Friday Features {8.27.21}

We are currently en route to Pennsylvania for the weekend for Justin’s grandma’s memorial service. We’ll be gone all weekend so I thought it was a good day for a small roundup of Friday Features – just the random little things that have happened around here lately!

Cozy Bedroom Corner

A few weeks ago, I shared how I brought this gorgeous rust colored chair into what was a somewhat awkward corner in our bedroom and this week, I finally got around to finishing off the space. I considered adding artwork above the chair, but since I’ve included so much in the gallery wall I decided to print off and frame one of our new family photos instead. I like that the asymmetrical mat makes it feel a little extra unique! I snagged a small black table from Target and topped it off with a dried floral arrangement from a local florist with a candle and book. I also tossed a soft textured striped throw blanket over the chair. Now the awkward corner that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with is such a cozy spot in the room – I love it!

Playing Chalk

On Wednesday, Justin had the kids for most of the day while I got lots of work done and ran multiple errands. When I got home from one, they were all playing outside. LJ saw me and asked in his sweet little voice “Mommy, will you come play chalk with me?” It was one of those perfectly ordinary moments that stopped me in my tracks. I love that he loves to involve me in his activities and genuinely wants to play with me. He has such a sweet, tender heart and it was so nice to put everything else on the back burner and spend some time drawing shapes and lines (LJ “taught” me how to draw an x haha) with my little boy.

Vintage Sale Finds

I love going to @carpendaughter‘s vintage sale and this year’s was another great one! I scored some really cool pieces that I’m excited to incorporate into our home. I shared this on Instagram: “There is something about being able to find little treasures that are unique and come with a story and some history. They have passed through different hands, been part of different homes, and now they’re going to be part of ours. It makes me so happy!”

Unlocked Memories

While putting together our gallery wall, I wanted to include some special mementos of ours. It was so fun to comb through our memory box and find ticket stubs from concerts, movies, and museums, a coaster from a Wisconsin bar, our honeymoon boarding passes, notes, cards, and letters we wrote, chips from a casino event we attended, the list goes on! I loved how each item unlocked a memory of trips we’ve taken, events we attended, things we’ve done together. It’s just a special little collection of our relationship and I really enjoyed picking out a few things to display on our wall, including this museum pass from our trip to Italy several years ago. Art doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be the most special and/or valuable things. Frame what makes you happy – and this memento definitely does!

National Dog Day

Apparently yesterday was National Dog Day? Thanks to social media for letting me know! I don’t share much about the dogs these days, but they are definitely a big part of our family life at home! Macie is spunky and playful and always up for swimming, playing fetch, or doing anything with people. She’s slowed down a bit over the last couple years but she’s still our energetic girl! Scout has always been our more reserved boy – he loves to curl up and cuddle for most of his days, but he perches up on our landing so he can see out the window and is so faithful with letting us know when someone is coming up our driveway. He’s our little guard dog! We love our fur babies so much.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Vi is TWO!

I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but my baby girl turns two years old today!

Vi is my totally fearless adventurer. She eats pretty much any new food that is placed in front of her and she is always up for trying new things. She always wants to be thrown high in the air or climb up on the big kids playground or jump around in the bounce house. I think she’s a bit of a thrill-seeker!

She absolutely loves anything to do with water. Whether it’s splashing in the bath tub or playing in the water table or participating in swimming lessons or jumping into the pond (with her floaties on!), she loves to be in and around water. She loves to run into the pond and swim and swim and swim. Her current favorite movie is Luca and I think it’s because of all the water!

She also loves animals – she is interested in everything from a dog at the park to a horse in a pasture to a bug crawling on our floor. She loves going to the zoo (a surprise zoo trip is her birthday present today!)

Vi is a mama’s girl through and through. She insists on mama putting her down for bedtimes and naptimes and she’s always reaching for me and wanting to be with mama. I’m trying to soak it up now, because I know being the preferred parent won’t last forever!

Vi wants to do anything and everything her big brother does. While they often bicker and struggle to share, they are also really great about looking out for one another and loving one another well. They color together, play together, hug one another in the morning and blow kisses good night. I love watching their sweet sibling bond develop!

Recently, she has become very into dressing up. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve found her in my bedroom, trying on all my bracelets and necklaces. She also loves getting her nails painted and has started requesting dresses to wear during the day. For her birthday I made her a clothing rack for dress up clothing and asked our family members to contribute something to a dress up collection. It was a HUGE hit!

Her party was simple and didn’t have a theme or much in the way of decorations, but we did order some Luca-themed cookies for our water-loving girl.

My sweet V, I love you more than words can say. You changed our lives two years ago and we are so so grateful for every day with you. ❤

How We Minimize Gifts at Birthdays (+ Inspiration for Vi’s Birthday Gift!)

I cannot believe I am typing these words, but in one week from today, Vi will turn TWO. YEARS. OLD. What!?

We are having a small birthday party on Saturday with family to celebrate our sweet girl. I’ve shared this before, but until our kids turn three (in my opinion, the age they start to actually understand birthdays) we keep birthday celebrations very low key. Gatherings are small and family-only, food is simple, decorations are minimal, and we get a little creative with gift-giving.

