Mayhem At The Red Dress Collection

FashionByMayhem_450CRIf you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know that we’re working with Go Red For Women and that we spent a few days in New York last week.

Our mission in working with Go Red For Women is simple … help raise awareness that heart disease is the leading killer of women in the United States, and that the vast majority of cases are preventable. That’s a tough message NOT to get behind. Especially for someone raising a daughter …

Our trip was spectacular in every way, but the event we were there to be a part of, the Red Dress Collection, was an experience we’ll always cherish. The Red Dress Collection is a fashion show that takes place as part of the kickoff for New York Fashion Week in February, and features celebrities walking the runway in, you guessed it, red dresses. But the event is SO much more than just a runway show.

Mayhem’s role in the event was absolutely perfect for her! She was part of the backstage and red carpet event and was treated just like any of the other talent who was volunteering their time to this amazing cause. Upon our arrival backstage at Lincoln Center, Mayhem was checked in, and given a Go Red robe to wear backstage for hair and makeup, just like the other women. It was pretty much priceless to watch her be the only one wearing a robe with a train ;-)

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Once she was dressed in her own red dress, we made our way over to the little Mayhem “stage” where two mannequins were dressed in some of our paper dresses. It’s where the Go Red Mayhem game was set to take place, and Mayhem’s job was to play the role of game show host. Contestants had one minute to pull sparkly red hearts from a fishbowl and answer the questions/do the dare printed on the backside of the heart. Whoever was able to complete the most in one minute would be crowned the Queen of Hearts.

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And it was AWESOME!

While the backstage area was buzzing with small talk, picture taking, interviews, and general star-struckedness (add that to the dictionary, would ya), the Go Red Mayhem game easily became the most engaging place to be. It was FUN. And everyone from adults to kids (VIP guests), guests to executives to celebrities all came to play.

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It was the perfect way to engage a five-year-old in an event. And that seemed to be one of the messages the entire team wanted to convey. There’s an importance in having women of ALL ages supporting and educating/being educated on heart health. It was beautiful to see women ranging in age from Mayhem to Barbara Eden all volunteering to lend a hand and their voices to tackle this issue together.

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We got to spend some time chatting with executives from Go Red For Women, the American Heart Association and Macy’s (presenting sponsor) and everyone was so passionate about empowering women to know more about heart disease. The energy in that backstage area was truly infectious. In a very good way :)

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Mayhem also spent a few minutes on the red carpet with Laura Bell Bundy as part of the live stream event, and speaking purely from a gushing mom point of view, I couldn’t have been more proud. I would’ve been shaking in my boots, but she handled herself like a five-year-old pro.

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After that, it was show time. Watching the women having a blast strutting their stuff on the runway to a more than packed house, was too much fun. And all too soon, it was over.

The backstage area soon became an flurry of hugs, high fives and goodbyes. But if there’s one impression that’s lasting in my mind, it’s that seeing all of these women come together and use their influence to spread awareness for heart disease in women, shows how truly big their hearts are.

I can’t begin to explain how honored we were to take part in this event and how much we believe in the cause. We encourage each and every one of you to visit Go Red For Women to learn more about the symptoms of heart disease in women (it’s different than men). It may very well save your life, or that of someone you love <3.

Oh, and the Queen of Hearts was indeed crowned:

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And she couldn’t have been more deserving as she made Mayhem laugh herself silly.

 

Mayhem Joins Forces With Go Red For Women

FashionByMayhem_416CRWhen the American Heart Association reached out and asked if we’d be interested in working with them, I’m pretty sure I said yes before asking any questions. It was a no-brainer for us. It’s a great organization who I respect for many reasons, and our own family has been affected by heart disease as well. I remember, as a kid, reaching out to the American Heart Association for information about heart disease for a couple of science projects I created. Back in the day, you know, before Google (or computers in every home) , I would pick up the phone and actually talk to someone at the AHA and request specific types of information. They were always so kind and would put together the information I was looking for and send me a package in the mail. (Yes, I’m THAT old!)

I had a lot of interest in learning about heart disease because my favorite uncle was affected by heart disease. He was the guy who taught me how to tie my shoes and how to do backwards somersaults. And when I say he was affected, I mean he had to undergo a heart transplant in 1984 at the ripe old age of 29. It’s mind blowing how much I remember about that year and how many questions I had.

And that’s the thing about heart disease, there are so many misconceptions … that it only affects older people, or that it’s a “man’s” disease.

