Meet the Sullivans: June 2016

June 29, 2016

DIY Backyard Dinosaur Island

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringTheTropicsHome #CollectiveBias

The days of summer are long and hot, my friends! We've been staying busy with camps, classes and what not, but every once in a while what we really need is a day at home to just BE. A day at home recharges us, lets us spend some extra time enjoying each other and might even allow me a little time to get some house work in... if I can occupy my little men for a few minutes!

One of Owen's favorite things to do in the backyard is play in the dirt, so I made him this adorable and inviting Dinosaur Island to play with. I like to think of it as a fairy garden for kids who love dinosaurs!

It's quite messy, but with the stain fighting power of all® Fresh Tropical Mist™ I knew it wouldn't be too tough to handle! The scent of which is actually what inspired me to bring the tropics to our very own backyard with this Dino Island! 


To get started making your own Dinosaur Island you'll need:

Supplies
a planter or container
enough dirt or sand to fill it
small dinosaurs
rocks
small trees / plants


I was able to pull most of these items out of Owen's supply of toy dinosaurs. The palm trees came in a set of dinosaurs, but I also think that planting succulents in the pot would not only serve the same purpose, but it would also be really pretty!

To get started I filled the pot with soil I purchased at the garden store, and then arranged a little pool for the dinosaurs using an old baby food bowl. I arranged the dinosaurs for Owen and the invited him out to see it! He was so excited and blown away by his very own Dinosaur Island!



He played with it non stop for about 45 minutes the first time -- which allowed me a little time to play with Luke and clean out our sand toys -- and has continued to request some time out in the backyard to play with it. I love that it keeps him occupied and lets him have fun and get a little messy!



Or should I say A LOT messy? Yikes! That t-shirt used to be bright white!


Luckily, when all was said and done I was able to make his white t-shirt bright white again thanks to the all® Fresh Tropical Mist™ I had picked up at Safeway the day before! What I love about all® Fresh Tropical Mist™ is that not only does it smell absolutely amazing, it also contains in-wash pre-treaters for great stain removal, which is definitely what we needed with all of that dirt.

And personally, I love that it enables me to bring the freshness of the tropics home with the trusted cleaning power of all®. Fresh Tropical Mist is the newest scent from all®, and the light, fresh and floral scent made me feel like I was on a tropical island and not in our hot garage doing laundry!

To find NEW all® Fresh Tropical Mist™ in store near you, visit all®'s website and click Where to Buy! And if you'd like to bring the freshness of the tropics to your home click here for a coupon to use with your purchase!

June 28, 2016

Out & About with JJ COLE

We received product samples from JJ Cole in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

The thing our family likes most about summer is how often we are able to be out and about! Since the weather is pretty mild here in the bay area it's easy to enjoy almost any activity year round, but there is just something more enjoyable about spending a warm summer day outside!




One of our favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is visit the farmer's market located near our house. We like to stroll around visiting all the vendors, checking out the produce and fun things they're selling, and usually pick up something for lunch along the way. I've been using my JJ Cole Citrine Lattice Freeman bag to hold all the produce along the way. The diaper bag comes with these cute little grip attachments to hand the bag on your stroller, and makes visiting the Farmer's Market with two little ones so much easier!



Owen's favorite part of the farmer's market has always been sampling the fruits and vegetables they're handing out -- and I credit this with introducing him to a few new favorites every once in a while. Her recently tried blueberries again and has decided they're on his list of faves once again -- score one for mom!


By the end of the third aisle we set up our picnic on the lawn with all of the food we've bought and let the kids play around on the lawn. I think this is Owen's favorite part since he like to play with all the sticks and pine cones, and roll down the hill.



I am absolutely in love with my JJ Cole Outdoor Mat! In my opinion it is the BEST picnic blanket there is. The outer fabric is durable and water-resistant, and I like that it doesn't get tangled up around kid's feet when they come traipsing through for their lunch. And if those sweet little kiddos get a little messy drinking the drippy, juicy fruit we've picked up at the market the blanket just wipes clean!

