Since the spring, I’ve been working on building up my wardrobe. Once the weather started turning, I came to realize that I hadn’t REALLY shopped in a couple of years. In 2013, I was pregnant, then in 2014, I was still working on my postpartum body and had an infant and WHO HAS TIME TO SHOP? I scraped by this past winter with a handful of new things from Old Navy and such but once spring hit, I had the itch to buy new, nice clothes.

I actually went shopping at the mall—a couple of times—which says a lot, because I really don’t like the mall. In general, I’m not a shopper, at least not for clothes for myself. And I forced myself to go to places other than Old Navy and Gap, which in years past have become my staples. I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve done so far, but now we’re heading into another season and I definitely need some more additions to my closet. (I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff, too, but that’s a different story.)

A longtime friend posted on Facebook last month that she was thinking about trying Stitch Fix, and then she was really happy with her first fix, so I decided to give it a go as well. I got my first fix at the end of July but it didn’t really occur to me to do a post like this at the time. Truthfully, I was a little underwhelmed by my first shipment and only ended up keeping one item anyway, so you’re not missing out on much. But my friend continued to have a ton of luck so I decided to continue giving Stitch Fix at least a few more chances. So here we are with my second “Fix.”

For those of you who may not be familiar with Stitch Fix… You sign up, fill out an extensive style profile (including sizes, price ranges, colors, etc.), and create a Pinterest board with some of your favorite looks (optional). The profile and the Pinterest board are meant to help the Stitch Fix stylists select items that are perfect for you. Each time you opt to get a Fix shipped to you, you are charged a $20 styling fee. You then receive five clothing items in the mail—these can include accessories as well, like jewelry, belts, and purses. You have three days to try on the items and decide what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to send back. If you keep anything—even just one item—your $20 styling fee is applied to the price of that item. If you keep nothing, you are out the $20 styling fee (that’s the only “risk”). There is a prepaid, pre-labeled shipping envelope included in each Fix for you to use for anything you want to return. And bonus, if your stylist really knocks it out of the park and you keep all five items? You get a 25% off discount on everything.

I like the idea of Stitch Fix because 1) I don’t have to shop. 2) They might pick out items for me that I may never pick out for myself. From brands/designers I’ve never heard of. 3) Bigger variety of stuff than the typical things I might find at Old Navy or Gap. 4) It’s fun to be surprised! 5) There aren’t any extra costs involved as long as you end up keeping at least one item per month. 6) It’s a good way to slowly, but regularly add to your wardrobe over time with just a few items each month.

Anyway, let’s get to the contents of this Fix, shall we?

With each Fix, you get a personal note from your stylist and these style cards to give you inspiration for how to wear each of the items you’ve received. Here’s mine for this Fix.

Pardon the awkward phone selfies in the mirror… I don’t really have a better way to take these pics, especially in a speedy fashion. :)

Collective Concepts Esten Button-Up Sleeveless Blouse. 

I pretty much knew right when I first unfolded this blouse that I wasn’t going to like it. It looked very wide. Sure enough, when I put it on, it felt very boxy and I didn’t feel like it gave me any shape at all.

The main issue here was definitely the fit, but overall, it was also just kind of boring.


Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top

My first impression of this top was that it was very soft, and that I liked the color. On it went with a pair of jeggings.

These pics don’t really do this pic full justice. It’s cute. It definitely needs to be accessorized with a long necklace, I think, but overall it’s a very nice cross between comfy casual and “nice” casual. It could easily be dressed up or dressed down, something that my stylist also mentioned in her note. I like the sleeves. They’re kind of tight around the forearms but they are different than anything else I own so I like that. I think it’s also long enough where I might even be able to get away with wearing it with a nice pair of leggings on the weekends.

Verdict: KEEPING IT.

Market & Spruce Bethanie Striped Maxi Skirt
Just USA Morrie Boyfriend Denim Jacket

It’s funny, because when I first pulled everything out of the box and gave it a once-over, I assumed that this maxi skirt was a sure winner. I love maxi skirts, and I love the color of this one. But then I put it on.

It looks fine, right? Standard maxi skirt, flowy and nice? It’s actually a very nice material, too, kind of heavy—feels high quality. But here is the reality of this skirt:

I had to hike it up to almost my boobs in order for it to be a normal length on me! This skirt is only going to work if you’re like 6 feet tall, able to wear 4″ heels, or willing to hem it. I’m none of those things. Bummer.

