Six Months with Our Girl

Yesterday, our sweet Vi turned six months old.

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It feels both longer and shorter than that somehow. I cannot believe it has already been half of a year since this moment when I heard the words “it’s a girl!”

. . . and yet, I can’t even imagine our family without her. It feels like she’s always been with us.

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It’s all going a little too fast for this mama’s heart to handle, so today’s post is all about this girl and what life is like with her these days.

Relationships

Vi is honestly one of the happiest, sweetest babies. She is so smiley – I can’t help but smile too when I see her face light up! She especially loves her core family members. As her mama, I know we share one of the closest bonds. Whenever she’s upset, just the act of me picking her up and holding her usually calms her down right away. I love spending my days with her!

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She is totally a daddy’s girl already. When Justin comes home from work, she gets a huge grin, makes happy noises, and starts kicking her arms and legs in excitement. She adores him!

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And speaking of people she adores, her big brother LJ also tops the list. Oh my word. These two make my heart all melt-y. LJ loves to smother her in hugs and kisses and she follows his every move. She smiles when she sees him, tracks his movements across the room, and seems to genuinely like being near him (which is a good thing because he doesn’t exactly respect personal boundaries ha!) LJ is one of the few people who elicits genuine giggles out of her – she will laugh at the silly things he does or funny noises he makes and he loves it! One of their favorite little ‘games’ right now is he’ll blow zerberts on her belly and they both laugh. So sweet!

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When it comes to other people, it can be hit or miss. Vi is starting to recognize “stranger danger” – she will sometimes get a huge frown and cry if she’s staring into a face she doesn’t know.  It will occasionally happen with a babysitter too but we’ve learned that I just need to hold her facing out so she can observe the new face from the comfort of familiar arms until she warms up to the new person and then it’s fine. She is beloved by the ladies in the church nursery though – she’s always sweet as can be there and they love having her!

Sleep

Vi didn’t really have a 4 month sleep regression and has pretty consistently slept 8-12 hours every night since we moved her into her room. She either sleeps 8 hours, wakes up around 4 am, feeds, and goes back to sleep, or she’ll just sleep the whole way through the night until 7 or 8 am. Obviously, I prefer those nights 😉 but waking up once at four isn’t bad either. Maybe once every other week or so we’ll have a night where she’s waking up more frequently than that, but for the most part, she’s consistent!

While she’s great at night, she’s less consistent with naps. She sometimes takes a morning nap, she usually takes an afternoon nap, sometimes both, rarely neither. I think her inconsistency comes because of our schedule: mornings are generally the only time we can get out of the house during the day so we’re not always home. She’s pretty go with the flow and will at least fall asleep in her car seat if we leave the house, so that’s nice!

Food

We’ve just recently started introducing solids to her. Her very first food was avocado and she was … less than impressed.

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She’s also had some tastes of banana. So far she’s not really interested in food other than just playing with it or watching us eat.

She still does really well with breastfeeding and has always fed on demand. She started out wanting to feed every 60-90 minutes, which was exhausting for me. Nowadays, she will occasionally still want to feed that frequently, but she’s also able to go up to four hours in between feeds during the day. Similarly to LJ, she took a bottle well really early on, but once she got a little older and recognized she was drinking from a bottle, she wanted nothing to do with it. Now that she’s finally able to go longer in between feeds, I’m able to leave her with Justin or a babysitter to run errands or have time by myself which is good for both of us.

Activity

Vi is so interested in her surroundings and is always in motion, interacting with whatever is near her. If we put her on the ground, she’ll roll all over to reach and play with toys. She also loves playing in her activity center and is generally content to play there if I need a safe place to put her while I get some other work done.

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She also loves to look at herself in the mirror. I love watching her watch herself – she’s so proud of herself when she stands! (And those scrumptious leg rolls!!)

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She experienced her first snow but she was more interested in watching us than she was at discovering snow.

