non-toy gift guide

i just heard that we only have 5 weekends left until christmas – say what!!!???!!!  it still feels warm and fallish here in KC, and i haven’t really had christmas on the brain…until now.  i’m trying hard to get my ducks in a row early this year so i can really enjoy the season and not get stressed out by the gift-buying and wrapping that i usually leave to the last minute.  i’m sure each of your kids, like ours, knows exactly what they want from the toy department, but here are a few non-toy ideas that are going to be appearing beneath our christmas tree.


  1. tee-pee – what kid doesn’t love a cozy little spot to peruse a book or play?
  2. lego book – what do you do with all those loose legos!?!  this book gives tons of ideas to build something new
  3. special skirt – chloe will lose her head when she opens this, and she will probably wear it basically every day, so the cost per wear will be pennies.
  4. yeti in my spaghetti – every time chloe sees an ad for this, she talks about how bad she wants it.  done.
  5. boogie board – i think my kids are a little young for this right now, but keeping this idea in my back pocket for the next time we take a long road trip.  would be great for practicing letters, numbers, math problems or just doodling.
  6. slippers – um, they’re fuzzy mice for little feet.  i can’t.
  7. watercolors – kids.  paint.  wonder.  enough said.
  8. bean bags – these are happening this year, and i got them personalized with each of the kids’ names.  i think they’ll like that special touch, and they’ll know who each one belongs to.  maybe no fighting since they will each get one!?!  we can only hope!
  9. indoor snowballs – i feel like this could use up a lot of pent-up energy in the basement this winter.  i’m lookin’ at you, beckett – our own personal energizer bunny.
  10. apron and utensils – for the little chef!
  11. kinetic sand – my kids play with this for hours, and i just added some to their wish list to add to what we already have
  12. purse – you can probably tell that chloe is into all things sparkly at the moment.  she is three after all!

now, i’d love to hear what non-toy items are going to be under your tree this christmas!




for the kids {window painting}

this project was a total win and took me about 3 minutes to get ready.  it let the kids play with paint, but involved NO MESS, which i know is what scares most people about art projects.  all three kids {ages 1, 3 & 6} played with it at some point during the day drawing squiggles, practicing letters, numbers, names, and tic-tac-toe.  heck, i even liked it.

i’m pretty sure you could use any type of paint, but i had acrylic on hand so i squirted 4 colors in different spots in a gallon-sized bag, squeezed the air out and used packing tape {so you can still see thru it} to make sure that sucker was closed…because i knew someone would try to open it…and they did try.  once it’s taped closed, you can tape it to a table, highchair tray, or on a window.  we liked this best since it looked a lot cooler when the sun shined through.  just start squishing and see what your kids come up with!img_9757





dear hudson

dear hudson,

what a wild ride this year has been. too many ups and downs to count, and today, i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about august 11 last year. i went into labor around 7 in the morning, called my parents because i was pretty sure it was go time and i was already dilated to a 4. i was scared you might come quickly (you didn’t). by the time they got here, i was having hard contractions and knew this had to be your day. i remember being excited, scared, hopeful, and so ready to meet you. i had no idea what our day would hold. that you would be in distress during labor, that your heart rate would keep dropping (along with my blood pressure), that they would have to monitor you very closely, that the words ’emergency c-section’ would be uttered at one point, and i would be so scared. that the NICU team would be called in to be there for your delivery. that when you came out, you would have two collapsed lungs and a broken clavicle and i would only be able to hold you for a few seconds before they took you and gave you oxygen to get you breathing. that they would take you directly to the NICU and we would not hear anything for an hour while they figured out what was going on. that they would drain fluid off of your lungs and have you transported (in what looked like a spaceship) to a hospital downtown with a better-equipped NICU (with daddy following the ambulance). that we did not know what was going to happen to you – you could improve or totally tank in those first few hours. that daddy and I would spend that night in our hospital room without you. that my mom would sit at your bedside all night and watch your labored breathing and listen to the doctors until i could get discharged. that the next morning, when we would see you, you’d be connected to so many wires that it would take a nurse’s help just to hold you. that i wouldn’t be able to nurse you until you were two days old. that we would stay in an old run down hospital room (after joking that our stay would be at the ‘spaspital’ since it would be a break to look after a newborn) just to be closest to you. that I would feel so torn between your needs and those of your siblings. that after all that, we would only be in the hospital one day longer than if you’d come out healthy (miraculous, really). 

it was a rough and scary few days and we are so lucky your tiny body knew what to do to heal itself. 

i wish some one had been able to whisper to me that first night- everything will be OK. because, honestly, we didn’t know that it would be. 

to meet you now, one would never know of your dramatic entrance or your tiny fragile body those first weeks. you are loud and sturdy, physical and happy, soooooo happy. WE are so happy to call you ours. 

you are walking and beginning to talk and you may just be the busiest of the three (which is saying something!). you are ornery and cautious, love cars, bats, balls and the stairs, are a good eater, did I mention busy?  you, beckett, and chloe, have mutual adoration for one another, and i so hope your relationships will only strengthen. it’s been beautiful to watch that bond grow. you are sleeping better, though still not thru the night reliably. last night you were up at 2.30, 4.30, and 5 – teeth?  just wanting to get a jump on the birthday?  and noooowwwww you decide you like a pacifier. what the what?!?

i am savoring your baby qualities, but at the same time, so look forward to seeing who you become. we all love you, hudsy bear. you are the piece that completed this little puzzle. 

