baby + toddler toys that stood the test of time

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Birdie will be turning four this winter (HOW???) and Teddy two this October and in almost four years of raising these little goobers I've noticed that there are certain toys or books that they play with more than others and that I would never put in the donate pile. They are the toys they reach for time after time and that seem to entertain them for longer periods of time than others. Sure they get bored of them too occasionally but these are the ones that they will still return to week after week and year after year. 
I remember when Birdie was just getting into toys at around eight months of age and I was feeling so lost when it came to knowing what she would truly enjoy. Needless to say we made a lot of mistakes over the years - bought toys that they never played with or would play with once and then the item would sit and collect dust until I inevitably had to donate it. So I thought I would compile a list of the tried and true toys, the ones that will be worth it and well loved. 

- Stuffed animals: As most parents we've gone through our fair share of stuffed animals and learned that the way to Birdie's heart is via BlaBla dolls and Teddy is a huge Jellycat devotee. They each have a lovie from these two brands and won't go anywhere without them.

I hope you find this list helpful and I'd love to hear about what toys your children love!

i see you babe

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

After seven years of marriage and two kids there's one thing I can tell you for certain - IT IS HARD. Being an adult is hard, being someone's partner is hard and being someone's partner and a parent at the same time sometimes feels impossible.
People often remark on what a good team my husband and I make, that we seem to read the kids and each other so well. And that's true to a degree. Over the years we have gotten very good at the routine, at being very in-tune to each and every need of our two kids, at watching the clock without actually watching the clock at making Annie's mac & cheese with our eyes closed. He handles the nighttime wake-ups since he can fall back asleep easier and to give me a break during the week. Monday through Friday I do the nine to five with them. I wake up to the soothing cries of my starving housemates who if their veracity is to be believed must have not had a meal since 1993. After breakfast I clean the house that was spotless a mere eight hours ago and then begins our awkward dance of playing, fighting, snacks, crying, loving, reading, snacks, naps, snacks, making lunch, cleaning up lunch, naps, snacks and sometime before we start to circle back to playing and fighting Kevin gets home. His turn with the kids for a few hours while I catch up on errands or work and then it's dinner, cleanup, baths, bedtime and then the inevitable convincing a certain three year old that it is in fact time for them to go to sleep. On a good day we succeed on the fourth try.
And then we pretty much pass out, wake up and do it all over again. I think Fitzgerald once said it beautifully when he wrote "So we beat on, boats against the current." And on, and on and on. Sometimes amidst all the chaos we'll try to ask each other how our day went but as we attempt to stammer out a sentence for the fifth time and are yet again interrupted we often just give up and "beat on" in silence. And so days melt into weeks and weeks into months and especially if we haven't had a date night in a while we begin to sleepwalk through our days. We forget what a genuine adult conversation sounds like or what's on each other's minds. And it's rough.
For a while there I thought perhaps there was some grand yet attainable solution to this. Perhaps Mary Poppins would materialize and very gently mute the children when we want or sometimes need to talk. But alas this is real life and not a Disney movie and the truth is... well there really isn't a great solution. The kids are still little and require a lot. Life continues to whirl on in all it's hectic glory and we are spinning and spinning in our own little orbits. With so many varied responsibilities on each of our plates that we are managing in our heads on top of the physical work of raising kids and keeping a house it often feels like there is very little mental space left for "us." What we have found that seems to work for us is pretty simple. Number one - more date nights. We've kind of gotten to the point where a weekly date night is a non-negotiable. And number two is something I like to call "try a little tenderness," to quote one of my favorite songs. Once we realized that we can't live in some romantic rosy fantasy we came to the conclusion that we had to do something to show the other person at the least that "I see you." It's not much but honestly when you're running on next to nothing even a small something means a lot. Sometimes it's a hug after a four am paci run. Sometimes it's holding hands and just looking at each other while the kids yammer away. Sometimes it's saying "go take a break, I got this."  It's "I got you your favorite magazine while I was out getting diapers" or a middle of the day text just to say "I miss you." Any small thing to show that "Yes these kids are sucking every drop of energy from me 24/7 but I have something left for you too."
And for now that works. Because it won't be like this forever and one day we won't be able to get a single darn word out of these kids and the idea of spending large amounts of their time with us will be repulsive to them. And then we will lay in bed and gaze into each other's eyes as some cherub lazily drops rose petals onto us. But for now we'll take laying in bed and gazing at Netflix until we wake up to a little peanut trying to wedge herself between us. But hey, at least we're holding hands!! It's the little things people!

summer things!