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While Vi is generally sweet, happy, and easygoing, she does have her moments. In particular, if I’m not home and she gets fussy for Justin or a babysitter, it’s generally because she wants to breastfeed and refuses a bottle. She will also sometimes get cranky when she’s overtired and we have to be conscious of putting her down in her crib when she shows signs of fatigue.

These last six months have been an adventure and I’m looking forward to making many more memories with this sweet girl.

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We love her so much!

Reducing Waste: Snack Time

One thing I am passionate about is reducing waste. Whether it’s finding plastic alternatives, avoiding single-use items, using products made of recycled materials, choosing bulk items with reduced packaging, or just consuming/buying/using LESS, I like to try to make choices that are a little better for our environment. I thought I would start sharing some ways that I do this here on the blog in case anyone else is looking for some ideas about how to reduce waste in their life too. Today I’m focusing on a specific area of reducing waste that’s big in my life right now and that is: toddler snack time.

Before getting into this, I need to share a disclaimer. Part of me hesitated to write a post about reducing waste because I know there are other things I could be doing in this area. While I would love to use the best, most environmentally-friendly option for everything, it’s just not always realistic. There are barriers like expense and time that are prohibitive and I’ve had to make some decisions with what to prioritize. In some cases, I know I’m not making the most environmentally-friendly choice. But have you heard the parable of the starfish? I think it applies here – just because a change is small, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference. I’m just trying to do the best I can with what works for our family, and I know that is all anybody can do. If these small changes I’ve made inspire anyone else to make a swap and reduce their waste in even one small way, I’m happy!

Now I love snacks and so does my toddler, but there can be a ton of waste when it comes to food. Obviously, some of it is unavoidable and I’m certainly not perfect here, but there are a few little changes I’ve implemented that make a difference.

Reusable Snack Containers

20200206_151316When it comes to dry snacks, I buy the bulk package instead of individual serving size packages. Then at home I’ll just pour some into a reusable container like this or baggie like this and LJ has an appropriate portion to carry around and eat. This is a quick (literally takes a few seconds) super easy option both for home and travel, as both the container and baggie can easily be thrown in my diaper bag.

20200206_152939I also like to use these stainless steel containers when I have something like fruit to take along as a snack – it keeps the food fresh and protected from getting squashed.

Reusable Food Pouches

20200206_152116When it comes to applesauce, LJ is borderline obsessed. When it’s served over lunchtime, he’ll eat it from a bowl with a spoon but when it’s served as a snack, he loves the pouches. Honestly, food pouches are a parents dream – so convenient, so easy to use, and a mess-free way of delivering different nutrients. The problem is, with the plastic top and individual packaging (compounded by the fact that we go through so. many.) pouches feel really wasteful to me. I found these reusable pouches online and they are a great alternative! I can buy applesauce in bulk or use my mom’s canned version and pour it into the pouches; it’s great because I can choose the type of applesauce (I choose unsweetened, but you could get different flavors or use homemade purees) and the amount that goes into the pouch. Plus they’re dishwasher safe!

In the interest of full transparency: I do not solely use the reusable options. I do still buy the individually packaged ones (included in the picture above) because the reusable ones need to be refrigerated since I opened the bulk container. Refrigerated options are not always feasible for taking along outside the house. When it comes to reducing waste, I think the important thing to focus on is reducing. I’m not perfect, but I think any effort still makes a difference. Hypothetical situation: even if LJ eats 500 pouches in his life and 400 of them are single-use packages, that still means I saved a landfill from 100 extra pouches by using the reusable option and I focus on the positive of that 20% waste reduction.

Misc. Items for Restaurants

20200206_152525When it comes to eating outside the house, I have these items stored in my diaper bag: a food-grade silicone mat, reusable utensil, and silicone straw. We don’t eat out very often, but when we do it’s nice to have these options instead of using disposable plastic items from the restaurant.