This blanket is amazing, my friends. Everyone needs one in my opinion!



It's also incredibly easy to fold and up and carry. It's stitched so that you couldn't possibly fold it incorrectly (so that means it's husband proof too!), and the whole thing velcros together and has a nice little handle to make carrying easy.

The blanket and diaper bag are available for purchase on Amazon.com!

What is your family's favorite way to get out and about in the summer?

June 24, 2016

FRIDAY FAVORITES!

This has been a seriously long week, my friends, and I'm so thankful it is Friday! Anyway, here are a few scenes from the week...

Owen has had bike camp all week in Palo Alto, which in traffic requires a 40 minute commute door to door. I took Luke with me the first day, and then my amazing, wonderful mom stepped in and offered to babysit him for me in the mornings all week long! What a huge help and relief it has been to not have to drag both kids out the door and to Palo Alto at 8:30 in the morning all week. And the added bonus is that I've been able to get some extra time to myself to study, handle some preschool business and get my life in order. Thank the Lord for grandmothers!


Like I said, Bike Camp! Owen has been in Avid 4 Adventure's Learn to Bike Camp for preschoolers this week. He has been exhausted everyday when I picked him up and fell asleep on the journey home most days. The camp requires them to ride without training wheels, which is a really fun adventure for Owen. And guess what?! When I picked him up yesterday he was riding his bike and pedaling WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS! It is so amazing, and we're really proud of him. You guys, I am beyond thrilled! I, of course, will be blogging all about his experience very soon!

Avid has day and overnight camps in California and Colorado if you're interested in checking them out!

Luke has had a big week too! He started babbling a whole lot more this week and has started with a lot of "dadadadada"! I love hearing him "talk" and use his little voice more. AND he slept last night from 11:30pm to 6am this morning, which is huge for us, since he's usually up every 2-3 hours a night. Maybe this is the start of something?

Dinner has been a struggle this week since I'm out for most of the first part of the day with Owen, and when I get home I just want to hang with Luke. It's really hard tying to cram in all of the things I usually get done in a day into half the time.

Anyway, I made Stuffed Red Peppers this week and subbed Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower for the brown rice, and I swear you cannot tell the difference. Go grab yourself some cauliflower and give it a try -- you'll thank me.

If you live in the Bay Area near a Five Little Monkeys Toy Store make sure you check out their $5 Summer Activity classes! I signed Owen up for a few of this summer, and our first class was this week. He got to make a cute little stepping stone with his hand print in it. For $5 I didn't have to do any of the set up or clean up, and it was a fun little activity for us to do with some friends. Some of the other activities include: dinosaur excavation, paint a bird feeder, science lab, and paint a plate.

Owen finished his first session of swim lessons this summer and got a great report card! He's working his way to being independent in the water, and what a relief it will be when he is. I worry all the time that he wouldn't be able to swim if he fell in a pool, so I'm happy to see him making some progress. He's reaching all kinds of milestones this summer!

My friend Kristy shared this on her Facebook page earlier this week and I laughed out loud when I saw it! Owen's room was all decorated and peaceful when he was a little baby, and he still has a whole room to himself, while poor Luke's room is the nursery / guest room / Keith's closet. Poor 2nd child!

That's all for now! Have a lovely weekend, my friends! 

You can see where I'm linking up HERE!
 

June 23, 2016

Father's Day Weekend

I hope you all had a lovely Father's Day celebrating with the great dads in your life, whether they're yours or your children's! Here's a little recap of how Father's Day weekend went down in our family this year...


Our Father's Day celebration started on Saturday morning with Mickey Mouse pumpkin waffles and a family trip to the gym. Keith loves dragging us all to the gym bright and early on Saturday mornings, so this weekend we obliged with no complaint. He plays basketball and I workout, and we all leave happy, yet pretty tired! Owen is getting good at dribbling the basketball. I think Keith's dream is that both boys will someday love the sport as much as he does.

