Fall Portrait Party!

YOU are invited to a portrait party in the heart of the hill country! Ariel Rawlings, elite wedding and family photographer and owner of Evan & Marin Photography, is offering fall portrait mini-sessions for ONE DAY ONLY Oct 8 at Whole Heart headquarters (aka, my home). Picture two acres of Texas hill country with miles and miles of rolling hills behind you. imagine hay bales, quilts, pupkins, apples, wood crates…

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Ariel is super talented with light! She’s that photographer that reminds us all that it takes more than a fancy camera to be a pro; it takes artistic talent and an eye for detail. I’ll be setting up three pinterest-esque fall portrait backdrops on our property for you to choose from. Or, opt for no backdrop and just get down with nature!

It’s a party so come mingle with other mamas. Those that schedule sessions in the morning can enjoy pumpkin bread from Quacks Bakery (I think there’s crack in it as it’s SO addicting) and fresh coffee or mimosas. Those that schedule the afternoon sessions can enjoy wine from local wineries and a charcuterie board with fresh meats and cheeses.

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Bring the baby, bring the kids, bring your partner, or bring the whole fam damn! This opportunity is too good to pass up. Ariel is offering her services PLUS three photos at a fraction of her sitting fees. Sign up here for the time slot that works for your family. Should you sign up during the TX/OU game…yes, the game will be on our outdoor TV!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

Hooked on the Joovy Nook

Disclaimer: I have no judgement on any other mother for the highchair they use; however, my personal style has always been very anti highchair. They’re unattractive, they’re bulky, they’re heavy, they get stained & stinky, and they ruin basic ambiance of your home. With twins I imagined double the disaster until I was introduced to the NEW & IMPROVED Joovy Nook. 

Wow!

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We’re huge fans of Joovy at this house. We’ve got the Joovy Boob glass bottles, the Joovy Moon Room playpen, the Joovy Spoon walkers, and now the Joovy Nook High Chairs! Joovy, in general, is known for it’s clean, modern lines, and functional designs. Well, they obviously did their homework before creating the Nook!

Chic design

The Nook we chose has a white frame and a black “leatherette” chair. I believe classic black and white combos can pull everything in a room together and I have a pop of black and white in every room of my house. So, the chairs don’t distract from the aesthetics in my otherwise pulled together home. I love that these chairs aren’t mind-numbingly colorful. Why do most baby gear manufacturers use neons and primary colors as though every new parent wants their home to look like the Big Top Circus? Bleh!

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Compact

Big, bulky, heavy high chair times two?! No, thank you! I don’t have room in my kitchen OR dining room for high chairs. But, the Joovy Nook is SUPER DUPER lightweight and it folds up, and unfolds with one hand! I literally can be bouncing a twenty-pound baby boy on my hip while unfolding my Nook with the other hand to get ready for feeding. It’s pretty legit! I pull them out for feeding, wipe them off, and fold them back down to store away next to my buffet. When guests come over, I store them in the pantry.

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Safety first

Another thing I’ve always been queasy over regarding high chairs is the number of falls and head injuries. Many new parents mistakenly position the high chair next to the table not realizing that babies can push off the side of the table with their feet. Well, not only does the Nook have a 5-point harness, but the backs of the chair are high enough that even IF the babies could push off the side of the table (although I never position them that way) the backs of the chair and the padding would protect their precious heads. Plus, the base of the frame is super sturdy and sticks to the floor for added protection.

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Cleaning is a cakewalk

Traditional highchairs get oogy stains and stinky super fast. Imagine yogurt, carrots, bananas, and spit up bits and pieces sitting overnight? Gross! Either you’d have to wash the cover every meal or at least every day. The leather of the Nook is similar to a high end luxury vehicle and it’s not only designed for comfort; it’s designed to be easy to clean, I wet a sponge and wipe down the seats (after my dog licks all the crumbs out). The straps became messy pretty fast from the boys teething on them with food still in their mouth, but my mother suggested a toothbrush in the grooves and that’s worked like a charm. I only have to do that every week or so.

The only problem with the Joovy Nook is that it can’t fit in my car to take with me to friend’s houses, restaurants, and grandma’s. The boys love their highchairs and I have so much fun feeding them knowing that their safe & comfortable during feeding time.

Get your Joovy Nook at Joovy.com

Stay gold, 

Chelsea Vail

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Be Prepared with JuJuBe

Before I became a mom I had somewhat decided that diaper bags weren’t really my scene. There’s nothing sexy or chic about toting a sticky, stained bag around that’s stuffed with diapers, bottles, formula, snack foods, and likely covered in dancing monkeys or giraffes riding choo-choo trains (insert gagging sound here). I’m just not that kind of mom. I preferred carrying my Louis Vuitton Artsy purse and imagined I’d just use that to tote what I needed. 

Enter twins.

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Yikes! I didn’t know at that time I’d be a mom to twins! This requires much more gear than even my LV artsy could hold and I’ll be damned if I let that bag become stained or ratty. So, my first few months as a mom I carried a diaper bag I’d been given as a nanny. It wasn’t the Prada diaper bag carried by the mom, but it got the job done. Even though that bag worked just fine for my one child client, it was NOT working for me and my twins.

