HEY! HEY! (For meeting new friends!)
I first met Nicole and her adorable little pouty faced babe, Eloise, at Cherry Creek Mall when I was freshly out and about after having Arlo. I remember it must have been October 2014, so almost a whole year now, WOW, and I had complimented Nicole on her daughter's adorable outfit after seeing them in the Cherry Creek Mall.
It was fashion that brought us together really! I remember Miss Eloise was wearing a black dress and leggings and adorable shiny black moccasins! So Nicole and I got into some "moc" talk and we were both headed to the children's section at H&M (so good for affordable kids' fashion) and we were talking baby fashion Instagram accounts and Etsy. Months later, I bumped into this same duo again, at Cherry Creek Mall again, this time outside Anthropologie, around the end of June! It was Eloise that stopped me mid-strolling again, I was sloppily pushing the stroller and trying to feed Arlo yogurt at the same time, and I spotted this little tot in an adorable, tribal printed pair of shorts. That was what drew me in for a compliment again, and then I recognized her mama, it was Nicole! "Oh, hey!"
We again started chatting and then found ourselves strolling into H&M again! We chatted more and shared our upcoming July 4th plans, but this time we made sure to exchange phone numbers. Being a momma and making new momma friends can sometimes bring you back to adolescence when you started a new school or club, or joined a new group. It can be a bit awkward and uncomfortable for some, but I don't mind putting myself out there. I do it a lot actually, and sometimes you text someone a couple times and never hear from them again. Other times, you feel like a pest and feel like you have invited someone to half a dozen get togethers or playdates and they've been "busy" every time or flaked out, so you just stop communicating with them. But other times, you just gel with someone and they are very like-minded and into the same things and have similar interests and parenting philosophies and styles and better yet, they have similar schedules! Napping schedules, whether or not a mom works, and age of the child all play into how well future play dates pan out, and so far, we're in similar boats with Remy and Eloise so it has been fun.
After the holiday, we took our road trip to California, but when we got back, we were sure to get Miss Eloise and Remy together for a play date. Our first play date was with Eloise and Remy at Steele Elementary at their playground. Husband was still home for the summer, so he watched Arlo, and I could focus and play with Remy. It was nice! Elosie and Remy got along really well and had a great time hopping across a bridge, playing in the wood chips, swinging on a tire swing, oh and thanks so much Nicole for bringing those bubbles! Nicole is one of those mommas who has her s*** together and is PREPARED for anything!
The day we met her at Steele Elementary, I was impressed by her ability to pack up a bike trailer for a day at the park with her tot. Eloise is a month younger than Remy so it's fun to exchange toddler stories! Little Miss Eloise loves to bring a bag along with her wherever she goes apparently. It's a bag of old cards, little toys, odds and ends, I guess, sometimes it's a toddler rolly suitcase like the day I caught her at the mall, very "convenient" for momma to shove under a stroller, and other times, Nicole says she's lucky when she just wants to take a clutch with her. Major credit to Nicole for lugging her stuff, PLUS the necessities, AND all of Eloise's crap, I mean "prized possessions!" Haha! I LOVE that Eloise is a little bag lady! It makes me smile!
The second meet up was supposed to be me and BOTH girls, but an odd early morning wake up call from Remy, 5:30 am, she wouldn't go back to sleep and ended up watching cartoons in our bed until she finally crashed around 7:30 or so, meant that she was OUT when it came time to wake up and get ready for our playdate. There was no way she was going to be her bright, go-getter self after that unusual, rough morning, so I left her to wake up with Baba and I took Arlo.
We met Nicole and Eloise at Beet Box Bakery in City Park West for a donut and coffee. Well, they got there on time, see what I mean, PREPARED, and here I stumbled in late, without the toddler, and these poor girls had to start without us in their donut adventures. I had been to Beet Box once before, with Remy when she was a baby, and their VEGAN donuts are SO GOOD guys! Incredibly MOIST! I LOVE their apple and their maple...So I had one there and got a couple for husband to try at home. I wouldn't recommend their coffee, but their pastries are really good.
Then we had discussed going to a splash pad or a playground before we met up and when we had discussed Beet Box, I mentioned City Park. Then Nicole, the awesome researcher that she is, found a splash pad behind the Museum of Nature and Science! SCORE! We drove on over, a few blocks East from Beet Box. Parking was a bear, so be prepared. Between the zoo crowd and the museum crowd, it can be tricky, so be patient. Once we met up at the pad and unpacked a blanket, I let Arlo crawl into the water to explore. Now, usually when I go to a splash pad, I have the swim diapers and swimsuits, sunscreen, and the whole bit, but this time, since I had never been here before, and the baby isn't really "running" around, I skipped the whole swim garb and let her just play in her casual clothes. Arlo is adventurous and liked the water, but sometimes she gets a little skid dish with it in her face, and these fountains really do shoot out pretty strong. SO, caution for the baby/early toddler set. I DID apply sunscreen and she will NOT keep a darn sun hat on! Any suggestions for one that they can't get off?!
