random baby T-Rex online to put on it. I would’ve done a whole lot more if I had the time (like a hatching egg or maybe dino foot print thank you tags ) but then again, its supposedly just a a playdate, right?

We threw in our favorite chocolates in there and I found some ‘dinosaur themed’ items to just tie in the theme— crayons, stickers, erasers, slap bands, dino goo and finger puppets.

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Above is the printable we used for the loot bags. Image c/o Shutterstock.com

Dollar Tree FTW! Dinosaur paper plates and napkins, the things you find at your dollar store.

Love how we found this Cat and Jack Triceratops sweater on clearance at our local target.

You know the kids are having fun when they make a lot of mess. Haha.

Xavi enjoyed his chocolate birthday cake from Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie. The kids always enjoy getting your cake, cupcakes and sugar cookies.

And Daddy made it home! Marco was long call today so he came home late, we waited for him so Xavi could blow his candle and slice the cake.

Ninang Telly is in town!!!

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As usual Tita Ditas spoiling the little boy. 🙂

Perfect way to end Xavi’s birthday, Mexican night with the Rousseaus.  I had my frozen margarita so it’s all good.

And that wraps it up guys, I hope those templates will somewhat help you throw an awesome Dinosaur Party. I know it made Xavi’s playdate look like a planned party playdate even if it was done last minute.

~Rhea

Picture Day Outfit Ideas| Affordable Toddler Girl Outfits from WALMART

*DISCLOSURE:  This post is NOT in anyway sponsored by Walmart.

As most of you know, my little Cassie started “Big Girl” school this year and her schedule for class picture day caught me by surprise. Being a first time school mom, I was unaware that they did that in the early part of the school year, in fact they’re having photos done this week and so I thought it would be great to come up with affordable picture day outfit ideas for all moms out there who are on the same boat as I am.

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So I challenged myself to stick with clothes from Walmart just because its the nearest retail shop to our house, now this post is no way sponsored by them and I myself find the clothing items from Walmart as a hit or miss but I do know for a fact that they’re very affordable so I took up the challenge to look for cute stuff that were less than $15. If you’re a mom looking for last minute ideas, here are some outfits that won’t break the bank, links to the outfits should be on the said items below.

OUTFIT #1:

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(HEADBAND: Amazon/ TOP & SUSPENDER SKIRT: 2 piece outfit, Wonder Nation from Walmart, $12.44 / SOCKS: Amazon/ SHOES: The Humble Soles)

 

OUTFIT #2:

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(HEADBAND: Amazon / DRESS: Short sleeve collar dress, Wonder Nation from Walmart, $7.88 / SHOES: white, Children’s Place)

Take note that this dress would be a great dress if you’re child wants to go as Wednesday Addams for Halloween and I just thought that you’d want to know that it also comes in the color Navy Blue.

 

OUTFIT #3:

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(SWEATSHIRT: floral long sleeve, Garanimals from Walmart, $4.88/ PANTS: military green, Garanimals from Walmart, $4.88/ SHOES: purple pink jelly Mary Janes, Wonder Nation, $3 on clearance; now $1.50 online, cheaper than what I bought it for)

The link I attached for the outfit was for a set, you get the pink leggings with it but you actually have the option of buying them separate which I did so I could opt for the green ones.

 

OUTFIT #4:

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(DRESS: Long sleeve ruffle, Wonder Nation from Walmart, $8.62/ SHOES: black ballet flats, Wonder Nation, $1 on clearance/ BOW: Handmade)

This dress also comes in a white and blue stripe one for a more nautical vibe.

 

OUTFIT #5:

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( TOP & SUSPENDER SKIRT: 2 piece outfit, Wonder Nation from Walmart, $12.44 / LEGGINGS: mustard / Old Navy/ SHOES: Cat and Jack)

And that’s it —5 outfits (mostly) straight out of Walmart and by the way my daughter didn’t mind wearing any single one of these outfits. I just got a note from the teacher saying that if we wanted them to wear something more fancy for picture day, we can send clothes with them and they would help the kids change back when they’re done taking pictures. Seriously, who has time for that? These clothes are cute yet comfortable, our daughters can wear them the entire day.