To be clear, I’m throwing zero shade at people who like to go big on baby/toddler birthdays or shower their young children with gifts. Truly, you do you; we’re not judging anyone else’s choices. For me personally, planning an elaborate party feels like a lot of work and stress for low reward (my one year old is as happy with a single balloon as an entire balloon arch). And when it comes to gifts, which are generally toys, Justin and I just personally want to keep things at a level that is manageable for our family. Our house feels better when it’s not overrun with toys, our kids play with toys longer when they aren’t overwhelmed with choices, and at ages one and two, our kids don’t realize what they’re “missing out” on by not receiving toys anyways. Cards are always appreciated though and our kids love receiving them!

Today I thought I’d share what we do for their first and second birthdays (at age three, we ramp things up a bit – LJ had balloons and gifts and understood enough to be so excited to celebrate!) I’m also sharing our plans for Vi’s birthday gift this year, which also just happens to be my next DIY project.

First Birthdays: No gifts, but donations are appreciated!

A straight-up “no gifts” request can be awkward. Some people feel bad showing up with no gift, so they bring a little something anyways; unfortunately, this can then make those who listened to the request and didn’t bring a gift then feel bad because others brought gifts and they didn’t. It’s uncomfortable for everyone and can be frustrating for the hosts who truly didn’t want gifts. We have found that a solution that works for everyone is donations. No one feels uncomfortable arriving empty-handed, but no gifts are given and a great cause is supported. Win win win!

For their first birthdays, we asked that in lieu of gifts, anyone who wanted to could bring donations for a cause that was special to us. We are so thankful that our families were super supportive and happy to donate instead of buying gifts. For LJ’s first birthday, we collected books for a local organization that distributes them to hospitalized children and for Vi’s first birthday, we collected household items (paper towels, cleaning supplies, basic hygiene items, etc) for our church’s ministry supporting local families in need.

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I especially like this because it works for many budgets. People could bring one small, inexpensive item or multiple items. We didn’t unwrap them, there wasn’t a big production – just a table set aside for people to put donations on when they arrived.

I think it helps people to honor your requests if they can hear your reasonings for it and understand the impact they can have with their donation, so we send an email with the party details ahead of time. I usually say something like “While we are requesting no gifts for [child], if you would still like to bring something, we ask that you consider bringing a donation to xyz. This organization is important to us because of ____ and we’re looking forward to making a donation in [child]’s honor.”

Second Birthdays: One “big” gift + family participation

For LJ’s second birthday, we decided to give him one big gift – a secondhand train table – and we asked everyone in our family to decorate a train to go with it. This was actually a really fun way to get our families involved without getting a ton of gifts, and we loved seeing everyone’s decorated train. We have some super creative family members and it’s a truly unique train set that is so special! LJ loves it and has gotten SO much use out of it – much more than he would’ve gotten out of 15 individual toys.

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Which brings me to Vi’s birthday! We wanted to find a big gift that family could contribute items to in a way that fit her unique needs and interests. I came up with the idea to gift her with a small clothing rack (she is currently obsessed with trying on all my jewelry and shoes!) and ask family members to consider contributing something to a dress up collection.

As I said in my email to the family: “This can be a costume, play shoes, accessories, whatever! It can be new, it can be hand-me-down, it can be found secondhand, it can be an outfit, it can be a small item like a necklace or hat or something.” I didn’t want anyone to feel an obligation to spend lots of money or find something fancy because she will honestly love anything.

Trying on mama’s bracelets after church

My plan is to DIY the clothing rack so it fits the dimensions in our playroom perfectly. I don’t have much time (the party is in five days!) but it’s okay because I’m imagining a relatively simple design. I just want it to include a rod for hanging clothes and at least one shelf for storing a bin or two for shoes and accessories.

Here’s some of the inspiration I’ve gathered so far:

Credit: Target

Let Operation DIY Birthday Gift project begin!

Friday Features {5.14.21}

Good morning! It’s been a big week this week, so today I’m sharing some of the things that have been going on with our home and family.

Kitchen Island Light Fixure

Our kitchen refresh is officially finished! I shared the first part of the reveal a couple weeks ago but there was one thing left on my to-do list: replacing the fluorescent light over the island! I ordered a new light fixture over a month ago but the original estimated delivery date was between July 29-August 2. Well for once, I’m thrilled that a shipping date was off by a couple months because the fixture arrived earlier this week! Justin installed it and we are both thrilled with how it elevates the look of the kitchen.

$1000 Kitchen Refresh

Piggy-backing off that, I love looking at these before and after shots of the kitchen. Justin and I have always intended to do a gut renovation of this kitchen and change the layout, but that is several years down the road. This refresh was a way to make the kitchen feel like the rest of the house without a huge investment of money. Fresh paint on the cabinets, walls, and window trim + updated backsplash from repurposed beadboard + new LED can lights + updated light fixture and bar stools = a kitchen that feels brand new. And the best part of this transformation is that it was right around $1000. Totally worth it!

Last Day of Preschool

And speaking of before-and-afters, yesterday was LJ’s last day of preschool. I cannot believe how much this boy has changed this year! The days are long, but the years really are so short. I went back and forth so many times about whether or not to send him to preschool, but looking back I’m so glad I did. He had a great year!