So when we were asked more specifically to join in the Go Red For Women campaign to help raise awareness about the fact that heart disease is actually the No. 1 killer of American women, we jumped at the chance to become more educated ourselves. Because the signs and symptoms are very different between men and women. And let’s face it, a lot of times, as women and moms, we shrug off a LOT of sypmtoms …

I had a personal heart scare not too long ago, and as many times as I’ve tried to edit this story down, I just can’t seem to do it. So, fair warning, it’s lengthy. But if lengthy means someone else picks up on some symptoms they may be having, then it makes sharing my own experience valuable….

I remember June 11, 2013 like it was yesterday. Cliche, but entirely true.

It was the day an ER doctor told me I’d be staying overnight at the hospital so they could monitor my heart.

Cue the freak out.

The day had started out pretty normally, though in retrospect, there’s now an explanation for what my “normal” had been in the few weeks leading up to my hospital sleepover. I thought I was being tired. And lazy. Because I just hadn’t felt like I had the energy to do as much running around and playing (and laundry) for some reason.

But on that Tuesday, Mayhem and I got out of the house to run some errands and enjoy the beautiful day that June 11 was in our neck of the woods. We were home for lunch and I put her down for a nap shortly after. About an hour and a half later, my pint sized person was yelling for me to come and get her from her room. (Full disclosure: my three year old was perfectly capable of getting herself out of her big girl bed and walking to the living room, but she had routine that she liked where she’d yell for me, I’d come and get her, carry her to the living room, and we’d snuggle for a few minutes while she finished “waking up”.) But this time, when I went to pick her up, I felt incredibly weak. Not tired. Weak. Like it took ALL of my strength to pick her up and carry her to the living room.

I placed her on the couch and immediately headed for the kitchen where I grabbed a couple of popsicles for the two of us. We sat together enjoying our popsicles while I was silently trying to figure out what was happening inside my body. I wasn’t in any pain, but I KNEW something was not quite right.

Approximately 20 minutes later, I was feeling even more weak, and in that moment I knew I needed to call someone for help. I had this terrible vision of me collapsing with my three-year-old standing by. Keith would have been the first person I’d call, but I knew he had an on-location appointment and he was nearly an hour away. So I called my mom, who happens to live and work just a few minutes from us.

She arrived no more than 10 minutes after my call and after seeing that I could no longer stand without leaning against a wall, and that normal conversation was making me catch my breath, she promptly called the local Fire/EMS department.

The paramedics arrived and found that my vitals were excellent. So they checked again. Same.

So then they asked me to stand up and saw that I was able to do that for approximately three seconds before my legs started shaking uncontrollably and I had to sit back down. But still, there was absolutely NOTHING off with my vitals.

They noted that I was a lovely shade of “looks like this girl is going to puke any second”, and we chatted about the fact that Mayhem had been sick the previous weekend which led to nearly no sleep for me. We were headed down the road of “your body probably just needs some rest” and I was having another mental conversation with myself trying desperately to make some sense of what was happening. Because something was definitely happening. But one of the paramedics finally just shook his head and said something just didn’t seem right. An otherwise healthy person shouldn’t really have these symptoms and he thought maybe they should go ahead and take me over to the hospital.

It was on the way to the hospital that I noticed I couldn’t move my hands. For real. At the same time I mentioned it to the EMT, he asked if I’d ever had any issues with my heart since I was now hooked up to a heart monitor and my heart rhythm seemed a bit off. I said that I hadn’t had any issues and he assured me I was just fine … no need to worry.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the ER nurse assigned to my care took in the report from the EMTs and it was decided that I must be having an anxiety attack. She actually asked several times “How often do you have anxiety attacks?” and “Have you come to the ER for anxiety attacks in the past?” I told her that I’d never had an anxiety attack that I was aware of and I was pretty sure I wasn’t having one right then either.

My nurse got going on the usual triage stuff and grabbed an IV to get started. As she was placing the needle in my arm, I happened to notice that both of my hands were in a clenched position, so I tried to open them. Not happening. I tried to wiggle my fingers. Nope. Then I tried to raise my arm. Nada.

I looked right her and said, “I can’t move my arms.” Only the words came out sounding like I was approximately 5 cocktails into the party.

What the what?!?!

She looked right back at me and said, “Honey, you can heal yourself.”