20200206_152638When Vi is a little older and eating food as well, I’ll throw a silicone bib and reusable spoon + case (I love the ones pictured from the brand RePlay because they are made from recycled milk jugs, helping with the waste problem again!)

20200207_080329While we’re on the subject of meals, at home we use RePlay’s plates and utensils. These are also made out of recycled milk jugs, which means my purchase kept a few more milk jugs out of a landfill. I believe there is power in the purchasing dollar and I will gladly support companies trying to find ways to create quality products out of recycled materials and reduce our society’s overall waste.

Paper Towel Alternatives

20200206_152742I was gifted these Swedish dishcloths (similar ones here) from my mother-in-law and they are awesome paper towel alternatives! Perfect for cleaning up toddler spills or wiping LJ’s hands or mouth. He doesn’t like when his food gets really sticky on his hands, so I usually wet one of these dishcloths and put it next to his plate for him to wipe his hands as needed. These are easy to clean and reuse, which is great! When we do use napkins at home, I have actual cloth napkins that can be washed and reused or I buy these napkins made out of recycled paper.

Also, when it comes to reducing waste around food, I try to reduce the waste of the actual FOOD. Making sure not to buy more than we’ll go through, trying to use produce before it goes bad, keeping track of expiration dates – all these things are important too. Again, I’m not perfect but I do think the effort matters.

What ways have you found to reduce waste around snack and mealtimes? I’d love to hear other simple changes to implement!

 

Marriage in the Little People Years

On Sunday, I drove to Ohio to celebrate my grandparent’s 62nd wedding anniversary.

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62 years!

When I think of all that Justin and I have gone through together in our 6 years of marriage, I can’t even imagine what we’ll feel when we’ve been married 10 times that long!

In 56 years, I hope I’m like my grandparents and celebrating our 62nd anniversary surrounded by our kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids. We have so much life left to live and I’m excited for all of it. Right now, Justin and I are in the thick of the “Little People Years.” We’re not just Justin and Sarah anymore, we are also Dad and Mom. These Little People Years are such a fleeting time in the grand scheme of our lives, but they can be challenging years. They can seem long and hard. Our kids are so young and need us for so much. And in these years, it can be so so easy to focus on the kids instead of one another. But these little people are here today because Justin and I fell in love first. They are here because we decided to commit to one another and spend our lives together. I cherish my marriage, and I’m thankful for all the growth we have had as a couple in the last 6.5 years, but I want to keep growing, connecting, and strengthening our relationship.

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As I previously wrote in this post, our marriage is the foundation for our children’s lives. It’s important that we keep our marriage and one another a priority. That can be hard to do in these Little People Years, but it’s so very important. Today I thought I’d share some of the little ways that we stay connected in these demanding years. They’re just some of the ways that work for us personally – I encourage you to find what works for you, even if it’s not the same things that work for us!

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A Year of Us book

There are days when Justin and I just naturally talk and connect in the evenings, and then there are days when we’re both just so exhausted from our individual days and kids that once the kids are asleep we both just basically become zombies on the couch and barely say two words to each other. I bought this book on Amazon because I thought it looked like a fun way to be intentional about still connecting on days where we’re too tired to come up with anything and don’t want to just scroll our phones or mindlessly watch TV the entire evening. The prompts are all over the place, and sometimes we don’t even know how to answer them but they always have led to good conversation. Sometimes we only talk for 5-10 minutes, other times it’s sparked a 30+ minute discussion. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and silly discussion, other times it’s deep and meaningful. We don’t do one every day, but I do feel like it’s been a great way to be more intentional about connecting in the evenings!

Little words = Big difference

Don’t underestimate the power of a few sincere words. It is so meaningful to me when Justin just writes a quick note saying how much he appreciates and loves me and leaves it somewhere for me to find. Several years ago we purchased some window crayons to decorate a friend’s getaway car at their wedding, and we still have the crayons. Every once in a while I’ll use them to write a little note on Justin’s bathroom mirror as a fun, silly way to tell him I love him. It doesn’t have to be a big, grand gesture – even a sincere text of appreciation for something they did or just to say ‘I love you’ can be a huge boost to the other person. Over time, all these small efforts have made a big difference in developing and strengthening our relationship.