Keith took the boys to watch their cousin's softball game while I went to Old Navy for their big sale -- I bought some things for the boys, and these and this for myself! -- and to Trader Joe's for groceries. 


Sunday morning I offered to let Keith sleep in, but being the sweet husband he is, he told me to sleep in while he got up with Owen. I didn't take him up on the offer and decided to cook breakfast instead. I had put a few Trader Joe's chocolate croissants out to rise over night, so we had those, eggs, fruit and chicken breakfast sausage.

Owen was really excited to give Keith the card he picked out for him at Target -- a Marvel super hero Black Panther card --  and to have him open the gift he made for him at school, which was a little clay dinosaur painted gold and a sweet card. It never matters what's inside the gift, because the real treat is getting to see how proud Owen is of himself and how much he adores giving a gift.



We went to church, the park and then Costco -- pretty much our regular Sunday together, and then got ready for the the NBA Finals. We BBQ'd a whole chicken for the first time and it turned out amazing. I'll definitely be trying that again soon!


We also let our butterflies go on Sunday! Owen was pretty sad to see them go and really really really waned one to land on him. A couple of the younger ones (I'm assuming) stayed a day more and were set free on Monday instead. 

Every year on Father's Day I miss my dad, but this year, for some reason I really felt his absence. Maybe it was because I now have not just one, but two little boys he never got to meet. I say it all the time, he would have LOVED being a grandpa. He was surrounded by women in our family and I think he would have been beyond thrilled to have my two little guys and Keith too to hang with. Don't get me wrong, he loved his girls, but I know he would have enjoyed getting to teach Owen and Luke everything he knew about sports and stat keeping. He was a numbers guy.

I guess this Father's Day was also a bit different because it was also the same day of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and his favorite team, the Golden State Warriors were in it for the second year in a row. The Warriors were never this good when my dad was around and even though they lost I know it would have been BIG for him to get to see them play in the Finals again, and to get to watch it with us.

Anyway, we had a nice weekend, even though it was much like every other weekend for us!

June 17, 2016

Friday Favorites: All About Daddy!

In honor of Fathers Day this weekend I thought it would be fun to interview Owen about his favorite guy, and sometimes favorite parent, his super awesome daddy and my handsome husband, Keith!

Now, first I want to tell you a little bit about who Keith is as a dad. He doesn't get a lot of time in the spotlight here, and that's just the way he likes it. He's fun, and kind, and always makes extra time for his kids. He sacrifices time to himself to be with his family, and always puts us first. He's a bit of kid himself, so he's really good at getting down on the floor and playing Star Wars, Super Heroes or Transformers, but he really just does it because he loves his boys so much.


I posed a few questions to Owen about his daddy, and these were his answers!

How old is daddy? He's ummmm, 3! 3?

What is daddy's favorite food to eat? Vegetables!

What is your favorite thing to do with daddy? Play Jurassic Park!
 
What does daddy do at work? He helps people feel better.

What color is daddy's hair? Black.

What color are daddy's eyes? Black. 
 
What do you think is daddy's favorite thing to do? Play toys with me!

Finish this sentence... I love my daddy because... he plays Legos with me!

Can you tell from Owen's answers what's on his mind / most important to him? PLAYTIME! He's so fortunate to have a daddy who loves to spend time playing all his favorite things with him! Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful fathers out there, espcially you Keith!

You can see where I'm linking up HERE!

June 14, 2016

TRADER JOE'S FAVORITES

You guys, you know how much I love to shop and how much I love finding new food products to make my life easier (read: quick, easy and loved by my family), right? Well, since I've been shopping at Trader Joe's for many, many years, I thought it is finally time to share some of my favorites.