I have to tell you at this point, the ONLY reason for me not completely freaking out, was that I wasn’t in any kind of pain. I could see that my hands and arms were still attached, I just no longer had the ability to control them. So I was searching the far corners of my mind for an explanation as to what was happening and why.

An ER doctor came in and noted my now very irregular heart rhythm. And started ordering tests.

Shortly after, my nurse came running into the room yelling something about my potassium level being dangerously low. The doctor flew in and ordered the dosage. And then, that nurse pumped potassium into me until I puked. Literally. At the same time it was flowing in via IV, she was handing me pill after pill to swallow.

The doctor came back and gave me a biology refresher …. potassium is critical in muscle function. Which explained my slurred speech and temporary paralysis of my arms. And then he said, “Your heart is one big muscle, so I’m hopeful we’re going to see your heart rhythm get back on track as the potassium gets back in your system.”

And it did.

I’ll spare you the details of the additional tests or what it felt like when the IV dislodged in my arm, but the next couple of hours were eventful.

Despite my potassium level returning to normal, and with it, my heart rhythm, the ER doctor didn’t feel like I should be going home that evening. He said that as much as he’d like to send me home, he believed that it would be best to keep me overnight, hooked up to a heart monitor, to rule out any other heart issues.

And that is exactly how I spent my first ever night away from Mayhem. Laying in a hospital bed, bawling my eyes out, worrying about my health and playing the “what IF” game in my head.

But morning eventually rolled around and a doctor finally came in with some good news.

I was fine. My heart was healthy and it never missed a beat through the night. I could go home.

Now, as excited as I was to be able to go home, the question still remained, “What in the heck caused my potassium level to dip so low?”

Four doctors later we still have no answer. Nearly $8000 worth of tests revealed that I was ridiculously healthy … except for this little hiccup. Awesome.

It’s been explained to me that stress can cause some pretty dramatic changes in our bodies. Changes that a lot of us moms ignore because they don’t seem like a big deal. And we’ve got other people to take care of, so we tend to keep pushing until our bodies reach a breaking point.

The low level of potassium in my body was not a result of me not eating enough bananas. It wasn’t dietary at all. Actually, the doctors all agreed that it was likely that my body had been flushing potassium out of my system for weeks leading up to my trip to the ER. We still don’t know why. But I can assure you that this little episode left an impact. It’s most definitely made me pay more attention to how I’m feeling. And I’m fully aware that my health is my responsibility. Including how I deal with stress.

There is  a level of comfort in knowing that 80% of heart disease and stroke events are preventable!!! So we try to eat a healthy diet and stay active. We’re back in a regular routine at the gym and having a high energy five-year-old requires that we stay in motion. Incredi-juice (carrots, apples, celery and ginger) is made almost every morning at our house, and we’re playing around with some other “kid-friendly” juice recipes to start our day.

And we plan to spend our money on “de-stressing” vacations instead of overnights at the hospital ;-)

We’re honored to join the fight against heart disease and show our support by going red all month long. And we hope you’ll take a little time to visit Go Red For Women to learn more for yourself and those you love.

Knowing the signs may just turn you into a superhero too …

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Mayhem + Nintendo 2DS

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This post is sponsored.

We’ve had too much fun this week creating paper dresses inspired by characters and outfits Mayhem created on her Nintendo 2DS system.

But today we’re wrapping things up with a little look behind the scenes.

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Thanks to Nintendo for inviting us to experience the creativity gaming can inspire … we’re hooked!

My only problem now is that Mayhem is insisting we add “friends” to each of our new photographs…

Massive thanks to Nintendo for sponsoring this post. 

Creativity: At The Intersection Of Tech And IRL

Fashionbymayhem_outfit1_teaserThe following content is sponsored.

A few months ago, things were snowballing out of control at our studio. In a good way.

It was busy season. And we’ve dealt with it year after year.

Knowing we were approaching some long(er) days at the studio, we wanted to find some new things for Mayhem to keep busy.

It took her exactly two days to knock out an entire friendship braiding kit and paracord bracelet kit. Clearly, we needed something that wouldn’t “end” or run out.

Keith said “Hey, don’t we have a Wii somewhere?”  And indeed, we did.

The very next day, we had it set up at the studio and Mayhem was boxing, bowling and playing tennis like a pro.

Then she discovered the ability to change her Mii. And every single time she started a new game, she felt the need to change her Mii. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

If she had a bad round of bowling, she needed to change the color of her Mii’s hair. Obviously.

Bad tennis match? Must be the color of her shirt.