7 things i’ve learned in parenting

now i’m no expert in parenting (far from it, in fact!), but i’ve learned a few things in my five short years.

be patient – if your well of patience isn’t deep enough, dig deeper.  sorry, but we’re the adults here. your sanity and your kids happiness depend on it.   our kids are a reflection of us, and on the days my fuse is short, my kids are in crazytown.  on the days i can give more of myself, they’re calm…well, calmer.  it took me a long time to see that.  kids are constantly watching you and listening to what you say about them (even if you don’t think they are).  they will read your emotional health on the daily and reflect it right back at you.

go to bed early – you’ll have more of the aforementioned patience, yahoo!  i know it sucks, it means your evening is gone, your already limited time with your partner gets cut, BUT your fuse will be so much longer the next day.  and even if your kids each get up twice a night, your collective ‘napping’ overnight will add up to something good.  ha!  at the very least, pick three days a week to turn in early, and your body (and your family!) will thank you.

get up early – ok, i don’t do this on the regular, but when i do wake up before everyone else and get just 30 minutes to myself, it sets a tone for my day…a good one. i’m happier, calmer, and feel like i’ve already done something just for me.  read a book, practice yoga, drink coffee in silence, whatever makes you tick.  again, pick a few days each week, and see how it makes you feel.

everything is a phase – good or bad, with kids, it’s all a phase.  seriously.  sleeping, not sleeping, stranger danger, teething, hitting, clinging to your leg, you name it.  we’ve all been there with one or all of these, and just try to remind yourself that ‘this too shall pass’.  it might not seem like it in the moment, but you’ll wake up one day, and your kid won’t be sleeping on your bedroom floor anymore.  i’m looking forward to that day.  ;)

undivided attention – now, some days are just plain cray cray, but try to give each child even just 10 minutes a day where you aren’t distracted by other kids, the dishes, or your phone.  make eye contact, talk, laugh.  maybe it’s early in the morning, while others are napping, or stealing a few minutes at bedtime.  you’ll help fill their ’emotional tank’ for the day.

put a positive spin on things – gosh, my mom taught me this, and it works a lot of the time.  the answer is always ‘yes’, but make it work for you.  it’s 7 am, and your kid asks for candy.  the answer is ‘yes, after lunch!’  can we build a fort?  ‘yes, after you pick up the 40 bajillion toys on the floor!’  can i have a sleepover?  ‘yes, when you’re 7!’  ha!

stop comparing yourself to others – ok, this is waaayyy easier said than done, and something i work on continuously, but quit it.  we each have our gifts (mine is not housekeeping) and that’s ok.

in an ideal world, we would be all these things every day, and that’s something to strive for, but let’s be real.  kids are crazy and they push us to our limits – currently mine are fighting about something stupid and scaling the posters on my bed- and perfection is just not possible.  if you’re like me, we’re living moment to moment and just trying to survive most days, but see if you can work in a few of these things each day and see where it takes you. remember, we are raising men and women.  

life ain’t perfect, but i’m choosing to find the beautiful in everyday.



chloe {10 months}

chloe – there is a person in your little body, and she’s starting to emerge!  we swear you’re saying ‘baby’ – more like ‘day-dee’ – and really like pictures of babies and the two little dolls we have.  there is really something to girls and babies – i’ve been pretty amazed at that.  you will sometimes ‘moo’ if we ask what a cow says and ‘ppppppttthhh’ if we ask what an elephant says.  you’re playing peek-a-boo, signing  for milk and more, know where your nose is, and trying to put shoes and socks on your feet.  you are standing more and more, and i feel like those first steps are coming.  you continue to be a great little eater, and we can just hand you a banana (or whatever), and you’ll eat it like a big kid.  my dear, at long last, you have given us the gift of sleeeeeeeep!!  it only took 10 months to get here, but it is oh so glorious.  i feel like we’ve crossed to the other side.  hallelujah!


