Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dear 2013,

2013, you were a good year for this little family of three. You gave us long, meandering drives, family walks, and days at the park. You allowed us to slow down, while also moving forward. You offered us new professional and personal opportunities and taught us to be open to anything. You brought us closer to our families. You made us feel blessed 1000 times over.  
2013 was the year we celebrated 5 years of marriage and 10 years of together. We celebrated 365 days of parenting and simultaneously 1 year of the most amazing little boy we know. We traveled to Hawaii, learned how to lay flooring, and learned how not to swear in front of the baby (some of us are still working on that one...). We learned how to communicate better and be a stronger team.  
In 2013, we focused on eating better, unplugging more often and figuring out all the best ways to make our baby laugh. We overcame sleepless nights, teething, and first-time-parent anxiety. We watched some really great movies, some really terrible ones, read lots of novels, manuals, and board books. We built countless block towers. We cleaned our garage out 4 times and simplified in other areas too. We had date nights and family nights. We taught Hayden to say "pretty" and to be gentle when hugging Lucy. We received the best baby kisses (open-mouthed) and cuddles. We baby-proofed our house and had it painted. We drank good wine and had great conversations.  
Really, 2013 was one for the books for this family. Nothing extraordinary or life changing happened, but the quiet rhythm of our every days was a good one. Of course, we have some resolutions and changes for 2014, but if anything, 2013 taught us to live in the moment and count our blessings. Thank you 2013, for being such a good one. 
Nick, Jessica, & Hayden

Friday, December 20, 2013

5 on Friday

  1. Christmas Cookie Exchange: Last Sunday, I hosted our Christmas Cookie Exchange and it went so well! We had tons of delicious cookies and it was such a fun, festive event. 
  2. Trip to San Francisco: Every Thursday, I work in SF for a little while. Yesterday, Nick and Hayden came into the city to join me after work. We walked around, taking in all the decorated shops, the giant Christmas tree in Union Square, and Hayden consumed his weight in carbs at a delicious Italian Restaurant.  
  3. No more alarm clocks! This was my last day for the next 2 weeks setting my alarm for 4:56 am. I usually get up extra early to do work before Hayden wakes up, but my work load will be a lot lighter until after New Year's, so those 5 am wake up calls aren't necessary! 
  4. Christmas Cards. Ours came in the mail last Friday, and I scrambled to get them out to people this week. All but a few were mailed off on Tuesday, and I feel good that I can check that off my list! 
  5. Fred. Hayden's little lovey (an owl that Nick named Fred) has become a fast friend of Hayden's in the last month. He has slept with Fred in his crib since he was around 6 months old, but all of a sudden his attachment to Fred has really grown. Fred gets to go on adventures with us, plays with Hayden in his room, and gets lots and lots of hugs. We taught him how to say Fred's name and hearing the little "Fweee" is the cutest thing ever ever. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

5 on Friday

Five random happenings of the week... 
1. I think that I can officially say that my Christmas shopping is D.O.N.E. (Haters don't hate) I did the majority of my shopping online and have been wrapping as things arrive. I really like wrapping presents so it's a nice task to do to wind down at night. We also decided to keep Christmas really simple, so I didn't have to buy a ton of gifts. Nick and I have one DIY present for Hayden that we need to start on, but other than that, things are looking good around here. 
2.This weekend I'm hosting a cookie exchange at my house. My mom and I have been hosting the exchange for the last 6 years and it's a fun way to amass a huge amount of cookies to gift to friends, neighbors, and coworkers, without having to spend 25 hours in the kitchen. I like to try at least two new recipes every year and this year I'm attempting these and these


3. My latest discovery. At meals, we almost always give Hayden some kid-friendly silverware to practice his skills. He'll use it for a bit, hold it in one hand and pick up food with the other, then eventually toss it to the ground. The last few meals, I handed him an adult spoon or fork, and he kept it on his tray the entire time. He used a fork yesterday morning to eat an entire plate of scrambled eggs. I think he just wasn't into the kid silverware...
4. Favorite Christmas movies? Do you have movies that you have to watch each year? My list includes Home Alone (1 & 2), Love Actually, and It's a Wonderful Life. I haven't seen any of them yet this season- time to get on the project! 

5. Life with a toddler. As I was sorting mail, Hayden dumped an entire bowl of popcorn (we were working on stringing it) on the living room rug and Lucy was right behind him eating it up, while I went to grab the vacuum. At least they are showing teamwork ;)

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Christmas up in here

    It seems that every year, my Christmas decor gets less and less complicated. Our Christmas decorations take up 6 big boxes in the garage, but this year, I put out maybe only 30% of what was stored in those boxes. I donated a bunch of decorations recently, knowing that we probably wouldn't use them again. Anyway, I think that for the foreseeable future, we will keeping things simple in terms of Christmas. Our busy toddler makes it trickier to have decor up anyway. 
    My favorite is our Christmas mantel. This is my first year buying live greenery and I love it! (only $6 at Trader Joe's). I also added a fresh boxwood wreath and our homemade Christmas trees and snow globes. 
    Our tree is a hodge podge of meaningful family ornaments, which I love. We strategically placed only a few non-breakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree so that Hayden could explore the tree without any worry.
    My sister gave us this beautiful Nativity scene for Hayden's baptism and I was excited to put it out for the first time this Christmas.
    Our entry way also got a dose of Christmas cheer with a felt ball garland and some red and green and blue decorations.