Give Arlo a jelly shoe to gnaw on and she is HAPPY as a clam! She crawled around on the pad and a light breeze made a wonderful wet mist that cooled us off too! Eloise and a few other tots were a little intimidated at first with this particular water pad because the water shoots up randomly from the ground and makes a popping sound. You don't know when the water is going to come up, it's a fun surprise for the bigger kids. I am sure if you sat there and watched it long enough or timed it you could figure it out, but who does that, so it was a bit of a shock to the littles every time the water spouted out. This can be a little scary for a toddler, but once she had her momma introduce it to her, she warmed up to it. We only wished there were a few spouts of water on the outskirts of the pad that stayed on for filling water toys and splashing in, but it was fun anyway! Those views of downtown though! The VIEWS! If you look west you see the gorgeous Denver skyline and we had a perfect Denver day to see it nice and crisp, and then the background of the splash pad facing east is the stunning glass facade of the Museum of Nature and Science. It was nice to sit on a blanket and get some sun! I actually wore shorts! I HATE shorts, but I always say, dress for the event...calls for splash pad gear when you're a momma who might be called into action and get wet yourself too!
We had a great time even though it was Nicole with her toddler and me with my crawling companion. Since this play date, we got together with them once more, this time I had BOTH girls and we met them at the Museum of Nature and Science, one of Eloises' favorite places, and this was actually the first visit there for my girls and I hadn't been since I was on a field trip there goodness knows how long ago as a young girl! It was fun to visit the children's area on the second floor with all of the discovery zones, the water table, the gears, the digging, Remy was ALL over that place! It was a little busy juggling the baby who wants to crawl everywhere and Remy who is off like a shot, but the next time we plan to visit the rest of the museum and then maybe have Arlo in the stroller at that point. After the museum, we had a little fun in the sun on the splash pad again! This time I kept Arlo in the stroller, and out of the sun, it was SUPER hot this day, and I did the whole swimsuit change out with Remy. We didm;t have too much time to really enjoy it though because we had to be home that afternoon. Remy, who is usually SUPER outgoing and courageous with water, was surprisingly timid at this park too. I had to end up holding her and taking her in as well. Starting to think this is geared more towards older kiddos.
SO very happy I met these two ladies!!! Looking forward to many more play date adventures with our girls! Here's a little Q&A below with Nicole.
Meet Nicole and Eloise! Pictures after the interview...
NR: Nicole Robertson, 36, former Pharma Sales Rep and Stay-At-Home Mom, husband is Mark, + Eloise
HH: You are from Chicago, how has it been similar or different to your childhood, raising Elosie in Denver versus Chicago?
NR: In a lot of ways very similar in that I am a stay-at-home mom just as my mother was but also very different because we are so far from family. I grew up with my cousins as very close friends. We constantly had a large family parties or days spent with our cousins. I spent the night at my grandparents house often and never had a babysitter outside of family. I hate that E is missing out on that. I go to Chicago every couple of months and my family visits us here in Denver but it really isn't the same. I love being able to raise E here though, being able to go to outdoor parks throughout the year is incredible. You really can't beat our weather. I love having all seasons but Chicago winters are brutal.
HH: Feel free to share as much as you wish about Eloise's birth story and how you came to name her!
NR: My due date with E was June 9th 2013. At my last doctors appointment, on my due date, we set an induction plan. I really thought I would go into labor that week but I did not. The plan was to check in to Rose Hospital that Sunday June 16th to begin the process of forcing the stubborn babe out!
The Friday beforehand we still hadn't picked out a name. I was freaking out and my husband wasn't taking it too seriously (he wanted to call her Vegas - huh?) On that Friday night, I told him that we were not discussing a single other thing than a name. All we did was go out to eat, take a nap, repeat for two whole days and discuss baby names. Eloise was high on my list and he choose Harper for her middle name. We both wrote it down like a hundred times before completely deciding on it over dinner that Sunday night. We couldn't have procrastinated longer!
We checked into the hospital at 9pm on Sunday and E was born the following afternoon at 12:25pm. Overall, it wasn't the horrific experience that I was anticipating. Don't get me wrong, there were ugly moments of vomiting, terrifying ones due to a weakening heartbeat, fear of c-section, and my worst fear coming true: needing an assisted birth BUT in the end no big deal once she finally was put on my chest. Ok, now I'm tearing up. That moment was magical.