The other thing is that I feel like cute, striped maxi skirts like this can be had pretty easily from Old Navy, Target, Kohls, etc. for like $20. If I’m going to spend $50 on a maxi skirt, I want it to be more unique.

The jean jacket is fine, it’s cute, but I already have one and I don’t feel like I need another one at the moment. The sleeves are a little long on me, which wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker for me but just nah. Don’t need it.


Pixley Jakobe Chevron Print Maxi Dress

OK, now this is definitely something that I would’ve never picked out for myself. I don’t know that I would’ve even taken it off of the rack to try it on. I like the colors and the pattern, but it is the shape of it that would’ve deterred me.

The elastic waist of the dress falls at the natural waist, which is usually an “uncomfortable” spot for me. Although my waist is actually part of my body that I consider to be pretty nice/thin, it is the part of my belly below it that is a problem area for me. The “mommy belly.” I don’t like to accentuate it in any way. Wrap dresses—which are very flattering on a lot of people—I cannot do because I don’t like the way they make my lower belly look. This dress is kind of skating in that territory, yet it is a flowy/loose enough fit where it might work?

Again, it needs to be accessorized with a necklace—this type of neckline almost always needs one, at least on me—but otherwise, I might actually like this? I can’t decide. I’m going to need to sleep on it, try it on again, and take my three days to decide.


So right now, I’m only keeping 1/5 items. Maybe 2/5. Like last month, I had high hopes but did not have a stellar result. I’m going to keep going with Stitch Fix for now, though, because I am keeping at least one item so my “styling fee” is not going to waste.

Anyone out there who has tried Stitch Fix? How has your luck been?

I feel like the stylists definitely have their work cut out for them—different things fit different people in different ways, they have no way of knowing what is in someone’s closet already, etc. Even with a complete style profile and Pinterest boards, it still seems like a big job to do.

After each Fix, you provide feedback on each of the items you received, whether you’re keeping them or returning them. All of this feedback is kept on your file and helps your stylist do an even better job with your subsequent fixes. With this Fix, I felt like the styling was done well, it was just an issue with fit/sizing and with not knowing what I already had in my wardrobe.

If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, please use my referral link:  And let me know how you do with it!

I still have hope that one of these times, I’ll get a Fix that will knock it out of the park. We’ll see what the next Fix brings! I’ll report back on the results.


My “baby” is 2 now.

Her actual birthday was last Sunday, August 2, and then we had her party this past Saturday, the 8th. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, which is why I have once again fallen off the blogging wagon. I love Instagram, you guys. It is so much easier for me to keep up with and I love looking back at my Instagram feed for memories of the daily snippets of our lives. If you don’t yet follow me over there, you can find me @heatherkj. I post way more over there than I do here, I promise.


On Saturday night, the night before Vivienne’s birthday, I sneaked into her room and took a few pictures of her as she slept her last night as a 1 year old.

The tush in the air, the diaper hanging out, the blankies. I want to remember it all.

When we woke up in the morning, we went in to get her and get dressed right away. We were planning to continue our family tradition of going out for giant pancakes on the kids’ birthdays, and since it was a weekend, we were nervous the restaurant was going to be crowded so we wanted to get there as early as possible.

I tried to take a pic of Vivienne standing in her crib under her name but she was pissed about me putting her back in there after she had already been out, and decided to show us that she can lift her leg up over the rail now. Probably should drop the crib another notch or two…

We were pleasantly surprised at the restaurant—we didn’t even have to wait! It pays to be the “early bird” on a Sunday, I guess. :)

Vivienne got her very own mammoth pancake and we put a couple of candles in it for her and sang. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

She rather enjoyed the pancake, though. Little piggy! We still came home with plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week, though. Pop leftover pancakes in the toaster and they are good as new!

On the way home, I mentioned on the spur of the moment that we should try a bike ride. We hadn’t yet gotten around to trying it this year, and I thought maybe Vivienne would tolerate the trailer better now that she’s a little older (she cried in it last year). So we came back to the house, got changed, got the bikes and trailer out, filled all the tires with air, etc. A little while later, we were ready to go!

It was a completely gorgeous day. Just perfect. And the girls loved riding in the trailer together! They kept giggling whenever Michael went over bumps. It was really cute.

We rode a few miles and decided to stop at a playground to let the girls run around for a bit.