This had been going on for about a month, when an email from Nintendo arrived in my inbox. (insert Twilight Zone music here)

They thought Mayhem might like to check out the Nintendo 2DS system and said they had a couple of games right up her alley.

I hesitated just a bit. Mostly because my experience with video games is was extremely minimal and super duper skewed.

I like the Wii because it keeps her active (the games we have anyway) and so I wasn’t so sure about the 2DS.

But I hopped on a call to find out more and as I jokingly explained how Mayhem spends more time standing around customizing her Mii than bowling, the girl on the other end said “Oh my gosh, she’s going to love Tomadachi Life and Animal Crossing New Leaf!”

A few days later we were unboxing a 2DS system and the games.

It took all of about 5 minutes for our family to be laughing and having fun creating Mayhem’s Mii in Tomodachi Life (complete with personality traits and voice!). After that, she started adding friends. And she is seriously having the best time creating Mii(s) that look just like her friends and family.

And once the clothing store “opened” in the game, she was set. I can assure you, the people of Alfrania Island (the name Mayhem came up with for her island) will starve before they go without new clothes.

So I asked her if she thought making a paper outfit like one of her game characters would be fun and she was all in.

She chose which outfit to make and we got to work:

And when it was finished, she said “wouldn’t it be fun if we could take a picture of them together”.

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And so we did.

Massive thanks to the nice people at Nintendo for not only sponsoring this content, but for showing us that there are some super fun, super creative gaming options out there! You know we’ll never share anything with you that we don’t personally believe in, but it’s fun when we’re able to share with you new stuff we get introduced to. If you need us, you’ll most likely find us in the clothing store or photo studio on Alfrania Island. Over and out :)

 

Game.Changer.

FashionByMayhem_400CRThe first Fashion By Mayhem email I ever marked as important started off simply “Hi – This is Jenna Lyons. From J.Crew.”
Wait. What? (Lemme read that again…)

It went on that she had read our story and was excited by what we were doing.
Huh? *looks around for hidden camera*

It was the first among hundreds of emails pouring into my inbox on February 26, 2014 that did NOT read “can’t wait to see which Oscars dresses you replicate.”

Jenna then wrote that she was reaching out to see if we’d be interested in doing a small collection designed by … yes – a 4 year old!!
Game.Changer.

The email was warm and friendly. If I thought that it was an idea that sounded like it would be fun for us, I could let her know and we’d set up a time to chat.

I remember reading the email and being certain it was a set up. As in, it’s probably some kind of wicked virus that if I reply to it, my laptop will explode or at the very least melt before my eyes. (My thinking is irrational on occasion.)

So I read it a few more times to myself. And then I read it out loud to Keith.
His reply was simple: “You should probably reply to that one.”

But doesn’t J.Crew have a PR company that reaches out like the rest of the “big brands”? You know, one that sends out incredibly vague emails hinting at who they MIGHT work for but requiring us to sign an NDA(non-disclosure agreement) before they’ll even talk to us. And why on Earth would she just lay the whole idea out there from the get go? Nobody does that (filed under: things I know for sure)!

Clearly, Jenna Lyons does not know how this is done. The President and Executive Creative Director of a company is not supposed to reach out to random internet strangers with an offer to work with them.

But she did. Because …
Game.Changer.

So with a guarantee from Keith that he’d replace my laptop when it melted, I hit the reply button.

And what happened next was nothing short of magic.

A volley of friendly emails led to a conference call with four of the top J.Crew execs in which I made it very clear that we had ZERO design experience. ZERO. NONE. NADA. “We tape paper together. Sitting on our floor. That’s it. I swear. Just so we’re clear.”

But they invited us to New York anyway. To sit on the floor and tape paper together.

And it was amazing.

You may have already read about that first trip to New York, and even seen that image of Mayhem working her selfie game with Jenna and Jenny Cooper (head of crewcuts).

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But what you don’t know (yet!) is that Jenny Cooper’s office became design central for Mayhem’s collection with crewcuts which will be available Summer 2015!!! And yes, the collection was designed by a 4 year old. With a little help from her new friends.

But let’s not even call it designing a collection. Here’s how it went down … Mayhem and her new crew all sat down on the floor and played. And made stuff. Out of paper and tape and beads and glue and crayons.  And they laughed and hugged and had more fun than I would have imagined. And then they sprinkled their magic J.Crew fairydust on it and turned paper into fabric. And when it was time to go, Mayhem cried. Because she didn’t want to leave. (You wouldn’t either … trust me on this.)