And while we’re on the subject – it’s always nice to say thank you but I think it’s imperative to say it during the Little People Years. You are both stretched thinner and doing more. Little ones are very needy and demanding on your time and energy.  It’s easy for all the focus to go to the little ones and leave very little room to focus on each other. Noticing and appreciating your partner’s efforts is such a nice way to communicate that you see him or her too.

Can’t leave the house? Date in a ‘different’ spot

Life with kids is very routine based. Our evenings especially have a pretty straightforward pattern: Justin comes home from work, we have some family time, eat dinner, have a little playtime, and then he takes LJ for bath/books/song/bedtime and I take Vi for feeding/swaddling/bedtime. We get into a daily rhythm and it works really well for my kids. But what is a wonderful routine for my children can feel like a rut in my adult life. Anytime I’m feeling like we’re in a little bit of a rut, just a small switch-up in routine feels like a big change. In the summer, this might mean eating dinner on the patio (bonus if we can hold off on our own dinner until the kids are asleep and then eat together out there) or taking a glass of wine out on the porch swing after the kids are asleep.  Or instead of hanging out on the couch in our living room, we sometimes have a “basement date” where we watch a movie in our basement. It’s literally the exact same activity – sitting on the couch watching TV – but because we’re in a different place from our usual, it feels like a special little date.

Get creative with babysitters

It can be hard to actually go and have a date sans kids. It not only requires finding an evening that works for you both, but then finding someone to watch the kids and it can get expensive when you add up the cost of dinner/movie tickets/admission to a concert/whatever activity you’re doing plus the cost of a babysitter. My parents are willing to help, but they live out of town so it’s not always possible for them to drive in and watch the kids for us. In this blog post, I talked about some of the ways we have found to lessen the cost of babysitters, whether through swapping watching each others’ kids with another couple (or multiple couples) or sharing a babysitter and splitting the cost.

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Personally, I’m pretty excited to see where Justin and I are in 56 more years. But I don’t want to wish this time away in the meantime – I plan to fully enjoy the journey. 🙂

What little things help you feel connected to your partner?

Merry Christmas!

I can’t believe tomorrow is Christmas. This season has absolutely flown by!

Today I wanted to share our Christmas card, where we decided to stay true to what our life with two small children really looks like right now. We *might* have been able to get a good picture with everyone looking and smiling, but this crazy blooper reel felt much more like us. 😉

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Last year, on Christmas morning, we found out I was pregnant. Now, as I snuggle my sweet little four month old daughter while we both look at the Christmas tree, I am feeling all sorts of happy and content. It’s been wonderful to mostly unplug these past few days and enjoy the time with my sweet babies and our family.

From my family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy holiday season. ❤

Santa Train!

I love Christmas and doing Christmas-y things, but I never want us to get so busy we don’t really enjoy the season. I’ve been very intentional about just picking a few things to do as a family in this season so we can truly enjoy without being overwhelmed.

LJ is completely obsessed with trains right now (in case you couldn’t tell based on his Halloween costume and birthday party theme). When I discovered that a local railroad historical society puts on a train ride with Santa, I knew this was definitely something Christmas-y that had to be on our to-do list! My parents wanted to come too, so we all got tickets and went this past Saturday.

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I had no idea what to expect with this ride, but it actually was perfect for small children. There were two caboose cars and one engine and it just went out the track and back. We boarded a caboose (ours was 60 years old and the other caboose was 100 years old!) and it was all decorated for Christmas. Santa was in ours to start with, and he passed out candy canes and let kids sit on his lap and take pictures. The train stopped halfway through and then Santa left to go visit the other caboose. The ride was supposed to be 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back, but it was a little shorter than that, which was fine by me since it was pretty chilly.

