Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Motherhood and Perfect Moments

The days are long, but the years are short. I hear this all the time and I know it's true. I can already feel myself wistfully reminiscing about the newborn days, while loving my toddler and preschooler with my whole heart. These years where you give yourself completely and unselfishly to two small and dependent people- with the awesome responsibility of developing them into good people- can take its toll. There are days when every moment goes as planned, but many (many) more days that aren't picture perfect- those moments that are loud, chaotic, messy, full of tears and tantrums. There are days when folding and putting away tiny laundry is the biggest accomplishment.  
The other night we planned on getting our tree after Nick got home from work. As I went through the evening of trying to feed Charlotte an early dinner (which she didn't eat), changing her diaper as she tried to kick me, and wrestle her into her boots and hat, facing a terrible tantrum, neither of us were in the mood for that perfect family outing of picking out our Christmas tree. But tonight had to be the night... as she threw several tantrums during the process and screamed all the way home, I couldn't help feeling frustrated about the "ruined" night and our bad moods.  
I got her ready for bed before we even took our tree inside. Soon after I closed her door, I began to hear her wailing "momma" over and over again from her room.  
I pulled her out of her crib and she clung tightly to me as I rocked her in the soft glow of her night light. We listened to some quiet Christmas songs while I rubbed her back and she clutched my shirt, gradually drifting off to sleep. With this sweet head of curls nestled on my chest, I let go of my frustrations of the day and felt grateful for this quiet, rare moment with my baby. She's nearly 2 and I know our nights of me rocking her to sleep are becoming increasingly rare. I cherish these peaceful moments when it feels like we are the only ones in the world and when I'm reminded that these times are the most important. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

5 Quiet Time Activities

As a work-from-home momma, nap time is a sacred 2 hours of the day where I get as much work done as possible. About 6 months ago, Hayden started transitioning out of naps. To save the time for working, I instituted quiet time in the place of nap time. Hayden was more than happy to play in his room and have quiet time. However, without any given activity, he would inevitably take out every. single. toy. in his room and wind up with a huge mess at the end of each day. So, I started scouring Pinterest for some ideas. (You can check out my Quiet Time board here.)
1. Paper, scissors, glue stick, and scotch tape (you can buy cheap off-brand tape): Hayden loves this and makes creations with paper. This activity can keep him engaged for over an hour.
2. Spider web and tongs: I laced ribbon through a basket with holes and put a bunch of plastic spiders down in the basket. (You could also use pom poms or other small objects). I gave him a pair of plastic ice tongs and had him reach between the "web" to collect all the spiders.
3. Money sorting: Another favorite! I collected change from around the house and gave him 4 little containers (I happened to have money stickers from my teaching days but you could also tape a coin on top to designate). He would sort the money, dump it out and sort it again. I also put out a toy cash register for him.
 4. Toothpicks and marshmallows: This is a fun building activity. Kids can create shapes by linking the marshmallows and toothpicks together. 
5. Sorting by color: I dyed a bunch of rice different colors and collected random objects that are the same color. I had the kids sort the objects based on the color of the rice. They both liked the feeling of the rice and we are still playing with these boxes 2 months later.
6. DIY Slime: Hayden is obsessed with this and he's very careful, so I trust him to play with it in his room without super vision. It's super easy to make and I give him a giant cookie sheet and lots of play dough tools.  He's very good about keeping the slime on the cookie sheet so it doesn't get on the rug or anywhere else. 
Not all the activities I plan are winners, but with trial and error, I've found a few that he loves! This plan has decreased screen time in our house. Even when I give Hayden the option of using the iPad, he typically chooses to play in his room. I can't wait to break out some more winter/holiday themed activities. I'd love to hear what creative independent play ideas you have for your kids! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

our thanksgiving

This year, we hosted our first family Thanksgiving in New Jersey. Nick's family flew in on Sunday night and our house was full of people, food, and laughter for the week. We had 9 people total and though sleeping quarters were tight, we made it work! This was our first Thanksgiving without Nick's dad which made the holiday very bittersweet. On one hand, we are so thankful for all the blessings that we have and the chance to be together. It's still so hard to imagine life without him and his absence is felt even more strongly on big family gatherings. 
The kids' cousins kept Hayden and Charlotte busy, happy, and entertained. It was sweet to see them running around the house, playing together, making up their own silly dinner conversation, and cuddling together for movie nights on the couch. I put together a quick video of our Thanksgiving week, which I'll share below! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! XOXO


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Our Finished Guest Room

We started our guest room makeover in early September, knowing that with a slew of guests visiting us this fall, we wanted a pretty, relaxing space, rather than a thrown-together room for all who visited. Our expenditures were pretty minimal but the transformation is huge. I wish I had some better before pictures, but this from when we toured the house will have to do. The room was painted sage green. We had a bed, a great mattress, a dresser with a TV leaning on the wall, and some nightstands and lamps.

Our first step was to pain everything white. This room is 7 steps down from our main floor so it's not quite the basement and not quite the first floor. It gets lovely light from the three windows but felt dark with the green paint. The white paint brightened up the whole room and made it feel clean and spacious.

Next, Nick added a railing to the stairs. There aren't many of them, but we aren't quite sure how the house passed inspection without a railing since it drops off and there's a floor heater that someone could fall on, should they step off the stairs. He bought the pieces from Home Depot and made the railing himself. It's perfect!

I rearranged the furniture, and added a couple of art pieces, and lots of plants. I love the look of green plants next to a crisp white wall.

Nick mounted our dangerously leaning TV and hid all the cords. It makes the bed a nice spot to watch movies with the kids when we don't have guests.

We wanted this room to be functional when not being a guest room, so we added a desk. I have to tell you, I've been working from home for 3 and a half years and have primarily worked on my bed or the couch all that time. It's so so nice to have a dedicated office space that's quiet, away from the other things in the house I need to take care of (dirty dishes, laundry, etc.) and working without leaning over my laptop is such a game changer for my back! The desk is from Crate and Barrel and surprisingly affordable.

I made the art myself, using an old wooden board and a lot of my kids paints (classy!). We wanted something big with some color on this wall so that the white room didn't feel sterile. A few more detail shots....

 We're so happy with a clean, bright space for work and guests! 

(affiliate links used) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween Recap

My parents flew in this past weekend to visit and celebrate Halloween with us and we all had the best time! On Saturday morning we took the train into New York and saw The Book of Mormon with parents while the kids stayed home with a babysitter. It was irreverent, hilarious, and we had the best time. 

On Sunday, we carved our pumpkin, letting my Dad design and execute the requested lion pumpkin. Neither of the kids wanted to get their hands dirty so they just danced around to the Monster Mash.

On Halloween, we had a busy schedule, with a parade at Hayden's school to start the morning off.

In the afternoon, we woke Charlotte up from her nap early (hence the grumpy face in these pictures) for trick-or-treating downtown. Hayden is really into The Lion Guard and The Lion King right now so he wanted to be a lion. I found this cute cape on Amazon and made the rest of the costume. Charlotte was a fox and her adorable dress was made by my mom. She wore the ears for approximately 15 minutes...  
Once Charlotte figured out the concept, she was very happy to say "Trick-or-Treat" and carry her increasingly-heavy pumpkin. She didn't let anyone else carry it for her and she has been calling candy "trick-or-treat" ever since. Hayden definitely had the concept down from the start and he loved the whole experience as well. 
After a dinner of mummy dogs at home, we went back out into the neighborhood to meet some friends and trick-or-treat a little more. Let's just say that my candy stash is now very well-stocked! It was such a fun few days with Halloween.
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