After a while, it was getting close to lunchtime, so we decided to head back home. Surprisingly, Vivienne got back into the bike trailer without a fight (she is not usually very happy about leaving a playground!), which I guess means she REALLY liked it.

We fed the girls a little lunch and then Vivienne went down for a nap. Nora and I got busy making homemade pesto and brownies for Vivienne’s birthday dinner and dessert. Our parents and Michael’s sister were coming over for an early dinner before Nora’s baseball game.

Vivienne LOVES pesto (just like Nora), so dinner was a hit.

We sang to her and she was NOT A FAN. Poor thing would’ve crawled under the table to hide if she could have. I don’t blame her—I hate being sung to, too!

Sissy helped her blow out the candles. And she did rather enjoy the dessert part, though.

Shortly after, we all headed out to Nora’s T-ball game. Nora enjoyed herself as she has been (so cute watching her play!) and Vivienne had fun running around with our niece, Sadie, and the rest of our family. Our nephew, Hunter, is on the same team as Nora so it’s like a mini family get-together every time they play, which is perfect!

Fast-forward through five days of work and nights of baking and decorating cookies and cakes and we were at party day. This year, we chose to go with a “mermaid/beach” theme, which we followed pretty loosely. The invitations, the cake and the cookies were all in line with the theme. Everything else was just a color scheme—yellow and aqua for the sun and the sea!

We had a pretty good crowd at our house again. It’s always nice to have an excuse to see our more extended family, and some friends. I love getting everyone together for a few hours. And we really lucked out again with the weather… it was mid-70s and partly sunny/cloudy so it was quite comfortable outside all afternoon. So nice!

We made a giant crockpot full of pulled chicken and served it with slider rolls, and we also made some baked beans. Our moms and a few other family members pitched in by bringing some appetizers and side dishes. Good stuff.

Vivienne was dilly-dallying with her SECOND serving and taking forever so I eventually cut her off and threw away her plate when she was on one of her jaunts away from the table. She caught me doing it, though, and she was PISSED. Threw a big old hissy fit complete with real tears in front of everyone, making me look like an evil mother for STARVING her or something. But I was trying to keep the party moving and wanted to get her started on presents so I gave her a cookie to placate her. I figured I’m not above bribing with sweets on her birthday. :)

She was only half-interested in presents. It was tough to keep her interested. She got a lot of really nice stuff, though, especially clothes. Love it! And she has been enjoying the toys, too, now that she has had time to open and explore them outside of the chaos of a birthday party.

After presents, we did cake. She was still not thrilled with everyone singing to her, but she DID attempt to blow out her own candle afterward, which was heartbreakingly adorable.

A lot of people started taking off shortly after cake, so things began to wind down.

Before my brother and his family could leave, though, Nora had to get in her baby fix. This is our new niece, Brynn, who is only two weeks old. Nora is in love. As is Vivienne, but she was too distracted to pay her too much attention by this point.

Sadie is a big fan of our newest family member, too. Love all of these cousins!

We spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening outside, cleaning up and playing with the girls while catching a few moments of relaxation in between. It was really such a nice day!

And I had to chase Vivienne around to get a few photos of her with her birthday crown on. Our daycare provider makes them these beautiful handmade paper crowns every year and they are just too cute for words.

At one point, Michael was sitting down in a chair watching Nora on the swing set. Vivienne literally dragged her own chair up right next to his and sat down in it. Thankfully, I still had the camera hanging around my neck so I could snap this moment! How stinking cute are they…

Another successful party in the books. We get to do it all over again next month for Nora’s 5th!

Happy Birthday to my sweet, spunky, silly, smart Vivienne May. I love her so.


On Monday morning, Michael woke up early and took Nora out to the beach to check out the sunrise.

Meanwhile, Vivienne and I continued snoozing away. Unfortunately, it ended up being too cloudy to see a real sunrise but Nora still got a kick out of it. I got to hear the whole story about the clouds as soon as they came inside (around 6:00 a.m.), so it was another early morning for all of us.

We decided to go out to breakfast again. This time, we ventured down to Layton’s. I had read that they have rainbow pancakes and I figured that our pancake-loving girls would get a kick out of that, particularly Nora. I was right. As soon as she heard “rainbow pancakes” as we reviewed the menu, she was decided.