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Vi seemed to enjoy Santa . . .

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but LJ was very unimpressed ha!

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LJ may not have been impressed by Santa, but he was ALL about the train ride! He was absolutely fascinated with looking out the window to see passing landscape or looking at how the cars were connected and how they moved during the ride.

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My dad is a history buff and he and LJ were like two little peas in a pod geeking out over the train.

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After the train ride, we went inside their warehouse, where they store their engines and had set up a mini Christmas village. There were lights strung up, a few little booths, a little food truck where you could purchase snacks and hot cocoa, and of course, trains. It was a cute little set up! You could go inside their biggest engine, which LJ loooooooooooved. The lighting wasn’t great, so my photos are low-quality, but getting to pretend to drive the engine was a highlight for LJ for sure!

We stayed about an hour in total and then loaded up the car to go get some lunch. Leaving was pretty tough, as we had a strong-willed toddler who was not ready to say bye bye to the trains. Haha! Safe to say it was a huge hit and is definitely something I can see us doing as a little family tradition each Christmas. I’m so glad my parents were able to join the fun too!

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Do you have fun Christmas traditions you do with your family/children? I’d love to hear what you enjoy doing each year!

LJ’s Second Birthday

Well, it’s official: I have a two-year-old!

LJ’s actual birthday was Friday so we had a little mini celebration as a family. After Justin got off work, we went to Culver’s for a little family date. LJ received a few birthday cards in the mail from family so we let him open those one at a time throughout the dinner. (Sorry for the terrible photo quality! I was actually videoing him opening everything so these are just screen grabs from the videos).

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My grandparents always send some dimes for his piggy bank – so sweet!

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We also got a book for him so that he would have a little present to open during the birthday meal. He loves trains and lift-the-flap books so when I saw this during a friend’s recent book party, I knew it was the perfect choice.

After finishing our meals we each got an ice cream for dessert. LJ usually just shares his dessert with one of us so the fact that he got his own cup of ice cream with sprinkles was a big deal for him. He was so excited and definitely enjoyed it!

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Instead of a bunch of gifts, Justin and I decided to get one big gift that he would really love: a train table! We received a hand-me-down table from a friend and saved it until Saturday morning. Justin woke up early and got it all set up so it was ready to go when LJ woke up. He was SO excited to see it in his playroom and played with it all day!

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On Saturday after LJ’s nap, some of our family came over for his little party.  I stuck with the train theme and just grabbed a bunch of things around the house to decorate. I bought a “happy birthday” sign from the dollar spot at Target back when I was teaching and it gets brought out for every party. I re-used the train and conductor’s hat from LJ’s Halloween costume, grabbed some books and trains we already had, pulled out my white serving dishes and letterboard and voila!

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My friend Amber made some amazing train cookies and I bought a little 4 inch cake from a local grocery store to put candles in. We served super fancy cuisine – Papa John’s pizza, chips, and a veggie tray. LJ loved it! 🙂

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Now unfortunately, once the party actually started, I was so absorbed in it that I lost track of my phone and didn’t take pictures! Justin snapped a few, but overall, we were all just enjoying ourselves without phones.

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I did manage to get this one of my sister and Vi – how sweet!

Justin and I made the decision a few months ago to have a “no gifts” party for LJ. We did this last year and wanted to do it again this year. We agreed that not only is LJ still too little to really understand gifts are typically given on birthdays, but his birthday is super close to the holidays and he will be receiving a lot of things then. Also, we are minimal-ish people: we’re not trying to live with 5 things or be super controlling and never accept more items, but our home is a more pleasant place and our lives are more enjoyable when we’re not overrun with stuff so we’re intentional about what comes into our house.  Because we still wanted family to be involved and participate in his gift, I bought unpainted trains and asked our family members to decorate a car instead of giving a gift. Some did their own, some couples shared one. We painted trains during the party and those that couldn’t make the party had theirs made and sent to us ahead of time.

