I wait all year for October…


I’m not sure why October is my favorite month. I love the feel of it. Everything feels a little “different”. Living in South Florida there isn’t that much of a change. It’s still mostly sticky. Uggg. Don’t even get me started on how I would love to wear layers. You’ve heard of a bikini body??? I have a layers body. A mighty fine one at that.

One of the main reasons I want to move north is to be able to experience a legit fall. Trees, hay rides, hot apple cider. I fake my way through fall in South Florida. All you have to do is crank the AC down and pull out cozy pj’s. I make the best out of my regional situation.

I have this problem…where as soon as Halloween decorations come out in the stores…I put them up at home. Yes, before October… I would keep them up year round…but even I know that is questionable.

The first gift Billiam ever gave to me when we were dating was this guy. Yes, a pirate skeleton. Romantic right? Every year we dig him out of the Halloween decorations, Billiam likes to remind me what a lucky lady I am.


Over the years…I have fallen in love with Dept. 56 Halloween Village Decorations. That love affair ended quickly when Hucklebaby was born. So I’ve downgraded to the Michael’s Lemax Village. (they are much cheaper) Think Tory Birch vs. Target purse of Halloween houses.


2 Halloween “Christmas” trees…uh yeah…


I’m still loving this Halloween house I made a few years ago. You can still see the original blog post here of how I made it.


Here are a few of my other favorite decorations from around the house. I would show you all of them…but I’m afraid you would judge me, and rightfully so.


I’ve been brainstorming Halloween costumes and don’t like any of the cutesy toddler stuff I keep seeing.

I think I am set on Daryl Dixon for Hucklebaby, I’m just not sure if it is too obscure… or age appropriate. But it does make me laugh. Then Billiam and I could be Zombies… :)


I’m also thinking that I want to be a “homemade” costume mom. My mom made my costumes… I feel like I should make Hucklebaby’s. That’s the great part of trick or treating. Praying your costume doesn’t fall apart…

Because I’ve scaled down my Halloween designer decorations…I’ve started adding to our collection of Halloween books. I want Hucklebaby to love this time of year as much as I do. Plus…I’ve got this thing about never having too many books.


Those books never stay organized for too long. I’m ok with that.

Because we love Halloween books around here…we want to spread the love! Here are the books that could be yours!


What are you/ your kids dressing up for to Trick-or-Treat? Plus…Hucklebaby homemade costume suggestions.

Comment below for your chance to win…


Make sure to follow @mariannafrances on Instagram for an additional chance at winning.



Hucklebaby’s Toddler Travels

I was scared. I was scared for a long time. I wasn’t ready for Hucklebaby to fly. Not because I was scared of flying…but because I was scared of being “those people”. You know who I’m talking about. The people you see at the airport that you secretly pray you won’t have to sit beside because they have “that kid”. Yeah. I was scared. I didn’t want to be them and I had a pit in my stomach that I would be.

I read everything I could about what to take with us. To prepare for anything that could come up. So when I started packing I knew I only wanted one bag. Everything needed to fit in my Mom backpack.

My snack bag: OK so all of the time I spent making homemade baby food the first year of Hucklebaby’s life… I threw that out the window and packed way too many sugary treats than I need to mention. Even I questioned my parenting choices while looking at the bag. Fruit snacks, Pop Tarts, Lolli-Pops, Goldfish and raisins. Raisins? Yeah…I needed to have something in case I started getting ‘judgie’ eyes. You know what I’m talking about.



I also stopped at Target and grabbed a few things from the Dollar Spot. Toys and games to take on the plane…that could stay on the plane if need be. Blocks, flash cards, tiny toy airplanes. I was so proud of myself.

Sidenote: Guess what flies really far across an airplane aisle? All of the little toys I took with us. Worst idea ever.



I made sure to pack plenty of diapers, even though we are potty training, airplane toilets would probably suck him in. Maybe not…but I wasn’t taking chances.

Also an extra set of clothes, because you never know what’s going to happen, an empty cup and hand sanitizer. I didn’t want plane funk.



What did I take for me? A sweater, my wallet and gum. I’m not that demanding. Plus I knew all of my energy was going to H. This was going to be my first flight where I couldn’t read a gossip magazine or listen to my I-Phone. This was going to be hardwork.


This was us headed to the airport. A beautiful Florida sunny afternoon.



I wasn’t driving so I was trying to count lightning strikes. I have no idea why.


Guess what this picture is? Just red and blue lights behind us.

