All Things Carter and Cadence

Santa’s Fantastical : Full Mom Review

When I walked into Santa’s Fantastical this year I had a moment. Last year I attended this same exhibit with my little ones. I bought tickets online, stood in line, and had a blast. So for me to be here again as a guest blogger was kinda full circle. I try to practice being thankful for the small things and this was one of those moments where I told God thank you, out loud.

As soon as they opened the doors to the exhibit we all gasped. I’m a big Christmas person and the decor was simply breathtaking. Everything was decorated so bright and festive. I immediately felt all warm and fuzzy inside. All the Christmas feels. As we made our way thru the different stops I was pleasantly surprised at how much new and fun stuff they added from last year. So many more kid games, photo opportunities (and friendly staff who ask you over and over if you would like them to take your picture for you 🙌🏽) and entertainment.

My little ones ran from room to room with excitement. It was a huge area for face painting. Carter got the Super Santa face mask. He also had his first encounter with Santa where he didn’t cry his eyes out. Lol. I think my baby is officially a big boy. He told Santa he wants candy for Christmas. Smh. In addition to the exhibits there are performances that happen on the main stage several times every hour. We took a break there at one of the tables and ate snacks. It’s a life saver for moms who need a break while also keeping their little ones entertained. And speaking of things for moms, Santa’s Fantastical added an adult corner that serves adult beverages to get you thru the day! All the drinks have a festive flair and were really good.

We go to a lot of places but this one hit me a little different. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s the beginning of the holiday season and I’m feeling super thankful and in the spirit but we really had a great time. If you need a pick me up, a cool place to take a date, or a fun spot to take the kids, go check this exhibit out. It’s only here for a limited amount of time this year. I highly recommend it! Do you think you’re gonna check it out?

Our Toys R Us Adventure Review

I’ve been an adventure junkie from as far back as I can remember. I love making memories, trying new things, and having fun. My bucket list is long and my little ones are turning into quite the mini adventure junkies themselves. Carter asks me almost everyday “Mommy, where the fun at?” Lol!
One of my favorite events from earlier this year was the Candytopia exhibit that my little ones and I attended. We had an absolute blast so I was ecstatic when Unplanned Perfection was invited to the special premier opening of the Toys R Us Adventure here in Atlanta. I gathered the crew and headed to the premiere with a huge smile on my face. We were greeted by Geoffrey the Giraffe at the entrance. He was available for meet and greets and pictures. My tots weren’t feeling Geoff too tough but their mom took a pic with him. Lol. Immediately upon entering the staff did a dance and song with Geoffrey and welcomed everyone into the Grand Opening. The exhibit is made up of 8 larger than life rooms filled with everything from the new school like Paw Patrol to throwback fun. Carter is obsessed with Paw Patrol so that was a welcomed surprise. There is even a mini zip line in the Paw Patrol room that I rode. It drops you off in a ball pit. So much fun! Paw Patrols room also has a larger than life Fire Truck that you can take pictures in and a clubhouse that includes a slide. Another favorite from my crew was the Frozen room that literally rained artificial snow the entire time. My little ones had snowball fights and were covered in snow by the time we left. We spent the most time in this room. There was also a jungle room with a huge T-Rex, obstacle course, and Railroad room to name a few. They even have picture stations in every room that email you professional photos of your experience! Blogger mom win! The staff were super engaging with the kids and made it so easy for all of us.

I don’t have any cons per se but I do have a suggestion for single parents with small children. Since I attended during the premiere the group was small so it was fairly easy to manage my toddlers. As a single mom I would probably be overwhelmed taking them by myself at a peak time (Weekends and Evenings). It’s so much going on at one time that younger kids would be tempted to run off. So a less peak time would be ideal for mommy’s with small toddlers like me.
Toys R Us was a huge part of my childhood, so sharing a little piece of that with Carter and Cade was a full circle moment for me. It warmed my heart. So let’s support the exhibit and welcome Toys R Us back! Take your littles and come back and let me know how much fun you have! Anyone else planning to go?

Summer Blues

I felt myself starting to get a small pit in my stomach around April. It grew as the summer got closer and closer. My little ones spend more time with their dad for summer break and it made me a little anxious. While I know they need the extra time (and quite frankly so do I) it gave me so much anxiety wondering how they would adjust.

This is my first summer working thru a summer schedule with both of my little ones. I’ve encountered so many firsts since my divorce and I work very hard to be mindful and intentional at how I journey thru them. So when my feelings arose I acknowledged them and felt them no matter how uncomfortable they were. I let myself feel the fear, the anxiousness, the loss of control as a mom, and even the shame that my babies have to navigate this. I’ve learned that being painfully honest about where I am is the only way I can fully process past that moment.

Once I fully acknowledged why the pit in my stomach was there, I was able to make a plan. I didn’t want to just survive the summer, I wanted to thrive in it.

I prepared the littles as much as their toddler minds could comprehend. Then I prepared myself. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is the power of taking control of my thoughts. Just because we think it doesn’t make it true and just because the thought comes doesn’t mean I have to believe it. The power to speak back to irrational and negative thoughts is in all of us. I exercise this daily, sometimes hourly. I talk to myself out loud quite often 🤣. I remind myself of whose I am but most importantly I remind myself of who my children really belong to. Mark 10:16 says that God takes children in his arms, places his hands on them, and blesses them. As moms we feel like it’s our responsibility to protect them, cover them, nurture them, to keep them safe. But ultimately they belong to God, not us. And he has more power than we could ever have to watch over our babies both in and out of our care. And what better place for them then in the arms of God?

