Alright everyone, I’ve got the boy stuff down for the most part for now, and because Thomas is the oldest, he usually gets all the “equipment” – bikes, etc – and they are passed down to Nell and Peter for his birthdays. Which is making coming up with gift ideas for my Nell for her 3rd birthday very tricky. Soooo, if you have any awesome suggestions for a 3 year old girl, I would love it if you leave them in the comments! And I’ll be sure to update you on what we go with after her birthday. Thanks, friends!
Nell is 2 and a half. And she is full of personality, opinions, and, at this very moment in time, a lot of patience testing. My mom just laughs at her because she reminds her of me as a child. To which all I can say is that my parents are saints.
Driving Thomas to preschool last week:
Thomas: Mama, I call our President Bronco Bama.
Me: Yeah, that was pretty silly when you were littler and thought he was named after the Broncos, huh? But do you remember what his real name is?
Me: Barack Obama. Can you say that?
Thomas: Barack Obama.
Me: Good! So since you know his real name, it’s probably a better idea to call him by his real name. It’s a respect thing, baby.
Nell (loudly and with emphasis): Well, I call him NELL MA-KEPITT!
Me: Oh yeah, Nell? Do you think you’re going to be President someday.
Nell: Yeah. It’s going to be SO cwazy.
Agreed baby girl, agreed.
I went into Nell’s room to get her up from her nap to find her with no clothes on.
Me: Well hey there, Nell, how was your rest?
Nell: I taked off all my clothes because I was doing a dance class instead of my nap.
Me: [Pause to evaluate what my response should be...] Oh, isn’t that something. Let’s get those clothes back on so you can come down and play.
(We later had the “NO grown-ups should ever ask you to take your clothes off body safety rules and oh-by-the-way, you will NEVER be enrolled in a dance class with a nudity requirement chat.)
Me [Picking up a cute coral-y pink striped shirt on clearance]: Do you love this t-shirt, Nell? Should we get it for you?
Nell: Um, no fanks. That is not beautiful enough for ‘mys closet’.
At the dinner table trying to get Nell to eat her food.
Me: Nell, can you eat this bite please?
Nell: Excuse me, mom. I is talking right now.
It’s that time of year – my big kids had birthdays a couple months ago, so I can tell you what they’re loving now that we’re a few months into their new ages. Let’s start with Nell because finding things for Thomas was tough this year! No affiliate links, just sharing what we love, so click away!
Nell is a baby doll girl. And when it comes to baby dolls, you have to go Corolle. Ok, you don’t have to, but they’re my favorite. They’ve been around forever – my two favorite babies were Corolle babies, and Nell plays with mine. My aunt bought Nell her first Corolle baby, and for her birthday, we got Nell a Corolle doll that is water safe. The body is soft, not hard like you’d expect, and my water loving girl loves giving her baby a bath. But, this is also Nell’s go-to baby right now for just general play. I’m telling you, Corolle dolls are the best.
Doll stroller. Most doll strollers don’t have front swivel wheels, which makes them a pain to take anywhere, and especially to push around the house. We bought a Graco one for Nell this winter and it just didn’t cut it for our circle floor plan – so for her birthday, I found this only slightly pink stroller on sale on Amazon (I think I paid $20 for it) and it’s been a hit. Note: The Amazon reviews aren’t great because someone thought this was a Maclaren stroller. It is made to look like a Maclaren, and we’ve loved it. Sometimes reviews are helpful, sometimes – like this time – they’re not.
Play kitchen. Santa brought this play kitchen to Nell in December. Santa specifically picked this one because it’s gender neutral since Nell had a big brother (at the time just one, but I was hugely pregnant with Peter and didn’t know if he was a boy or a girl – good choice Santa since we’re now a male dominated household). Honestly, Thomas loves playing here just as much as Nell. Santa did leave B and I a note letting us know that it was a bear to put together, so keep that in mind should you be thinking of asking Santa for one for your little one this year…give Santa lots of extra time.
Play kitchen food. This is what I tell eveyrone to get Nell when they ask for ideas – play kitchen food and accessories. My favorite food is by Learning Resources – these healthy baskets are great because the baskets store the food, but the kids also like playing grocery store. My aunt got Nell this Farmers Market set from Learning Resources for her birthday, and it’s a hit. The kids play market and grocery store – and love it.
And I didn’t even move the water table off the picture from last year’s round-up, because it continues to be a favorite (Nell’s 1st birthday gift). I cannot tell you how many cups of morning coffee I’ve finished before 10am because of the water table. We use it outside Spring – Fall. I store it in the garage, but bring it inside every few weeks in the winter for the kids to play with like a sensory table. I bought ours at Costco for Nell’s 1st birthday – and they tend to carry a new one every year, but buy early, because they sell out by June!
