Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 2015

Though Christmas seems like a distant memory already, I wanted to document it nonetheless, particularly since it was Charlotte's first one! Our Christmas stretched on for a week or so and involved some cross-country travel. We started out on December 19th with a faux-Christmas Eve. We read the night before Christmas, delivered cookies to our neighbors, had a Christmas Eve feast. and the kids got new pajamas to wear to bed. 
Santa's elves worked quickly to put some finishing touches on a play kitchen for Hayden and Charlotte and a few new food items to go along with it. On December 20th, Nick and I got up early, made a fire, cooked cinnamon rolls, and had the room ready for Christmas morning. Naturally, Hayden slept in till almost 9 am, giving us more than enough time to prepare.
Both kids (okay, mostly Hayden) were excited about the kitchen. Hayden kept exclaiming, "My kitchen is back! My kitchen is back" because my parents had one for him at their house in California.  The kids opened their presents slowly and enjoyed playing with their new toys. We try to subscribe to the something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read list for presents so that it wasn't too overwhelming or out-of-control. 
Since the kids were so engrossed in their gifts, we ended up throwing a blanket down right in front of the Christmas tree and enjoying our breakfast picnic style. It was such a cozy and relaxing morning.
That evening, Hayden, Charlotte and I boarded a plane for San Francisco. I think it went pretty well considering it was just me and both kids. There were so many kind fellow travelers that offered to carry bags, hold babies, switch seats, and any other assistance we needed. Both kids slept most of the way and we made it to CA in one piece.
We spent a relaxing week at my parents house, with my siblings all hanging out each night. Nick joined us mid week.
We went to my in laws for Christmas Eve and Hayden had such a good time playing with his cousins all day long!

Christmas Day we spent with my family and we had a quiet day with 3-hour naps for both kids!

Even though it seems like a lot, I really enjoyed our Christmas celebrations this year. We had enough time to focus on each of our families and enough time just for our family of four.  

Goodbye 2015

My 2015 self is laughing at my 2014 self and my thoughts of slowing down and simplifying our lives. Instead, we seemed to do the opposite this year as we welcomed baby Charlotte, sold our first house, bought our second, and moved from the west coast (best coast) to the east coast. Maybe this season of life isn't really about slowing down, but embracing the ever-changing excitement the seems constant. 
2015 was definitely an exciting year for our little family of 4! With a new baby, a new job, a new house, our life is of last year is almost unrecognizable. It was a good year, but also a challenging one. We faced months apart, some of those big life stressors (new baby, moving!), and had to say goodbye to our families and friends. We had time for quiet moments at home and  I have had the pleasure of watching Hayden and Charlotte  grow and change daily. Above all, 2015 has brought me peace and joy in my role has their momma. We are looking forward to the new year with hope and clear eyes! Happy New Year's Eve! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

5 on Friday

1. Easy, festive snack. Thanks to some inspiration from Pinterest, I made these Santa Hat kabobs yesterday for a little playgroup snack. They are just sliced bananas, strawberries, and mini marshmallows on a long kitchen skewer. Super easy and all the kids (with the exception of my fruit-hating Hayden) had several. 
 2. Officially official! I finally got to the DMV this past week to turn in my CA license and get my NJ one. Surprisingly taking 2 kids to the DMV on a Wednesday morning was pretty painless! 
3.  Santa is coming (early!) We are flying out to CA for the holidays, but wanted to celebrate our own family Christmas with the kids before we left. We are having our Christmas Eve on Saturday night and Christmas morning on Sunday before our flight that evening. Santa may or may not be bringing our babies a play kitchen (And I may or may not be more excited about it than they likely will be). 
4. Flying... speaking of our trip, the kids and I are flying solo on Sunday while Nick stays in NJ and finishes up work for the year. We are taking a later flight so I'm hoping my babies are well behaved and sleep the whole time (ha!)
5. Cozy sweaters: My favorite store, Anthropologie is have 40% all their sweaters right now AND they will still ship (standard) in time for the holidays. I love this one and this one especially! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Him

stocking stuffers for him

Trolli Sour Cola Bottles 1kg Bag, $8.77 / Fair isle socks / J.Crew striped socks / Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream White Eagle / Harry's Winter Essentials / The Carry on Cocktail Kit Old Fashioned / Tabasco Original Sauce, Pepper, 12 Ounce / Oakland Map Print / Earphones for Apple Iphone 5 (White)

And now for the man in your life, these are probably all things Nick will be receiving in his stocking (sorry for the spoiler, love!). It's really fun to find smaller gifts at a lower price point, especially since men are notoriously tricky to gift! 