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This idea worked SO well and it was so fun to see the creativity (check out my brother-in-law’s “hippopotamoose-caboose” ha)! They were all so unique and reflected everyone’s personality. LJ loves them and it’s sweet to see him play with all of them.

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Happy birthday, my sweet LJ! It was such a joy to celebrate your life (and bribe you with one more cookie before bedtime when I realized I hadn’t gotten a picture with you – haha!)

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Two.

Tomorrow is a big day for our family. LJ is going to turn TWO.

I need a minute for that to sink in.

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How in the world do I have a two-year-old?? I know people say all the time how fast it all goes, but milestones like this make me pause and really understand just how true that is. The days can seem so long (especially these days with all these toddler emotions that are happening) but the years are so. very. short.

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that our journey to parenthood wasn’t easy. Before LJ was born I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured and was emotionally and physically traumatic. LJ is the answer to so many prayers in so many ways. He is the joy after my deep sorrow, the laughter after my many tears. This little boy stole my heart two years ago and has held a firm grip on it ever since.

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If I could describe LJ in one word, it would be “motion.” This kid is always on the go! He loves running, spinning, playing, galloping, and recently started jumping. He loves anything with wheels (trains, trucks, tractors, you name it), finding planes in the sky, watching sports and trying to play them – his energy seems endless! Given the choice to stay indoors or go outside, he will always choose outside. Every now and then, there will be a rare moment where he just wants to cuddle with his mama and you better believe I soak those up! He’ll even sometimes hold my hand or put his arm around me and oh my word, my heart just melts.

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LJ is also incredibly observant. He’ll notice the smallest speck on the ground or the tiniest bug in a window. He notices whenever Vi is wearing a bow and insists on wearing one himself. He likes to search for the moon in the sky, he perks up at the sound of a train or a plane (he often picks up on it before we’ve even noticed the distant sound!) and he always alerts us to when his sister is crying.

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LJ likes to explore and show off his discoveries. He likes to color and is obsessed with stickers. He has been in speech therapy for a few months now and his language is developing and vocabulary is finally building beyond a few words. His little “hi!” is the absolute cutest music to my ears.

When I was pregnant with Vi, I worried how LJ would react to a sibling. I expected jealousy, tantrums, and maybe even some aggression. He has surprised both Justin and I by taking it all in stride. He is the most natural big brother, so caring and sweet! He loves to hold Vi, he talks to her and gives her kisses, and if anything, I have to tell him to be gentle with his love so he doesn’t smother her with it. 😉 He loves his little sister (and her pacifier too, but that’s a whole other story ha!)

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I could go on and on, but I’ll stop because otherwise I think I’ll make myself cry. Instead, I’m just going to take a little walk down memory lane and look back at the last two years with LJ.

LJ, there aren’t enough words to tell you how much I love you. Happy birthday my sweet boy. ❤

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween!

Historically, Halloween is a time I go all out. I loved coming up with costumes and especially themed costumes. Ever since Justin and I have been together, I’ve tried to do a couples costume and then once LJ came along, we did a family costume. I had originally hoped to do a family costume again this year, but with 2 under 2, it’s been a bit hectic around here and coming up with and executing a family costume just wasn’t a top priority.

So instead of a family costume, I kept things relatively simple. For Vi, I found a 0-3 month unicorn “costume” (it’s just a headband and tutu) at a consignment store for a couple bucks and decided that was good enough for an infant who a) doesn’t care about this holiday b) will likely sleep through the whole thing and c) depending on weather, may be too bundled up for anyone to see what she’s wearing anyways.

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For LJ, I went with his interests and what I already had. Someone gifted us an 18-month engineer costume about a year ago and I’ve been saving it for Halloween. LJ is currently obsessed with trains so he’ll be a train engineer (provided the outfit fits – I actually haven’t tried it on him yet – eek!). Then yesterday during naptime I fashioned a Thomas the Tank Engine costume based loosely on something I found on Pinterest.

