Sunday, February 28, 2016

Our Weekend: All About the Kids


I know pretty much every weekend is all about the kids, but this weekend we went all out and visited the children's museum and the zoo, which just so happens to have a giant play area. I guess we were trying to make up for last weekend when Joe was out of town and I was lying low with my chipmunk face, recovering from getting my wisdom teeth removed. There were also donuts, milkshakes, and Monster Jam on repeat. So basically, it was toddler heaven. (Declan missed out on all the sugary goodness.) 

The children's museum was a huge hit. I thought Ez would be really into the emergency vehicles that you could climb around in, but apparently it was just too much to handle to be able to touch all these trucks that he's admired from afar for all this time. He loved this contraption where you put a ball through a chute and a gust of air blows it through a crazy maze-type thing. Usually he's shy when other kids are around, but with that thing he was actually pushing his way through and making sure he got his turn. Declan was a fan of the crawl room, which was pretty empty and gave him a chance to burn off all kinds of energy. Afterward he sat dazed and sleepy in the stroller, nodding off then shaking himself awake every few minutes. 

On Sunday we went to the small zoo near our house and gave Ez the choice between animals or playground first. I was pleasantly surprised that he picked animals, and he especially loved all the cat like creatures. He even made friends with the meerkats who came right up to the window to say hello.

Afterward we went to the playground, which was packed, but Ez didn't let that deter him. He jumped right into the madness and climbed rocks, crossed a rope bridge, and slid down the tallest tunnel slide it ever seen. After all that you'd think we'd get a nice long nap out of him, but nope. He was a trooper and stayed up till bedtime.

Definitely a weekend well spent and I hope yours was too!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Easter Basket Ideas

Anyone else have Easter on the mind? I'm not usually this on top of planning for holidays, but when you're awake in the middle of the night with a toothache there's not a whole lot to do other than some virtual window shopping. I got a little carried away and wound up finding enough stuff for four Easter baskets, but there's nothing wrong with having options, right?

Ez's past two Easter baskets had a car theme (last year's and first Easter) which is very fitting, and I thought of doing a Planes theme this year, but I already went that route for Valentine's Day, so I decided to go for either a dinosaur theme, which is one of Ez's newer interests, or a more traditional duck theme, because he loves the Duck & Goose books. They're both so cute, help me decide!

Toddler Option 1:

// stuffed dino // book // hatch 'ems // foam stickers //

Toddler Option 2:

// stuffed duck // book // rubber duckies // tee // color wonder markers // stickers //

For Declan's first basket I wanted to keep it simple: book, toy, treats, plus maybe a few cute accessories because I can't help myself. I'm still trying to decide between a bunny or lamb theme. Something tells me he couldn't care less and will just try to gnaw on the basket itself. First holidays are mostly just photo ops for the parents. 

Baby's 1st Basket, Option 1:

// book // bunny // bibdana // bunny teether //

Baby's 1st Basket, Option 2:

// lamb // shoes // book // bath toys // teether // 

What are some of your Easter basket must haves? Growing up I always got See's candy, a stuffed bunny, and clothes, because I loved all things twirly and pink. For a long, long time I was convinced that the Easter bunny was real because it just so happened that our giant yellow rose bush fell over on Easter eve, and I was sure it was because the Easter bunny had accidentally jumped on it when he was climbing over the fence into our yard. There's no arguing with that kind of evidence!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy 8 Months, Declan!

Dear Declan,

This isn't just my mama sentimentality speaking when I say that you are flying through all your baby phases WAY too fast. Slow down, baby boy! Last month you were starting to move around through a series of scoots and turns, but almost as soon as I published your 7 month update you started full on crawling and standing. And then you learned how to climb stairs. And you've been putting in lots of practice standing on your own, completely unassisted. Your ultimate goal is to walk. I can see it in your face. And if I had to guess I'd say you'll get there sooner rather than later. In the past month your crawl went from tentative and slow to lightning fast. Seriously, you are so fast. Your favorite thing in the world is when we forget to shut a door to one of your "forbidden" places, like the bathrooms or the closets. Faster than we can brush our teeth or change our clothes you're in there, pulling everything out of the waste basket piece by piece, or ransacking Mommy's shoes or Daddy's boxers. You are a mischief maker through and through, and you love nothing more than getting caught red handed doing exactly what you're not supposed to be doing. Your face lights up and you give the biggest smile whenever we exclaim, Declan! Stop! You've even turned around and wagged your finger at Daddy, as if you were telling him, Nope. I do what I want. But of course we can't stay mad, because your crinkly eyes and wide smile make us melt every time.