Yeah…Billiam got pulled over after the rain ended. He was “trying to make up time”. He was horrified I was trying to take a picture and capture the moment…so this is the only one I was able to snap. I was laughing pretty hard.


and he was not amused….


Poor Hucklebaby. He slept through the first time his dad got in trouble with the law. I made sure to document it though. That’s my job right?



We finally made it to the airport shuttle.


Do I know how to pack or what? 50 pounds…I can squeeze just about everything in. H and I shared a suitcase.

Billiam on the other overpacked and had to rearrange his stuff. Seriously he packs more than a teenage girl.


After all of that…we needed a drink.



Airports are magical places for little boys. Planes, trucks, trains. They were all there. I would pay to go to a special room at the airport just to let him watch this activity. Like an airport park…Someone needs to think about this idea. I don’t know who is in charge of things like this…but get on it.




Time to board the plane…


Here we are…at the very back…away from as many people as possible…



Guess what…


…after all of my worrying you know what happened??? No matter what I did, prepared for and was ready for…I had “that kid”. I promise I did my best.















Sure…go ahead, climb under the seats and grab the passengers legs in front of us. That’s not mortifying.


I Found the Perfect Kid Gift….


That’s it. That’s the perfect gift. OK…hear me out.

Before I had Hucklebaby I really never knew about the “kid birthday circuit”. Yes, it exists and once you are in it…you have to accept it. That means there are endless amounts of birthdays for all of your “new mommy friends” kids, some months…every weekend. Let me point out, Hucklebaby is still only one. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like as he gets older.

As I go to these parties, I see toys. Tons of toys. Toys that I’m sure will be long forgotten by the time the next birthday rolls around. That got me thinking. I don’t want to buy toys anymore. (let’s not talk about books as gifts right now)

I was thinking this exact thought when I got a party invitation to my nephew Conner’s Iron Man Birthday party. He’s turning 5. Because he lives in Maryland  I honestly have no idea what toys he has in his collection.

So as I stood looking at rows of action figures and hoping I didn’t buy one he already had, I shrugged my shoulders. The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was get into a text conversation about, “Well, does he have this? What about this? Do you think he would like…” I gave up. I walked out of the store. Just walked out. No toys, no gift.


That’s when I walked into Learning Express (I can never pass it without going in). I was looking for something pirate related, because speaking of birthday’s thats the theme of Hucklebaby’s 2nd party…but anyway….

As I was walking around I saw this. It was a display for their personalization services. Not bad…

They had a whole bunch of different sized cases that could be personalized at no extra charge. I’m liking this. (I want to say it was about $15 for the case)


My thinking is this. I can get Conner a “brief case”, that’s what the label called it and I thought it added to the cuteness. To carry his toys, or art supplies, whatever he happens to be enjoying at that moment. It can stay at home, or go in the car…he can travel with it. It can become whatever he wants it to be. He can keep his favorite things safe and hide things under his bed in it. This is better than an ol’ action figure.


Ok.Ok.OK. So the brief case isn’t the only thing I got him…I filled it with a few things from the Target Dollar spot. I mean who wants to get an empty brief case? But, they were more practical items. 3 pair of super hero socks, pencils and notepad, a Dinosaur work book and a box of rice. Rice???


Since Conner is so young, and lives so far away. Somehow he has never learned Uncle Bill. He picked up Uncle Ben somehow…and we just kinda rolled with it as a family joke. So presenting….a Box of Uncle Ben’s Rice.


So here you have it. The perfect gift… and all under $20. Not so bad.


Sidenote: if you invite me to a birthday party within the next year or so…I’ll bring a briefcase with me. :)

Play Mobil Play Date

Since Billiam usually works Saturday mornings, Hucklebaby and I have those times to ourself. Our Saturday morning dates. We stop for breakfast and start our adventures.

Today was no different. We were headed to the park to meet up with a friend of ours and to slide. We are currently LOVING slides.


Can someone tell me what is wrong with this picture? How on a Saturday morning are there no kids running around? It only took about 15 minutes and a bunch of gross back sweat to figure it out. It was HOT.



Hucklebaby played for a little while but every surface he touched…he looked at me and told me it was HOT. This wasn’t working out today.



Plus…we were thirsty and the water we brought seemed like it was about to boil. Who likes drinking warm water outside? Yep, South Florida summers…

I had been meaning to go to Play Mobil Fun Park. It was right around the corner and when I saw it was only $1 to go in, I figured why not.

(Pay no attention to the huge Liquors sign right behind this one.)



I have driven by this place a million times, not exaggerating. A MILLION. I was finally going in.

