Birthday Party Prep

We are going a little crazy right now, getting ready for L's birthday party. We have a lot of work to do on the yard, inside the house, and decorations to make before Saturday. To top it all off, L has a bad cough and is really grumpy. And on top of a grumpy preschooler J has a fever, body aches, headache, and chills. So, R and I are staying away from the boys as much as possible and I am trying to get the bare minimum of party prep done before Sat. All this to say that blogging is taking a back seat for the next few days. I hope to be back on Monday with pics of the party and thoughts on my last few days of maternity leave.

12 weeks01My sweet little girl is 12 weeks old already!  I am so enjoying this time home with her and not looking forward to going back to work soon.  I will miss her so much!

My Favorite Shops – Mommy Edition

To continue with my series, here are a few of my favorite shops for myself.  Since my weight (and dress size) fluctuates on a yearly basis, I do not spend much on clothes that will probably not last more than a season.  I am a sucker for well made and unique jewelry and home decor.  Once again, I was not compensated in any way for this post.

iusb_760x100.13851676_abunIf you are ever looking for an excellent quality jewelry gift in gold, silver, or rose gold I recommend this shop.  I have one of their simple silver inital necklaces that I wear almost every day.  J got it for me to commemorate the birth of L, and I am looking forward to getting an R to add to it to commemorate her birth.  When it comes to jewelry, I am a fan of simple and understated pieces with good quality.  On my wish-list are the stitch bar earrings, stackable rings, and the tiny hammered rose gold hoops… hint, hint J…

logo_transIf you haven't heard about Toms shoes yet, I am going to think that you have been living under a rock.  They are an amazingly comfortable pair of shoes that donates a pair to children in need in third world countries every time you buy a pair; their motto is "One for One".  I wore the Toms canvas classics in black to work every day while I was pregnant.  They were comfortable and forgiving on my poor swollen feet.  I am also a fan of their ballet flats and L loved is tiny Toms we got him last year.  One thing to note, there is quite a variance in size between the different styles (I wear a 8.5 in classics, but a 9 in the jutti flats, and an 9.5 in the ballet flats) so check the review to see which way the sizes run, big or small, before ordering.

logoMy favorite thing about this shop is that the inventory is always changing.  My least favorite thing about this shop is that the inventory is always changing.  If you like to browse for great home furnishing ideas, this is the place to go.  Unfortunately, if you find something that you like, you need to jump on it because it will only be around for a short amount of time (sometimes sold out within minutes).  My favorite purchase from here is a rustic sunburst mirror that is currently residing above the fireplace.  I have received many compliments on on it, and getting a large mirror that I love for less that $100 is a major win to me!  I am currently considering a this garden stool to add to our living room.  It has an interesting texture…I just have to find a place to put it…

UntitledI am a sucker for Mommy jewelry.  I never thought I would be, but I just love having necklaces with my kids initials and/or birth stones on them.  This shop does not only make Mommy necklaces, but you can customize a charm necklace to have a variety of items on it for any purpose you could imagine.  I have not had a chance to purchase one of these for myself, but they have been on my wish list for almost 3 years now.

iusb_760x100.12458663_h9e6I love furniture made with reclaimed wood.  The history, texture, and color variation makes each piece unique and a statement.  Currently, I am living with 80% IKEA furniture in my house (durable and cheap cause kids destroy furniture), but as soon as my current coffee table dies (aka. gets so many scratches and dents that even J is embarrassed by it), I am going to be purchasing this beautiful replacement.  It is irresistible, right?

Camping with Little Ones

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Banana slugs are fascinating

Recently we decided to be crazy brave and go camping over the weekend with the kids.  We have taken Liam camping before, just after he turned 1, and it was great.  We were gone for a week and there was lots of family around to give us a hand with him.  This time, we went camping for a weekend with an almost 3 year old and a 2 month old.  Yikes!  Luckily, we happened to go with people that had older kids and they gave us a ton of help with watching Liam.  After this most recent camping experience, I have a few tips to make camping with little ones a little less stressful.  We actually ended up over-packing quite a bit, but I know that if we had left anything out that would be when we needed it.