5 on Friday

1. Blogger Book Exchange: This year we participated in a Blogger Book Exchange and we received books from Nina @ The Joni Journey and some fun Mickey chocolates which are highly prized around here ;) I received the book everyone's been talking about, The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up and Hayden and Charlotte received Goodnight Construction Site! Love both books and this fun little exchange!
2. Speaking of books... this is the sweetest Christmas book: Hayden and I picked this one out at Target a couple of weeks ago and I tear up every time I read it. I feel like Nancy Tillman is the Jodi Picoult of board books, all her books make me teary!
3. Nick and I are going out for 2 dates this weekend! Tomorrow we are going Christmas shopping sans kiddos, which will be a new experience for us. Sunday night we have the babysitter booked again for a holiday dinner out on the town.
4. Christmas festivities... We continue to try and be out and about during the days as we explore New Jersey. There have been a lot of great Christmas activities in our area. This week, we went to a Gingerbread house competition, a (free) Christmas music class, an International Holiday party at the library, and a cute little Gingerbread cafe where we shared a couple of sweets. Loving this season and all these fun activities with the babes. 
5.  Lighting... We love love love our new house but the lighting situation is really subpar. We have some seriously outdated and ugly fixtures in every single room of the house. My mom was here last week and thanks to her and my dad, we are receiving 4 new sconces to remedy our living room lighting situation. I can't wait for them to arrive (and be installed, Husband...). One room down, many to go! 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Her

stocking stuffers for her

All Roads Design kitchen linen / Voluspa candle / Gap socks / Dylan s Candy Bar belt / Smashbox makeup primer / Living Proof dry shampoo / The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up The Japanese Art of Decluttering... / Illume Spring's Eden Matches / live joyously

This year, with our holiday travels and just buying a new house, Nick and I decided to just exchange stockings. I actually really love to buy stocking stuffers because it's a fun challenge to purchase thoughtful gifts that won't break the bank. All these items are under $20, which make them good gifts for a gift exchange or white elephant. What are some stocking stuffers you love to give/receive?

I have one for the guys too, which I'll share later today! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

a little style secret

I've wanted a pair of hunter boots for a while now, but living in CA, I really couldn't justify buying a pair (It's a super drought out there, people!). Now that I'm a New Jersey resident with real weather to look forward to, I decided to finally buy a pair. As rain boots go, Hunters are definitely not the cheapest, coming in at $150/pair. 
However, after reading this fashion blog, I decided to order a pair of kids boots instead of the normal adult ones. Because of the length of the boots, I wasn't sure that an adult pair would work on my more petite frame. The kids boots are shorter and significantly cheaper (almost half the cost of the adult boots). They also look exactly the same (same color, same style) except for  small reflector strips on the back (which was not a deal breaker for me). I usually wear a size 6 and ordered a size 4 in kids.  
So, if you're a shorty like me and have smaller feet, this is a cheaper and perhaps better fitting option for you! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

fun and festive

December is turning out to be such a fun month! We are loving all the traditional festive activities of the month and our first Christmas as a family of 4! Life is so different from 12 months ago and this season is simultaneously hectic and peaceful. So far, we've decorated our tree and house, visited Santa, built a festive hot chocolate station, consumed way too much candy while attempting our gingerbread house, went to our town's Christmas tree lighting, and watched our fair share of Christmas movies and read all our favorite Christmas books. Hayden is so excited about all things Christmas and Charlotte is enjoying the new sights and sounds of the season. No snow yet in New Jersey, which is okay with us!