The thing I love most about Trader Joe's is that they are always changing up their inventory. There are seasonal items, like all the pumpkin amazingness in the Fall, and then there are the tried and true items that they pretty much keep stocked year-round. Let me share with you some of our favorites, most of which I picked up this weekend while stocking up... And if any of this piques your interest I'll share some more favorites again sometime!

First up, the Trader Joe's Diced Onions. I know, you're probably wondering what's so amazing about these chopped onions, and the truth is that they are just onions, but they make my life SO much easier, which makes them AMAZING! I buy a few bags at a time and keep them in the freezer. I break them up and throw them into whatever recipe, and you would honestly be none the wiser that I had just used frozen onions in a recipe.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, or following me on Snapchat (username: colleenpsulliv), then you know that I love these little Dorot Crushed Garlic and Chopped Basil cubes. I keep them in the freezer and use them in all sort of things. I put the crushed garlic in almost any recipe that calls for garlic, and the basil is great in pasta sauces and soups!

This Reduced Guilt Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip is one of my favorites to buy for parties and to just have around for snacks. I love to make spinach dip from scratch, but this is a close second, and quite a bit healthier! 

I am in love with these Shrimp Spring Rolls! They're great to pick up when you need something healthy and satisfying on the go, and I'm not going to lie... I really just buy them as an excuse to have the peanut sauce!

We're big fans of the Ballast Point Sculpin, so we tried the Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado, and it is my new favorite beer. It's a double IPA, so it's pretty heavy, and you've really got to sip it. It definitely has a great watermelon flavor at the end too. Highly recommend! 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix can be found in our pantry year round -- it's that good! It's actually not currently available, but I stock up when it's on shelves so that we can make pumpkin Mickey Mouse waffles all year long. I even think it's better than the Williams-Sonoma mix. Make sure you pick some up next time you see some!

So there you have it, a short list of just a few of my favorites. I think I'll be back with a handful more sometime in the coming months!

Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? What are some of your favorite items?

June 10, 2016

Friday Favorites

The first week of summer vacation is behind us, and we're all surviving, maybe even thriving!

We've spent many a mornings this week hanging out at home and letting Luke nap in his crib, which is a real luxury because all school year he took most of his naps on-the-go. Owen started summer swim lessons this week, and Luke got his first dip in the pool!

Here are some pictures from the week!

Luke was my little model over the weekend, and got his first little dip in the pool! He loved splashing and grabbing at the water. He became a little frustrated at the end because I think he really wanted to be able to hold the water in his hands. If you're wondering, that's my pretty sister Kath holding him.

Can I get an AMEN for summer and all the outdoor fun it provides! It seems like each weekend there is some kind of outdoor concert, fair, festival or event happening and I just love it! We went to a fair last weekend with our friends, and Owen had a BLAST going on the rides, playing games, eating hot dogs and running around with his "best buddy" (his own words!).

I tried to get in a picture with my two little guys, but now one was cooperating -- I tried!

I tried Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer recently, and I'm not being dramatic when I say it was life changing. For years and years I've been frustrated with how my make up fades over the day. I start the day with a full face of make-up and end the day looking like I didn't even try. Well I finally tried a face primer and it has solved my problem completely -- why didn't I do that sooner?

I love the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, but it's too pricey for me to use everyday, so after a few people recommended the E.L.F. brand I picked that up and it's definitely doing a good job for everyday make-up. 
Yesterday was Keith's birthday! We celebrated at home with dinner and dessert and gifts. He requested one of his favorites, Chicken and Brie Sandwiches with Roast Cherry Tomatoes, for dinner, and Owen and I make ice cream sandwiches for dessert. We'll do more celebrating this weekend!

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

You can see where I'm linking up HERE!

June 7, 2016

Luke is 6 Months!

Oh, sweet little Luke, I can't even believe we're already halfway through your first year of life! You're the sweetest little guy and seem to always be so happy. We're at a really fun and exciting stage of life right now where you're learning new things all the time, and you're generally just HAPPY!