  1. Bring lots of wipes and then pack even more.  We went through a ton of baby wipes because both kids pooped a ton while camping (of course).  We also used them to clean L's face/hands/feet/arms throughout the day and on our own faces/hands.  They are also nice to use to give your feet a quick wipe-down before bed to keep the sheets clean.
  2. Bring toys for the dirt.  We brought L's construction vehicles and they were a big hit.  They kept him occupied for hours during the trip!  I think we all would have gone a little insane if we didn't have those toys to keep him occupied while in camp.
  3. Plan on the kids being dirty all the time.  
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    You have a little something on your face…

    Every time we tried to clean L's hands up before a meal, he would walk away and start playing in the dirt.  Eventually, we decided to just let him eat with dirt under his fingernails.  Unless you are staying in a cabin (also known as not really camping), dirt is going to be everywhere no matter what you do.  Might as well just give in early and enjoy it.
  4. Citronella candles.  R is to young for bug spray, so the only way to keep her from being eaten by the mosquitos was to hang out near a citronella candle.  It worked great because she didn't get any bug bites… J and I won that lottery.
  5. Make sure there is a good adult to kid ratio.  2 adults to every 1 child is a minimum to have a good time.  This ratio allows time for everyone to relax and sit around the campfire at some point while someone else is chasing the children.  If there are more kids than adults, the camp will quickly be overrun.  In a pinch, older kids can substitute as adults for the purpose of distracting the younger ones.
  6. Pack 2 complete outfits for each day.  We did not end up using all of the clothes we packed for R, but L went through almost all of his (see #3).  Kid clothes don't take up a ton of space, so squish a couple extra onesies or t-shirts in where you can.

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Just watching the trees

You would think that camping with a baby was difficult, but it was the preschooler that was giving us heart palpitations constantly.  The baby just wanted to be held, her food was mobile and available with minimal fuss, and she only woke up once a night and went right back to sleep after eating.  The preschooler was fighting bedtime, refused to nap, picky about his food, and did not understand the concept of "in or out" when it came to the tent.  All in all, just being a normal, exhausting, little boy.

Even with how tiring it was, we had a great time.  L loves being outside (he gets that from J) and the lack of TV just blew his mind.  R enjoyed sitting with me and just staring at the shadows made by the wind moving the trees.  I hope that we can go again later this summer or fall before it gets too cold for the kids. 

My Favorite Shops – Minion Edition

I love looking on ETSY for new clothes and toys for my kids, as I am sure that many parents do as well.  So, I wanted to share a few of my favorite shops that I have come across over the years.  I have not been comped or anything for this post, FYI, these are just my favorite shops to look at and purchase from.

logoBaby headbands!  Having a baby girl, now I realize why people put headbands on their little girls, they are just adorable.  LHS has knotted ones that are just my style, simple and classy.  I am a fan of the Julia collection, being a mom that avoids pink.  No giant bows or flowers in this house.  They also have little dresses, shorts, rompers, and so much more.  If you see something here that you like, buy it quick because they sell out fast!

logo (1)J first saw these moccasins on Shark Tank and made the mistake of telling me about them.  Of course I had to promptly go out and buy a pair!  We used them in my maternity pictures for R, and I can't wait for her little feet to get big enough to wear them.  It is so hard not to buy another pair every time they release new colors (I am drooling over the huckleberry ones) 

 

logo (2)These lightweight, bamboo wraps are a dream for any baby wearing parent.  The colors are classic and the quality is impeccable (and the price is affordable too).  They just restocked their shop, so I am having a hard time not buying one to match every outfit.  My favorite is the grey stripe, but I can't wait to see what colors are coming next!

 

 

il_570xN.610218431_gmq3Lanette made R's birth announcement and L's invites for his 3rd birthday.  I love her modern designs and she is great with custom orders!  She designs all kinds of paper goods for parties, not just invites and announcements.  You can get digital files for cupcake toppers, banners, water bottle labels and much more!

Strike a Chord

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Music has been a part of my life from a very young age.  I remember going to my grandma's house and playing on her piano when I was in kindergarten; there are pictures of me banging on the keys much younger than that even.  In 3rd grade I started to play the recorder with the rest of my class.  I squeaked and squawked that thing to no end, and I can't imagine how annoying it must have been to my family and all the neighbors.  In 5th grade I started the clarinet, inspired by my mom having played the clarinet in high school.  The squeaks from that were much more musical than the dreaded recorder, thankfully.

In 7th grade, my passion for music really took off when I learned to play the bassoon.  I took to this unique instrument with a gusto. I started to also learn the flute and play the piano whenever I could get to a friends house to borrow theirs.  205708_5747353495_2552_n01I kept up with the bassoon through high school and in my freshman year my parents bought a baby grand piano.  This piano was my favorite instrument by far, and I spent hours each day practicing and playing.  My sophomore year in high school I joined the marching band and learned to play percussion.  I was queen of the timpani and a master of the marimba within my first year.  While in high school I also taught myself the oboe for a few specific songs that the director wanted to play.  I attempted to learn the french horn too, but I could never get the "buzz" correct.

