FAMILY PICTURES 2016

This post could also be titled “THAT ONE TIME WHEN WE KIND OF DRESSED UP.” The other night when I was writing about the girls’ art station, I realized that the last three posts showcased the girls in their PJs: They wore them to see Santa and then we didn’t change out of them last weekend, soooo… it kind of looks like we’re a bunch of weirdos and don’t have our kids wear real clothes. Which is kind of true. But Mya usually has us coordinate and accessorize and keeps us up on the current trends of a 4 year old. And a couple months ago we all faked it ’til we made it at a nearby park for our family Christmas card. Here are some other gems that I loved equally as much. I mean how lucky am I… ?!

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FAVORITE ART SUPPLIES and ART STATION TIPS

One thing I’ve learned after having two kids is that “self play” is a pretty valuable trait to instill in your child. Yes, I would love to “play cars,” pretend I’m a cat, and become a master chef by just wearing underwear on my head for the day’s entirety. But then I realize that there are dishes and laundry and dust and sometimes Mama needs to just take a breath “by herself.” Because I think people usually visit the bathroom without an audience. And yet honestly, if I didn’t have Leah hanging on my leg and Mya asking me questions about puberty, it really just wouldn’t seem right. But when I do need fifteen minutes to throw dinner in the pressure cooker, the main lifeline I use is Mya’s art station. Mya does something productive and Leah throws all the supplies on the floor. And if that fails for Leah, I just open up the tupperware or spice cabinet and we’re good to go. 😛 Here are our tips for art station success:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

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WEEKEND FAVORITES | “ICE” EDITION

So this weekend’s “treacherous” ice storm seemed pretty tame to me. Although we didn’t attempt to leave the house, so I don’t really know. We did lots of crafts (this stepping stone was Mya’s favorite), experimented (with this science kit), played board games (this Monopoly Junior set was a huge hit!), continued on our mission to declutter, and tried some new recipes (and will definitely be making this General Tso’s Chicken again.) I also got cozy with my laptop by the fire in front of some mindless TV– I think this should become a regular thing… and so here’s some of our current faves:

Any of these PJs on major sale. I grabbed some more matching pairs for the girls for next winter. You know, just 11 months in advance because these babies are the girls absolute faves. And I will dress them matchy matchy for as long as I can. And if I knew they would wear these hats, I would grab a couple… because 1. huge pom and 2. they’re only $6!

Baking these almond flour cookies weekly. I use half the butter and they’re so addicting.

Loving this French Cade Lavender candle. So much. Shop Anthro’s sale and use code TAGTIME to get another 40% off the sale price!

It’s kind of ridiculous how much more “put together” I feel with these three baskets in my life. But anything that glorifies the act of folding and sorting clothes is a winner.

Watching “A Dolphin Tale.” Three times this week. Mya is obsessed. Hoping Derek has a trip to Tampa soon, so the girls and I can bum some free flights with his miles and meet Winter the dolphin.

Have a great week, friends!

CHRISTMAS 2016

This week was the first in a long time where we had some productive days. Like I actually went to the grocery store and made some dinners. And both girls aren’t coughing. And staying indoors hasn’t resulted in meltdowns. And I’m finally getting around to posting Christmas. So yeah, bring on the prospected ice storm, weatherman. You can’t bring us down. Santa might bring Leah down, but she’s safe for another 11 months.

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LEAH LYNN’S 1st BIRTHDAY

I don’t know about any of you and the holidays, but it was a serious blur for me. A beautiful, magical blur; and a lot of that magic this year has come from our little Leah. I was having some serious Mommy guilt about having Leah born so close to Christmas. (Like I could’ve planned that or something, right?! 😛 ) Since we had seen all of our extended families so close to the holidays, we decided to forgo throwing Leah an actual party. I know it’s ridiculous, but not having a first birthday party kind of bothered me. But then her day came (December 27th) and we were all tucked away at home– just us four– and it felt pretty special to me. The hustle and bustle of Christmas and traveling and shopping and cooking had all settled and it just felt right. We were in our PJs for most of the day, were all super tired, and ate leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m not sure if Leah will be jazzed about this arrangement for the end of time, but she seemed pretty happy this time around.