I’m always worried these places are never going to be clean. Let’s admit it. Kids are gross. They are snotty and germy. I’m a little apprehensive going in for the first time.


$1 for Hucklebaby and $1 for me. We are in the air conditioner and ready to play.


It’s not huge but I was pleasantly surprised. They opened at 10 and we got there around 10:30. Most things were still perfectly set up and there were only a handful of parents and kids already there. Most of them were probably around 2-5 years old.


There were “themed” tables set up throughout. Farm, airport, ships, dollhouse, castle…you get it. There were also huge “people” set up. Apparently Hucklebaby thought this queen was Elsa…and he climbed the wall to get to her. I’m quite sure this isn’t allowed. :) Yep…he’s my kid folks.




We went table to table and area to area playing. He had a great time and while we were there we randomly ran into other parents we knew. I also thought it was great that there were workers walking around cleaning the entire time and organizing. I wish I had magical people at my house that did that too. Kids would play, they would clean…


One thing I wasn’t expecting was to be able to sit down and be able to play and enjoy it as much as he was. We were even able to play with the “girl” toys. I don’t think I’m supposed to say that they are “girl” toys but…they are the ones we don’t have at home… like the doll house. He played with it in a completely different way than I remember as a girl. I can’t really point out why it was different, but it’s something that I enjoyed watching. He could also play with the BIG toys, like the plane without us having to spend $115 for him to have it at home. (Seriously $115 for a toy plane?)


While we were there they announced they were going to have a birthday party…maybe we will do this when he is 3 or 4. I think he might be a little to young for it right now…I have no idea the cost or what it includes…

The only way to leave is through the gift shop. Why wouldn’t it be? I wasn’t planning on getting anything…but we spent 2 hours there. 2 hours! For a toddler to be happy in one place for 2 hours is huge. Maybe that’s how they make money. Cheap admission and hours of fun…means parent are going to buy…plus EVERYTHING was on sale. They made this clear.



I picked up a few little things. Halloween, Christmas, Sports and Pirate. There are reasons for each and I’m sure I’ll do a separate blog post when the time comes…but all of it came out to only around $20.

I have to say I was impressed and we will be going back.


The only draw back is that food/ drinks/snacks were all in vending machines. Hucklebaby drank all of his water and I didn’t have $1.50 in quarters to get more. Now, that is my fault for not preplanning and not being someone that carries change. Even if they sold something at the counter…I could have gotten it with the toys I bought…but next time I can pack a lunch for us to enjoy there.

So I ran by Sonic after we left and a mile down the road this is what I had. Looks like our morning was a success. :)


Summer is OFFICIALLY here!!! Duck and Goose Beach Party

Hucklebaby LOVES Duck and Goose. When I say love, I mean he walks around the house say Duck, Duck, Duck…when he wants to read one of Tad Hills’ books. Until now he only had the board books ‘Feelings’ and ‘1,2,3’.

But now we have ‘Duck and Goose Go To The Beach’.



I know this sounds weird to people that don’t live near the ocean but we don’t go to the beach that often…mater of fact I think it has been a year since we have been. We only go when we have visitors…and now with the Fourth of July almost here, we are gearing up to head back to the beach.

I love watching Hucklebaby sit and go through new books. Ohhh-ing and Ahhh-ing at the pictures and yelling Duck as he is pointing to his favorite character.





He wanted to make sure he waved by to the camera when he was done with the book.  He still puts up with all of my picture taking. I’m sure that will end any day now.



The friendship between Duck and Goose is adorable…I only wish their little bird wings could look like they were holding hands. I can only imagine what they are thinking as they are standing there looking out from the dune.

Hucklebaby and I were also able to talk about some animals we might see at the beach although I’m really hoping crabs aren’t on the list.



Side note: The only way I could get him to get in the car after reading this book…was to take Duck with us. We love you Tad Hills.



So if you or your little one would like a chance to have your very own copy of  Tad Hill’s ‘Duck and Goose Go To The Beach’ simply leave a comment about what your favorite part of the beach is.

For a double chance to win follow me on Instagram @mariannafrances and comment on the Duck and Goose Giveaway post.

Pillow Covers

So the pillows that we have came with the couch. I remember liking them..but now looking at them…that can’t be true…can it? They annoy me. We only got our living room set 4 years ago but I’m ready for a new one. Is that normal? Because I know getting a new one is not an option (right now) I figured I’d start out by recovering my throw pillows.

After looking online, all of the covers I liked were at least $20 or more. Seriously? I could buy brand new pillows for that amount…but then I would feel guilty for getting rid of these when they are perfectly good pillows.