So, that’s what Nell’s loving these days. What about your kids? I’ll get Thomas’s post together soon…if I can figure out what to put on it!
Here are my past toy posts:
When we moved into our house last June, I immediately knew that the room with the built-ins and window seat would be Nell’s room. When we found out I was pregnant seconds after moving in, everyone questioned if we shouldn’t just move Nell to the guest room and keep the “nursery” (as it was for the previous home owners) a nursery. But I felt strongly in the beginning that Peter was a boy (and then talked myself out of being convinced of it for most of the pregnancy) and I just had this picture of Nell in her room and the boys in the two rooms across the landing from Nell’s room. A girl’s wing and boy’s wing, if you will.
Anyway, this was Nell’s room when we moved into the house last June. Under the chair rail was a sage-y green and the top of the chair rail was yellow. The window seat was covered in jungle fabric that tied those colors together well, but Nell’s turquoise crib (my $69 painted IKEA pride and joy that we painted long before Pottery Barn Kids was jumping on the painted crib bandwagon) blended into the green too much and looked more green than turquoise with the colors. Plus, I had firmly established Nell’s color scheme as shades of blue and coral, and yellow and green didn’t work well with that.
Making Nell’s room her own was a very long process. In September, my mom and sister primed the green and painted the yellow gray (Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore). When B flew out to DC for a wedding in November, my mom and I put up beadboard wall paper on the bottom half of the walls (the same weekend my mom and B’s mom ridded Peter’s room of the cobalt blue paint).
We still had so far to go. This room needed color and pattern (and perhaps photos taken during daylight hours). I knew Nell’s room would be navy and turquoise with pops of coral, so immediately after we moved in last June, I ordered this Ikat print for the window seat and seven of these seaglass bins for under the bench. And that’s as far as I got until the painting happened last Fall. In February, we started to finally put the pieces into place when we moved Nell’s dresser and chair to the guest room so it could become the nursery, and the double bed from the guest room to Nell’s room for her to grow into and for guests. Did you follow that? Phew.
Enough talk, here’s Nell’s room as it stands today:
So much of what’s in the room are things we already owned or I relocated from Caroline’s basement. In fact, the only thing we purchased was the bedding. The room will continue to evolve – I’m sure in the next year sometime, the crib will come down, and artwork will change, but for now, we’re calling it done. And so, that’s Nell’s room. It’s a vibrant, colorful room and it fits her personality (and wardrobe) to a tee.
My 3 year old decided last year on November 1st that he was going to be a walrus for Halloween 2013. His walrus obsession began when his Gigi took him to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for a “Thomas Day” shortly after Nell was born, and continued into our trip to DC last November when we took the kids to the National History Museum. So, the walrus costume has been on my mind for a year, but I wasn’t going to get started until October since Rickie Fowler (I vetoed on account of no one in Colorado really following PGA golf outside of my dad, Mr. B and Thomas) and Peyton Manning (pretty sure he decided that he dresses like Peyton every day, so what’s the fun in being Peyton for Halloween?) were both thrown around as Halloween costume options for awhile.
Nell’s costume is a Carter’s Elephant (she loves elephants and we sometimes call her Nelephant, so it fit) and is basically a well padded sweatshirt with an elephant trunk on the hood, and her costume inspired me to create the walrus out of a brown hooded sweatshirt. We live in Colorado – chances are good there will be snow on Halloween, so Colorado moms know that costumes need to fit over a snowsuit (or just act like a snowsuit itself). When T was firmly decided on the Walrus on October 1st, I ordered a brown hooded sweatshirt from Amazon and found brown sweatpants at Walmart (of course they couldn’t sell a hoodie with their sweatpants, that would be too easy). Then, I googled around for my favorite walrus – the walrus costumes out there are kinda meh, so I just found a stuffed walrus whose face I liked and made the walrus face based on that.
First, I cut two bean shapes out of carmel covered felt to make up the walrus snout. Then, I cutout a quick heart shaped felt nose from black felt and hand stitched it onto one of the bean shapes at the top. I turned the bean shapes inside out and sewed the two sides together, turned them right side out and stuffed it to make a Walrus snout. My mom was over while I was doing this and decided that a simple stitch around the snout would add detail and also that classic home-grown Halloween costume feel, so Caroline is responsible for the detailing. I also used the same colored felt for the walrus stomach – just to provide some variation in the costume. The tusks were the same idea – I cut four long curved tusks out of white felt, stitched two together twice to make two tusks, stuffed them, and sewed them to the snout. Then I attached the snout and tusks to the hood with a hand stitch, and cut two oval black walrus eyes to hand stitch on, too. Overall, it took me about an hour, and Thomas was giddy watching his long awaited walrus costume come together.
