Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Year-Round Butterfly Fun at Hershey Gardens

Before you even say it, I know what you're thinking- "butterflies and small humans don't mix, AP!" and while I definitely had reservations bringing all three of the boys into the Butterfly Atrium at Hershey Gardens, in retrospect it was an outing I'm so glad we took advantage of and one that the boys still talk about today, more than two months after our visit. 

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also the most perfect exercise in "Gentle Hands," if you know what I mean!

If you're a guest of either the Hershey Lodge, Hotel Hershey property or the Hersheypark Camping Resort, tickets to Hershey Gardens are complimentary and completely worth popping over to. 

If expansive gardens, impressive architecture and rolling hills aren't your thing, you'll definitely want to check out The Children's Garden which features tons of fun, colorful flowers and trees to delight every sense as well as some really neat play features (instruments, pirate ships, fountains and more!) 

While our most recent visit took place over quite possibly the hottest weekend of the summer, the boys still had a blast running through the gardens, stopping to smell the roses and cooling off beneath the shade of Weeping Beach trees and massive White Oaks. 

Our most favorite attraction at the Gardens, however, was The Butterfly Atriuma year-round, indoor tropical experience that's only 1 of 25 like it in the country, located right inside the Conservatory.

Once the boys realized that if they stood really, really still that a butterfly friend might come to land on them, it quickly became their favorite part of the visit. They loved seeing who could stand more still than the next and collect tiny "hitchhiker" friends on their shoulders and heads! 

While our 2 year old was the wildest of wild cards in the exhibit, (gentle hands are not exactly his strong suit), he behaved much better than expected and was truly captivated by the butterflies who were enjoying a sweet, juicy snack. 

The Chrysalis Cabinet toward the back of the atrium was an unexpected hit with our 4 year old. He couldn't believe he was getting to witness, in person, the life cycle of the butterfly. Talk about a "mind blown" moment, it kept us laughing each time he'd exclaim, "Mom, can you believe creepy crawly caterpillars turn into such pretty things?"

Interested in visiting Hershey Gardens or the Butterfly Atrium? Be sure to check out their website which features helpful information such as hours of operation, admission prices and exciting upcoming events such as Pumpkin Glow! Be sure to make Hershey Gardens a must-see stop along your next Hershey, PA visit!

2016 Hershey Sweetest Moms
This post is part of my Hershey's Sweetest Moms ambassadorship. While I received complimentary admission and a stay at Hotel Hershey, the opinions expressed above are honest and my own.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Selling Our House When You Have Kids. Who Live There. All of the Time.

Well, we survived the first three days with our house on the market. For those of you who seemed rather shocked at this decision, Mr. AP and I have been mulling the decision to sell our first home over and over again in our heads for at least the last year, most recently becoming serious about it within the last several months. And by "serious", I mean we've chatted a little about it between school pick-ups and bath time and maybe once or twice over dinner last week. 

When we purchased this home in 2010, we knew it would be our "starter home" or the home we would put a little elbow grease into, working hard to make it our own Home Sweet Home and live in it for the next 5-8 years. And we did just that. From floors to walls, backyards and beyond, we buffed and shined and sweetened this place up, filling it with love, laughter and enough crap to choke a small country. 

If anyone is to blame for pushing us to get our house market-ready in under two weeks, that would be me. I take full credit for stuffing six years of "shouldda done this/that and the other fixer-upper thing" into approximately forty-eight hours but we did it and I've managed to keep it looking like a couple of DINK's live here for a little over 120 hours. 

So, how does it feel?

Utterly insane. Exhausting. Overwhelming. Defeating. Exciting- All at the same time. Literally at any minute of the day I could be feeling one of the aforementioned feelings followed quickly by the next. 

Insane because this house is lived in not only by a couple of adults but also three kids under the age of 7 and 110lbs. worth of adorably lazy dog. Exhausting because keeping the house 15 minutes from clean at any given hour of the day is hard work. Defeating because with every showing we have, I stalk that damn showings app waiting for feedback. 85% of the time, feedback never appears. 

Exciting because I think of this like a little game- the challenge being to sell this house in two weeks or less, something I'm quickly realizing that only adds to the level of Crazy. I'm an over-analyzer at heart so when I look at the numbers and see that we've had 1 (busy) open house coupled with 16 private showings and 2 more on the calendar, the numbers just don't add up. 

"Why hasn't there been any 2nd showings?" 

"All of the feedback we've received has been excellent, why doesn't anyone want our house?"