And folks, that’s how it’s done.

OK, not really. I mean, there is more to it. I think. I was too busy sitting back watching, tearing up and wondering how in the world this all came to be, to pay attention to the logistics.

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We have LOTS more to tell you about our fun collaboration with J.Crew, but for now, the cat’s out of the bag and we’re just happy to finally be able to share it with you.

Mayhem Loves Chatbooks And So Does Her Mama

Chatbooks has redeemed me as a parent. I may not have been great about keeping up with that whole baby book thing, but Mayhem now has REAL books of our entire Instagram feed, and it took me all of 15 minutes to do!

15 minutes on the Chatbooks app. On my iPhone. For real.

60 page books (6×6″ size) for $6 each and that includes shipping. Crazy affordable. The best part about this for me is that it’s automated. Meaning, now we’ll get a notification each time our IG feed reaches 60 new images and I’ll have 3 days to make any edits before our book automatically ships. Easy. Peasy.

I need more things in my life to be automated…

The other best part….???? You can add additional books to your order. So now I can ship an additional copy directly to my in-laws who live 450 miles away and they can have a hard copy of all of Mayhem’s antics. And I’m pretty darn sure that photographs of the grandkids are the BEST gift ever.

Now for full disclosure:

Yes, I was offered the opportunity to review the service.

No I was not paid for a review.

No I was not obligated to share anything about it whatsoever.

Yes, I had a major excited freak out when they arrived and I instantly fell in love with them.

Yes, I am now a paying subscriber to Chatbooks.

Yes, I said “Hey, I want to share this, can you send me an affiliate code?”

Yes, they said “Heck yeah.”

Yes, we receive a small credit when our code is used.

Fair enough, right?

So here goes – use code: MAYHEM for your first book free with a Chatbooks Instagram subscription when you order three books or more.

So you could get three 60 page books for 12 bucks! Not bad, right?

You can thank us when the grandparents open them and cry ;-)

The Cassadee Pope Dress

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This morning we shared our version of Cassadee Pope’s 2014 CMA Awards dress.

Several people asked if the bottom was actually made from paper because it looks so much like fabric. And it is indeed paper.

I found it at a local Michael’s store in the gift wrap section. If you go on a search for it, here’s what you’re looking for:

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It’s seriously very cool stuff. Although I will say that packing tape doesn’t really stick to the glittery side at all. Not a problem for us as it stuck just fine on the backside and we wanted to hide the tape as much as possible.

Then we got asked about the “necklace”.

Which was simply cardstock with jewels glued on. I drew the outline with a pen and then turned Mayhem loose with the glue and jewels. Once the glue dried, she cut it out and we attached it to the front of the dress with glue dots.

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Here’s what the dress looks like with the bottom laid out flat:

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And here it is with the bottom “wrapped”:

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Mayhem is a detail person. To the extreme.

Which is why she also insisted on earrings:

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But my favorite “detail” that caught her eye was the “colored on bracelet” that she insisted she needed.

Luckily we had some skin crayons handy …

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I get asked a lot which dresses are our favorites and it’s always tough to choose. But I have to say, this one is very near the top of the list for me right now. It was a lot of fun to make and we so adored the original.

And I’m pretty sure Mayhem is in agreement with me :)

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Stuff We Love Sundays – NYC

Fresh off another trip to NYC, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite “things” from this go round.

First up, Mood.

FashionByMayhem_NYCOct2014_001CRIt’s as awesome as you think and then some. Also, Mayhem has incredibly expensive taste in fabric. Her first choice was a fabric that was a mere $150/yard. After Keith got me off the floor and put the smelling salts away, we moved on to a less expensive area. (And yes, she did indeed pet Swatch!)

Next up, Liquiteria.

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I was probably more excited than anyone that we stumbled upon one of the Liquiteria locations early one morning. We hadn’t had breakfast yet and I was REALLY craving juice or something not quite so carb heavy, so we all had smoothies. Keith and I opted for the Mean Green (sans mango) while we ordered Mayhem a Skinny (sans protein and fat burner). I was especially excited that customizing the smoothies (to meet Mayhem’s allergies) was absolutely no big deal. The smoothies were DELICIOUS and the service was incredibly friendly as well. To top it off, these smoothies were more than enough to be a meal themselves and we happily sipped while strolling the streets.

And now onto Patsy’s Pizza.