Mother’s Day 2021

We had a sweet little day with our family on Sunday. LJ went with Justin to the store after their haircuts on Saturday and picked out the brightest flowers I’ve ever seen. Justin said when he saw the balloons he immediately asked if he could get one for mommy. Melt my heart! I will always take the handpicked or handmade gifts over anything fancy. I love his sweet little heart!

We stayed in comfy clothes all day and it was pretty much what you’d expect for Mother’s Day with toddlers. I love being their mama!

Although I have to also include this picture – the day after Mother’s Day, things went back to their normal chaotic selves around here. This is truly my life as a mama haha!

Happy Birthday Mom!

And speaking of moms, today is my mom’s birthday! She is one of the most important people in my life and I am grateful for her everyday. It’s been so fun to watch her thrive in her grandma role these last few years – she is one-of-a-kind and we love her so much!

Have a great weekend!

Friday Features

Happy Friday!

Today, I felt inspired to write up a different kind of blog post than my usual. I typically share a lot of our day-to-day moments on Instagram and save the bigger things for the blog (like finished home projects, family milestones, etc). I’ve talked about this before, but as much as the blog is a fun way for me to share things with others, it’s also a great way for me to document parts of our life for us to look back on in later years. There are a lot of little things that, while they aren’t worth dedicating an entire blog post to, I’m feeling inspired to create a little space for on the blog. Friday seems like the perfect time to round-up a random hodgepodge of things from the past week or two and I love that it just gives a little glimpse into our life right now. I do plan to write little Friday posts like this more often, although I’m not sure how often they’ll pop up. We’ll see! For now, here’s what’s been on my mind lately:

Summer Weather

This week we had several days in the 70s which is just fine with us! We broke out the water table and other summer toys and cannot wait for fun in the sun.

Plant Refresh

I had several plants that were getting too big for their planters so the start of spring felt like the perfect time to do some transplanting. I bought a few new pots and just switching out a few plants and planters has everything feeling so fresh around here!

LJ and Vi Comparison

Earlier this week we went to a park we haven’t been to in a long time. Vi has recently started doing slides 100% independently and she is so proud of herself! I snapped this picture of her and it immediately gave me a flashback to LJ using that exact same slide when he was about her same age. I had to dig through my archives and I found a video of LJ that I screenshot so I could do a little comparison of my babies!

Spring Cleaning Closets

This past week, I went through LJ and Vi’s dressers and removed anything that they’ve outgrown or is not the right season (LJ is still in 3T, but doesn’t need sweaters for the spring/summer months). I also checked for anything that was stained or had holes or other major signs of wear – anything that fit this category went straight into a bag that I’ll drop off at a local company that accepts fabrics in any condition for textile recycling.

I keep large clear tubs in each of their closets to store clothes they’ve outgrown. I keep the bin organization simple – I keep sizes separate by using a piece of cardboard as a divider and slipping a piece of paper with the size marked in the bin so it’s clearly visible. It’s nothing fancy but this system works!

Consignment Closet Refresh

The vast majority of my children’s clothing is either hand-me-down from friends or was bought secondhand at a consignment store. I don’t like spending lots of money on their clothing. They outgrow sizes so fast that it doesn’t seem worth it to spend $20 on a shirt they’ll only wear for a couple months. Plus. let’s be honest. Kids are messy! I’m constantly removing stains from food, dirt, markers, etc. I prefer to spend $3 or less on a shirt – if it is still in good condition after it’s outgrown and can be passed down to another child, great! If it has holes or stains and needs to be recycled instead, it doesn’t feel too wasteful because it’s already been worn a lot. Secondhand clothing is cost-effective for me and sustainable for the planet – a win win!

We’ve already received a lot of hand-me-downs that will fit my kids this summer, so after going through their closets and getting the next sizes ready, I made a list of things they still needed. We took a trip to the consignment store yesterday to fill in their wardrobe gaps – LJ especially had fun getting to pick out some shirts for himself! We got all these items (plus one shirt he already wanted to wear) for $40.

Herself Podcast

I’ve talked before about the HERself podcast but I listened to episode 69 while painting the kitchen cabinets that really resonated with me. Their guest, Elicia, is a stay-at-home mom and talked about the balance of staying at home but also wanting to have something for herself outside of motherhood. She personally had a passion for her kids AND also had a passion with connecting with other women so she’s joining the podcast as an employee while staying home with her kids. They talked a bit about finding little opportunities to fulfill a passion or have a role outside of the role of mom. This spoke to me so much! I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with my children (though I’ve been honest that it isn’t always easy) and love being able to fill this role for my children and our family, but I’m also a wife and a woman who has passions and interests beyond motherhood. Reading is a way for me to rest and recharge, and I also find a lot of joy in using this blog as a creative outlet. Over the past two years, I’ve also really leaned into updating our house and sharing all our projects, big and small, and it’s become a huge passion of mine. I’m learning the value of the word and. I love my kids AND I enjoy some alone time. I like completing home projects AND reading bedtime stories. I love to nurture AND create. My kids are a priority AND so am I.