I love making Halloween costumes for the kids, but I’m also a reasonable person. Carter’s made a damn cute elephant and I bought it at Costco for $12.99. I spent more than $12.99 on T’s hoodie and sweatpants alone, though his costume didn’t total more than $20. Sometimes you have to make a costume (when your three year old decides he’s going to be a walrus, for example), and sometimes it’s okay to buy one (when your one year old’s only opinion is that every costume she passes in any given store is “MINE!”).
Our walrus and Nelephant are pretty happy with their Halloween gettups – and Thomas is already scheming for Halloween 2014. Let’s hope it’s something I can make out of a sweatsuit. So, Happy Halloween from our zoo! Hope you all have fun and safe trick-or-treat adventures!
We just got back from five days on Siesta Key, Florida. It’s one of the best beaches I’ve ever been too, and the fact that Mr. B’s sweet grandparents live nearby makes it pretty much our number 1 vacation destination at this point in our lives. We try to go down to Florida once a year to visit B’s grandparents and get some beach time – it doesn’t always work out to be exactly on the calendar year – it was a year and a half between our first visit with Thomas and when we took both T and Nell last Fall, but less than a year between our November visit last year and this one – but in five years of marriage, we’ve made five trips to Siesta Key, so I’d say we’re doing well with our goal.
We love traveling with our kids. I know it’s not for every family, but B and I find so much joy in watching our children discover the world. Whether it’s Nell’s first real encounter with sand – she was meh about it – or Thomas discovering that he loves the ocean and body surfing waves after a summer of refusing to be anywhere near water without pitching a relatively large fit (which broke his swim instructor mama’s heart), it’s almost like we rediscover the world through our children’s eyes. I think the biggest key in enjoying a vacation with your young kids is to manage your expectations. The plane ride (or car ride) will have its tough moments. You won’t stay out late drinking and eating like you used to. What used to be my idea of quality beach time – at least half a day every day in the sand and the surf – has evolved to mean that two 90 minute beach sessions a day = success. Rather than walking the entire beach hand in hand with Mr. B talking about our goals for the next 5 years, we’re now running the same 20 yards of beach over and over again after two kids and talking about how to survive bedtime with four people in one tiny bedroom in our hotel. Our late night extravagant dinners have changed to early dinners, and drinking wine on the beach at sunset has become eating ice cream on the beach at sunset. And I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
On the first night we were at the beach, we walked up to Siesta Village from our hotel and grabbed ice cream to eat on the beach and watch the sunset. And for the first time in my life, I saw the green flash. Well, I’m calling it a partial see, because I had my camera up to my eye to take the picture above of the sun setting into the ocean and definitely saw the flash, but had to wait for confirmation from those around us that they saw it too before I felt comfortable saying I’d seen it and it wasn’t just some camera effect. Thomas’s mind was blown seeing the sun set into the ocean. “The sun goes Night Nights in the water?!? Can I sleep underwater? Pllllllease.” These are the moments that make playing musical Nell for 3 hours on an airplane so worth the trip.
Thomas adored the ocean. I was nervous, as I mentioned earlier, because this summer he gave his mama a lot of trouble refusing to swim. In typical Emily fashion, I said since before I had children that I would never use any kind of floatation device for my kids and never, under any circumstances, would I put them in water wings. When my friends asked me for advice, I said, “If you HAVE to have something, please pick a life vest so that they learn their torsos are how they float, not their arms.” I mean, honestly, I’ve probably deterred 5 friends from putting their kids in water wings. And last Tuesday when T was at school and I was running last minute trip errands? I threw the freaking clearance Target water wings in my cart, because our summer had been such a mess and I was willing to do anything to at least have T enjoy the water again. I didn’t break them out until he’d already been out in the ocean with me, jumping waves and having a blast, and then I gave him the water wings and he had an absolute blast. He loved floating with the waves. We held hands in the ocean and kicked our feet up together towards the sky. And I looked at B and said, “I don’t care how lame they are or the fact that I think water wings look dorky. I don’t care that I think they’re the worst invention ever for teaching your child to swim. He’s loving the water. I’m sold.” Sorry, friends who I’ve told to avoid water wings. Do whatever you need to do for your kid. Oh, Emily.
Little Miss Sis was hit or miss about the beach and the water. Some moments she loved it, some moments she wanted nothing to do with it, marched herself over to the umbrella stroller, climbed in by herself and sat with her arms crossed staring at us playing. She’s hilariously herself and we love every spicy little part of her personality.