So I changed my focus and I felt the pit filling in my stomach. I took the confidence off myself or anyone else and placed it back in the hands of God and focused on what I needed this summer. I planned trips, I made sure my feet touched the sand of a beach, I drank wine with my friends, I got 4 new stamps in my passport, I slept in, I took naps, and I renewed my relationship with Christ again.

Now fast forward a couple weeks later, I got the two tots back and I have so much planned for them to end this summer with a bang! I feel renewed so I feel like I can be an even better mom to them and most importantly, I feel like I can be better to myself. There is so much power in how we CHOOSE to frame every situation that comes up in our lives. We can’t control what life throws at us but we are 100% in control of how we choose to frame it. Let’s face it all with our heads up and with anticipation. It ALL can be a blessing if we allow it. Cheers to one hell of a summer!

Twinning

My younger brother is my best friend. Growing up everyone thought we were twins because my mom dressed us alike all the time and were only a year apart (like Carter and Cade). We loved it. We hated it. But it is a huge part of some of my favorite childhood memories. I’d totally be down to still dress alike but he’s way too cool for that. What’s most important is that were still inseparable to this day. So it’s only natural that I gravitate towards the twinning life with my little ones.

I constantly get asked where I find matching pieces for them and people are always taken aback when I respond “everywhere” but I can literally find pieces that blend together just about anywhere. I go from Target to Etsy mixing affordability with unique pieces that will last. For all my twinning moms (or aspiring twinners) I am going to share 3 short easy tips to twinning your babies (especially girl/boy siblings) that won’t break the bank or your sanity!

TIP ONE: My most favorite go to and easiest twinning option for boy/girl sibling is turning a basic t-shirt or button up into a dress. I do this with Carter and Cadence a lot. I buy a funky, gender neutral top in Carter’s normal size and I purchase the same shirt for Cadence two sizes larger than her normal size. I pair Carter’s top with a neutral bottom and I belt Cadence’s shirt at the waist if needed. Voila! Twinning siblings with the same top worn two totally different ways.

TIP TWO: My second go to is to find a gender neutral t shirt and funk it out. I buy the same t shirt is their respective sizes. I then choose a color or a pattern to accentuate the t shirt in their own way. For example, last week they had on matching t-shirts and they both had on Buffalo Plaid accessories. Cade had on a buffalo plaid skirt and Carter had a Buffalo plaid flannel over his shirt with jeans. The idea is to pick out a pattern or color that matches so you don’t have to match the same pieces exactly. It will all blend and it’s way less work for mom. You can do the same with an accentuating color.

TIP THREE: Which leads me to my favorite tip of them all – think outside the box and add your own personal flair when twinning your babies. Even twin with them every once in a while (or all the time, like I do! Lol). Carter gets so excited  when I twin with him (Cade doesn’t have a clue what’s happening) and I love that he still wants to dress like his mommy. Because let’s be clear I’m aware that pretty soon they’ll be telling  us they have their own style and twinning with mommy is lame so have fun, dress them up, dress up with them, and enjoy the moments while we have them.

To check out samples of all 3 of these “TWINNING” moments, make sure you are following our IG: @unplannedperfection!

Mom Guilt

We’ve all done it, right? We’ve had these grand ideas about what kind of mom we will be. The things we will or won’t allow. How long we’re going to stay home and what kind of life we’re going to provide for our babies. Our ideas are well intended but then life happens, kids happen, bills happen, and suddenly all those ideas about being a perfect mom aren’t feasible. That gap between the mom you envisioned yourself to be and the one you are is prime space for mom guilt. I haven’t figured out the formula to completely rid myself of mom guilt (if you have it, holla at me! Lol) but I’ve worked hard to balance it in ways that still allow me to be a present and bomb mom (if I do say so myself) while still acknowledging that life is not perfect and neither am I.

Mom guilt hit me HARD when Cadence was born. Circumstances were drastically different when it was time for me to go back to work with her and the process really shook me up. Even though I worked really hard to balance my schedule, breastfeed, coordinate nap times, and sneak away to give her ample one on one time with me, my mom guilt told me it wasn’t enough. I constantly questioned if she felt slighted, If Carter felt slighted, if I should be doing more. It would eat me up and ultimately it affected how I parented. I began parenting from a place of guilt. I found myself catering to tantrums, overindulging, and over extending myself. Enough was enough.

The most valuable tool I learned in a life coaching course I took (that I’ll tell you more about later) is that I don’t have to accept negative thoughts and judgments as truth. We can challenge the negative thoughts that plague us and speak our truth back to it. A cognitive distortion that I found myself engaging in as a newly single mom was filtering. Filtering is basically the process in which a person magnifies the negative aspects of a situation so large that they filter out all the positive. I was doing so much right. We all do so much right, but the moment we slip up, the moment we exercise our humanness, now we are bad moms, now our kids will be scarred for life. It is crazy when you think about it, but we do it constantly without a second thought. We need to stop that pattern and start telling ourselves the truth. I started reminding myself of the truth in those moments. If I overslept, I reminded myself of the 30 days I woke up on time and managed to get 3 humans out the door before the crack of dawn. If I raised my voice and felt guilty then I would remind myself of the many times I maintained my patience. Nipping those negative thoughts in the bud before they have a chance to take root and then replacing them with the truth is my number one tool as a single mom who is also a flawed human.

The bottom line is this…I will mess up, I will not get it right every single time, But I’m a damn good mom and so are you!