Hope this post helped, Happy School Picture Day!

~Rhea

My Favorite New Accessory | A Unique Wood Watch by JORD

*DISCLOSURE: I RECEIVED THESE PRODUCTS COMPLIMENTARY FOR REVIEW PURPOSES. ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

When I was single and this blog was self-indulgent, I used to post about my outfits, lookbook, #ootd—call it what you want but those posts were more for me to keep track of my current fashion (since fashion to me is a form of self-expression) and see how my style has evolved through the years. Of course, motherhood happened and I dealt with some sort of anxiety and post-partum issues with my body so I didn’t dress up for a while. You could say I was uninspired, I didn’t feel to good about myself and my body but after baby #2 I learned a whole lot about self-love and also learned the importance of practicing self- care. I’m proud to say that after 3+ years, I’m learning to love my #mombod and have embraced my battle scars (stretch marks, loose skin, weight gain, etc.) from both pregnancies.

Through those years my priorities have changed and my style has also evolved to reflect that. Nowadays I find myself preoccupied with house chores and play dates I no longer have time to think of what to wear and have resorted to a more timeless wardrobe , ‘ the basics‘ as others would call it but think of it this way—they’re reliable and you can never go wrong with it. In my journey of slowly ridding my life of clutter and creating a semi-capsule wardrobe I found myself investing in pieces that will last me a life time and that includes my JORD WATCH. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about them for a while and so I was overly ecstatic when they reached out to me. I already got myself a Jord Fieldcrest in Maple prior to this collaboration and I wanted Marco to enjoy the same classic timepiece I had so I opted to get him the Jord Hyde in Kosso &Gray These beautifully designed wooden watches have a wide array of options for men and women (as you can see) and they also ship worldwide for FREE so go check them out.

Jord Fieldcrest Maple

Jord Hyde Kosso & Gray

As parents, we cant help but wear different hats multiple times a day. Sometimes I’m a blogger, an influencer, a mom boss and I find a few minutes in those days where I can dress up and look decent like a normal human being. (Even do #OOTDs like the good old days)

But for the most part I am a mother and I try to tend to my kids 24/7 wether we’re at home or out traveling, busy making memories and treasuring the moments that they still enjoy being with me and Marco.

…And lastly, I am a wife. I know life can be overwhelming, for a SAHM watching the kids is a full time job, then you have emails, collaborations to tend to on the side plus house chores to top it all but it’s always important to take the time with your significant other. Even when we’re too busy to have date nights, we take a few minutes to just snuggle, talk about our day and laugh at the crazy things our kids did—these are the moments that count.

In celebration of these special moments in our life and just living life in general I have partnered with Jord watch to give one lucky winner $100 off their very own timepiece selection. Click the link below to join the giveaway:

JORD WATCH GIVEAWAY

Good luck guys!

~Rhea

 

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Destination: Nashville, Tennessee

March 27 – 28, 2019

I know a day in Nashville is VERY limited as there are so many things to do there but we were really just dropping by before our main destination— Atlanta, GA. So after we visited the National Corvette Museum from the previous blogpost we drove to Nashville and I was surprised that it was only going to be roughly an hour and 45 minutes going there plus factor in a short stop over if needed. Of course our first stop in Nashville was going to be a food place so we found ourselves driving to Arnold’s Country Kitchen.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen

Address: 605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

So if you haven’t been to Arnold’s the process over there is you fall in line, get your food and then look for a place to sit down and that place based on the reviews and from the looks of it is always packed. Now I walked in pushing a stroller and holding Cassie in one hand while I had Marco fall in line. I read the rules and figured, ‘rules are rules’ whether I have 5 kids with me or not so I was a little hesitant but I was going to brave the line. A woman approached me and told me I could sit down and I told her I didn’t want to grab someone else’s seat especially since we didn’t have our food yet, I jokingly mentioned something about not being a rule breaker and she laughed and said I could break them because she made those rules—yup, apparently she was the owner. She told the other employees not to tell me off and that I could sit down with my kids. In my head I was like—OK, I LOVE NASHVILLE, TN. That was honestly one of the nicest things a stranger has done for me in a while. 