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We discovered on our first trip to NYC that Patsy’s could easily accommodate Mayhem’s allergies and she LOOOOOVES their pizza, so it was an easy choice one day for lunch/dinner. We’re big fans of the margherita pizza … we keep it simple and it’s EXCELLENT! As is the service.

They are clearly two peas in a pod, no?

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Something else we’ve done ALL THREE times we’ve been to NYC this year ….  A double decker bus tour.

Mayhem thinks it’s about the most fun thing ever to ride on the top of the bus and be able to see everything. And since this trip was a quick one without tons of time to explore, it was easy to appease her and sit back and ride around for a couple hours.

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Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that not all hop-on hop-off double decker bus tours are created equal. Somehow we were lucky enough to stumble on the Open Loop Tours on our first trip and it was a fabulous experience. Our second trip we used a different line (well known and well written about) because we happened upon one when we were looking. I’m not a big fan of putting other companies down, but let’s just say it wasn’t nearly as great of an experience. Dirty crowded buses and the service wasn’t as friendly. So this time around, we sought out an Open Loop bus tour. I also found out that we could have purchased our tickets online and simply used mobile tickets to hop on two blocks from our hotel (next time for sure!).

Once again, we had a fabulous experience. Clean new bus with a terrific driver who made it a point to bring us some rain ponchos when it looked like the skies might open up ….

FashionByMayhem_NYCOct2014_007CR Mayhem found the ponchos to be very fashionable and riding in the rain for a few minutes was definitely one of the highlights for her :)

And speaking of transportation, we learned how to ride the subway while we were in town.

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So much easier than we thought it would be and it made getting around super easy since we were short on time. As an added bonus, we got to see the subway rats! They really do exist ;)

And finally, coffee ice cream.

FashionByMayhem_NYCOct2014_008CRNow this is obviously not just an NYC thing, but it came in place of a previous Mayhem favorite. We discovered (much to our horror) on this trip that Mayhem’s beloved Pie Face had closed nearly all it’s locations a mere days before our arrival. (You may recall her love affair with Pie Face from both our first and second trips… )After traipsing across the city to three different locations, we finally gave up. (For the record, their website AND google maps still showed all locations open.) And headed to a little market to pick up some ice cream. Keith and I bought the coffee flavor for us, but after Mayhem had a single bite, she claimed it for her own. And we were left with lemon sorbet ….

We packed a lot into our just over 36 hours in NYC this time around an it was fun to check out some new things while having things that felt “familiar”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’re unexpectedly in love with NYC.

So what should we check out on our next visit?

PS – not sponsored, just sharing the love. Over and out.

She’s Mostly a Great Traveler

Except for one teensy annoying habit.

You know when the plane lands and the pilot reverses the engines or whatever it is that gets so loud and slows the plane down? That’s when Mayhem likes to yell loudly announce “IT JUST FEELS LIKE THIS PLANE IS GOING TO FLIP OVER!!!”

Deepest apologies to any nervous fliers seated around us on past or future flights …
I promise, we’re working on it ;-)

Mayhem Takes Nashville – Part One

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Part one not because I plan to write an additional post on this trip, but rather, we plan to make Nashville a regular destination. Write that down ;-)

A weekend trip far too long in the making, finally became a reality last weekend. With online turned IRL friend, Kristin, playing host and tour guide, we simply couldn’t have asked for a better “first” visit to Music City. (I say first because it was our first time exploring Nashville. I had a conference in Nashville a few years back, but stayed confined to the conference/hotel space.)

First things first, Kristin made arrangements for perfect weather while we were in town. I’m not sure exactly how she did that, but we enjoyed blue skies, plenty of sunshine and perfectly enjoyable “playing outside” weather.

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We started our Friday with an extra special mid-morning treat. I know, I know, treats in the morning …. but this one was of the experiential kind. With a tour of the infamous Manuel’s studio. Manuel is the guy who has blinged out Music City and his client list is basically a who’s who list of country music royalty. Manuel graciously welcomed us into his space and Rachael gave us a tour and taught Mayhem how to rhinestone. After giving a silver scarf the “Mayhem” treatment, we chatted with Manuel about his fascinating 73 year short career in the fashion industry (he started making clothes/accessories when he was 7!!!).