Look, the key here for me was to shoot for “adequate at best.” I’m not trying to win a costume contest or get a thousand likes on social media. I’m just trying to come up with a cute idea that my son will love and may or may not decide he’s in the mood to wear. I mean, he is a toddler. I found a DIY Thomas costume that had an internal contraption for storing candy so when you trick or treat, the candy goes through the steam pipe and gets stored inside the costume. Look, maybe that mama has an engineering degree or just really loves intricate costumes. Good for her! I’m happy if she’s happy. But I’m not using that as my measuring stick for success.

There are a ton of ideas for how to make a Thomas costume on Pinterest and the end results are all more impressive than mine, so I’m not going to give you a step by step. All I did was take a Pampers diaper box and cut the top flaps to the general shape of the train. When I cut out the bottom flaps, I used the extra cardboard and duct-taped the pieces to the top flap to fashion the back of the train. I had a red box from Aldi that I cut into the shape of the front grill (do trains have grills? I don’t even know that that is called) and I cut circles out for the wheels and taped them to the inside of the box.

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I painted the train blue (I just got a color sample jar from Lowe’s in Sherwin Williams Georgian Blue) and used red masking tape, yellow washi tape, and black construction paper to decorate the sides to look like Thomas. Justin printed out a Thomas face, and I just used construction paper to form a circle around his face which I taped to the front of the box. I wrapped half a paper towel roll in black construction paper and taped it on top and voila!

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It took me about 2 hours (not counting the dry time) and cost about $10 for materials. I’m happy with it and LJ is thrilled. Well, thrilled with the box, we’ll see if he actually wants to wear it tonight  (I do still have to attach some straps today).

I’d love to have a picture of my kids in their costumes to post here, and I give mad props to all the mamas who have already wrangled their kids into costumes to take photos before Halloween. For me, I’m pretty sure I’ve only got one shot to get LJ into his costume so I’m waiting for the main event tonight. So I’ll just leave you with some costumes from years past. Enjoy!

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2010: Katy Perry
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2012: Haymitch & Effie from The Hunger Games
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2013: Little Bo Peep & her sheep (and bumblebee)
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2014: Progressive Flo & Jake from State Farm
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2015: Abby from NCIS
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2016: Nick & Jess from New Girl
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2017: Backstreet Boy & Brittney Spears (BABY one more time!)
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2018: Pooh, Tigger, and Rabbit

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

 

Tuesday Toddler Thoughts

Today, LJ turned 23 months old. The last little milestone before TWO! I can hardly believe it.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen in my stories a bit about our recent library adventure. For those that don’t follow me, let me paint you a little picture.

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With the cooler weather lately, I’ve been trying to find more indoor activities that I can take the kids to. I recently learned that our library has a toddler story time on Tuesday mornings so I signed us up. The first two times went pretty well, so I decided to try out another class they offer on Thursdays which is called Music and Movement. It’s an awesome program for littles, and after the 30 minutes was up the librarian unlocked the closet in the room and brought out a bunch of toys for some free play afterwards. Fun, right?

Well.

The following Tuesday (which was one week ago), we rolled in to our normal story time class right before it began. The room was full of toddlers and their moms and so of course the only available floor space is up front next to the librarian. Not really a problem, except LJ saw The Closet. You know, the closet full of fun toys that he now knows about thanks to the Music and Movement class.

Do you think my toddler wanted to sit quietly in a circle and listen to a book?

No.

He wanted to play with the stuff in the closet.

I told him no, we were not going to open the closet, and he proceeded to throw a mini tantrum. Right in front of the class. Tears, cries, refusing to come sit down.

The poor librarian is trying to start the book and here my toddler is right next to her throwing a fit. I’m not going to lie, it was tempting to just pick up LJ and leave. I already felt like a bit of a hot mess rolling into class right before it started with my toddler and infant trying to squeeze into the front. Then my toddler melts down and I’m all hot and flustered and honestly, embarrassed.