Of course the food was SOUTHERN and PERFECT and it satisfied our current craving at that time plus it was cheap. Good food and good prices AND good people, now that’s a 5-star rating from us.

What Lifts You Wings Mural

Address: 302 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

So those who know me know that I appreciate taking photos with mural walls ANYWHERE in the world, so here in Nashville they have the infamous ‘Wings Mural’ by Kelsey Montague. She actually has a bunch of similar interactive art all over the US if I’m not mistaken. We checked the maps and it was like a 10-minute walk from Arnold’s, it was a beautiful day so we decided to go for it. We could easily spot the mural because there was a line to take photos and I was genuinely surprised but this is what we came for so we decided to fall in line and I’m glad we did.

Across the street, diagonal to it there’s another mural where the kids and I had fun taking pictures because it was so colorful and right across that mural was Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey

Address: 214 11th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Milk and Honey Nashville is a popular local coffee shop (if I’m not mistaken) that had good ratings online so since it was right across from where we were, we decided to grab a gelato and coffee to go. I wish we had more time to try their food especially their baked goods but I can tell you the place has a nice ambiance, its beautifully set up inside and very instagrammable if you know what I mean.

The Parthenon

Address: 2500 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203

After grabbing a little snack our last stop for the day was Centennial Park, we figured it was a beautiful day outside might as well spend the rest of the day outdoors. I on the other hand was just interested in seeing the Parthenon, a replica of the greek former temple. It would be nice to see the ruins of the real Parthenon one day.

People were literally playing outside and having picnics and I wish we had more time to kill in that park but we literally just walked through it, walked to the Parthenon and found out that we needed to bring the double stroller up the stairs so we compromised—we took pictures outside and I gave in to the kids wanting to play in the playground, Marco did offer to stay with them outside while I go in and explore the Parthenon but this was a family vacation so to the playground we went.

Sleep Inn

Address: 3437 Percy Priest Dr. Nashville, TN 37214

We were totally pooped and decided that we were done with our little adventure so we headed to our hotel to check in. The check-in process took awhile since there was only one guy in the front desk and although he was courteous and everything another customer was giving him a hard time and they were having an ongoing misunderstanding so his hands were tired.  We had to wait for a good 30 minutes until they could sort things out, its a good thing the kids were just playing in the lobby while waiting. The rooms was of a decent size and it was overall clean, breakfast was nothing out of the ordinary but the staff serving breakfast was very helpful and polite.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Address: 5209 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

I understand this chain isn’t all over the US but if you find yourself close to one, I suggest you get in. The place was packed and there was a line but they had quick service and the food was WORTH it. My kids are usually picky eaters even with fried chicken (go figure) but both of them were digging in. Don’t forget to get their lemonade too, if you like ’em cold and fresh then this is where to get it even on a cold night.

The vibe inside had a modern industrial feel to it, I am not surprised a lot of millenials and hipsters hang out at this place. Good food, great vibe and again IG worthy, you’re getting a bang for your buck. No wonder this place averages 4.5 starts out of 5 online.

Grand Ole Opry

Address: 2804 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Before parking for the Grand Ole Opry, its nice to point out that right across it is Opry Mills, an outlet mall. If you are into shopping when you’re on vacation then you’ve come to the right place, plus right next to it the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Every legendary country star has probably performed a concert right here in the Grand Ole Opry, the architecture is already interesting and I wouldn’t have minded doing the tour to learn about its history but we were on a tight schedule and Marco wasn’t really into country music so we had to skip it. We explored the outsides and there are a lot of photo-worthy spots like those two gigantic guitars at the entrance, its hard to miss. But if you are a BIG country music lover then you can’t miss this place.