After we ate, we swung by Food Lion for a few essentials. While there, we decided to pick up some ice cream for dessert that night, something we could eat out on our beach. Nora chose some cookie ice cream sandwiches, which I haven’t had in years.

Then we headed back to the condo. It was still pretty early but we figured we would take a walk out on the beach and get some photos before “officially” going to the beach. It was a beautiful sunny morning. Nora spent some time frolicking in the surf and sand. This girl LOVES the ocean.

We obviously took Vivienne to the beach with us when we went to the Outer Banks last summer, and at that time, she did well with the sand. She was just under a year old and was content to sit and run her fingers and toes through it. Still, we were a little nervous leading up to the Ocean City trip about whether or not Vivienne would tolerate the sand and water. Thankfully, she was great about it! She didn’t like to stand in the surf/waves on her own, but she loved going into the water with one of us. It appears she may be just as much of a beach lover as her big sister!

We eventually went inside and did the whole bathing suits and sunscreen routine. With the four of us, it seemed to take forever. Gotta make sure we have that sun protection, though!

We spent a few hours at the beach this day, again going back in sometime around lunch. Bathed the kids, made them lunch, showered ourselves, put Vivi down for a nap, relaxed.

We brought Play-Doh with us on this trip and it was a brilliant move, especially since we don’t play with it at home very often (although, Nora does get her share of experience with it at daycare). We had a princess Play-Doh set that we had never even opened that Nora got for her birthday, so it was “brand new” to her. I’m not kidding when I say she played (QUIETLY!) with this for like an hour and a half with very little help/participation from us. She loved it! Ahhhhh… vacation.

In the meantime, I finally got the call from my dermatologist that I had been awaiting for a week and a half. I had an appointment in the beginning of July for a check-up and to have her look at a stubborn spot on my face that I thought was maybe a little patch of psoriasis (which I have a minor case of) or eczema. She took a look at it and was like, “Hmm, that actually could be cancer.” NOT AWESOME. Anyway, she had done a biopsy of the spot—ON MY FACE—and I was waiting forever for the pathology results. So of course I get this call while I’m on vacation. At the beach, you know, where there is a lot of sun.

The spot is NOT cancer, but it is a pre-cancerous lesion called an actinic keratosis. I have to get it taken care of before it turns into a cancer like basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. I’m glad it’s not actually cancer but it’s still a pain in the ass and I just want it off my face ASAP.

I “celebrated” the non-cancer diagnosis with a pre-dinner beer. Yes.

Once Vivienne woke up, we got ready to go to dinner. This night, we decided to walk to Abbey Burger Bistro, which was just a little less than a mile from our place. It was actually still quite hot out with glaring sun, so instead of sitting outside on their pretty looking patio—which looked to have very little shade at that time of day—we opted to sit inside. The atmosphere in there was pretty cool, though, so it was not much of a sacrifice.

I tried a new (to me) beer here—Wells Banana Bread Beer. Yum!

As you can imagine, the burger menu here is quite robust. Michael and I both felt like we couldn’t order anything BUT burgers so we did go with burgers. And they were both absolutely delicious. Michael says this was his favorite meal of the trip. I had a feeling it might end up that way since he mentioned how awesome it was about four times while we were still at the restaurant. LOL.

Our waitress forgot to give us a pen and the girls were getting antsy after the meal was over so we improvised and signed with a crayon. You gotta do what you gotta do, am I right?

Once back at the condo, we grabbed a beach blanket and the ice cream sandwiches and took the girls out for a treat on the beach. It was a MESS and Vivienne ate a good deal of sand with her ice cream but they loved it and that’s all that really matters.

More pics on the beach in the evening hours. Love.

We made our way back up to our condo and got the girls ready for bed. Pajamas, teeth brushing, books, songs. You parents out there know the drill. Tucked them in and shut ourselves out onto the balcony again to enjoy the last bit of daylight looking out over the beach and ocean.

We may not “do” much on these beach vacations but they sure are wonderful.

I was going to try to combine at least two days of activity and photos into each post but I think this one is long enough already. Again, more to come!


Ah, vacation. My little family of four has just returned from a week in Ocean City, Maryland. It was so nice to get away and spend some extra time together. No agendas, no stress—just wake up each day and fly by the seat of our pants.

Just FUN.

One thing that Michael and I did set out to do on this trip was to take photos. Lots and lots of photos. I’m happy to say we succeeded. So much so that I’m going to need to break up this recap into multiple parts just so it’s not a mile long.

