Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cleveland Aquarium Ticket Giveaway

Good morning friends!  As promised, I am giving away 4 tickets to the awesome Cleveland Aquarium.  Here is what you need to do to enter:

1. (mandatory to enter) Leave a Comment telling me why you would like to visit the Cleveland Aquarium.

You can earn additional entries by doing the following:
2. Follow Karen At Home on Twitter.

3. Tweet the Following (copy and paste):Cleveland Aquarium #Giveaway via @Karen_At_Home! Enter to win a free tickets!

4. Like Karen At Home on Facebook.

For each entry, leave a separate comment and don't forget to leave your email address! This Giveaway ends Thursday, July 5th at 11pm EST. A winner will be drawn by and posted on Monday, July 9th (open to US Residents Only).
Good luck!!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Day At The Cleveland Aquarium

A few weeks ago my family and I were invited to a Cleveland blogger breakfast and tour of the new Cleveland Aquarium. To say we were excited was an understatement! I have been wanting to take Jillian to the new aquarium ever since it open in January 2012.   Jillian is at the perfect age where she loves all types of animals and fish. We have a large creek that runs through our neighborhood and Jillian is always asking Daddy to take her to see the "fishies, froggys and turtles."

The new Cleveland Aquarium is located along the West Bank of the Flats in downtown Cleveland inside the old Powerhouse building. This 19th century historic building is the perfect site for the aquarium. The exposed red brick walls and loft style structure really create a unique, urban environment while observing the 5,000 freshwater and saltwater fish.

The blogger breakfast was held in the Nautica Cafe which actually holds a sentimental memory for Jeff and I. This room used to be the old Rock Bottom Brewery Party Room where Jeff and I had our rehearsal dinner seven years ago. Having breakfast in the same room made our day even more special! While we ate breakfast, the staff gave a brief presentation on how the Aquarium came to Cleveland. One of the staff members showed off a baby Cayman which Jillian absolutely loved. She was dying to pet it but that just wasn't an option for obvious reasons!

After breakfast, the bloggers were able to tour the Aquarium before it opened to the public which was such a treat!  We had the run of the place and I mean literally!  Jillian would run from one tank to the next bursting with excitement.

The first leg of the tour brought us to all of the fresh water tanks filled with the different fish and aquatic creatures of Lake Erie and other Ohio lakes and rivers.  The next exibit featured live Alligators and Caymans!  Yikes!!!  Can you spot the Alligator in this picture?

Jillian's favorite exhibits were the Shark Tank and the Touch Pool.  We all got to pet the stingrays which was so cool!  

Did you know if you lightly smack the water with the palm of your hand they will swim to the surface and smack at your hand with their fin? That was pretty amazing!

Jillian had such a great time, it made me so happy to see her running back and forth from one fish tank to the next with so much excitement in her little voice. She kept screaming and pointing to every shark she saw and kept saying "another shark fish, another shark fish!". 

Even Nicholas loved hanging out in the Bjourn looking at all the beautiful fish.

We lucked out and happened to tour the Cleveland Aquarium on "Ocean World Day."  In honor of this special day, the aquarium held several fun events and activities for the kids such as coloring, face painting, and baby pool fishing.  Jillian had a great time coloring a picture of her "fishy".

A big thank you to the Cleveland Aquarium for such a fun filled day! It was the perfect outing for my young family. I know we will be back soon to hang out with the "shark fish" again!

Come back tomorrow when I will be hosting a giveaway for free tickets to the Cleveland Aquarium!

Disclaimer: We were guests at the Cleveland Aquarium for a blogger breakfast and tour. They gave us free admission, breakfast, tickets for a giveaway and a goody bag. No other compensation was received.  All opinions are 100% my own.
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Skinny Poolside Dip

I am a huge snacker, but who isn't, right? I would much rather eat dips and appetizers instead of a big meal.  I am also trying to lose the baby weight so eating fatty dips and weight loss don't exactly go hand in hand!  I feel that even though you are trying to eat healthy and lose weight, you still have to stay true to yourself and what you like or your efforts are going to fail miserably.  I decided to whip up a refreshingly yummy dip perfect for the Summer which is extremely tasty and very low in fat. 

{What You Need}
8 oz block of low fat cream cheese.  Softened.
1 can of yellow corn.  Drained.
1 Red Pepper.  Chopped.
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese.
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning.

{How You Make It}
Mix cream cheese, shredded cheddar, red pepper, corn and ranch seasoning in a bowl.
Mix thoroughly and serve with Reduced Fat Triscuits.

Enjoy poolside!!