Looking back at my long history of music, it is rather sad that my bassoon has been languishing in my closet since college.  I have an upright piano that I try and fiddle on every month or so, but if L is home he pushes my hands away so he can play.  Music has been pushed out of my life by family, work, and chores.  Maybe next year I will make a resolution to bring music back into my life; it was a formative part of my youth and I want my children to participate in music as well.

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Wrong Turns

I have this habit (bad?) of needing to know what the "plan" is for just about everything.  For events, I need to know what time it starts, what time we are leaving, where it is, what I need to bring, and if there is anyone I know there.  Traveling somewhere, I am the person that memorizes the directions before we leave so I know what turn to take next.  I have a plan for life, a plan for my career, and a plan for family.  I realize that plans are not set in stone; circumstances change and plans have to change in response.  I can handle changing plans, because a changed plan is still a plan.  What I cannot handle is wandering around with no direction.  You can imagine how stressful it is for me when I get lost.

The last time I was truly lost was in college.  It was my first day of classes at Cal Poly and I had mapped out my schedule perfectly.  I did not plan to make friends and go with them to lunch.  I ended up eating lunch with my classmates and then having no idea how to get to my next class, let alone back to my dorm room.  After a few minutes of mild freak-out, I looked at the map (this was before smartphones) in my backpack and got myself located.  Even being pseudo-lost for a few minutes made enough of an impact that I remember it.  

I have nightmares of going SCUBA diving and getting separated from the group and being lost in the ocean as my air runs out.  Or not being able to find my car in the mall and my phone being dead so I cannot call for help.  The idea of being lost is a huge source of anxiety to me, but I haven't been lost for over 10 years.  Yes, I am a little bit of a control freak (see first paragraph about plans).

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Back of the Queue

I feel like the Queen of Unfinished Projects.  This prompt was to write about something that I have always wanted to do, but have never done and the reasons for that.  I honestly can't think of anything that I want to do that I haven't at least tried doing yet.  I start something, and then life gets in the way of me finishing it.  A few of my unfinished projects are:

Quilt for R (25% complete):  This requires two hands to do, and recenly R has not been letting me set her down for more than 15 minutes.  So this project is on hold for the forseable future.

Reviews of Video Games and Books (5% complete): I have a ton that I want to write about, but the time it takes to write a comprehensive review can only be found late at night and early in the morning.  I like my sleep more.

Family Picture Collage (20% complete): I bought 12 frames at Target on clearance for this project.  I am going to put a grid of pictures on the wall at the top of the stairs and have one family picture in each frame starting with our wedding photo.  To get the frame evenly spaced and level, this project requires 4 hands, and with J working and me holding R constanly we only have 1 hand between us to work on that.

Photo Wall (50% complete): I have one giant wall of picture frames in a collage upstairs, but I have a connecting wall yet to fill with frames.  I have bins of frames just waiting to be hung up, bins that are taking up space in the office and master bedroom.  This one is just not done because I haven't felt like dedicating a couple days to doing it.  I need to create the paper templates, hang them on the wall, then hang up the picture frames.  That doesn't even include the time it will take to actually put pictures and stuff in the frames.

Blog Archiving (25% complete): I have been making Blurb books of my other (for family) blog to archive it in print form.  I am trying to make one book per year, and I have 2010 completed and on my shelf.  That is the easiet year because I had just started the blog in August and we found out we were pregnant with L in November.  No kids yet =  not many post or pictures.  The subsequent years are a little daunting to archive.

De-clutter House (1% complete): This one is pretty self explanatory.  I just haven't done enough towards this yet.

Unfortunately, I actually have more projects that I have not listed.  These are just the ones that are in the forefront of my mind as my maternity leave is rapidly coming to an end.  I am hoping to finish a few of them before I go back to work, that way I can work feeling a little less stressed about all the things I would rather be doing at home.

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Kids are Messy

Being a mother, I find myself caught in poopy messy situations quite frequently when in public.  It could be milk spilled on my toddler's pants, pasta sauce on his shirt, peanut butter in his hair, or even the baby having a diaper blowout.  It never fails that when I am out for more than a couple of hours, something happens and we run out of one of the diaper bag essentials.  Sometimes we forget to refill the bag.  Sometimes it is just one of those days where the baby goes through 6 diapers in two hours.  Regardless of the reason, there are times when I desperately need another diaper, some wipes, or a fresh article of clothing.

If there was a vending machine with basic kid supplies my life would be just a little bit easier.  Single pack diapers in a few sizes, travel wipes, plain white onesies in different sizes, and maybe even plain white T shirts for mom and dad.  They could be put in airports, theme parks, and shopping malls (basically any place that would not sell these basics normally).  I am so in love with this idea that I even made a picture… yes, the baby was taking a nap and I was avoiding chores.  Yay for crappy computer drawings and procrastination!

Vending Machine

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