Friday, April 22, 2016

I think we're finally over the cold front as the temperatures have been well over 80 all week. Naturally I've started up scooping up sandals and tank tops and dreaming of making out to the beach some time this summer. I'm also turning 30 (WHAT????) in two months so I've been doing a little bit of birthday window shopping. Of course I can't help but get googly eyes over the Ace & Jig summer line.  I got Gwyneth's new cookbook in the mail last week and now I'm just dying for our farmer's market to start up that's only a quarter mile away so I can put the cookbook to good use! Speaking of cooking and cleaning I recently became obsessed with these Lola brushes. We've always been devotees of the Ikea $2 brushes but these feel like they have much more scrubbing power and I'm always happy when we can switch from plastic to a natural material. I've also kind of been obsessing over the Mrs Meyers bluebell scent - so sweet and summery.
I did a huge overhaul of my makeup supply this month (I had been using the same brushes since 2012!) and added something that I swear has been a game changer! I got this Nars light reflecting pressed setting powder and it's basically a snapchat filter come to life! It just evens everything out, softens lines and makes my skin feel uber soft. I honestly don't know how I ever lived without it!
This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous and I'm looking forward to many meals on our patio and maybe a nap or two. It's crazy to think we're nearing the end of April and May will zoom by as always and Kevin will be on summer break! I know he is desperately yearning for more time with the kiddos and lord knows I could use a break :), so it will be perfect! And speaking of summer I'm so excited about this new kiddo swimwear line - Minnow. Teddy is lean little guy so the only kind of swim shorts that stay on him are little briefs like the ones above. Aren't they adorable?? And I don't think I can resist this darling tee from my fave - The Bee & the Fox
Oh and last but not least I am completely helpless when it comes to Anthro planters. Could they get any cuter??
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend my friends! Love and light to you!!


getting my groove back

Thursday, April 21, 2016

We never planned on having babies 22 months apart but it happened and we were thrilled! My mum was concerned. At the time I thought she was being a party pooper, little did I know that her worrying wasn't unfounded. Taking care of two under two those first few months almost killed me. Between recovering from a c-section, tending to a sick newborn and a very energetic toddler to transitioning to being a family of four it was a lot to put it mildly.
I will forever be grateful to my mum for being my coach and my rock those first few weeks. For fielding all my teary phone calls and frantic texts. She was an absolute godsend. She also firmly encouraged me to avoid placing unrealistic expectations on myself as a mother and wife and just take it one day at a time. Considering some days I would spend up to four hours rocking Teddy to keep him from screaming and vomiting it was the only way I could survive, just telling myself over and over again that tomorrow would be better. Sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn't but it was the hope of it that kept me going.
So we threw sleep training out the window, stopped counting how many hours of Daniel Tiger Birdie watched and made mac & cheese with our eyes closed. I became ok with wearing yoga pants every day and occasionally stained shirts. We all ate breakfast in bed daily and by "breakfast" I mean a granola bar and squeezable yogurt. I showered when I could, which was rarely, and slowly buried my type A personality. The only thing I refused to let go of was a clean house. For some reason it was so closely tied to my sanity - I felt that as long as our home was clean I could pretend like everything else was fine too. Which it wasn't, of course. Other than that I just went with the flow and took what moments of privacy, clarity, peace and quiet I could get.
But as with most things in life - things began to change. My feisty toddler acquired the vocabulary she so desperately needed to express herself and the tantrums all but disappeared. My baby became a toddler and outgrew both the acid reflux and dairy intolerance and learned to walk and even say "mama" and "papa." All of a sudden I was finding myself with time on my hands and I began to realize that I had almost completely lost touch with myself. I had spent so many years sacrificing all of myself to these little people that I was completely depleted.
But little by little I began to put back together the pieces of myself that had been locked away and placed on the tallest shelf. And it feels so good. It feels amazing to finally do things just for myself again. The biggest change however, has been that I feel that it's made me a better mother. Investing in myself gives me more patience, grace and strength. Because let's be honest - running on empty doesn't benefit anyone. So I thought I would share below just a few things that I do on almost a daily basis that help me feel happier, content and excited about enjoying each day:

- Taking a moment in the morning to pick out an "non-fitness wear" outfit. To do my hair, put on a little makeup and spritz some perfume.
- Finding a little pocket of time during the day (not at night when I can barely keep my eyes open) to read something. A magazine, a chapter in a book, a short poem or article. I find that doing this plants a little bud of something for my mind to chew on during the day that has nothing to do with diapers, meal planning, laundry or baths.
- Eating my breakfast alone. This is the one time during the day when I allow the kids to watch whatever they want for a half hour. They're not ready for breakfast this early so I'll usually give them a bowl of cheerios to munch on and head downstairs. I'll make myself a pot of coffee, a bowl of yogurt or a grapefruit and enjoy my few minutes of quiet that I get to set my mind straight for the upcoming day.
- Not spending every nap time doing laundry or cleaning. It's terribly tempting but doing that every day leaves me feeling completely burned out. Instead I've tried to alternate between chores and something that feels selfish and restorative like writing, reading or just making a cup of something delicious and enjoying some music or scrolling through my social media feeds.
- A "me date" once a week. At least once a week when Kevin gets home he either takes the kids to the park for two or three hours or I leave. It's my time to decompress from all the whining, clinging, cooking, cleaning and general mommy-ing. This time is key to my sanity and wellbeing.
- I don't spend money on massages, manicures, facials or blowouts. But one night a week I treat myself to all of that at home. Perhaps it's not as luxurious but there is something delightful about a nice hot bath and pampering right before climbing into your own bed.

It doesn't sound like a lot but trust me all of this makes such a huge difference! It's just a few little tweaks here and there but the change is invaluable. My hope and prayer is that all of us hardworking mamas can always remember that investing in our own wellbeing is investing in the wellbeing of our family.