This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. The second morning we were going to the beach, B and I were still packing the beach bag and finishing sunscreen and T and Nell were ready to go. Thomas took Nell’s hand and said, “Come on sister! Let’s go to the ocean! Mommy and daddy will catch up wif us.” Ha. 5 minutes later he fell on the walk to the beach and his skinned knee was apparently impossible to recover from, so it diverted our entire beach trip – we ended up driving to Longboat Key to see it and hope the kids fell asleep in the car.
It was a fabulous vacation, and one that we look forward to every year. So that’s where we’ve been the last little while, now I’m ready for Fall.
Note: You can still enter the $50 Williams-Sonoma gift card giveaway through Sunday night (closes at 12 am Monday morning).
Two things you should know: 1) Entertaining and parties don’t come naturally to me. 2) If I’m going to throw a party, I want it to be a good one. Enter: Bottle Pop Party Company. When Shannon announced she was taking her party planning business virtual, I emailed her pretty dang fast to see if I could hire her (not a sponsored post, I hired Shannon to plan the party and it was worth every penny and then some) to plan Thomas and Nell’s joint birthday bash. Because, referring to #1, if I’m going to have kids with birthdays less than a week apart, I’m definitely going to combine their celebrations into one for as long as I possibly can. And referring to #2, if I’m going to get away with a combo birthday party, it’s going to be a good one!
So, I approached Shannon with a few ideas I had and she gently steered me in a better direction. Love that girl. And when I threw out bubble party, she ran with it and made it awesome. Shannon came up with a navy, seafoam, coral and teal color scheme for this boy/girl birthday party and I was so in love with it, I used it for our family pictures we had taken in May, too.
Shannon’s plan was awesome. She laid out everything from the decor from the entrance to the backyard, from tablescapes to entertainment ideas, and having her plan made this party so much easier for me – especially considering we’d moved to our new house six days earlier. The house wasn’t in the ideal state I’d love to have it in for the party – would I have loved to have had every room repainted before inviting 50 people over? Sure. But you work with it. Here’s the party:
The entrance. A bubble machine greeted guests with tons of bubbles! A clump of coral, navy, sea foam, and polka dot (bubbly) balloons said “Party’s here!” and at Shannon’s suggestion I laid bubble wrap at the entry so guests would pop bubbles as they walked in (happened to have about six rolls worth around anyway, we could have bubble wrapped the entire house).
As for food, Shannon recommended a bubbly brunch which was perfect with the morning party I was hoping for – love to get a party wrapped up before lunch so everyone can go about their days. The food choices included a bagel bar with all the fixings, a bubbly bar, and donuts for dessert! Of course, Thomas apparently has an opinion now and demanded cupcakes, so we had both cupcakes and donuts. Obvs. You can never have enough sugar at a 1st and 3rd birthday party.
These cute utensil and napkin pouches were one of my favorite touches. I normally would have thrown a chunk of silverware in a bucket on the table, and after I put these together I texted Shannon that I would never present silverware and napkins another way again. Even my dad, who’s been known to not notice when my mom has had the exterior of their house painted for months, came up to me and said, “Em, I love these.” That’s saying something, right there.
The Bubbly Bar. I offered three different juices and Champagne and Pellegrino (for those few friends of ours who don’t drink at 10am on Saturdays). I loved Shannon’s idea to anchor balloons behind the table, and I wish that we had another blank wall at our house to have set this against, but you work with what you’ve got, I guess. Like 13 different wall colors.
And some very happy birthday kiddos. Which is all that really matters in the end. It was the best party I’ve ever thrown (from my standpoint – I wasn’t stressed AT ALL) and we got tons of compliments so I assume our guests had a good time, too. Out back we had bubble stations setup, bubble hop scotch, and another bubble machine, but I failed to get pictures before guests arrived in true Emily fashion.
So that was our Double Bubble Birthday Brunch. What do you think?
Well, Nell Caroline went and turned 1 on me yesterday, so I thought I’d do a quick update on her monthly baby photos. I think my favorite was her upside down at 6 months. I love that, like the calendar baby photos I did of Thomas, the clock chronicled Nell’s growth against a fixed object while also conveying the passing of time. And I just love an under 1 year old in a diaper for baby pictures – it’s timeless. Pun not intended.
We had a great combo birthday party for Tom and Nell last weekend, I’ll post about it later this week. In the meantime, I’m mourning the end of “babyhood” but still savoring the sweet days with my two toddlers. Every year I’m the same age as my brother for two weeks and I’ve always loved that – I’m sure my brother finds it less than charming, or doesn’t even think about it. Ha. But for the next five days, I have a 1 year old and a 2 year old. Don’t even talk to me about the fact that my 2 year old is about to turn 3 and will start school in the Fall. Time flies.