We left home around 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 11. The drive was supposed to take us around 7.5 hours. We figured we’d make it in maybe 8.5 hours with traffic and stops.

Wrong. It took us 10 hours. Womp womp. And we only stopped once! As it turned out, traffic was a beast. Having never been to Ocean City (or anywhere in that area) before, we had no idea how bad it was going to be. We hit several areas of really bad stop-and-go traffic on our way down. First in Pennsylvania, in the general vicinity of Philadelphia. We actually requested a detour from our GPS to get us out of that mess, which worked. But then we hit a long stretch of bad traffic in Delaware, once we got down closer to the beaches. We made it through that, too, but then once we got on Route 90 in Maryland to head east to Ocean City—this stretch was really only about 8-10 miles at most—we were INCHING along. It was pretty torturous. I’ll admit I do not handle traffic very well at all. It drives me batty.

Thankfully, our kids were freaking ANGELS and did fabulously. It would’ve been SO.MUCH.WORSE if the girls had been losing their minds in the backseat. It was funny, actually, because once we did finally get to our condo, we told Nora repeatedly how proud we were of her. (Vivienne, too, but she doesn’t understand as well. Ha.) We told her how wonderful it was that she did not complain once the entire ride. Her response? “I didn’t complain because we were going to the beach!” So the whole time, she just had the end goal in mind. Life lessons from a 4 year old, I’m telling you.

Once on the island, our first stop was the rental office to get our keys. We found our rental through It was called Breakaway East 506, and managed by a company called Vantage Realty. Once we had the check in packet from Vantage, we headed north to our condo. We parked, we got ourselves and a few belongings up to the 5th floor. We unlocked the condo and stepped inside to find a place that was completely dark. All of the shades and curtains were drawn closed. I thought it was a bit odd, but figured it was to keep the place cool. We opened everything up and the place just looked… not nice. Not like the photos we had seen. It took me a few minutes to put my finger on it. I had to pee really bad from the longer-than-expected drive so I visited the bathroom pretty much right away. As I was doing so, I looked around me and I saw dirt and hair in the sink. And then I saw a nasty, dirty tub.

It hit me. The place hadn’t been cleaned!

I walked out of the bathroom and took a closer look around the main living space. The glass-top coffee table was COVERED in fingerprints and smudges, as were the stainless steel appliances. There was visible dirt and sand on the floor. We went into the bedroom to find the bed completely unmade, pillows and comforter piled up in the center of the bed. And the second bathroom was equally as gross as the first.

I was FURIOUS. I tried calling the Vantage office right away but unfortunately, we had arrived at the office to pick up our keys right at 5:00 p.m., when they were closing. So by now it was almost 6:00 and no one was answering the phones. I tried getting in touch with the rep we worked with to book the place, but I got an out-of-office reply that she was on vacation. Of course. They had given us a packet of information upon check-in and there was an “emergency” number. I called it, but the recording was very explicit about what it was for—fire, flooding, etc. So I hung up. We debated for a bit about what to do. I didn’t even want to be in this place in its current condition, let alone SLEEP there. Ultimately, we decided to call the emergency number again and opt to speak to someone. Thankfully, the woman I spoke to gave me the number to call for cleaning services—which was the original rental number, but a certain extension that remains open until 7:00 p.m. Don’t you think that would be helpful to include on the materials?? But anyway…

I called the cleaning services extension and sure enough, someone picked up. She told me that per the rental agreement I signed, they actually have until 7:00 p.m. to clean the place. But still, they are usually cleaned earlier, so she asked me to give her a few minutes to check on the status and that she would call me back. A few minutes later, she did call back and said that the cleaning company was “just running behind” and that they were coming out to clean the place. She said to “move our belongings aside” so that the people could effectively clean, to which I responded that we hadn’t even bothered to unpack anything yet because we were so put off by the place.

We decided to leave and go grab dinner somewhere. As we were leaving the parking lot, we saw the cleaning service pull in. Nice. Now, before I move on to anything else, I’ll just say that by the time we got back from dinner, the place WAS clean. As soon as we opened the door again, we could smell that it was clean. It smelled good, it looked good, it “felt” good, it was everything we would’ve expected it to be to begin with. Ultimately, we were really happy with it. But while I understand that the rental agreement gives them until 7:00 p.m. to clean it (I admittedly did not read it that closely to start!), I am FLOORED that we were allowed to check in to the place without it being cleaned. Even if we were given the keys—great, but at least tell us, “Hey, you might want to go grab dinner first because your place hasn’t been cleaned!” I mean, who wants to walk into a place you’ve paid good money for to find it filthy from the previous guests?!