Aldi Juice Find

Does anyone else love Aldi? It’s my favorite place to stock up on all our basic grocery needs! I love that it’s inexpensive and you don’t get decision fatigue because there aren’t like, 82935792348 brands of ketchup to choose from. They also have lots of great organic options at a fraction of the cost of other grocery stores. I saw these juice pouches in the Aldi Finds section and decided to try them out – they have been a HUGE hit with my kids! They don’t drink juice very often but these pouches make for a nice little treat with less sugar than other brands of juice.

ASMR Home Video

I’ve been watching this video on repeat – it’s so satisfying to hear all these little sounds of home!

First Covid Shot!

Indiana opened up eligibility for those 30+ last week and I jumped at the chance to schedule an appointment. I got my first dose of Pfizer last Wednesday and was SO excited! My only side effects were a sore arm and some fatigue around the 24-hour mark (but after a nap, I felt great!) I’m so thankful for the efforts of scientists to make this happen so quickly. I’m feeling hopeful for the future and “normal” activities resuming soon!

Note: I’m not interested in debating vaccines on the internet. There are lots of great resources out there to help make your own decision – I personally found @kinggutterbaby and @jessicamalatyrivera to be great sources of information for me.

Have a great weekend!

One Year in a Pandemic: A Photo Journal

We’ve officially been in a pandemic for over a year. On the one hand, it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. On the other hand, it’s become so ingrained that it feels like it’s been a lot longer since life was “normal” (does anyone else watch TV made before March 2020 and think things like “OMG they just hugged!” or “Wow there are so many people there! And they’re so close together!”)

I originally intended to write a journal entry type blog post looking back over the past year, but I found myself procrastinating over and over. I think that I’ve been in a mode of just getting through this thing one day at a time for so long, and while I do sometimes stop to process what is going on, it’s such a huge thing that it’s hard for me to mentally wrap my mind around (and honestly feels triggering and defeating right now). I definitely have pandemic fatigue like so many others. We’re all ready for this to be done, but none of us actually know when it will be over. Summer 2021 is looking hopeful, and maybe at that time I’ll feel ready to do a look back over this time in a pandemic with two small children. Right now, I don’t feel ready to mentally take on that blog post.

Instead, I thought I would do a little visual look back over the year. This post is a beast with TONS of pictures. Quite honestly, I created this primarily to have a collection of some of our pandemic life all in one spot. It’s a little look into what the year looked like – what we did, what we wore (spoiler alert: 98% pajamas), what life was like. I fully understand that I might be the only one this invested in remembering what a year in our family life looked like, so feel free to skip this post if 83713491834 pictures isn’t your thing. 😉

March 2020

Vi was dedicated at church on March 15, the weekend everything started shutting down. Little did we know that would be the last Sunday we’d step foot inside our church for over a year (we’ve been watching virtually ever since!) Justin and I were supposed to go to New Orleans the next week but that got cancelled so instead his vacation time was spent at home as a family. At that time it felt cozy and special to have quality time together and no other obligations. We had our first DIY Date Night and had no idea that a lot more DIY projects were in store for the following year.

April 2020

I did not leave my house this entire month except to go to the grocery store. Our Easter celebration was held over Zoom and we did a few small activities with LJ at home to celebrate. It was around this time that we realized that this pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon.

May 2020

We entertained ourselves by painting toenails, lots and lots of playtime indoors, watching our farmer neighbors, and enjoying outdoor weather whenever we could. I enjoyed a sweet and simple Mother’s Day at home in our pajamas and got to meet my new niece towards the end of the month. 🙂

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June 2020

Even though it wasn’t a typically looking vacation, we were so thankful for Beach Week 2020 with family. At home, things stayed eventful with our AC system dying in the hottest week and LJ deciding to wash his hair in candle wax.

July 2020

We took advantage of our pond often and got to have my family over for an outdoor party which made this month almost feel normal.

August 2020

Justin’s parents were able to visit us for the first time since March and we celebrated Vi’s first birthday! We also got to go the zoo as a family and it was so nice to have a more ‘normal’ activity to do together!

September 2020

A milestone month for us – LJ started preschool! I was so thankful for in-person preschool and for a school that took tons of safety precautions. We also got to celebrate my birthday with four friends at an outdoor restaurant and my parents watched the kids for a day so Justin and I could have a mini getaway exploring Indianapolis outdoors. My middle sister and I also pulled off a big surprise by driving out to Virginia to celebrate our youngest sister’s birthday!

October 2020

Early voting, Halloween, and lots and lots of work on our home office!

November 2020

Back indoors for lots of playtime and we celebrated my tractor-loving boy’s third birthday! He also got a new bed and was preeeeetty excited about it. 🙂 I had to include a picture of our kids eating apples too – they became obsessed with apples this year and would sometimes eat 2-3 a day.

December 2020

A magical month full of Christmas activities! The kids are at such a FUN stage right now and it really made the holidays that much more special. We didn’t travel to Virginia in December and our extended family gathering on my side didn’t happen like usual, but we had at-home date nights, Christmas jammies, gingerbread houses, and lots of special fun.

