Toddler books for restless days

posted on: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The winters in Montana can sometimes be torturous when little babies have big ideas of being let loose outside (and it always seems to happen on the coldest days of course). And I'm sure most parents would agree that building block towers and crafting with cotton balls can only satisfy young minds for so long before someone starts going a little stir crazy. Luckily in our house when this happens we have a steady stream of books. For as long as I can remember I've always been drawn to books and I'm so happy that it's carrying through to my babes. And as their little minds continue to grow it has been exciting to see the new fascination that grows with each new book. Below, are some of their favorites right now (I'm sure it will change by next week). 



posted on: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

John and I closed out yesterday with one of those come-to-Jesus types of arguments. After eight years together we're still surprised by the moments where we're back at square one trying to figure each other out. Unfortunately that time fell smack-dab on my birthday. The fight was over communication (or the lack there of) and a lot of crying was done on my part and a lot of frustration was aired out on his and all I really wanted was birthday cake.

When we married a lot of people gave us advice--advice of kids, advice on fighting, advice on cooking, advice on making it through the hard times. Someone even suggested that we should always fight naked (we tried it once..) :) But no one ever gave us advice on how to work through the stable times. The times where life would be good and the newness of marriage would be replaced with a blossoming partnership full of children and memories. I think that's what made this argument sting a little more than others, there was no impending trial or problem and the only fingers to point were at each other and when that happened words were said that can never be taken back.

I'm hopeful that whatever was amiss was just a small bump in the road and that when we look back on the story of us we'll see it as a moment of triumph and growth because no matter how many doors were slammed or how many tears were shed I still fall asleep at night knowing that John is my go-to person. My friend, my shoulder to cry on, my taste-tester of new meals, my strength when I falter, and the logic behind my irrationality. So I'm 29 and I'm not sure if we have all of our crap together, but I do know we're both in it for long haul. He's my last I love you at night and my first sight each morning and when it comes down to it I guess he's better than any piece of  birthday cake anyway...

Minted: Red Edition

posted on: Saturday, January 18, 2014

I'm a connoisseur of sorts and a keeper of all this paper. Between the stacks and piles randomly dispersed throughout our home my love for paper has never ceased. Book after book has been delicately filled with announcement after announcement as if to preserve a small snippet in time. I assume it's safe to say that paper really is a amazing conduit for expressing emotion, but I'm bias towards paper, remember. :) 
And what better way to share the love than with a company that prides itself  on working with the best independent designers who produce the most raw and awe-inspiring paper art. Whether it be birth announcements (which will inadvertently make your uterus hurt), party d├ęcor, wedding invitations, holiday cards, or a small note of thanks, Minted strives to transform the simplest forms of paper expression into unique pieces of hand held art.
I forewarn you.
Your choices are endless and your checkbook will be doing flips over the hundreds of designs and most preciously curated pieces of paper art you'll ever find, but it's worth it. I promise.
This post has been sponsored by Minted. Compensation has been received,  all opinions are my own.  

Cali forn I A

posted on: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Last week John and I went to California and Arizona (without the kids). It was a little bit of work and a whole lot of fun, and it's crazy the amount of activities you can jam into a day when you're not packing around two babes. I was a bit of an emotional roller coaster leaving the kids for the first time, but Brecken reassured me throughout the week that he would rather live with Grandma and his cousins than with me anyway. No worries on his end I suppose. 

I had high hopes of documenting our entire trip--between the rides and roller coasters I only managed to pull out my camera while deep sea fishing. Which was a marvel in itself because I was doped up on Zofran and praying for the moment I could kiss the dirt again. John on the other hand is a lover of movement so any activity that forced my head in between was legs warranted. And he's no slouch when it comes to scheduling either. We managed to pack in Santa Monica Pier, Malibu, Universal, a Clippers Game, Newport Beach, deep sea fishing,  Medieval Times (John's choice), annnnnd Disneyland all in a 3.5 day period. And I was nauseated the entire time. I'm not much for rides or water or roller coasters so each day was a new form of torture. On our last day, which happened to be Disneyland, John remarked, "you are a trooper for doing this." Yeah, I know (blehk). 

John had also lived in California for a few years so he was comfortable driving which was great for me but bad for the nausea. The constant swerving in-and-out of traffic culminated with California's rolling hills and less than straight roads just added to my vertigo. BUT all the nausea aside it felt so great to feel the sun's warmth and walk around in something other than a parka and snow boots. Boots are cozy but sandals are my go-to apparel. And palm trees, well they kind of speak my language. The humidity was a bit of a culture shock when we've become so accustomed to our arid high desert/mountain environment and my hair was va-va-voom  the entire tripe which made a pulled up bun a necessity. The alternative resembles Medusa if you can imagine.