I believe it was probably a rare incident and we just had bad luck, but it was not the way we wanted to start our vacation after 10 hours in the car. But in the end, it was thankfully a relatively minor inconvenience and it worked out for the best. Honestly, it wasn’t enough to deter me from recommending the place for rental, because it was so great the rest of the time. I’ll also say that after living in the place for a week, it’s easy to mess it up, so I don’t think the people who stayed before us were particularly gross and/or messy people, either. It’s a condo right on the beach, with a lot of sand, etc. It gets dirty. In fact, when we left it, I said to Michael, “I certainly hope whoever is staying here next doesn’t come in here to THIS filth, either!” You can see from the pics above that it was a really cute place, recently remodeled (lots of IKEA!), and generally well kept. We didn’t have any other complaints.

Switching gears…

Thankfully, before our trip, we had received many great comments and recommendations for Ocean City—from blog readers (thank you!), and a few friends, too. I had compiled all of it into a “CHEAT SHEET” that we printed and carried with us. It categorized the restaurants by breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert/treats and also by location (proximity to the condo). I also included short comments about each one based on what people said about it, reviews, etc. It was really nice because when we were getting ready to go out somewhere, we didn’t have to spend much time debating (Do we feel like driving that far? What about somewhere we can walk to? I’m in the mood for a burger, do they have burgers? Is a good restaurant? Kids menu? That sort of thing). It was all vetted in advance and it was a major timesaver for us on the trip.

So that first night, we headed to a restaurant down south a bit. It was called Big Peckers. Like CHICKEN, FOLKS. Chicken. But there are definitely restaurant owners in Ocean City with sick senses of humor, I’ll say that much. :)

They had a cool outdoor seating area with gliding chairs/tables and canopies on each one. The food was “typical” American restaurant grub—burgers, sandwiches, and the like. We took a chance and ordered only one kid’s meal for the girls to share here, which worked out because the portions (for both adults and children) were large.

Afterward, we felt the girls deserved a special treat after their stellar behavior on the car ride down so we stopped at Justine’s Ice Cream Parlour to get them a couple of kiddie dishes. We took them to go since it was getting late and we were anxious to get back to the CLEAN condo, get everything unpacked and get the girls to bed.

{Nora, happy to just FINALLY be at the beach!}

We woke up pretty early on Sunday morning, all of us. It was a nice, sunny day, and it was great to open up our curtains and see the ocean right from our place. Overall, we spent a ton of time out on our balcony and I’m so glad we had it!

A quick note about sleeping arrangements: The couch in the living room was a fold-out, so Nora slept on that every night. We were good about folding it back up every morning to turn it back into a couch so we had the living space back. Vivienne slept in a pack-in-play set up next to the fold-out. It worked out pretty well. Every night, we would put them to bed and go out on the balcony with a couple of beers and relax while they fell asleep. Eventually, we’d call it a night ourselves and sneak past them to go back to our room. We also had a TV back in our room and a half bath right off of the bedroom, so we didn’t have to “sacrifice” anything by having the girls sleep in the living room, really. We didn’t have any problems with disturbing them, either.

Anyhow, that first morning, we decided to get dressed and head out to grab breakfast somewhere. Fractured Prune donuts came highly recommended by multiple people, and there was a location very close to our condo, so we opted to check that out.

We decided to get a half dozen donuts to share, all different flavors—Banana Nut Bread, Blueberry Hill, French Toast, Strawberry Shortcake, OC Sand, and Rolo. They come out hot and fresh, and they were delicious. Big hit all around.

We went back “home” after that, relaxed a little bit, and got ready for our first outing to the beach.

I didn’t take our DSLR camera with us to the beach that day, as I was paranoid. You’ll see that as we progress through the trip recap, I got more brave the following days. :)

Up north, where we stayed (we were on 134th Street), it was far from the boardwalk and a bit more laidback. Now, if I’m comparing beaches, I would still say that this one was pretty busy compared to where we stayed last year in the Outer Banks, which was more remote (Rodanthe). Instead, I’d say Ocean City is more similar to Virginia Beach or Myrtle Beach. The nice thing was that where we were, it was almost all families. And what was really nice was that we met a family on that first day who we stuck with for the rest of the trip!