Strolling through Hobby Lobby today I saw these fabrics and was able to get the amount I needed for $3 in each pattern. Sounds good to me. 20140620-151904-55144139.jpg

Sewing takes a little longer with a one year old running around and turning my machine on and off (while I’m using it) but I was able to get these done in about an hour. Although it really shouldn’t take that long.

Ta-da. Super easy DIY. Maybe I’ll start making different holiday pillow covers too. ❤20140620-151204-54724871.jpg

Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles!!!

This kid loves BUBBLES~ When I say bubbles, I mean water. Anything water. Baths, showers, pool, splash pads even the dogs water bowl. I’ve decided since it makes him so happy I’d rather spend $10 more a month on our water bill than buying extra toys. (I know, wasteful…I get it) but since he spends so much time in the shower and bath playing, I want fun things to play with too. I feel like every time I’m at the store I slow down in the bath aisle.


One of the first things we tried out were the Twistable Crayola Crayons. They weren’t super expensive but they weren’t cheap either. I think they were around $4 at Target. He LOVED these. I did too. The packaging says it’s easier to clean now…yes, if you do it while it is still wet. But don’t wait a day or two. Hucklebaby likes scrubbing them clean with a little fish nail brush he has anyway from the B. Toys Boat collection we’ve had for a while.  Bad side — I think they lasted two or three times. Then they were done. He kept asking me to make them work and I felt bad that they were all out. For the amount of money they were, I honestly think they need to have more product in them.



I do like these crayons though. I found these at Walmart in the baby section. I think they were about $4 too and have lasted well over a month now. They must have different formulations because these do not have as much pigment as the others but the trade off is that they last longer…sooooo….


I saw these at Walmart too. Shut your mouth…Bathtub Markers? Wahoo!!! FAIL. These are awful. If I returned things…I would return these. It just a watery pile of watery color. The top is like a paint pen but it only looks like food coloring mixed with water as it comes out.  Come on Crayola…I expect better.


Look at that blue pile of blahhh… :(

Do any other companies other than Crayola make fun bath stuff???

On to Crayola Bathtub Finger Pant Soap. Now, the Easter Bunny brought ours but I also saw them in the Target Dollar Spot.


So the first thing I had to understand is that this is NOT paint. This is soap, so it has that consistency. Imagine a hand soap with coloring in it and that’s what you have. He LOVES these. I think he likes “painting” himself as he is washing his arms and legs.


This is what happens when I try to take a picture while he is still using it.



So this was a random find. LUSH Sweetie Pie. Did I buy this for him? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I thought it would be fun for me. After using it a few times, I did not like it. It never lathered for me and fell off in clumps on the shower floor. I felt like I was wasting the product. So when he grabbed it and asked me to open it I did. I wasn’t using it. What a great find. He loves pushing the clumps around on the shower floor and trying to pick them up. The main reason why I hated this product is the exact reason he loves it. I won’t rebuy it when it runs out…but I’m glad it is finally getting used up.


SHAMPOOS!!! I could seriously buy every single shampoo on the shelf. There are probably 20 on my wish list. Here are the three we are currently using. My current favorite is Little Green. The pump bottle makes it easy for Hucklebaby to get the soap himself. Plus it is tear free. I still feel awful when there are bubbles all over his face as I am rinsing him off but I know they aren’t burning and he laughs right though it all. I do think it is funny when he starts laughing and bubbles come out of his mouth. I do love this company.

Johnson and Johnson is something that I’m pretty sure we have 10 bottles left from our baby shower. You know what it’s like. I think I used it as a kid too. I do like it but I know there are so many other options out there I would buy instead of this one. Something more natural or from a smaller company. Believe me I’m pretty sure Johnson and Johnson will not go under if I stop buying from them…but I know smaller companies would enjoy my purchase.

Shea Moisture – $10??? No, I didn’t buy this one but after seeing it for sale at Target, this is another one I won’t be repurchasing. I used it on Hucklebaby a few times and then stopped. It is too lathery and foamy. It’s ok for a kid that understands he needs to sit still until all of the soap is gone, but this one seemed like the more I rinsed the more bubbles and lather there were. I’m saving it for me to use so it doesn’t go to waste…



I grabbed this the other day to try too…but after using it Hucklybaby broke out so we stopped using it to see if this is what could have caused it. No…wasn’t the soap but Hand Foot and Mouth. Another post on that later. But we are now using it again and enjoying it. I know I’m also going to try out some of the Honest Co. products when I get low on these.



Any other smaller soap companies you think we need to try out??? I’m always looking for fun bath stuff. :)