{still sporting this face…mostly when she’s happy, if you can believe it}IMG_1240





{these two are interacting so much and are so good to each other most of the time}IMG_1733

{sure wish she wasn’t holding a pair of socks, but whatever, it’s real life}IMG_1738


chloe {9 months}

chlo-girl, you are so so social and the just the happiest baby around.  you are crawling so fast, clapping, waving bye-bye, giving kisses and trying to share your food.  you had your first ear infection right at 9 months – boo!  my poor mom was up all night with you while we were at a wedding in st louis (talk about some mommy/daughter guilt for that one).  beckett did you one better and got a double ear infection a few days later.  let me tell you, it was not super fun around here that week.  yikes.  i weighed you at the dr’s office that first week of oct when we were there, and you were 19 lb, 12 oz.  when we finally got your official 9 month check-up on november 25 (way closer to 10 months), you were 20 lb, 8 oz. (85%) and 29 1/4 in tall (95%)  i recently found beckett’s stats from around 9 months, and he was 20lb 2 oz, so you guys are right about the same size at this age.

in the last month, you’ve gotten five new teeth (a third tooth on the bottom and four up top) and have another on the way.  you are sprouting those and hair like crazy.  your hair is looking a touch darker, but that’s probably just because it’s getting more dense.  i am also sprouting crazy hair too, where it fell out after you were born.  i just cut some bangs to try to blend it all in.  that may have been a mistake.  they’re sure going to take some getting used to anyway.  you are pulling up on everything and occasionally letting go, leaving you standing for a second.

as for sleeping, i’m still up once a night typically, though we’re trying hard to nix that nighttime feeding without letting you cry for hours…because i’m pretty sure you would.  you are a persistent little thing, which will be great for you in the long run, but is kind of annoying right now.  i’ve kind of decided to just wean you all-together at a year, and hopefully that will work out.  when you do wake up and cry, you rock yourself.  it’s kind of cute – the rocking, not the crying.  i’m nursing you four times a day and you are eating meals like a champ, preferably feeding yourself pretty exclusively with your right hand.  maybe you’re a righty?  beckett was definitely favoring his left by this age.




{face of the month}IMG_0820










that day that beckett {went to preschool}

oh my gosh.  this might seem like no big deal to you, but it was a moment for me.  i spent every first day of school on the steps of my parents’ house doing this very thing, and now i am doing it for my. own. child.  what!?!  preschool has symbolized the turning of a page for me – the beginning of beckett being pulled away from me.  i know that probably seems dramatic, since he’s only at school two mornings a week – but next year it’ll be three mornings, the next a few full days, and the next….gulp….kindergarten.  i can’t even go there.

anyway, beckett is loving school.  he comes home talking about his ‘two nice guys’ every day – holbrook and cole.  the funny thing is – i know both of the boys parents, but beckett had never met the kids before.  he loves gym class – that’s pretty much a given because this boy has an amazing amount of energy to burn – but he also loves going to the library.  he looks forward to school, and when i tell him it’s a school day, he throws his hands up and says, ‘yayyyyyy, schoooooool!’




{you may not be able to tell, but was excited.  }IMG_5133

chloe {6 month pictures}

i’m finally getting around to posting sweet chloe’s 6 month pictures.  i know i’ve talked about how happy this child is, but these pictures capture her perfectly – unbelievably happy, curious, and in constant motion.  jared had to help me with these because she was so focused on crawling all over this blanket that i couldn’t distract her enough to look at the camera.  i really love how these turned out.








{we see this face a lot – snorting comes with it}




and off she goes again.  the serape blanket is from arrow & aspen, who initially sent me a blanket different from the one i ordered.  they were so sweet to send me the correct one and gift the original one to me to apologize for the mix up.  thanks guys.  i am loving these, and i keep moving them around our house to figure out where i like them best.  their permanent home is still tbd.

rainy day project {muffin tin crayons}

i had been wanting to do this for a while, and one day a few weeks ago, we finally got down to it.  i had been collecting broken crayons for a while, and we finally had a bag full of them.  beckett was excited to help, and we got to work unwrapping all the crayons.  i was surprised at how long it kept his attention.  he really loved it.

we lined a muffin tin with paper liners and decided to divide them into warm colors and cool colors.  we baked them at 250 degrees for 10ish minutes.  watch them, though, because if you bake them too long they’ll just melt together into a muddy color.  take them out of the oven carefully and let them cool completely.  unwrap, and get to coloring.




some college buddies {and a herd of kids}

you guys, some of my dear friends from college and their kids filled my house today.  while it was a little crazy, it was pretty glorious to have all these tall and small people in our home – 5 mamas and 9 kids betweens us!  truth be told, i love when our house is full, and i want our friends and family to feel like we always have an open door, so i hope you do!  since we had a pretty good crowd here today, we decided we needed to get a shot of the kiddos (except for chloe, who was snoozing).  friends, can you believe that we made these!?!



well, since we were documenting the kids, why not try to document the mamas too?  i set the camera on a little table and got it all lined up and we asked allie, the most senior kid at 4, to push the shutter button.  here’s what we got.

{click to enlarge}Recently Updated5

i mean, hey, at least we’re all in a few of them, give or take a kid.  it didn’t dawn on me until this minute that i have a remote for my camera and could have taken the pictures myself.  next time!

did you sign up for stitch fix yet?  several friends have mentioned they have – you go-getters you!  they also mentioned that they’ve been wait-listed.  i was in the beginning also, but it moves pretty quickly!