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

Address: 2800 Opryland Dr, Nashville, TN 37214

Even if you’re not staying in this hotel, a lot of people still make a trip to the Gaylord Opryland Resort because of its picturesque hotel set-up where one atrium leads to another. I swear if you walk around, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise with all its greenery. If you’re into botanicals then you would appreciate this resort as it has labels to all its flowers and plants that are strategically arranged surrounding waterfalls and acclaimed restaurants (that are a bit pricey if I might add). Also from my understanding this is the largest hotel in the US that does not have a Casino. Did I mention that they have a boat ride inside? Again, we didn’t have time to do this but I’m saving this  along with the newly designed waterpark for the next trip here.

Do take note that if you want to park inside the resort they will charge you $25 even if you’re just there for 5-10 minutes. Now if you do eat at one of their restaurants then they do validate but other than that I would suggest parking outside the mall close to the cinemas and just walk to the resort. That’s what we did.

And that is it for our one-day trip to Nashville, now on to our final destination—Atlanta, GA.

~Rhea

Destination: Mammoth Cave/ Bowling Green, Kentucky

March 26 – 27, 2019

With Marco finishing his second year of residency, we found out he still had 2 weeks worth of vacation that was gonna go to waste if he didn’t use it so we planned a quick getaway and ended up planning a road trip with Atlanta, Georgia as our last stop. We figured if we drive through Kentucky, Tennessee then Georgia we could cross those three states out of our bucket list. So our first stop was Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. From where we live in Indiana, it was a 4 hour drive without the stops and the accidents, we actually made it in good time and decided to have a decent meal with the kids before our trip to the cave. Of course we decided to have our super late lunch at KFC- Kentucky Fried Chicken, we wanted to see if there was something special with their chicken since KFC originated in this state but unsurprisingly the chicken tasted the same, we still loved it though ( although personally I prefer the chicken in KFC-Philippines). The KFC we ate in was right outside the Mammoth Cave National Park and as soon as we were done we headed to the visitor center.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Longest cave system known in the world

Just like anyone with kids, I bet you too have a lot of questions about bringing them on a cave tour and just to answer some of those, I’m posting some answers in FAQ form. Feel free to send me a direct message if you want clarifications or if you have additional questions.

Can you do a cave tour with kids?

Yes, you may. I personally reached out to Mammoth Cave National Park since the information on their website was a bit vague and a Park ranger returned my call and confirmed that they do have kid-friendly tours, you can even bring your baby if you’re willing to. For reference Cassie is 3 y.o and Xavi is 15 months.

Can you purchase tickets on the spot?

In theory, you can although they do advice you to purchase them before hand as they tend to get sold out especially during the peak seasons like spring break and summer.

Which tour is kid-friendly?

They have a list of the tours with detailed descriptions, level of difficulty and duration of tour, the one we took was the HISTORIC TOUR and it is friendly for kids that are around Cassie and Xavi’s age. The specific tour we got was a 2-mile hike inside a cave that would last us an estimate of 2 hours.

Can you bring a stroller? Baby carrier?

No, you cannot bring a stroller and yes you may bring a baby carrier, although they don’t allow any backpacks or hiking carriers that go above your head (or was it shoulders) just verify with the visitor center but this is actually very generous of them considering that when I brought the kids to a cave tour at Sequoia National Park, they wouldn’t allow the baby carrier unless it was one of those full cloth slings because they were scared that the plastic would rub against the walls, damaging them for good. More information on the website, I’m just going with what I was told.

 

So here’s our experience in a nutshell— we picked up our tickets at the visitor center ($34 for me and Marco, the kids were free) and since we were a bit early we toured the area and visited the souvenir shops to get our souvenir magnets.