January 2021

Usually January feels about 78 days long, but strangely enough this year it didn’t! Maybe it’s because by this time, we were very used to just hanging out at home so it didn’t feel out of the ordinary.

February 2021

We got a ton of snow this month and had lots of fun playing in it. On days when it was too cold, we tried to get creative with new activities indoors – busy toddler tasks, baking Valentines cookies, and the big news: getting a bounce house to burn off our energy!

March 2021

Here we are. One year later. In the last year there have been days I’ve cried, days I’ve felt so overwhelmed, days I’ve yelled, and days I’ve really really struggled. Being the primary caregiver for two small children without regular help or the ability to go to places like the library, playdates, museums, etc has been so incredibly challenging. I don’t want to sugarcoat it – it’s been a tough year. But there have also been so many great memories of our time together at home. So many snuggles, forts, puzzles, laughs, getting creative with finding things to do (and TV shows, let’s be honest here). Time together like we’ve never had before and will likely never have again.

I’m feeling hopeful for the future. My grandparents and parents are now vaccinated (and so is our babysitter – hallelujah for a little more help around here!) The weather is warming up and we’re able to spend lots more time outside. We’re tentatively making travel plans for the summer and feeling optimistic about being able to do more things in a ‘normal’ way. I know we’re not there yet, but it feels closer and closer each day. One thing is for sure, this past year is one I will never forget.

18 Months with Vi

I can’t believe I’m typing these words, but my baby girl is officially 18 months old!

A full year and a half with Vi in our lives and I honestly can’t imagine our family without her. In honor of this milestone, I wanted to write up a little post all about her and this stage of her life.

In many ways, she is very much like her brother was at this age but one huge difference jumps out right away: she is CHATTY! When LJ was 18 months old, he actually started speech therapy because he was only saying “mama,” and even that word was pretty inconsistent. Vi on the other hand, has too many words to count. Mama, daddy, no, cereal, yes, this, do that, Macie, ears, nose, hat, eyes, applesauce, bounce house, pickles, moon, bible, milk, play doh, socks, shoes, boob (lol), sleep, bye bye . . . the list goes on! She is really good about communicating her wants and needs and it’s very rare that we don’t understand what she wants.

She wants to do everything LJ does. She wants to play with the toys he plays with, she wants to do the activities he’s doing, she wants to eat the same snack he picks. If she sees him to something, you can bet that she is going to want to do it too! They are usually very sweet (I love when they want to watch TV and “nuggle,” as Vi says, under a blanket!) and generally play together well.

Vi is still breastfeeding before naps and bedtime and shows no signs of wanting to quit. I figured we would be done around the same time I quit with LJ (he was 13 months and uninterested in continuing) but she has been very insistent with continuing despite my dwindling supply. At this point, I’m 100% ready to quit whenever she is.

One reason I’m surprised she still wants to breastfeed so often is that she LOVEs food. It seems like she’s constantly eating or asking for a snack. She will eat anything that is put in front of her and definitely out-eats her picky older brother (he prefers to graze). Vi can handle an adult-size portion and generally cleans her plate regardless of what we had for dinner. Right now she particularly loves applesauce, broccoli, sausage, cottage cheese, and pickles. She’s always a complete mess by the end of a meal but she’s always a happy camper with a full belly!

She loves to read books! She will sit on my lap and flip through pages on her own, which makes my little book-loving heart so happy! She also likes to sit by herself, either on her glider or the floor, and flip through pages.

She especially loves a book my sister and brother-in-law gifted her for Christmas. It’s one of those books that is personalized and has her name throughout – I think she really loves hearing her name! She requests it almost every time before nap and bedtime and often insists on holding it while breastfeeding and then taking it into the crib with her to sleep. (The picture below is an accurate representation of any given day – she loves taking a ton of things with her into her crib!)

I think we’re finally starting to get our of her I-only-want-mama stage, which has been sweet but also exhausting for me. She LOVES her daddy and lights up with pure glee when he comes home. She has just started to give hugs with a little squeeze and it is the cutest thing. Last night he put her to bed with zero fuss from her and it was such a nice break for me! I’m hoping she allows him to do it more often.

Vi loves to be outside and doesn’t seem to care that it’s currently freezing outside. She constantly requests to go outside and if she sees someone put a coat on, she’s immediately requesting her own coat/hat/shoes to go with them. On days we actually go outside, she loves to swing or drag around a snow shovel.

Right now her most-requested indoor activities are bath time, play doh, bounce house, and getting out games from the cabinet. She loves to help feed the dogs and can now push her helper tower around the kitchen to get her own snack (she loves to eat apples out of our fruit bowl). She is a busy bee and keeps me on my toes as she gets into everything in our house!

Vi can be stubborn and definitely lets us know when she is unhappy she’s not getting what she wants, but she’s also sweet and spunky. We love her so much and are so excited to continue to watch her grow!

I love you, my sweet V!

A Weekend Day in the Life {2.13.21}

I’ve done several “Day in the Life” posts in the past and even though they are always really long posts full of mostly blurry pictures, they are my absolute favorite ones to look back on. Each one feels like a tiny time capsule and serves as a reminder of what a regular day looked like in a particular stage of our life. I haven’t done one since last March so it was definitely time for another!