After we were there for a little while, we noticed two little girls who looked to be around Nora’s age. We ended up striking up a conversation with them and their parents. It turned out they were from Scotland, visiting family in Maryland (so they were in Ocean City with the girls’ grandparents and uncle as well). Their girls were 8 and 5, Lily and Ellie, and the girls played together—to some degree—on the beach every morning. It was so nice for all of us parents to have them help keep each other occupied and having fun.

Starting that first day, we established a bit of a routine—mornings spent at the beach until 12-1:00ish, then showers and lunch, then naptime for Vivienne while Michael, Nora and I relaxed. Then dinner and whatever else.

That first night, we headed wayyyyy south to the boardwalk. We parked around 15th Street and walked down the boardwalk to 1st Street, where we cut across the island to the bayside to eat at de Lazy Lizard. We were told that it is very family friendly, which we found to be true. It also has a really, really cool atmosphere overall.

When we arrived, they asked which side of “the beach” we wanted to sit on. We opted for “Kid Beach” because there was a playground over on that side. On the opposite side, mind you, there was a really kickass looking bar for grown-ups. Regardless, it was great. The tables were situated in the sand, there was a great view of the bay, palm trees, etc. We ordered drinks and our food and then Michael and I took our beers and the kids and we let them play on the playground while we waited for our food.

The food was actually pretty fast, and decent. We again opted to have the kids share a kid’s meal here—cheese quesadillas with a side of apple slices—and that didn’t work out as well here. The quesadilla was pretty small. Perfect for one kid, really, but oops… not for two. I had half a mind to ask the waitress to bring another one out, but we decided it was fine since we’d share some of our meals as well, and likely pick up some ice cream for them on the boardwalk on the walk back up to our car. You’ll see that a theme of our vacation was also DESSERT EVERY NIGHT. Haha! That’s what vacation is for, right??

The lighting was really nice so I snapped a bunch of pics of the kids at dinner…

Vivienne tried an Old Bay chip from Michael’s plate, and was NOT A FAN… LOL

We let the kids play on the playground for a bit longer after dinner, while Michael and I finished our beers. We both thought that this place would’ve been even more awesome if both kids were old enough to play on the playground by themselves. It was nicely fenced in so no real worry of kids escaping or getting lost anywhere, and had they been old enough, we could’ve sent them to the playground and enjoyed the quiet of our table together. A little “free babysitting” if you will. So, something to think about for those of you who have older kids—go here! Definitely!

We eventually loaded the kids back up in the double stroller and walked back toward the ocean side so we could hit the boardwalk again on our way back north to 15th (where we parked). We parked on a side street, by the way, for free. It was a little challenging to find a spot that night (a Sunday), but it worked out.

Along the way, we dropped into Icy Stone Creamery to get the girls ice cream cones. Nora chose peanut butter, and I ordered “cinnamon batter” for Vivienne. I helped get her cone under control before handing it over to her and IT WAS DELICIOUS. So good. Highly recommend.

By the time we got back to our condo, it was fairly late (for the kids, anyway, who normally go to bed at 7:30) so we did bedtime pretty much right away. All in all, a good first full day at the beach.

More to come!


Nora just finished up her speech therapy last week. She didn’t graduate out of the need for it, but given her age (preschooler), her therapy is through the school district and therefore is only provided during the school year. It’s kind of a bummer, but her speech pathologist said that she didn’t think it would be a big deal for her to take a break over the summer (as opposed to us paying out of pocket for private therapy sessions). The plan will be for her to start back up in the fall in kindergarten.

In the meantime, our focus has shifted to Vivienne.

Back at the beginning of May, I actually had a conversation with Nora’s speech therapist about Vivienne. I asked if I should consider getting her evaluated, talked to her about her lack of words. But Nora was in much the same position at the same age, and when we had her evaluated by early intervention, she did not qualify for services at that time. So I was less worried with Vivienne—figured late speech is just “normal” for our babies for whatever reason, and that she would catch up just as Nora did. Nora’s speech therapist was on the fence about it, but told me that it was probably fine to give her some more time.

