We’re putting our house on the market this week which forced me to go through all of our junk and clean it to perfection. I’ve been wanting to post Ari’s big boy room transformation from his nursery for some time now and thought… it’s now or never! So, disclaimer… it’s never this tidy! 
I wanted to do a room that would grow with Ari from baby to little boy, so I chose a more mature paint color but paired it with bright colorful accents that can be easily changed. We had a double mattress already in a guest room, so we just put it in Ari’s room when we gave his crib to Max. Having the larger size has been extremely helpful lately, as Ari has been going through a ‘sleep in my bed’ phase which I only indulge in extreme cases out of desperation. I know, I know, terrible parenting! It’s one of those things that I always judged other parents on, and now I’m that parent. Gah!
I’m in love with this paint color – Martha Stewart Brook Trout – which in person looks a bit more gray than brown. It’s the perfect background for artwork. Really makes colors pop! 
The “a” wall letter was a vintage find from my sister- love it!
Bed and sheets from Pottery Barn Kids, striped comforter and lamp from Target, garland by Oeuf.
 Ari’s little spot to read zoom cars all over the chair. Usually just in his skivvies. 
 I found this old printers box in my Nana’s garage and turns out it’s the perfect size for matchbox cars.
LOVE this felt garland from The Bannerie, graciously given by Gilit of Shoes Off Please– love her!
The print was given to Ari from his Aunt Lauren of Rock Paper Scissors
If you peek to the right, that’s Ari’s closet! We took the door off and created a little playroom in there in addition to his clothes. 
My favorite spot. Books upon books, fav toys hidden in the baskets, and plenty of natural light.
Love these alphabet flashcards from Tweed
Toddler-height dress up spot.
Coolest growth chart ever, also from Tweed. Looking forward to adding Max’s stats on there too! 
What’s on a three-year-old’s nightstand you ask….
…pics of his BFFs, magic rock and crystal to keep away bad dreams, and a huge stack of fav bedtime books. Especially loving “Hank Finds an Egg”, and “What Does the Fox Say” lately. 
Jelly bean jar used for potty training only! Or if I need a secret treat.
Loving Ari’s new wiener dog pillow by Kate Durkin. Max got a teeny raccoon pillow and is OBSESSED with it! Ugly doll and crazy chicken given to Ari from our non-ugly and very crazy friend, Carlye, of Awkward City. She always gets the boys the coolest toys! Kitty and Watson by BlaBla Kids
DIY- I made Ari’s pennant from his 1st birthday party out of felt and the polka dot picture from leftover garland from my baby shower. 
That’s it! Now time to pack all of it up and re-do in our new pad… oy.


So so so incredibly honored to have Ari’s Animal Party AND Max’s nursery featured over on 
Red Tricycle, the go-to blog for stylish, awesome, busy mamas. They take the work out of scouring the internet to find cool crafts, unique nurseries, creative parties, and recipes your kids will actually eat. We read the baby/bump pages but for you all in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, LA, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, SoCal, and DC, you have your very own section of fun things to do around your town, fav children’s boutiques, monthly event calendars, kid-friendly food trucks, and more… 
how perfect is this if you’re traveling with your littles to any of these cities?! We love it! 
See THIS post for Ari’s 2nd Birthday feature
See THIS post for 13 inspirational nurseries- including Max’s!
And see ALL posts for just general awesomeness 🙂 Thanks, Red Tricycle!


I filled these “feed buckets” with all animal themed goodies:
I found all animal/insect gummies from our local candy store Honey’s Vintage Sweets! Sharks, pigs, fish, frogs, and worms. The only kind of animals I’ll eat 🙂
I made these “farm fresh egg [shakers]” with easter eggs, rice, and hot glue. Kids go bananas for egg shakers!  
Decorate your own binoculars: cut a paper towel roll in half, staple together, and punch holes for the yarn strap.
This was my favorite game I did for the kids. I found these colorful peanuts at Joannes and then put lots of little plastic animals inside. The kids used the shovels to dig for animals, and I’m telling you, they were totally fixated on finding the animals! I left this out for Ari to play with for weeks after the party, and he was so into it every. single. time. Keep your littles busy! Though, obviously keep in mind these are choking hazards so make sure your kiddos are supervised. 
Equally as big of a hit as the animal dig was when I covered our coffee table with butcher paper and let the kids go crazy with crayons! Again, I kept this up for weeks, just changing out the paper when it was covered completely with doodles. The adults got really into it too! 
and lastly…
Designed by the talented Lauren of Rock Paper Scissors
See the rest of Ari’s animal themed party
Part 1 – All the details HERE
Part 2 – Tutorials HERE
We would LOVE to see what you come up with for your animal party! Tag #loveandlion on instagram or twitter, or you can post on our facebook page. 