You love spending your days chasing down your brother, getting your hands on whatever it is he happens to be playing with, then promptly stealing it and trying to eat it. Seeking out every stray piece of paper within your reach is another daily highlight, and I have to fish chewed up wads of paper out of your mouth at least half a dozen times a day. Stroller rides and crawling all over the playground are a few more of your favorite things.

You tend to be the star wherever we go, and while your brother, mama, and daddy aren't too fond of extra attention, you soak it right up. Except for that one time a gang of five year old girls tried to adopt you as one of their own, pinching your cheeks and telling you over and over how cute you are. That was a bit much, even for you.

  • Spitting. Especially spitting food at people.
  • Attacking the DVDs and cable box.
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
  • Anything big bro does. 
  • Daddy's jokes never fail to crack you up.
  • Making messes.
  • Destroying your brother's toys.
  • Chasing balls around and playing catch.
  • Clapping.
  • Chasing cats.
  • Baths.
  • Trying to eat everything.
  • Mirrors.

  • People eating in front of you and not sharing.
  • When brother doesn't share his toys.
  • Mommy leaving the room.

  • Crawling 
  • Standing 
  • Babbling - especially ba ba
  • Rolling from back to tummy finally 

Even though it's only been eight short months since you've entered our family, it's hard to remember a time when you weren't here. You bring us all so much laughter and love every single day, and we love you more than you'll ever know.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Weekend: Sick and Icky

Most weekends feel much too short, but this weekend couldn't go by fast enough. Declan cut his top two teeth, which has made sleep and nursing a challenge. We've got a biter on our hands. Ez had the diaper rash of the ages. Picture 3 adults vs. 1 toddler to do a routine diaper change. And the toddler nearly won. My wisdom teeth started causing me excruciating pain last week, so I got the two on the right side out on Friday morning. And Joe went out of town for a boys' weekend, where he promptly got sick and was confined to hotel bed rest. Apparently you can run, but you can't hide from whatever family curse we had going on this weekend. 

Since Joe left on Friday my parents were kind enough to come over last minute to help with the kids and take me to the dentist. I opted for just local anesthesia and the whole thing only took about 40 minutes. It went as smoothly as any procedure with someone drilling into your skull can possibly go. So far I've only needed ibuprofen to deal with the pain, knock on wood! 

Afterward my parents brought us all back to their house for the weekend so they and the uncles could entertain the kiddos while I rested. I seriously don't think we would've survived the weekend without them, so a million thanks to Gangy, Grampa, and the uncles! 

Even though half my face was pretty puffy, I decided to still go out for my bff's birthday dinner on Friday night. It's probably a questionable move, but I think taking my mind off my teeth was the best thing for me. I've known these girls since elementary school and they're the type of friends that no matter how long it's been since we last hung out we can always pick right back up where we left off. Happy Birthday Jen!

The rest of the weekend was very mellow. We watched the original Cars too many times to count, I ate lots of soup, mashed potatoes, and pudding, Declan made it his personal mission to hunt down my parent's cat, and Ez literally ran circles around the uncles while they tried their best to keep up with him. Ez did not want to leave come Sunday, and screamed and cried on the car ride home. I guess that's the sign of a good weekend in Toddlerville. 

All was well in the world for him once we were reunited with Joe, so we could all snuggle and be miserable together ;) 

Sincerely hoping you all had a MUCH better weekend than we did!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Home Tour: Playroom

We got lucky with the layout of this house, and while Ez doesn't technically have a full room dedicated to toys, there is an alcove off to the right of the front entrance that is perfect for him to use as his "kid office". One of the great things about it is that there's a nice big window that lets in lots of natural light and lets him watch all the vehicles that drive by. As soon as he wakes up in the morning he generally asks to "watch cars??" which means he wants us to open the window. 