Monday, December 7, 2015

10 months of Charlotte Mae

(I wrote the post when Charlotte was actually 10 months old on 11.6.15, but somehow didn't get around to posting it until just now!) 
Our little babe's birthday is right around the corner and I can't believe how fast this year has gone/ how much our life has changed since she was born. Little C is such a sweet thing and we are loving her emerging personality (so different than Hayden's!). The other night at dinner, she was sitting with us and eating and kept cracking herself up. We couldn't figure out why she was laughing, but whatever it was, she would burst into giggles every few seconds. 
This little one has been working on separating from Momma just a bit; we've been going to the gym 3  - 4 times a week and she has been doing better and better with the hour away. We are hoping this makes for an easier transition so that Momma and Daddy can have some nights out every once in a while.  She is a Momma's girl through and through, but she lights up every time she sees Daddy. 
 Month 10 was probably her worst month of sleeping ever- we blame it on the 4 weeks she spent in a travel crib, sharing a room with her brother. She would wake up 5-7 times a night on average, and not be satisfied unless she was nursing. 
Speaking of nursing, it hasn't been my favorite this time around and I really can't pinpoint exactly why. With Hayden, I wasn't in love with it, but I didn't mind it at all and mostly enjoyed the time together. With Charlotte, I'm counting down to her birthday when I'll start weaning her. I know that I can/(maybe should?) go longer, but I have the year mark in my head as an ending point and it feels right. She has been taking a bottle from me/Nick the last few nights without trouble, so I think we are on the road to weaning. I plan on being very gradual about the whole process...I'm not really sure why it's not for me this time around, but I guess it's different with every baby?
Moving on- this girl LOVES to eat anything and everything we are eating. She says "na-na" for more food and slams her hands on her tray impatiently if we don't keep it full of food. She loves fruit- berries or any kind, apples, and grapes are what she's been eating lately. She is not very picky and seems to be eating Brother under the table lately. 
As for movement, she has perfected her army crawl and can get across the room amazingly fast. We are really careful with what is in her reach these days. She doesn't seem to care about crawling in the traditional sense, maybe because she's got this way figured out? As for standing, she loves to pull up on anything that's her height (the dishwasher...) and is so proud when she stands. I don't see her walking anytime soon- which is fine because I think Miss Independent will be trouble once she's on her feet!
Anyway, that is Miss Charlotte Mae in a nutshell at this point!  

Monday, November 30, 2015

our Thanksgiving Weekend

Our Thanksgiving was a little different that we originally planned. We were supposed to go to a friend's house (who also has a child) but both kids (and Nick and me) ended up getting sick last week, so we decided to play it safe and cancel our plans. We were a bit homesick on Thanksgiving Day, missing our family and California- particularly since my sister had just left our house on Wednesday. 
However, we ended up having a really nice day. We got up early (naturally, with 2 kids) made some breakfast and then watched the parade for a bit. We made some cookies during Charlotte's nap and then headed to a park to run off some energy.
We made a small dinner with a turkey breast from Whole Foods, some homemade rolls, potatoes and cranberry sauce and some store-bought stuffing. My sister sweetly made a pumpkin pie for us before she left so we had that to enjoy as well!
 After dinner (of which the kids ate approximately 3 bites each), everyone took their nightly dose of Tylenol (ha!) and we sat down to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol. It was a quiet holiday, but it ended up being so nice. 
On Friday, we avoided all shopping and went to pick out our Christmas tree at a local farm instead. Since it wasn't really like a tree lot, the trees weren't labeled by height and they all looked about the same size. When we got home, we realized the tree must be close to 10 feet tall- it nearly touched the ceiling.
As I was putting lights on it, I found a bird nest deep in the branches... The whole experience was very Christmas Vacation-ish. This year, decorating was so fun because Hayden really got into it and was hanging everything at the 1 foot level.... Charlotte was on the clean-up crew taking the ornaments down as he put them up... Needless to say, all the ornaments have been moved upward into the tree.
 We are having a small early Christmas with just the four of us in a couple weeks before we head out to California for the rest of the holiday season. This is my favorite time of the year! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

thanksgiving tablescape

I love a good table scape and the holidays are always a great excuse to dress up the table with a little something extra. We aren't actually celebrating Thanksgiving at home this year, but I still wanted a little decoration here before it's full-on Christmas mode. We don't currently use the dining room, but we walk through it about 10 times a day (it has a swinging door into the kitchen, so it's obviously Hayden's favorite route through the house). This means I get to see the prettily set table quite often. 
Anyway, for a table scape, I'm a big fan of using what you have and adding a few fresh elements to the mix. My favorite (and most pinned) tables include candles + fresh flowers + natural elements + a little something glam.
In this particular table scape:
  • Candles: tapers and tea lights
  • Natural elements: a branch from our yard + some pumpkins and gourds that we've had since Halloween
  • Something glam: those gold candlesticks are from Target's fall line and I love them so much. I feel like they'll be making continued appearances, regardless the season.  
  • Now let's chat about the flowers for a minute... I usually get my flowers from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods (this time some pale purple roses and white hydrangeas), but I also appreciate a well-designed floral arrangement. These can be great if you don't have the confidence to arrange your own flowers or are looking for something more elevated . One option that is a step up from your grocery-store-variety is BloomNation. They offer a huge selection of online bouquets, curated from local florists (I love this one!). I really think flowers can be the key to a beautiful table. 
How are you decorating your Thanksgiving table this year?  
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