HH: Thanks for sharing that! HAHA! Vegas... oh boy! Very moving mama!
HH: Now that Eloise is two, what stage did you or do you love most and why. Talk a little bit about the highs of parenting so far, and a bit about the parenting struggles you have encountered- those moments you said, "Yup, guess I am a mom!"
NR: I think I could write a novel about this question alone. Motherhood took me by surprise in a lot of ways. I have 7 nieces and nephews but I was still clueless! As crazy as it sounds, I really have loved every age and think parenting just keeps getting better as she grows up. Yes, I have done my fair share of complaining at every stage but the joys completely overshadow those complaints any day. Even though she is getting into full-blown 2-year-old tantrums I love how her personality is emerging and seeing her learn so incredibly fast is mind blowing. I am so grateful that I get to spend my days at home with her to witness it all. She is so fun to be around and her excitement for even the smallest of things is contagious.
HH: We actually met in the mall, and started talking about baby fashion! You always dress Eloise in the BEST fashions! Where do you shop for her?
NR: I love baby fashion. It just brings me such happiness to get her dressed each day. I know my days are numbered and soon she will want Frozen t'shirts and to shop at Justice (arg) so I am enjoying these few years. I am completely addicted to IG shopping and finding cute boutiques for unique pieces.
HH: I know you find a lot of brands via Instagram and Etsy. What are some of your favorite lines/stores/brands and why?
NR: Where do I begin? The list is so long! I love so many small business shops on IG but they have to be practical. I come across some really cute pieces but if they don't fit into our active lifestyle I don't buy it. It's really disappointing to buy something expensive and she tears a hole in the knee the first day wearing it!
Here are some of my favorite small business shops not in any particular order...
Ultra Violet Kids- I love the design and functionality of her pieces. We bought two outfits this summer and they are so lightweight and perfect for our warm summer days.
Duchess and Lion Co.- I love her rompers and pants. Always such fun prints and fun to wear.
Kid+Kind- I adore the kid inspired designs of her t'shirts and she is just the sweetest woman.
Prefresh- this insanely cool brand always makes the most noticeably awesome t'shirts & sweatshirts. People always comment when E wears their stuff.
James Vincent Co.- the sweetest little rompers that so adorable and great for hot days.
Some bigger name shops...
Mini Rodini- Everything is organic cotton and so soft. Always fun prints that my kid loves to wear.
Bobo Choses- Guilty pleasure for sure, as its a bit pricey but swoon worthy boy & girl clothing. I buy a lot of this brand used on IG and am never disappointed.
Cleobella- She is a woman's designer that makes children's pants, bloomers and bibs. Hands down my favorite pants EVER.
Anthem of the Ants- Sweet, girly pieces that are unique and I usually can find on sale.
Baby GAP- Duh, right? Doesn't everyone love BG?!
HH: Ahhh... yes... these too are some of my favorite children's clothing brands! That's a great idea to shop the closet sales on Instagram! I'll need some of those accounts, if you'll share your secrets! ;) And Gap is definitely our friend over here!
HH: What is on your shopping wish list for her?
NR: This interview would turn into a novel if I rattled off her wish list, hahahaha! I guess high on my list right now is room decor. We moved when E was 9 months old and I never really completed her nursery at our new house so I would like to just start focusing on a big girl room for her. I would love a hand-made weave, floral wall paper, a typo shop light box, an ice cream lamp and a doll house for her.
HH: I am in that same mind set of the whole change up of the room from a nursery to a two year old room! We are contemplating bunking Arlo in there soon though, so I am in a weird waiting phase.
HH: Do you shop anywhere locally for her?
NR: I do! A friend of mine opened a small online boutique called Fig & Fawn and they have pop-up shops all over town. I ALWAYS find something to buy. Peek! is always a fun store to hit up in Park Meadows. I also love hitting up the local H&M and so does E, she goes crazy for the accessories!
HH: You had mentioned purchasing some things of hers secondhand, like her adorable Duchess & Lion romper the other day. Do you shop at consignment shops or are they closet sales on Instagram?
NR: I would love to get better at consignment shops but I am a diehard online shopper, it's just easier. I buy all my second hand stuff on IG closet sales. It's completely addicting.
HH: You are gearing up for a vacation, sans Eloise, to Vegas! Talk a little bit about how you will prepare/pack for her stay, time away from you. Any tidbits or tips on what to bring or what to leave behind? Any travel tips?