Here's a little peak at his, and now Declan's, play area:

This is how we've currently got stuff organized:

We put this storage bench under the window, which was a Christmas gift from my dad and the perfect addition to the room. We were looking for something that was sturdy enough for Ez to climb on, but also functional as far as toy storage goes, and this bench was exactly the right size for the space. I will say that when I put the bench together some of the holes for the screws were stripped and the screws kept falling out. I called Wayfair and they sent me another one and told me I could do whatever I wanted with that bench, so I finished putting it together and decided it was still sturdy, even minus the missing screws, so now we have two, one under each of the front windows. The second one has already been taken over by Declan's toys, and is also a little coffee table for the reading nook I set up for myself. Here's a closer look at how we've stashed Ez's toys and books:

Growing up I was a total bookworm and I really want Ez to love reading too, so of course he needs his own little reading nook:

Ez's favorite part of the room is his Radiator Springs table. He loves that thing and plays with it daily. Unfortunately  Declan is drawn to it too, and loves grabbing any of the pieces he can reach and then chewing on them. I call him baby Godzilla because he's always terrorizing the town.

As moms we all face a lot of the same battles, and one of the top ones has got to be toy clutter. I doubt I'm the only mom that's stepped on a Hot Wheel and cursed then threatened to throw every last toy away. Right?? Please tell me I'm not the only one. 

I'd heard of rotating toys long before I finally got my act together and gave it a try. Not only does Ez have a collection of toy vehicles about 40k strong and growing, but he actually knows all of his cars, and heaven help us if one is missing when he decides he wants it. So I can't just sneak toys off to Goodwill. I also can't leave them all within his reach, because it's no fun to play with toys unless you take out every single one and scatter it across every seating area and major walkway in the house

Most of Ez's toys are cars so they thankfully don't take up that much space. For now I'm able to sort them all into backpacks, based on what type of car it is (aka - motorcycles, monster trucks, Disney cars, hot wheels, and mini cars). Then I allow Ez to have one backpack at a time. If he wants a different backpack he has to put all the toys back in whichever one he currently has out. So far this system is working pretty well for us. There is always still clutter all over the house, but it's only 1/5th of what would be there if we didn't rotate out his toys. It's also much easier for him to put them all away when he knows exactly where they go. And there's the very important added bonus that when I need a few moments of peace I can just bring out a new bag of toys and they're like brand new and much more interesting than if they were available to him all the time.

Here's a little peak at Ez's vast toys collection (sadly, this isn't all of them, he's got more in his bedroom):

So that's our current toy organization system. It's definitely not perfect, and it usually looks like Toys R Us has exploded in my living room. And dining room. And kitchen. Especially now that Declan contributes to the mess as well. But the fact that all the toys do have homes, and Ez actually knows where they go and how to put them away is a huge improvement for us. If you've got any magical tips that make toy cleanup even easier, please share! I'm always interested to hear how other people organize all the kid clutter that can so easily take over your house.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Weekend: Valentine's Day

I kicked off Valentine's weekend by leaving the boys behind so I could go to a writing workshop in San Francisco. Not exactly the most romantic thing in the world, but it was so good for my mind and soul. Meanwhile Joe stayed behind with Ez and Declan for their very first boys day, which went pretty well except for one tiny little swing-related head injury. 

On Sunday morning I was up bright and early thanks to Declan, and Joe was up even earlier to go to the gym and pick up donuts (and flowers!), so we started our Valentine's Day with some coffee, donuts, and Uno. Perfect start to any day, if you ask me. Once Ez woke up we opened gifts. I already mentioned what the boys got here, and Joe got a poorly illustrated (by me) storybook of how we met (you can read the abbreviated version here). I got spoiled with some beautiful jewelry, and of course my new iphone which we picked out last weekend. 

Then it was off to my family's house to drop the boys off so Joe and I could go see Deadpool. On the way there we did quizzes from this book, and it led to lots of fun conversations. I highly recommend checking it out. While Deadpool is not the most traditionally romantic movie, we both loved it. We were cracking up almost the whole way through. Originally we were going to see Zoolander, but it got terrible reviews, and we see so few movies in the theaters we didn't want to waste it on something below average. I'm interested to hear if other Zoolander fans that have seen it would recommend it. 

After the movie we did what every parent dreams of: shopping without the kiddos. I think we wandered up and down every single aisle at Target, just because we could. And we had to talk ourselves out of buying more toys, because apparently we're worse than Ez when it comes to collecting all things Cars and Planes. We stuck to some of those mess free coloring books, and put everything else back, which showed great restraint on our parts. 

Then it was back home for some All Stars basketball. Ez became obsessed. Every commercial break he would start chanting: more basketball! Then he'd run off to the kitchen to shoot baskets in his little over-the-door hoop. Declan likes to trail Ez everywhere, so he decided to sit directly under the hoop so he could get hit in the head with each shot. They both seemed to enjoy it though, which is all that matters. 

Hope you all had a great weekend full of love and celebration with your Valentines!