I wanted to share all of my DIY’s with you from Ari’s animal themed birthday party. These ideas are pretty simple and easy, but when you put them all together, it looks sort of impressive (if I do say so myself!).
These little dudes were my biggest project. I collected tons of plastic animals from craft stores and dollar stores and spray painted them solid colors to make the look more cohesive and modern. The easiest way I found to paint the animals was to put packing tape sticky side up on a piece of cardboard (see below) and spray paint from every angle. They take a while to dry and require multiple coats, so plan ahead!
I LOVE how the party hats turned out! First unfold a store-bought party hat and trace it onto black paper. Cut it out a little larger than the traced line you made. Put the hat back together and tape the black paper around the hat. I cut the plastic animals in half and used a hot glue gun to secure each half to the front and back of the hat. For the pompom on top, I fringed some white crepe paper and glued it into seam of the hat.
I have to say, the animal cutlery was the biggest hit with everyone, but these were so. time. consuming. Use fine sand paper and sand off the finish on the forks where the animal will go. Make sure there’s no spray paint on the middle of the animals, in other words, spray paint the animals first before cutting. Use Gorilla Wood Glue (super glue and hot glue does not work!) and hold on to these suckers until the glue dries. This will take about 3-5 minutes PER fork. But I mean… look how cute they turned out! 
Once you get the hang of it, they’re super fast and easy. Use these for drink stirrers or cake toppers or whatever! These pretties brighten up any party.
Time consuming? Yes. Easy? Ridiculously. 
All you need is a roll of butcher paper or bulletin board paper, craft paint, and a wine cork. For the photo booth backdrop, I measured neurotically so the dots would be even, but for the tablecloth below, I stamped randomly.
 More cork stamping! Paper mache letters hung on the door. 
I bought inexpensive silver plastic trays and spray painted the boarder with the same paint I used on the animals. When dry, paint the center with two layers of chalkboard paint. Easy!
For Part 1 of Ari’s animal themed party pictures click HERE
Part 3 HERE
Party Favors / Games for the kiddos / Details


Today’s #TBT party series features Ari’s 2nd birthday. At two, Ari was obsessed with going to the zoo, so I went with a “Party Animal” theme and made it modern with solid, bright colors. Everything I did was DIY– you can totally pull this off if you have the time and plan ahead!
My talented twin sister, Ellie, of Aunt Ellie’s Sweet Treats, made her famous gourmet rice krispie treats Campfire Crispies and cut them out in animal shapes. These. Are. Amazing. If you’ve never tried, you’re missin’ out on life, my friend. Order HERE. You deserve it.
DIY chalkboard trays tutorial HERE / Spoons by Shop Sweet Lulu
DIY fringy toppers tutorial HERE / Baking cups by Shop Sweet Lulu
Remember those yummy frosted animal cookies you ate as a kid? I made them out of sugar cookies, tinted frosting, and sprinkles. 
Not gonna lie… these bad boys took me a loooong time. But worth it right? Tutorial HERE.
’cause it’s a camel.. get it?
Nana Lou’s famous punch (for adults!). This zookeeper needed three one after all this DIY-ing!
Yep, that’s me enjoying zookeeper punch. 
I made teeny little party hats for these fellas.
Animal canister DIY – fill with animal food: goldfish, teddy grahams, and animal crackers
I took a picture of Ari every month – well worth torture! See all three years HERE.
Photo booth backdrop and party hat tutorial HERE
I absolutely adore this picture! Lauren and Piper, Ari and me, Amara and Jenni. Obviously our kids are super photogenic.
Homemade funfetti cake! Mmmm… Topped with spray-painted animals of course.
Part 2 of Ari’s Animal Theme Birthday Party click HERE: DIY’s
Part 3 click HERE: Party favors, games for the kiddos, details