A couple notes about this day. In the past I’ve always documented a weekday, so this time I decided to document a weekend day and chose a random Saturday. This Saturday felt particularly relaxing because I was able to go grocery shopping on Wednesday this week and I just finished up the dining room renovation so I’m currently not working on a home project. I also included a few bonus pictures of our Sunday at the end of this post because Sunday was Valentine’s Day and I wanted to include a few shots of our special holiday festivities. (Edit: I got a great reader suggestion to include my kids’ ages for these posts – LJ is 3 years 2 months, Vi is 17 months).

Saturday, February 13 2021
For the past several months, Justin and I have taken turns with who gets up with the kids on weekend days so the other person can sleep a bit longer. I offered to get up with them on Saturday, and Vi woke up around 6:50 am with LJ following shortly after.

I had made some hardboiled eggs earlier in the week, so LJ helped me crack and peel them for breakfast. He loves to do things independently so I try to step back and let him do things his own way, even if it’s messy.

While they ate breakfast, I started a load of laundry. At this point in our lives, I’m probably averaging 2 loads of laundry each week which isn’t bad. One benefit of all the time spent at home is there aren’t a lot of outfit changes. Plus LJ is in a stage of never wanting to change his clothes so unless we’re going somewhere or his clothes are actually dirty, we let that argument go. At least it means less laundry!

I snuck upstairs to let the dogs out of our bedroom to go outside and Vi helped me feed them – she loves helping with this daily chore.

After breakfast, I took the kids downstairs to play in the basement. A few weeks ago we purchased a bounce house for them and it has been a HUGE hit.

I really wanted to come up with something for the kids to do that would help them get some energy out and have fun without leaving the house (on top of the pandemic, there’s currently several inches of snow on the ground outside and the “high” temps are in the teens!) and this purchase has absolutely been 100% worth the investment.

Justin joined us around 8 am – he enjoyed waking up at his own pace, getting to eat breakfast without anyone stealing his food, and reading his devotions in peace. He took over with the kids in the basement so I could go upstairs and have a little time to myself. The kids love special time with daddy!

First things first, I went upstairs and got ready. Even when I’m not going anywhere, I like to at least put on a touch of makeup to make myself feel put together for the day.

I’m part of a bible study reading Genesis this year, so I read the day’s passage and answered our study questions.

Then I treated myself to a little reading time with a cozy blanket and candle burning. I’ve been so busy with home projects lately that it’s been a long time since I’ve just sat and enjoyed a book in the morning so this truly felt like a luxury!

I did a few quick updates on my Instagram stories and then Justin and the kids came upstairs and I headed downstairs for a workout. I did a 30 minute ride with Cody – he just has the best music to ride to and this one was a fun pop playlist.

I came upstairs to move the laundry over to the dryer and get lunch ready and came upon the sweetest little scene of Justin reading a book with the kids.

Justin was on call for his job this weekend and had to head in to work for about an hour so I took over and got lunch around for the kids. This is a typical scene for us at lunch – half the breakfast dishes are still out, there’s food everywhere, and it’s all a bit of a mess. Someday we’ll have things a little more organized but for now, this is our life.

After lunch, I let the kids watch a show (right now LJ is very into the movie Wall-E, or as he calls it “the robot with the trash”) while I cleaned up the kitchen and washed dishes. During this time I also sent video messages back and forth to one of my friends discussing all our thoughts on the book Majesty (love you Denay!) Marco Polo has been such a blessing for keeping in touch with friends near and far.

At 1:00 I headed upstairs to put Vi down for a nap. Vi has just recently become interested in having us read books to her before naps and she always wants to read this personalized book my sister bought her for Christmas.

She still wants to breastfeed before sleeping and always insists on holding her books (she calls them ‘bibles’) and all her dolls. It’s quite the crowd!

She also wants to take everything into the crib. Today she also insisted on taking three of LJ’s little farm animals with her. Bless her sweet little heart.

After Vi is down, it’s LJ’s turn. He sometimes naps, sometimes doesn’t, so last week I started a “quiet time box” with a few small trinkets that he can play with quietly in his room if he doesn’t want to sleep. His routine is read two books (often choosing the picture searches in his Highlights magazine), sing two songs, and then snuggle with his four puppies and Edgar the elephant. He’s my routine lover!

He also has spent the last several months sleeping on the floor, entirely by choice. We’ve tried everything we can think of to get him to sleep on his bed, but he insists on the floor. He won’t even let us put blankets down first and wants to sleep on the carpet! At this point, we just let him have the independence to decide and let it go.

Once I finished his routine and left his room, I headed into our bedroom to fold the laundry and put everything except the kids’ things away.

Normally, nap times are when I try to get all the things done. But I had already finished laundry and dishes, and I’m currently in between home projects, so today was a real treat where I got to snuggle up on the couch with Macie and read some MORE! What a day!

Justin came home during the kids’ naps and headed out to his woodshop. Woodworking is one of his hobbies and he’s been wanting to make a little stand for the dog bowls and has been working on that in his free time lately.

Vi was the first one up after taking a nice long nap.