    In our dining room, I wanted to make things simple and whimsical and a little Buddy the Elf-ish. So I cut out some paper snowflakes and handmade the Joy to the World Garland. 
    {please note the 3 little finger swipes through the word "and"..}
    Everything is simple and festive without being too overdone. It feels so cozy in our house with the Christmas lights, fresh greenery and Christmas candles and music. We are loving this holiday season :)  

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Toddler Busy Boxes

    Balancing working from home, taking care of a busy toddler, and managing housework, cooking, etc. has definitely taken some adjusting. However, now 6 months into our "new" routine, I feel like things have settled into a nice, manageable rhythm. One thing that has really helped me is setting up "busy boxes" for Hayden. I saw many versions of these on Pinterest. The basic concept is to fill a container with interesting and engaging items that your child will play with independently. 
    I had a bunch of small rubbermaid containers that I purchased in my former life as a teacher. I sorted all of Hayden's smaller toys and household items by categories and then filled each of the boxes with those toys. Everything is currently in a box with similar items. For example, Hayden has a "music" box, which includes toys and household items that make noise or music. He also has boxes for: puzzles, wooden toys, his train set, vehicles, measuring, circles, giraffes, colors, and seasonal activities. Not everything in each box is strictly a toy. He has measuring cups and spoons, lids, bottles, and other items that came from around our house. 
    As his developmental needs change, I think that the boxes will continue to evolve and probably be less homogenized. For now though, having everything organized like this makes it so easy to clean up.  
    The boxes have been great for when I need to take a phone call for work, prep dinner, or get ready in the morning. Although Hayden loves to explore the items in each box, he also enjoys pulling everything out and putting it back in. We've been using the "busy box" system for the last 6 months and he hasn't tired of it yet!

    Monday, December 9, 2013


    It took me awhile to jump on the bootie bandwagon- I just wasn't sure that I could pull them off. After seeing so many cute outfits via Pinterest dressed up with cute booties, I decided to take the plunge and purchased a dressy black pair from Target (low commitment, if I didn't end up loving them). I have worn them a few times already this holiday season and I'm a fan. Now, I kind of want to add a brown pair to my collection. However, this time I think that I definitely want some that are a little more casual that fit with my slouchy-chic mom style (haha!). Here are 4 pairs that I like. Maybe, just maybe Santa will leave a pair under the tree for me... 

    {My favorite pair, I think! via}

    (The third pair is from Nordstrom- blogger won't let me link to it for some reason) 

    Friday, December 6, 2013

    5 on Friday

    1. The Big 5-0. Last week my dad threw my mom a birthday party for her 50th. My sister and I handled the decorations and it was so fun pulling together this table for the dinner party. We just used big lanterns, borrowed candlesticks from everyone we knew and used a bunch of greenery from relatives' yards. We also scattered pictures of my mom through the years all around the table. It was a really fun night and a great celebration for a lovely lady! 
    2. Oh Christmas Tree. We decorated our Christmas tree on Monday night. Hayden put on and took off the same three ornaments about 10 times before he headed off to bed. He hasn't shown too much interest in dismantling the tree since it's been decorated and I'm crossing my fingers that his disinterest lasts through the holidays! 
    3. Family Pictures. We had pictures taken a couple weeks ago by a local photographer, Nicole Petersen. We got them back this week, just in time to order our Christmas cards. I love how they turned out! Nicole was so great, especially since poor Hayden was sick and cranky, and his smiles were few and far between. 
    4. Festive Night. Last night we headed to our downtown Christmas parade and tree-lighting. Since it didn't look like the tree-lighting would happen until 8, we only stayed for the first half of the parade so that Hayden could get to bed on time. We had fun seeing lots of animals and dancing to some festive Christmas music. 
    5. The Sound of Music. Most people in my family are big Sound of Music fans. I was really excited about watching the Live show last night. I know not everyone liked it and it definitely wasn't as good as the movie but I loved it and thought it was really well executed for a live performance! 

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    Toddler Felt Christmas Tree

    If things at your house go anything like they do at mine, then you know it can be tricky to get dinner on the table some nights. Usually dinner prep hour seems to be the time when I end up doing everything one-handed because Hayden is not satisfied doing his own thing. I try to introduce new toys and cooking utensils to him to pique his interest and give me 5 more 2-handed minutes to prep dinner.
    On a whim, I grabbed my supply of felt and cut out a Christmas tree and attached magnet tape to the back of it and stuck it to the fridge.
    Then I cut out a star and some christmas ornaments from other colors of felt, to create a mini felt board. I stored all those items in a little tupperware container. 
    Hayden enjoys taking all the pieces of felt out one-by-one, and putting them on the tree and then putting them all back into the container again. It's been a fun activity to keep him engaged for the past week.
    Since I had all the materials on hand, this project was free to me and didn't take more than 5 minutes to assemble.  

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