Fast-forward a week, and Vivienne was being particularly challenging while Nora was receiving her speech services. Nora and her speech pathologist were in the living room and Vivienne and I were in the kitchen and playroom. She was repeatedly using her “most annoying sound in the world” to try to communicate with me and I was repeatedly guessing what it was that she wanted. Unbeknownst to me, the speech path was apparently listening because before she left that day, she said to me, “I couldn’t help but overhear; it’s clear Vivienne is very frustrated with her lack of ability to communicate. And you, too. You should probably call for that evaluation.”

A few weeks later, Vivienne was evaluated and I’ll admit that I was a little surprised when, at the end, they told me that she was found to have a severe delay and qualified for speech services. I mean, I was surprised but not surprised. Although I obviously suspected she may need help—that’s the reason we called to have her evaluated, after all—there was still part of me that assumed she was probably fine. That assumed it would turn out like Nora. So it felt kind of like a punch in the gut when they said it. I found myself holding back tears while they explained her deficiencies, and then actually cried a little once I was alone again and on my way back to work.

I know it’s not that big of a deal. But for some reason, it just felt really overwhelming, having Nora already in speech therapy and then getting the news that Vivienne needed it as well. For a brief period, I started questioning what it is that I did (or didn’t do) to cause these challenges for both of our girls.

Perhaps even more alarming was that the evaluators expressed concern over Vivienne’s hearing. During the evaluation, our mail lady came up on our porch and dropped a package by the door. I had the front door open, so it was only the storm door. I noticed, but didn’t think much of it at the time. We continued on with the evaluation. At the end, however, the evaluator pointed out these moments. She said that as the package was dropped off, everyone in the room (including Nora) lifted their heads to look to see what the noise was—except Vivienne. She had a few other examples of how Vivienne seemed to need visual cues instead of verbal ones during the evaluation. They suggested that we take Vivienne to an audiologist to get a hearing test done, and to also revisit the ENT about her recurrent ear infections/fluid in the ears.

Back before her speech even became a real concern, we went to the ENT in late March or early April to talk about Vivienne’s ear infections. She’d had them consecutively in January, February, and March, so our pediatrician recommended an ENT visit. At that appointment, the doctor’s suggestion was to wait it out. He said we were going into spring/summer, might as well see if she could make it through without tubes. But now, given the concern over her hearing, we needed to visit again.

So I made a dual appointment for her on June 9th. We saw the audiologist first for the hearing test, and then saw the ENT to discuss the results and have her (it was a different ENT this time) check out Vivienne’s ears. The hearing test went pretty smoothly, but afterward the audiologist told us that it appeared that Vivienne definitely had some hearing loss. She said that the results were indicative of an issue with the middle ear—which is the part affected when there is fluid in there, which is associated with ear infections. This was hard for me, too, finding out that our poor baby cannot hear as well as she should.

We saw the ENT and she checked Vivienne’s ears. We were surprised to learn that Vivienne was sporting an ear infection, but not surprised about the presence of fluid in both ears. Given that this was now yet ANOTHER ear infection—and in June, no less—and that the hearing test results were not awesome, the ENT recommended the insertion of tubes in Vivienne’s ears. At that point, it was a no-brainer for Michael and me as well.

After an excessive amount of stubborn ear infections, Nora had tubes put in at 17 months, and has never had another ear infection since. The progression and circumstances were kind of different between the two girls, but the end result was to be the same—tubes.

The ENT got us on her schedule for June 22 (fast! so nice), so last week, Michael and I woke up early and took Vivienne to the surgery center for the tubes. We had been through this before, so it was slightly less unnerving this time, simply because we knew what to expect. Just as it did with Nora, the procedure went really smoothly, and “recovery” was a piece of cake. When they called us back to see her in recovery, she was still sleeping soundly. Sweet muffin. She awoke after 10 minutes or so, she was a little fussy, but then she took her Cheerios and we were home by 9:00 a.m. A few hours later, I had both Nora and Vivienne out on a playground with my dad. It was like nothing had even happened to Vivienne… just like Nora had handled it as well.

Now, Viv will start her speech therapy tomorrow. I’m interested to see how it helps her, to see how she progresses in her speech/language development after both the tubes and the therapy. The pathologist who evaluated her told us of children she worked with who qualified for services, got ear tubes inserted, and then graduated out of the speech therapy after only a few months. I’m hoping for a similar result for our girl.

Vivienne is wicked smart and funny and sweet. I don’t often like to rush milestones. I believe in everything happening at their own paces. But I can’t wait to hear more of Vivi’s voice.

I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.