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MAMA’S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2016

Derek has traveled a lot more this year for work. Which meant a lot less sleep for me. Which meant I wished so badly to like the taste of coffee. Which meant I better come up with an alternative form of caffeine that wasn’t unhealthy for me. And thankfully, I found my drink of champions: hot chai latte with unsweetened almond milk and cinnamon. But we had some problems: spending $4-something on a drink everyday at Starbucks wasn’t making me feel great and ordering something so specific was making me feel ridiculous. So one day I got chummy with the Starbucks gal and she told me a little secret: the chai latte mix is this exact mix and I could make it at home myself with just a microwave and a frother. AND THEN I found out it’s sold at Costco in a three pack and I pretty much felt like I won the lotto. So I honestly don’t need anything this year. But if I were to want some things (in no particular order), these would be my top 8 picks:

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Another winning feeling was when Derek realized that his work trip this week will grant me “companion pass” for all of 2017. That means I can fly anywhere he flies next year… for free! So you better believe we’ll be planning a lot of three day weekend trips with (and possibly without) the girls. So if you have any ideas on some fun, quick trips, let us know. This Mama’s ready for a vacation! Have a great week, friends.

(You can also find similar Gift Guides here and here.)

KIDS’ HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2016

Hellooooo, friends! I am still here. I know you don’t believe me. But I am. I’ve been glued to the computer screen hitting all the online deals and I can’t believe it, but I’m pretty much done with Christmas shopping. (Although it’s come at a toll: dark(er) circles under the eyes and lots of chai lattes.) I enjoy shopping local, but it turns out that lying in my pjs at 7 PM with my laptop is pretty awesome too. And shopping without two kids climbing in and out of the Target cart is also a huge plus. Here are some of my favorite finds for the season:

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Yes, the gifts are more toward the “little girly” side, but that’s all I know! Not sure if the knit mermaid doll (#1) would be more for me or for the girls. Can’t handle the cuteness! I’ll be back tomorrow with a MAMA Gift Guide. You know, so you can figure out what to buy yourself too. 😉

 

MYA’S NATURE PARTY

Mya loves all living things… including bugs. I don’t know how it happened with me as her mother, but she has no fear of any insect or arachnid. A couple months ago we were at a nature presentation at Fat Brain Toys and Mya was front and center the whole time. She jumped with excitement to hold the tarantula and grinned from ear to ear while the snake slithered up her arm. At the end of the class, Scott the naturist mentioned that the Leawood Nature Center at Ironwoods Park offered birthday packages and the thought of not having her party at our house seemed pretty magical. I got Mya’s overeager approval and called to book a date. Best. Decision. Ever. Also to make it easier, we just sent the invites via email. The “nature” theme gave me a good reason to incorporate one of my favorite illustrators– Charley Harper.

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MYA MARIE: 4 YEARS

Mya just turned 4. FOUR. But more like 4 going on 34. I swear she is more mature than I at times. The other day in the Costco parking lot, I was wrangling Leah because I guess she wasn’t as impressed with the bulk deals. Mya looked at me and calmly said, “It’s okay, Mama. Take a deep breath and don’t worry. Enjoy the beautiful day.” I mean, really? How did that come from such a little person? Granted, she’s not always that calm and collected, but she constantly amazes me with moments like these.

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LEAH LYNN: 9 MONTHS

Guilty of posting this many weeks after Leah’s actual 9 month milestone. (#whatelseisknew ?!) Also guilty of swiping a pair of Mya’s capris and giving them to Leah to wear as pants. Because my girls are basically the same size. So there’s that. And on top of Leah growing like a weed beautiful flower, she’s also become super active. This now makes our monthly photo sessions pretty tricky to capture her lying on her back… and not eating the wood heart plaque, or attempting the downward dog, or wrapping herself up in the blanket backdrop.

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MYA SPY

Am I lame for admitting this?: I have a coupon folder. I keep it in my car console and grab ’em as I need them. Another truth is that I seem to only use the ones for Bed Bath and Beyond (because they never expire) and I’m sure I have a hundred of them. I pass them out to other customers as we wait in the check out line. Buuuut other coupons that I appreciate receiving are free 8″x8″ books from Shutterfly. They usually expire before I get around to making one, but not this last time! This time Mya and I had a plan: Mya chose what play things were special to her, we staged them, and she photographed them to make an “I Spy” (or in her case, a “Mya Spy”) book. And I love it so.

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LEAH LYNN: 8 MONTHS

These monthly Leah posts are the only thing keeping me somewhat up-to-date on here. Hopefully you’re not getting tired of them! 😛 This last month was the first time I recognized Leah having her own little sense of humor and feisty side: Mya was brushing her teeth on her stool in front of the sink and I was holding Leah behind her. Leah turned off the light with her left hand, then pulled Mya’s hair with her right hand. Mya said “Ow, Leeeaaahh!” with a smile and turned on the light. Leah then looked at herself in the mirror and laughed. Then Leah again turned off the light with her left hand and pulled her sister’s hair. This sequence happened three times. It would’ve probably gone on longer, but I didn’t want the laughs to turn into a Leah fist full of Mya’s hair.

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