Stats: You weigh at least 17lbs 2 oz, because that's what you weighed a few weeks ago when we went to the doctor, but I'll know your exact weight next week at your 6 month visit. You are wearing 6-12 month clothes and size 3 diapers.
 
Eating: You love solid food! I've kind of strayed from what the books say and have been following my instincts and your cues as far as what and how much to give you. You've tried all sort of purees including apples, avocados (your first food), pears, sweet potatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, bananas and a few kind of "meat" baby foods from a jar. Your favorite so far seems to be anything mixed with breast milk.

Speaking of breast milk... you're still doing a great job nursing! I don't follow a schedule or look at the clock for when to feed you, and just feed you when you seem hungry or in need of comfort. We've tried giving you formula a couple times so I can go to a meeting, etc., but you refuse it.

Sleep: You've started successfully rolling onto your tummy in your sleep and manage to stay asleep that way every once in a while. You're up most about every 2 hours these days and nap 3-4 times a day. Most of your naps happen in the car seat, because we're out and about with Owen a lot, but you sleep your best in your crib. I still rock you to sleep and you prefer to be snuggling your face into my arms as you drift off. You hate being held in the cradle position otherwise.

Health: We had our (yours and mine!) first experience with pink eye this month. I think you must have gotten it at the gym child care. You were a brave little guy and it didn't seem to bother you. You recovered quickly and took the drops like a champ. Owen never got it from you.

Development: You've reached some fun milestones recently!

You're now able to sit up pretty well on your own, although I don't leave you sitting unless I'm within arms reach because I'm afraid you'll face plant. You're also able to get up on your elbows and knees for brief moments. I'm worried crawling isn't far off.

You like to play with the stacking blocks and hold them in your hands to marvel at them. You are so fun to watch!

You're voicing your opinions more now with a lot of gusto. You grunt fiercely at your dad and I to communicate, and you've been getting angry when I have to move you away from something you're interested in.

You're great at grabbing at what you want and pulling it right into your mouth. Stacking blocks and cups are your favorite new toy!

Likes: Still loving being naked! When you're really cranky and nothing else is working we just strip you down for an instant smile! You love pears and applesauce, your family, being sung to, light reflecting on leaves, looking in the mirror and standing assisted. Being looked directly in the eyes!

Dislikes: Being on your back, having toys taken from you, waiting to be picked up.



We took you to the beach for the first time this month and you seemed to enjoy the wind and all the people there! You didn't manage to get too sandy!

Lukey you're such a blessing to our family. I wanted you so bad for so long, and unlike most things in life you are WAY better than I could have ever imagined!

June 6, 2016

Pool and Beach Hacks for Babies, Kids and Families!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #‎WaterThemDailyCB‬ #CollectiveBias

Summer is upon us, which means there will be pool and beach days aplenty in the weeks ahead! Bringing a baby and a preschooler to the beach requires quite a bit of planning and strategizing, so I've been busy gathering the best Pool and Beach Hacks for Babies, Kids and Families to share with you because they've made a world of difference during our trips.


-Freeze foil drink pouches in the freezer, and bring them along in your cooler. Once they begin to thaw a bit you'll be able to crush them up a bit before cutting off the top, inside there will be a treat similar to a shaved ice!

-Pack baby powder, and at the end of the day, when the kids (and you!) are covered in sand, rub some powder on the sandy spots and it will be a cinch to get clean!

-Use a fitted sheet, turned upside down, as a beach blanket. Use beach bags to prop up the sides to help keep sand out!

-Avoid mixing up your beach toys with other beach-goers by labeling them with matching stickers, personalized name stickers or even just initials written in permanent marker. This way there will be no confusion over who that red shovel belongs to at the end of a long day at the beach!

-Bring along a dollar-store inflatable kiddie pool for your crawling little ones to play in. They'll be free to move around and are less likely to get a handful of sand in their mouths.

-Freeze your plastic water bottles to double as ice for your cooler and cold drinks for your family!