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Lunch time rolled around and this was when I began to worry, as we hadn’t really packed a lunch for Mayhem. It’s no secret that her food allergies have made eating out a challenge for us back in our home city, but through our recent travels, I’ve found that it’s more of a lack of “cook from scratch” restaurants that poses the real problem. I fully intended to make a trip to the grocery store and fix meals for her/us while in Nashville (we were after all, staying in a fully equipped condo) but found on day one that we were going to be just fine enjoying the southern hospitality and some delicious food around Music City. A quick and super friendly conversation with the girls at DeSano let us know that Mayhem’s allergies wouldn’t even be a concern and we placed our order for what would turn out to be quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. They even provided her with some dough of her own to keep her little hands busy while we waited for that perfectly wood fired pizza.

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With full bellies, we headed off to Cheekwood to explore. And pre-burn calories for what would turn out to be a weekend of feasting :) The gardens are beautiful. And a perfect place to let a four year old run. And play. And sing songs that she makes up on a whim.

MayhemTakesNashville_004CRLate afternoon found us enjoying Jeni’s ice cream followed by dinner at Taco Mamacita. Yes, you read that correctly. Ice cream before dinner. Because, why not? (For the record, Mayhem highly recommends the Vanilla Bean and he Backyard Mint, while Keith and I say go for the Coffee with Cream and Sugar!) As for Taco Mamacita, both Kristin and her mom (who was joining us) raved about their food and mentioned it was walking distance. Keith made a quick call before we left (to make sure they could accommodate Mayhem’s allergies) and once again was met with that charming southern hospitality and a “no problem”.  And the food was fantastic! Which was why we ate dinner there on Saturday as well.

Saturday was a day for exploring downtown. We walked around for a bit, checking out a few boot shops and eventually making our way to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I totally denied her request for this ensemble ...

I totally denied her request for this ensemble …

After that we hopped a trolley for a hop on- hop off tour. For the record, I’m not sure I’d recommend this. We opted for this because Mayhem LOVES the double decker bus tours in NYC and we thought it would be a great way to see the city. And it probably is. Our issue was that Kristin called in advance to make reservations (as mentioned on the materials) only to be told reservations aren’t needed and it’s first come, first served. After paying to park downtown and making our way to the trolley station, we were told that we couldn’t get on a trolley for an hour and a half. It’s not that the trolleys were full, but they only allow a certain number of people to board each one and we’d have to wait. I’ll just say there are issues with that particular system because we watched as several half empty trolleys left the station and once we did get on, we rode a half empty trolley until we hopped off. Then we couldn’t get back on as the next one that came around was full. Then we waited for another 45 minutes (not the 20 minutes they advertise) for yet another to come around.

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The good news is Nashville is a fun city and it didn’t suck to be at a stop featuring The Bang Candy Company. Even though we quickly found out that their sweets are not Mayhem allergy friendly. Her disappointment over not being able to have any of the handmade marshmallows faded when I ordered her a lemonade which was made with soda water. After taking a sip, I mentioned it was kind of fizzy, which Mayhem heard as “frizzy”. She quickly declared “frizzy lemonade” to be awesome :)

Yes, Mayhem and Kristin wore matching dresses. Because when you discover your friend has a matching dress, you MUST wear them together ;)

Yes, Mayhem and Kristin wore matching dresses. Because when you discover your friend has a matching dress, you MUST wear them together ;)

We enjoyed the rest of the sights on the second half of our city tour and headed back for a relaxing evening.

Sunday morning found us starting the day with a near meltdown at Pancake Pantry over the fact that their pancake batter has soy in it. It was as if Mayhem had encountered the Pancake Nazi shouting “NO PANCAKES FOR YOU!” and it was just a little more than her four year old self could handle. Especially since her pancake request the previous morning had also been denied at Fido. But our server came to the rescue with some fabulous french toast served with whipped cream on the side.

After breakfast we packed up our stuff and headed off to yet another park to get some activity in before the five hour drive home.

But not before swinging by the Historic RCA Studio B for a few photographs in a Mayhem original made from Nashville Lifestyles covers. We picked this location specifically for the Elvis guitar. Actually, Keith picked this one … because he knew his mom would love it!

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Mayhem, of course, added her own flair ….

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We’ll be excited to take any opportunity that takes us back to Nashville. Such an amazingly family friendly city where we know we barely scratched the surface. We can’t thank Kristin enough for giving us the grand tour. She was the absolute hostess with the mostest and even wrote about our visit as well. She also has an Ultimate Nashville Vacation guide for more fabulous ideas if you’re thinking about a visit to Music City.

Until next time, y’all :)