NR: Traveling without my kid is more stressful than bringing her! She's not exactly verbal yet and no else understands her grunts and mumbled words. I am usually uber prepared and make tons of lists: our daily routine, meals & snacks, what to do at home/ways to get out of the house, maps of the neighborhood, how to pack the stroller/car/bike. I also make dinners and freeze them for my parents & E. I'm bit crazy but my parents appreciate the ease of it and can totally focus on fun. This time is a bit different though as I am flying her to Chicago so she can spend a few days with them on their boat. I know she is going to have a blast and I love that! I will go there with her for a couple of days and get them reacquainted to her routine, do some meal prep, and help them decode her sometimes confusing language. My motto for travel is over prepare and you won't regret it, but that's just me.
HH: You recently went to Disney World with her back in May! Talk about that trip! What was the most memorable part of that trip?! What travel tips, tricks did you use or want to share? Anything you wished you had done differently?
NR: Oh Disney, where do I begin? The only reason we decided to take a 1yr old to Disney World was because my sister-in-law wanted to take her kids (5 & 7) and then my mother & father-in-law decided to go as well. We basically were just tagging along to all hang as a family. They chose to go over Memorial Day weekend, the busiest time of the year and it was 100 degrees everyday. We had a tour guide, which was great, but he geared it towards the big kids and we did quite a bit of sitting around which was a bummer. I wish I had done a bit of research and had alternate plans for the rides that we could not go on. I look forward to taking her back when we can plan more a kiddie trip. With that being said we did have a blast and loved being able to spend time with family. For me, the highlight was the resort. We stayed at the Four Seasons Orlando and it was magical. Everything you could ask for in a vacation spot: multiple pools, lazy river, splash pad, game room, playground, ice cream bar and activities center all beautifully executed.
HH: We have discussed what age we think might be good for the whole Disney thing, and it is definitely around the 5-7 year mark. Remy hasn't even seen a Disney movie yet. EEK!
HH: We both have exchanged toddler stories, and understand the "two year old" stage, share a little bit about you handle the meltdowns, or attitude or tantrums, of course if Miss Eloise has any!
NR: HA! If she has any? Funny! I am by no means an expert but I have found that taking her out of the situation and talking to her level with reason she usually calms down. If not, there is usually something else happening - she's hungry, tired or just needs a good cuddle. What I could use help with is the whining. I swear she will be playing by herself and if I get on the phone she immediately needs me and is pulling at my shirt whining 'MOMMY!' Someone please help me with that one!!!!
HH: What are your favorite things to do or places to take Eloise around town? Any special spots for you and her?
NR: We are constantly on the go. I hate being stuck inside all day and I am constantly on the search for fun things that are age appropriate. It's constantly changing as she gets older but we love hitting up new parks. Sometimes I will be out doing errands and if I see a cool park, we will stop. I keep sneakers in the car and am always ready for an extended day with snacks. I also have a cool app called 'Play Denver' that lists parks according to a map so that we can look one up on the fly. It doesn't list school parks which is a bummer but it list all of the public parks in Denver and the surrounding suburbs. I also love taking her to the museums and zoo. We have annual passes and we totally get our moneys worth. This summer has been so different now that she is not a baby anymore. I have been constantly on the search for fun things to and try to keep it interesting. She also loves to shop so that works out! We love to ride bikes and we spend most of our weekends riding all over Denver going to framers markets, festivals, and trying new restaurants. Wash Park and Cherry Creek are our go-to spots because they are both so close. We picnic in the park at least once a week and she knows the exact route to Cherry Creek and will sometimes lead me there on her own.
HH: Downloaded this app today! Thanks for sharing that!
HH: What are your favorite items to use with her? Gear? Products?
NR: There are soooooo many! One that you may not know about though is this thing I found on IG called the Latchy Catchy. You put it over the doorknob of the bedroom doors so you don't hear the click that they make when you open or close the door. For some reason, I feel like I could scream and it wouldn't wake her up but the click of the door would jolt her our of the deepest sleep. It has be a lifesaver in our household and I highly recommend them.
HH: Ummmm... looking up this thing-a-ma-bob tonight! Remy's door has a tendency to blow open if we leave her window open and husband swears there is a special way to close her door correctly...
HH: Any plans for a second baby? Anything you have learned from Eloise that you plan to do again, or NOT do again with baby number 2?
NR: Yes , we have been procrastinating on that! We thought we would try over spring/summer but we have been having too much fun and planning too many trips! Hopefully soon ;) I think I will be a lot more prepared this time around but it's so hard to say! Each child can be so different so I think you just have to see what works for everyone at the time. There is no wrong or right way, but I think I understand that better now that setting good habits early on is essential!
HH: We still have a few weeks of summer left. What is on your summer activity or to-do list with Eloise before fall hits?
NR: There is only one thing left on my summer bucket list, Cherry Creek Reservoir. I am so excited to go this week with you! I am already planning my fall list! Hikes, Octoberfest on Pearl St, Cherry Creek Dance Class, and a pre winter trip to the mountains are high on the list.