Participating in these Parties!
Live Laugh Rowe -Live Laugh Linky
Here Comes the Sun - Fabulous Friday
36th Avenue - Party Time!
Tater Tots and Jello - Weekend Wrap Up Party
Six Sister Stuff - Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Too Much Time on My Hands - Get Schooled Saturday
I Heart Naptime - Sundae Scoop
Crafty Texas Girls - Cowgirl Up

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Blog Design and an Update

Hello friends! I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your Summer! I am hanging in there and slowly starting to see glimpses of an easier life on the horizon. Nicholas is starting to sleep longer at night, wants to be held less during the day, and is starting to nap in his crib.

The evening fussy time, although his was never that consistent, is finally over for good. We are no longer lapping the first floor of our house 500 times a night trying to soothe a fussy baby.

I am sad that my little guy is growing up although it's exciting to see him change and experience new things. He is so smiley and happy most of the time lately. I am very blessed to have such a good baby! Jillian is finally adjusting to her new life too with another baby in the house. She loves to hug and kiss her brother every chance she can get and always wants to know where the baby is. I finally feel like I can leave the room to change a load of laundry or grab something upstairs without having to worry about Jillian conking heads with her little brother.

With the weather finally warming up, I have been trying to venture out of the house with the two little ones on my own. Yesterday I decided to see how the Splash park would go. It honestly went surprisingly well, the only issue I had was that they both fell asleep on our way there. Since Jillian had refused to nap for me earlier, I drove around the city for an hour while they both slept.

My drive was actually quite therapeutic! I was able to listen to the radio without interruption and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon drive as if I were by myself. We live within minutes of Lake Erie so I drove up and down the lake front while they napped.

Once Jillian woke up, we headed over to the Splash park for some fun before Daddy got home.

I am slowly adjusting to life as a Stay At Home Mom. It has honestly been a harder adjustment than I ever imagined and still trying to get used to my new life. I haven't forgotten about your questions and will get to them hopefully soon. Many of you asked about adjusting to life as a Stay At Home Mom so I will share with you in more detail how it's going in my upcoming Q&A post.

I took the kids to the office last week to visit Jeff and to turn in my badge and laptop. It was wonderful to see my old co-workers and show off my babies. A very bittersweet day for me, I am officially no longer employed!! I would have went back to work this past Friday if I had decided to return to work. It still feels so surreal to me and the finality of it hasn't officially hit me just yet.

The stars aligned this afternoon so I decided to give the ole blog a Summer make over. I love the orange and teal color combo this season and decided to go with the same color scheme on the blog. This was actually my first blog make over using PicMonkey and I have to say I am in love!! You all know how upset I was with Picnik going away, however, dare I say PicMonkey might be even better than Picnik??? Is that even possible? I love all their different fonts and their collage feature is finally up and running. PicMonkey is also keeping up with all the social media trends by offering a collage feature exclusively for your Facebook timeline.
Wow, it feels so good to actually to publish a blog post!! Hopefully this is a sign of more to come.
Hope you are all having a good week!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Professional Pictures of my Sweet Family

Two weeks after Nicholas was born, we had a professional photographer come to the house to take a few pictures of our new family of four.  I was completely unprepared for picture day. A complete Mommy fail if you will.  I had nothing picked out for any of us to wear, no props, nothing!! I was so frazzled getting ready that morning. I am usually a little more organized, but having a new baby will make you a little crazy and not able to think clearly! I really wish I would have put more thought into picture day before I had the baby but still managed to pull everything together at the last minute.  I even found something to wear that wasn't maternity!!

Our photographer showed up just as I was finishing my hair and make up. I can only imagine what she thought of my appearance when I came to the door, hair all a hot mess with one half clipped up and the other half straightened.  I am sure that would have made for some interesting pictures! Fortunately for me, she is a Mom herself and knows what it's like to get a family of four ready for pictures after a night of little sleep. I can't say enough how wonderful our photographer, Faith Koscho, was. She had so much patience! My neighbor Courtney and I call her the "Baby Whisperer". She is just so good with newborns and stubborn toddlers. If you live in the Cleveland or Lake County area, I highly recommend her!

Faith came prepared with tons of photo props and backgrounds for us to use. She brought with her a space heater to keep the naked baby warm, and even used a white noise app on her iPhone to keep the baby calm. She was the perfect photographer for my "frazzled mom of a newborn and a toddler" self.
I couldn't have been more happy with how the pictures turned out. I have to admit, I was really worried after such a long day that we never took a decent family photo. We saved that photo opportunity until the end of the session and Jillian just wasn't having it by then. She was over getting her picture taken and wanted no part of it.

I was shocked when Faith sent us the proofs that it included one good photo of the four of us. See how my arm is pinned behind me? Jillian refused to put down my iPhone for the picture so I grabbed the phone right out of her hand at the last minute and it apparently it worked! Not the most natural pose of myself but a Mommy's gotta do what a Mommy's gotta do!!

I am so in love with these pictures!!!  They were certainly worth all of the stress and chaos of photographing a newborn and a toddler!!

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