Instead of carting off my crying toddler and sleeping infant, I stuck it out. I continued to tell LJ no, the closet was going to stay closed and encouraged him to sit. I attempted to draw his attention to the librarian reading the book and the pictures she showed. It wasn’t easy to keep calm and stay in the room, but after about 6 or 7 minutes, LJ realized he wasn’t going to get his way and he started participating in the class. He danced and followed the songs, he followed directions (I mean, as well as any of the other toddlers did anyways 😉 ) and he had FUN.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that day in the past week, and I have a lot of thoughts about it.

It would have been so. easy. to just call it a day, leave, and try again another time. And I know there are some situations where it’s better to lower expectations and/or head home. But I don’t think this was one of them. Story time at the library is for kids 18 months – 3 years so there is plenty of grace for typical toddler behavior. The activities are catered to them and if they throw a fit, the other moms get it. Even though I was flustered, I trusted that the other moms were thinking “been there, sister!” instead of “can’t you control your kid!?” (Who knows what they were really thinking but I’m not going to lose sleep over that).

LJ needs to learn how to act in social settings. He needs to learn how to be told no and process and cope with his feelings. He needs to learn that he won’t always get what he wants. And if I had given in and just taken him home or left the story time room to let him go play with toys in the kids’ corner, he would probably have stopped crying. But he wouldn’t have learned any of those things. Better to learn these skills in a toddler story time setting than melt down in a crowded restaurant or on an airplane, right?

I can’t expect him to behave perfectly every time. I know he won’t. He’s learning! But we practice and stick it out and celebrate the victories, like how when we played in the kid’s corner afterwards he shared toys SO much better this time than last time. And today, when we go back to story time, he might do a little better. Or he might not. But we’re going to keep showing up and trying!

I don’t know why all this was on me heart to share today. I guess I feel like my social media/blog/online life has been very baby-focused lately but the truth is we are firmly entrentched in TODDLERHOOD around here. And for any other mama out there experiencing the same thing, I see you. I’m right there with you. Toddlers are wonderful and sweet and hilarious and TOUGH. Hang in there. We’re all just doing the best we can.

Let’s Look: Favorite Fall Recipes

Today I’m linking up once again with Shay and Erika for their monthly “Let’s Look” post and today is all about fall recipes which is perfect because it is FINALLY is starting to feel like fall around here! 

A quick recap of our recent fall fun before I share my favorite recipes: Justin and I took the kids to a fall festival at a dairy farm in our area on Saturday and it was a blast! The weather was a little cooler and I was feeling ALL the fall things. Hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkins galore!

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It was so much fun to get to experience the festival with LJ: he absolutely LOVED it!

He played in a giant bin of corn, which just cracked me up. I mean, does it get any more Midwestern than that?

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We also got to see how their cows were milked, pet a baby calf, and take a ride on a train pulled by a tractor through a corn maze. I think LJ’s favorite part was getting to play on the giant jump pad – he wants to do everything he sees the big kids doing and he had so much fun running from end to end and getting bounced around (I love the progression of pictures haha!) It was SUCH a fun fall day!

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Alright, now on to fall recipes! Now I’m not one to go crazy over pumpkin spice everything as soon as the temperatures drop, but I do get excited for a few things every fall. My absolute favorites are:

THESE BARS from Sally’s Baking Addition. They’re called Apple Butterscotch Magic Bars and they really do feel like fall magic. I am not a coconut fan so I leave out the shredded coconut and they are still so delicious!

THESE COOKIES from Dear Crissy are the perfect pumpkin cookie. I love making these for a party because otherwise I end up eating them all myself. If you prefer a cream cheese frosting, these cookies from Cooking Classy are also very good.

And as for Halloween festivities, I wrote a blog post several years ago about simple Halloween treats for procrastinators (basically, a few festive and easy treats you can whip up quickly). These are sweet and simple additions to a Halloween party!Final Treat Collage

What are your favorite recipes for fall?