If you’re a preggie, a new mom, or a mom of two like me, you’re going to need some of these essentials! I could not function without the following… and I neglected to add an extra large cup of coffee, but that’s an obvious one, right? 
(click on the numbers below for the links)
1. This is the perfect place to plop your baby down wherever you are. It has a little handle on top so it’s easy to carry in one hand while you carry your baby in the other. The best part- you can throw the whole thing in the washing machine! Jenni actually lent me hers that she used with Amara. Life saver! That’s what friends are for!
2. I LOVE the Ergo baby. How else do you get stuff done when your baby needs to be held? You have to get the infant insert as well so the baby is comfy. When they’re a little bigger, you can just use the seat pad so the baby is the right height. This carrier is so comfy that I wore this with Ari from birth (acid reflux baby… omg) up until he was 2.5 years old. 
3. We have a play mat at our house, but Max isn’t a huge fan. My parents keep this play mat at their house, and he is just mesmerized by the black and white shapes! He would stay on the mat kicking and smiling for an hour. You can even reverse the mat for different stimulation during tummy time. 
1. This is the easiest swaddle. Ever. Mom, dad, grandparents, and babysitters can all keep the baby swaddled the exact same way. This just zips up from the bottom (so easy for diaper changes) and has velcro to put baby’s arms in. Once Max gets in the swaddle, he’s asleep in seconds. Really. 
2. These pacifiers are the same ones you get at the hospital. They’re super soft and most like a nipple. Another thing I love about these is the hole in the middle. Ari loves to “help” and hold the pacifier in Max’s mouth with his finger. So sweet. 
3. Aden and Anais make the best burp cloths! They’re super absorbent, shaped perfectly to fit over your shoulder, they can snap around baby’s neck like a bib, and of course I love the stylish patterns. 
1. What in the world did I do before I had a backpack diaper bag?? When I’m getting the kids into the car, closing the stroller, schleping the grocery bags, etc., the last thing I need is my diaper bag falling off my shoulder or swinging around to hit me in the face. This backpack has pockets upon pockets and comes with a changing pad, wet sack, clutch for all of my stuff, a bottle cooler, stroller straps, and a strap to convert this to a shoulder bag. It really makes me feel stylish and organized. Also a bit like Felicity which obviously is amazing.  
2. Jenni gave me this lip gloss when I was in the hospital after having Max. It is the perfect shade of pink-nude and makes me feel a little glam even when I haven’t showered for three days. Isn’t she the best??
3. I adore this teething jewelry from Mama & Little. Made by a mom who wanted to look cute and give her baby the best- what a smarty! All totally safe, super stylish, and incredibly affordable!! They have necklaces you can layer in different lengths and colors all with a satin cord on your neck so it doesn’t pull out your hair! Max just started teething, so I know these will come in handy but also make me feel a little bit more put together. 
1. I like to have special projects for Ari to do while I’ve got baby stuff going on. Love this mosaic kit for your older child. We did this over Thanksgiving, and it kept all 5 cousins busy, ages 3-10! 
2. A stool will make your older child feel part of the action at the changing table or crib. Ari feels very important standing on it, squishing Max’s cheeks while I do a diaper change. Anyone else’s kid enthralled with baby poop as much as mine? 
3. When I’m exhausted all the time sometimes I just need to sit, so a big floor puzzle is perfect for tired mamas and active toddlers. Much better than the Sleeping Beauty game I made up where I sleep until my prince kisses me to wake me up. So great when the prince gets distracted and let’s me sleep a little longer 🙂
I have to say the best thing we did for Ari to make him feel extra special was to have a “Big Brother Party”. It was as simple as hanging a few streamers and balloons and getting cupcakes from Kroger- you would have thought it was his birthday with how excited he was. We gave him a big brother gift and a present from Max. I highly recommend this for you mamas out there!!
Mr. Max at 3 months old
What are your favorite baby necessities I’m missing? I’d love to hear from you!


Ari and Amara looooved this Valentine’s Day candy necklace project! They both got into it and surprisingly only ate the treats after their necklaces were finished. We loved how hard the kids concentrated stringing on the cereal and candy. This is a great play date activity – fine motor skills trump sugar, right? Candy necklaces taste best served with pink strawberry milk. Have fun! 

We found it was easiest to tape one end of the string to the table. 
Take a much deserved strawberry milk break.
Eat your beautiful creations before this happens…


We LOVE to throw parties here at Love & Lion and wanted to share some past parties with you as sort of a #TBT kinda thing 🙂 So this Throw Back Thursday, it’s Ari’s third birthday party. 
At this point in time I had just had Max, so a major party with lots of details (like Jenni and I normally do) was out of the question. I held the party at an indoor play place and brought in minimal decorations and food – just enough to make the party look personal and cute. When you’re not in your own space it can be a challenge to make it look the way you want (like trying to cover up a cheesy mural on the wall!). My advice is stick to a simple theme like colors or patterns and weave them into each aspect- decor, food table, invites, and favors. I went with black and white with a yellow accent and the slogan “Yippee Ari is 3!” 
I think the biggest transformation of the room was covering the tables with this chevron wrapping paper found at Hobby Lobby.
The theme all began with invites designed by none other than Lauren of Rock Paper Scissors.
 I just did very simple food – pizza, pretzel chips, hummus, veggies, fruit squeezies, and cupcakes.
 For favor bags I printed on paper lunch sacks and sealed with yellow washi tape.

Here you can see 36 months of (well worth) torture. When I told Ari it was time to take his chair picture last month he replied, “Oooh boy. That’s gonna be hard. I move around a lot.”

 I covered store bought party hats with patterned paper to match the theme.

Ari’s number 3 shirt from our favorite kids store, Tweed.
And here’s my favorite picture from the day. That would be my husband dropping a LIT cupcake on Amara while everyone sang “Happy Birthday”. Classic. Amara was unfazed and Ari asked if he could another cupcake. My reaction was so scarily slow you can literally see my brain trying to process what just happened. Sorry, Amara! 
That’s it! Super simple but considering I had just had a child, I was very happy with how it turned out. Can you say, control freak? Ha! Hope this gives you a few ideas for when you throw a party not in your own space