Justin came inside around the time Vi woke up and LJ woke up (he actually napped!) shortly after. Justin and LJ hung out downstairs while Vi and I hung out in her room. She wanted to sit and read her books – a girl after my own heart!

It lasted until LJ came to join us and then things got a *bit* rowdier.

During this pandemic we’ve been trying to order out from local restaurants at least 2-3 times a month, so tonight we ordered from one of our favorite places. Justin and LJ had a special adventure to go get the food – LJ was SO excited for a trip with daddy!

Vi was very upset about being left behind and kept wanting to put her hat and socks on to go too. The only way I could distract her was with the thing she loves almost as much as going outside – bath time!

The boys returned with food – burgers for mommy and daddy and chicken nuggets and fries for the kids. Levi was very proud that he got to use his “big muscles” to help daddy carry the bag of food.

After dinner we four played in the playroom together until our food had digested a bit and then . . .

. . . we finished the day with a special treat of ice cream.

My dad was babysitting for my niece this weekend while my mom was out of town visiting my sister, so we video chatted with dad while eating ice cream.

Vi didn’t want to get back in her clothes after her bath and we were cracking up over the fact that she was just sitting there in a diaper and backwards hat.

Then after she ate it all and there was just a little melted ice cream left in the bowl, she lifted it up to drink every last drop! Like I said before, girl after my own heart haha.

After ice cream we got in our jammies and watched a little more Wall-E, then put the kids down around 8:00 pm.

Justin and I talked about playing a game after the kids went down, but we ended up just lounging on the couch talking about lots of different things and looking through old videos of when our kids were younger. It was a nice low key evening hanging out together – I’m forever grateful for this Valentine of mine.

Bonus – Valentines’ Day Activities

The next day was Valentines’ Day and it was my turn to sleep in. I went downstairs around 8:30 and Justin had to head into work for a couple hours. The kids and I spent the morning doing a few little Valentines’ activities!

First up, we used a large piece of packaging paper that came in a recent delivery to create a Valentine message for Justin. I had the kids lay down with their arms spread out in a big hug and traced their outlines. I wrote “We love you this much!” and they had fun coloring the paper.

LJ then helped me tape it to the wall in our dining room. It may not be a glamorous Valentine but this was a labor of love and the kids were really proud and excited for daddy to come home and see it!

Next up, Valentines cookies! I just got a simple little kit of pre-cut cookies from the store for the kids to make. Vi is upset because she kept trying to eat the dough and wouldn’t follow what we were doing with pressing them on the cookie sheet so she wasn’t allowed to keep helping with that step. I thought about leaving off this picture, but you know what, this is just what life looks like sometimes.

While the cookies baked, we made frosting! I always try to let the kids help as much as they are able and they both enjoyed this part.

We played for a bit until the cookies were cool enough to decorate. There was a lot of sampling going on haha but eventually we got the cookies frosted. LJ enjoyed choosing sprinkles for each cookie.

So proud of his hard work!

The kids were so excited to show Justin all their surprises when he got home and we enjoyed eating cookies before watching our online church service.

The rest of the day was pretty low key but it was fun to have those few little activities to make the holiday feel special!

I think I’m going to try doing these posts a little more frequently in the future. The kids just grow and change so much these days! To read previous Day in the Life posts, you can find them all here:

November 16, 2018

July 9, 2019

January 14, 2020

March 26, 2020

Vi is ONE!

Yesterday, my sweet little Vi turned one year old. I can still remember meeting her so vividly – Justin saying “It’s a girl!” and her little body being laid on my chest. It doesn’t seem that long ago and yet, it is so hard to remember what our life was like without her. She was meant to be in our family!

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Since we already had her birthday party two weeks ago, we kept yesterday extremely low key. We opened a few cards that her grandparents and great grandparents had sent and I bought a few cupcakes so we could enjoy a special birthday treat. We sang “Happy Birthday,” LJ helped her blow out the candle, and then we all laughed as she fisted the entire cupcake into her mouth haha!

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Watching my kids turn another year older is always a bittersweet day for me. On the one hand, I’m so thankful for their growth, health, and life. It is such a joy and honor to get a front row seat to their lives and it truly is a celebration.

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On the other hand, birthdays are also a reminder that my baby will never be this little again. I love each stage of their lives and it’s always just a little sad to say goodbye to one stage, even though it’s exciting to welcome in another!

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For Vi, the baby year has been quite a ride. As a newborn, she gave us a run for our money: cluster-feeding, never sleeping more than 45-60 minutes at a time, and she did not like to be put down. The first few weeks were very challenging, and it took us about a month to hit our stride.

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Ever since then, Vi has been a mostly chill baby. She has a very mild temperament and is generally in a happy mood. The only time she gets fussy is when she is tired or when she wants mama. She is a huge mama’s girl and always wants to be held by me. She’s okay with other people as long as I’m not there, but if I’m in her sight or she hears me in another room, she immediately cries for me. It makes it a little hard to get things done around her, but it also makes for a lot of sweet snuggles!