Hands down the highlight of the trip was Disneyland. Have your been to California Adventure before? It was amazing! We just can remarking how much our kids would love it--I'm sure we said it a hundred times. And Radiator Springs! Wow, Disney gets an A+ on awesome and mind blowing. It was life-like and huge and just like the movie. Our goal was to hit up Disneyland by ourselves since neither of us had been there since childhood and scope out what we must do with the kids and to actually determine if they were ready to go. Addy may still be a bit small, but Brecken would be in heaven. I can't imagine going back again without the kids but for a first-go around as adults it was so much fun to see the park without having to man handle little ones while reading the map. 

Cali was warm, and fun, but deep down I kind of missed my open (and smog-free skies) and snow. Ha! Who am I kidding. Fact: I am not a fan of snow. 

One Little Word: Compassion

posted on: Thursday, January 2, 2014

For those of you that follow me on Instagram or Facebook I'm sure you've already seen this, but it's worthy of one more share (or at least I think so and the Instagram typos have been fixed ;)). This is a post I wrote on Christmas Eve about a particular experience that happened  while trying to frantically track down a package:

"Last weekend we went to visit my parents and it wasn't until we were headed home that I realized I had left my DSLR camera at their house. In a panic I had my mom overnight it to me with the hope of having it in time for Christmas. Because what's the point of a camera if not for Christmas morning?

So in the hustle and bustle of things I stopped by the post office to pick it up on Christmas Eve to only find out that it missed its connection and was stuck at another post office. The Postmaster said that there was no way it would get to me, but if I wanted to drive an hour into town I could pick it up myself. The kids were screaming and plans had already been made for the day and I knew there would be no way I could strategically fit in a last-minute run into town so I went home broken hearted. As I got into the car I started to cry, and as someone that is not normally a crier the tears of  frustration begun to gush out without an end in site.

Pulling into the driveway I became an emotional basket case  as I saw my husband sitting there patiently waiting. As I unloaded the babes from their carseats I proceeded to air my grievances to John. It seemed so silly to be crying over a camera, but it seemed that all the anxiety of the holidays and laundry list of last minute details were finally catching up to me. And as with most circumstances that are out of my control I began to erratically clean my house--because that's what I do when I'm near my breaking point. Not long after that the Postmaster called and asked me to come back to the  office. I picked myself up, cleaned my mascara stained cheeks, and tried to pull myself back together. It was nearly noon and the post office was closing in a matter of minutes and yet a line was still lagging around waiting to haul away last-minute gifts. And in a post office that is lucky to receive 50 packages a day the days proceeding inundated our tiny little office with over 500 packages. It was a crowded and chaotic little place with winter-clad patrons bustling in and out all day while the post office staff worked unceasingly to adhere to their every needs. 

I noticed upon my return that Pat, the postmaster, had disappeared and that only one post office attendant was meeting the needs of all the customers. As I patiently waited the line slowly trudged along until Pat returned. When she called me to the front she held in her hands a small black case. In the last minutes of the holiday rush she had left the post office to rush home to retrieve her own camera.  As I looked at her in disbelief she said "you deserve to take pictures of your babies on Christmas morning." As I started to cry again I said "no one has ever done something like this for me, there's no way I can accept your camera" and she gently held my hands and said "it's the least I can do." As the tears welled in both of our eyes I knew that her simple gesture was a magnified sense of compassion for someone in need.

As I left the post office that day my heart was bursting with the spirit of compassion and love. In those last frantic moments these two wonderful ladies had sacrificed their time and resources in the hopes that I would be able to capture those tender sweet moments of my babies. Cheryl, took the burden upon herself to help the bustling line of patrons by herself and Pat gave of herself in the best way she knew how--a camera."

Over the last few weeks I've considered what my "one little word" would be for the year. After looking back on years past I noticed a common theme of self-improvement and trying to find ways to make my own life better. Then I began to wonder, how often do I work at making the lives of those around me better? Sadly, not enough. How many experiences have I missed to help another because I've been so consumed with my own life? I'm sure there are many.
So this year I wanted to find a way to focus less on "me" and more on "them."

This year I want to be more compassionate.

I want to take the time to connect with my children. I want to learn from them and know that their little hearts are full of so much good--that maybe I can even learn from their sweet spirits.

I want to spend more time with my husband and realize that the frustrations don't need to escalate into big ordeals.  

I want to look for the good in others and strive to be more in tune to their needs.
I want to find a way to do simple acts of kinds without any expectation of praise.
I want to forgive, even when not in the wrong, understanding that sometimes forgiveness means letting go and moving on.
I want to inspire myself to give more, even if it is just a simple task like opening a door or saying good morning. Because it really is the little things that count.
Happy New Year friends. Thanks for reading.
My one little word for 2012, 2013

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