My first outing was to their two week pediatrician appointment. My mother was with me. We stocked the bag full of pacifiers, clth diapers, wet bags, nursing cover, changing pad cover, wipes, bottles, breastmilk , blankets, coats, baby wrap, and rattles. Heavy, much? If you think that’s too much stuff to pack for one outing you obviously don’t have twins. Trust. It’s WAY more necessary to have “stuff” when there’s two.

Sure enough, one baby starts fussing while the other is being examed so I start nursing. Then the other one starts screaming. I needed the pacifier, but it had gotten lost in the abyss of a diaper bag I used to carry. I was getting frustrated so I told my mom just to fix a bottle. Now, where did we put the bottle? Breastmilk? There was zero organization! No pockets?

Not only was it difficult to find anything I needed with the former bag, it wasn’t stylish. I never wanted to wear it or even carry it. I always stuffed it under the seats of the stroller and most of the time I didn’t even do that. I left it in the car instead and decided I’d would rather walk back out to the car to get what I needed than carry that bag.

Enter the Jujube First Lady! Total game changer!

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It’s super chic and goes with my style…classic black and white striped!

It’s made from a wipeable material so there’s no need to worry about sippy cups leaking or bottles spilling over.

There’s an opening in the bottom of the bag to dump crumbs. Yep…that exists!

Wear it as a satchel/sidebody, a purse, a handbag, OR a backpack! Plus, the strap is padded for shoulder support.

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Leave your purse in the car or at home. This baby has a front pockets for license, rings for keys, and a place for your phone and essentials.

There’s tons of pockets, compartments, and nets to contain EVERYthing you could ever need, or want, for baby.

My favorite part is the matching changing pad trifold that can be pulled out for changing babies in the back of the car or sketchy changing tables in public. Did I mention all of this stuff is wipeable AND machine washable?

Zippers! I didn’t realize how much the zippers matter but my other bag buttoned closed, which means things go flying out in betweek the bottons and the buttons were a pain to snap.

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Before I was a mom, I’d overhear other moms saying, “I love my JujuBe.” I had no idea what they were talking about, but now, that’s me! I love my Jujube! I tell everyone how much I love my Jujube because I don’t think there’s anything like it out there. Jujube or bust.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

The Case Against Toys

My mother texted me last week and asked me about a couple of gifts she was thinking about for my twins for Christmas (she shops early). I googled the items she was referring to and read about the products. When I read the words “teaches your child,” “educational,” and “your child will learn,” I knew the toys were not for us. Ironically, the toys that “teach” your child actually counteract learning and stunt development. Shocker, right?

I refuse to have toys in my home that teach my children.

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I texted my mom back and reminded her that I don’t allow toys that have batteries or electricity. In fact, I dont have toys in my home that “do” things. A toy that does for a child robs them of the opportunity to do. The play becomes limited by what the toy has been programmed to do. It does not require imagination, problem solving, creativity, exploration, or observation. It is entertaining the child, which is not what play is about. It’s not about entertainment or distraction.

Play is a child’s natural language. It is how they make sense of their world, how they communicate, how they express feelings, and how they process their experiemces. Play by definition is intrinsically motivated, therefore a toy that gives the same response each time a button is pushed, or a lever is pulled, trains the child to seek extrinsic reward, rather than introinsic. So, once again, play is negatively affected.

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As a Play Therapist I always felt saddened by the child who would come into the playroom filled with open-ended toys, pick up a toy and try to press a button. They’d search desperately for an off/on switch, something to push, pull, turn on somehow before finally looking at me and exclaiming, “It’s broken” or “What does it do?” This child has been programmed for toys to  do the work for him and he no longer knows how to play.

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Toys do not need names either. A toy that comes with a name, or a label, pulls the child from fantasy and anchors them to reality. This is not a good thing. I don’t want my children growing up thinking a stick is just a stick and a box is just a box. The possibilities for items like this should be endless to a child’s imagination. I once put a whisk on the play tray of my five month old son’s walker and my stepson said, “Why did you give him a whisk?” I told him it’s not a whisk to the baby, it could be anything the baby wants it to be. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “But what else could it be?” Again, how sad. This child has lost the ability to imagine.

So…what do they play with?

  • ribbons
  • tin foil
  • bubble wrap, corks, sponges
  • spatulas, whisks, ladels, egg beaters
  • Measuring cups
  • salad spinners, drainers, muffin tins
  • egg cartons, boxes
  • bags
  • blocks
  • balls
  • cars, trains, planes (wooden toys)
  • books
  • crayons, shaving cream, play doh
  • musical toys, wooden toys
  • blankets
  • bubbles
  • swings, slides, ladders, jungle gyms
  • hula hoops, jump ropes
  • figurines

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If you buy your children pop up tents how will they learn to build forts? If you buy them the bubble machine how will they learn to blow bubbles? If you buy hot wheels track you’re limiting how far and which direction the cars can go? Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not grow up using iPads and tech toys…they grew up playing with what was around them and as a result they learned how to think and they became creators.

So, my children will not watch TV. They will not have ipads. They will not use smart phones until age appropriate and they will not play with toys that need batteries or need to be plugged in. They will learn to be resourceful, creative, and imaginative to play and to make sense of the world around them.

Stay gold,

That Girl

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