30 minutes before our tour, which was the last tour for the day (3:15 pm), we stayed by the assigned meet up place until everyone gathered. There was a good 100 people on there, the park ranger or guide gave us instructions and briefed us on what we should be expecting for this tour.

We walked a few minutes towards the entrance of the cave and 10 minutes into the hike Cassie fell asleep, Xavi was already asleep even before we entered the cave, I’m thinking the cold temperature might have lulled them to sleep as they were already tired prior to that.

I wish I could say we took a lot of decent pictures but we were busy trying to keep up with the group while carrying both kids; Marco had Cassie in a the baby carrier and I had Xavi strapped on to me in a sling. The pathways are mostly paved and at one point even spacious, you can walk through comfortably. Most of the stairs had railings too so it was easier to make our way down.

Cassie woke up by the time we reached Fat Man’s Misery which was a good thing coz Marco would have had a difficult time zigzagging through that passage way with her strapped in front of him, she walked in between us and had no problem at all. I did pretty okay even with Xavi strapped in front of me and had no problem when the passage transitioned to Tall Man’s Misery, can I just say I love being small and short. Haha.

There was a short break in between where they gathered everyone and we all sat on benches, they briefed us that the next thing we were about to do was climb 150-155 steps straight.

I know that may sound a lot but the guides are very patient and accommodating and considering that Xavi was still asleep in front of me, I did fine. Cassie walked with Marco all the way up. Side note: if you have a fear of heights, I suggest you DO NOT look down. Overall, the tour was worth it even when the kids were dead weight while we were hiking, there were interesting facts that I learned but will not be mentioning them on here as not to spoil it for y’all if you plan to go. I know, I get a lot of ‘advice’ online from those who have done the tour to NOT bring kids this young but honestly it was an experience that we did as a family even if they won’t be remembering any of it, there was a sense of achievement in our part as parents, besides we’re all about doing things together, haha.

We made it! Xavi’s face says he doesn’t care.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson

Address: 535 Wall Street, Bowling Green, KY 42104

So just to mention, all of our hotels on this trip were pretty light on the budget. We made sure they were comfortable, cheap and had free breakfast since most of our activities involved being out and about anyway. For this hotel, they accidentally gave us the handicap accessible room which was fine for the most part. It was spacious and had a receiving room, it had one queen size bed but the sofa was a sofa bed so the kids ended up sleeping there. The bathroom was spacious as well but it didn’t have a bath tub since it was wheel chair friendly so that still worked for me and my kids.

Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant

For some reason we were craving for Mexican food in Kentucky, weird I know but cravings have to be satisfied so thank God there was a decent one close to our hotel. The place was spacious so and the colorful tables and chairs are a sight to see. Food was great as the reviews online mentioned and the servings were big, can I just add that I enjoyed my frozen margarita immensely. 🙂

National Corvette Museum

Address: 350 Corvette Dr, Bowling Green, KY 42101

Marco was actually surprised when I suggested to visit this museum, he knows I’m not really into cars but the idea that this supercar was made and assembled right here in Bowling Green, Kentucky intrigued me. Of course I could just post a bunch of photos of different types of Corvettes through the years but I guess what intrigued me most was the fact that we could visit the actual site of the sink hole that happened right here in this museum and it actually swallowed a bunch of these expensive cars. They actually have a whole area dedicated to it.

And I just have to say they have a note-worthy KidZone at the museum, even adults might actually enjoy it. It’s very interactive, kids can pretend to be mechanics and check up the car or you can gas it up or even change the tires among many other things, Cassie and Xavi had so much fun that we might have stayed there for more than 15 minutes.

This is where they give you different perspectives on the ‘Corvette Cave In’, they show you actual footage of the event and show you how the whole ‘Sinkhole Experience’ happened. They also show you what kind of Corvettes were included and the history behind those cars.

If we weren’t in a hurry to head to the next state, we would’ve stayed there longer but we were so off to Nashville, Tennessee we go. Till next time Kentucky!

~Rhea