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I think part of the reason Vi is mostly easy going is because she has a rough and tumble big brother entertaining her from the moment she came home. When she was an itty baby, he loved to hold her and kiss her. Now that she’s older, he’s giving her full body bear hugs and playing with/next to/sometimes ON her. We have to remind him a lot to be gentle with her but she takes it all in stride. She loves to be included in whatever he’ll let her play with and no one can make her laugh as much as he can – it’s fun to see their bond develop!

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Vi is very curious and super active. She loves to be held so she can be in on whatever is happening with people, but if she’s down on the ground, she’s constantly exploring. She loves to climb stairs, open doors and drawers, and get into whatever she can find. Remotes are especially captivating to her and I have to remove all the batteries before she gets ahold of them or she’ll keep changing channels on us. She is very close to walking and scoots along walls or the couch to move around and get where she wants to go. She keeps me on my toes for sure; I never know what she’ll try to get into!

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She also LOVES to eat. She will eat anything we put in front of her – hot, cold, spicy,  veggies, fish, new textures . . . she is not picky at all and usually ends up eating close to an adult size portion of food. She also loves swinging at the park, stroller rides, and crawling into our bathroom vanity cabinets haha. She loves splashing in the bathtub, playing in the water table, swimming, even just washing her hands under the faucet – she loves water!

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I wasn’t sure how quarantine would affect her relationships with people. From the time she was six months old to like ten months old, she almost never left the house or saw anyone other than her immediate family. But now that we are seeing family and some friends again, she is bubbly and friendly and interactive with others. She absolutely LIGHTS UP when Justin comes home each day and she adores her grandparents as well. She is a people person for sure and has such a joyful, smiley personality.

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Happy Birthday my sweet V! You are so precious to us and we are so glad to celebrate one full year with you!

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Vi’s Sweet and Simple First Birthday Party

Yesterday was a special day in our house because we celebrated our baby girl’s FIRST birthday! Where did this year go!?

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Even though her birthday isn’t until the 23rd, we decided to have her party two weeks early because Justin’s parents are in town visiting and this way they could be part of it. We kept things family only – just both sets of our parents, my grandparents, and two of my siblings and their spouses who live close enough to come out for the afternoon.

We keep first birthdays really simple around here. Our personal philosophy is that it doesn’t make sense for us to spend a lot of effort, time, and money on a party for someone who honestly doesn’t know it’s their birthday or what is even going on. If you love throwing a big birthday bash for your one-year-old, that is awesome and I support you! It’s just not our thing. We really believe you can have a meaningful, special celebration while keeping things pretty streamlined and simplified, and this party was just that!

I kept invitations super easy with a free evite that got emailed out to our families with all the party details.

Evite Invitation

Instead of trying to throw together a whole meal, I decided on serving a variety of appetizers and desserts. I put together a large charcuterie board with meat, cheese, and fruit, some raw veggies and hummus, and tortilla chips with our family’s favorite dip.

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For dessert, I bought a small 4 inch cake for Vi’s smash cake and I ordered cookies from my friend – she runs a small cookie business out of her home and does an amazing job! I pretty much gave her free reign on what to do since we didn’t have a theme or anything and she designed this amazing cookie tile platter based on Vi’s outfit in a photo I had posted (how creative is that!?) They turned out so amazing and were such a special touch!

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We also had a simple ice cream bar with vanilla ice cream and a variety of toppings for people to enjoy.

Decorations were sweet and simple and made up entirely of things I already had on hand, like this letterboard with a poem I made up for the food table.

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I had made pink tassel garlands our of tissue paper several years ago for a Valentine’s party and have gotten so much use out of them  ever since – bachelorette parties, baby showers, and now, my girl’s first birthday!

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In addition to the food table, I had to give her high chair a little something special too. 😉

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The last element of parties is typically gifts. We personally prefer to not have gifts during our children’s first birthday. We are fairly minimal people and don’t want to accumulate a ton of toys just for the sake of gift giving, not to mention at this age our kids are just as happy playing with a cardboard box or a plastic cup haha! In my experience, just saying “no gifts, please” doesn’t always work. It can feel uncomfortable to show up to a birthday party empty handed, which is understandable. But then some people still bring gifts and some don’t…and that can be awkward for everyone. So what we do instead is include on the invitations an option for people to give a donation in lieu of gifts if they want. For LJ’s first birthday, we asked for book donations for a local organization that distributes them to hospitalized children in our area (LJ got three books when he was in the NICU). For Vi’s first birthday, we chose a ministry at our church that distributes basic essentials to local families in need. Through this pandemic, there have been many families financially struggling and we felt this was one tangible way we could help. Those who still wanted to bring a gift were very happy to be able to bring donations in Vi’s honor.

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The highlight of the party was Vi getting to dig into her little cake. She didn’t hesitate to get into that frosting  ! We did not let her eat the whole thing but she really enjoyed it while she could. 😉

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That last picture was right before we took away the cake – once it was getting in her hair we figured she’d had enough haha!

We had so much fun enjoying the beautiful weather outside and hanging out with our families. We ate delicious food, we played cornhole, we talked, we laughed, we had a great time celebrating our little girl!

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I cannot believe my baby girl is almost one! She is such a joy and I’m so glad we could have a special day celebrating her life!