See? I'm being completely rational about this whole entire process. 

Or not.

"We've been on the market four days," I have to keep reminding myself. Someone just as crazy as the two of us will buy this house and raise babies in it and love it to death because it looked like a ransacked homeless shelter back in 2010 and somehow we fell in love with it and spent our life savings on it and made it our home.

So there's hope, but talk about an exercise in patience. While keeping our house show-ready with kids in tow feels a lot like swimming upstream with my hands tied behind my back, we're making it work and getting by and looking forward to new horizons. 

And by "getting by," I mean we're spending a lot of time in the car, getting breathed on by the dog and his hot dog-breath, eating snacks and lunch on the run, touring local playgrounds and parks like it's our job. 

It's wonderful. I don't know why anyone would ever put off this kind of fun... 

As for the million dollar question, "where are you moving to?" Well, we're just not sure about that yet. Mr. AP keeps reminding me not to get emotionally attached to any of the houses we've seen lately but I'm all like "DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?" (As I've already picked out who's sleeping in what room and what color the textured runner will be that will run down the front staircase and how I've already planned backyard birthday parties in such-and-such yard...) 

But we're just not quite sure yet. Maryland will remain our home and the boys will remain at their beloved school, so it's not like we're picking up and moving cross-country because I don't think I could survive that type of business in my current mental state. As it is, half of our house is stacked Tetris-like in our garage and I couldn't imagine having to box any of that nonsense up and ship it somewhere. Driving it a county over seems about all I can manage right now.

So that's where we're at right. Beef stew is simmering away in the crock-pot and I've picked up the house for the umteenth time before tonight's scheduled showing. As I sit here and look around me at our clean walls, tidy rooms and freshly steamed carpets, the house hardly looks like our own. Our lives, our days are SO messy, chaotic, disheveled even and this? This isn't us- but hopefully soon, it will be someone else's and we can take our disheveled days somewhere new. 

The boys will be bathed and loaded into the car and we'll probably drive circles around the block while someone else meanders through our home and tries to picture themselves living the dream, right where we've been living our dream for the past six years. 

Life sure has a funny way of working out... but we're ready for the next great adventure.  


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Friday, September 30, 2016

Mad For Plaid // Moms Do Fall Fashion // Nordstrom Gift Card Giveaway!

You guys. It has been raining for three straight days here and I can feel my sanity slowly slipping away. Because of the weather, the big boys haven't been going outside for recess much which means they're in rare form when I pick them up from school each day. Coupled with putting our house on the market and trying to keep it show-ready has made for quite the interesting week. (Which, by the way, surprise! That's a post all in itself. Maybe one day I'll actually get the chance to sit down and write about it). 

All that to say, TGIF (and thank God for Bota boxes)! 

Today I'm joining a fantastic group of moms and linking up with our friends over at Take Time For Style to show case how moms from all over the place do Fall fashion. If you scroll through the posts you'll see everything from monogrammed capelets to fringe boots and how to wear sweater vests. It's been a great little month-long series and I love that it's inspired me to add a few new transition pieces to my wardrobe this year. 

My typical Fall fashion is simple and typically consists of denim, plaid, puffer vests and booties. I should really be ashamed at just how much plaid I have hanging in my closet but I'll go ahead and blame my Catholic school upbringing for the obsession! In retrospect, I guess I could have also titled this post, "Basic and Proud!" but ya can't fault a girl for loving an easy trend, right?

Depending on the accessories, these pieces can be dressed up for a night out or dressed down for a weekend outing with the family. I love their versatility as well as the ease of quite literally throwing them on and heading out the door. 

In today's post, you'll see I substituted my usual bootie for the ever-popular wellie, thanks to Mother Nature. Since Fall here in Maryland can often start out fairly damp and rainy, a great rain boot is a surefire Fall-staple and like every other girl on the Internets, I love my Hunter wellies

Plaid / Vest ($49.50!) / Jeans / Boots / Bag

Currently, the JCrew Factory puffer vests are on mega sale and solid colors start at $49! It's such a great deal for something you'll wear all season long. I've had my eye on the navy/ivory buffalo check quilted puffer and just might pull the trigger later today. 

And look at all of this plaid! Al Borland or not, there's always room in my closet for more! 

What are some of your Fall closet staples? 
Let me know in the comments below!

Before you go, there's a great giveaway happening for a $250 Nordstrom gift card over at Take Time for Style. Be sure to head on over here to enter! Have a great weekend, friends!
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