-Always pack a wet bag or two. You can find ones made of fabric with zippers, or it can be as simple as a resealable gallon bag. Whatever you chose you'll be happy you have a way to keep the wet, sandy and dirty swim clothes away from the rest of your things.

-Use a mesh laundry bag to carry your sand toys in. Kids can see everything they have, and the sand sifts itself out, so you don't carry any home with you.

-This isn't exactly a "hack", but our family recently purchased a beach tent, also known as a "quick shelter", to use at the beach. It is light, pops up easily, and comes down easily, but most importantly, it gives our group shelter from the sun and wind when we spend the day at the beach.

-Pack a few pairs of disposable swimpants! We love Huggies Little Swimmers for their unique absorbent material that doesn't swell in the water, extra-protection against leaks, and stretchy sides that keep Lukey comfortable in and out of the water. 

The BEST Pool and Beach Hacks for Babies, Kids and Families!
I love that we can change Luke after each dip in the pool knowing that he can stay dry while he naps and then go back in the water for more fun. I'm amazed by how little pool water these swimpants absorbed from the pool!

The BEST Pool and Beach Hacks for Babies, Kids and Families!
And who can deny how adorable the designs on these diapers are! Each pair features the characters from the Finding Dory movie! The movie hits theaters in about a week and we can't wait to take Owen to see it!

The BEST Pool and Beach Hacks for Babies, Kids and Families!
For worry-free water fun in the sun, look for Huggies LittleSwimmers with new Finding Dory characters at a retailer near you, and follow this link to download a coupon for $1.50 off your first pack of Huggies Little Swimmers – for a limited time – and find other Huggies offers.

The BEST Pool and Beach Hacks for Babies, Kids and Families!
What are your favorite beach or pool hacks? Share them with me in the comments below! 

June 3, 2016

Save Money with Groupon Coupons!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own!

You guys, I have a confession to make... I am a shopaholic. Yes, I love shopping, and I'm sure my husband would agree, I will shop almost anywhere. Gas station, museum gift shop, fruit stand along the highway, on the iPad while I cook dinner -- you name it, I shop it. But, since becoming a stay-at-home mom I've had to reign in my spending and watch our pennies a little closer. I try my best to stick to our budget, but still love to shop, so I also try my best to always find great deals. Not only does it feel good to save on the necessities, but it also allows us a little wiggle room to do and buy the extra things we enjoy!


I've been using Groupon for YEARS to find deals on spa services, restaurants and concerts, and I just recently learned about Groupon Coupons! Hundreds and hundreds of coupons are available from so many of our favorite retailers (Carter's, Tea Collection and Macy's to name a few!), and all it takes is a few clicks to access them.

I needed to make a Target run earlier this week, and let's be honest here, I am there weekly, so it is truly helpful to find new ways to save there!

To learn more, and start saving, check out them out on Facebook and Twitter!

June 2, 2016

RECIPE: Rocky Road Fudge

If you're looking for a really easy to make dessert that is also a huge crowd pleaser, then this Rocky Road Fudge is your recipe!

I made this to bring over to my sister-in-law's house for Mother's Day, and it was so easy to make. It is a great dessert to bring to a potluck. I was a little unsure at first since it looked lumpy before it cooled, but once it was solid and cut into square it looked fantastic! I used walnuts instead of peanuts, because that's what our family likes, although peanuts might be a fun change too. One batch was plenty for our big group since this combo turns out to be really rich and satisfying!


INGREDIENTS
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup butter
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups dry-roasted peanuts walnuts
1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows

DIRECTIONS
1. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with wax paper.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate and butter until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth. Stir in condensed milk. Combine peanuts walnuts and marshmallows; stir into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared pan and chill until firm (about 2 hours+). Cut into squares.


This is my new go to dessert to bring over to a friend or family's house to share. What is your favorite dessert to bring over?

Enjoy!