And Just Like That He’s One…

 

That big ‘ol meany, Father Time came and switched out my tiny infant for a big one year old…so rude.

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I can’t believe an entire year has passed since my little Bo was born. I remember the day vividly and it honestly feels like yesterday. The last few months I’ve been noticing just how much he’s starting to look and act more like a little boy and less like a baby. Then this week he got sick (just yucky cold stuff) and he is so cuddly and clingy and just wants me to hold him and rock him, and I can’t help but soak every second of it in even though he feels so huge in my arms now.

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We celebrated last weekend and I’m so glad we did, because he was just starting to get sick then and wasn’t feeling as awful as he is right now. I am also super glad I thought to take his pics last week because he definitely wouldn’t feel up to it now. We went with a ‘manly’ outdoor theme. It felt fitting since he was a lumberjack for Halloween and he is just all boy in every way. His first words after ‘dada’ and ‘mama’ were ‘vroom-vroom’. He loves tractors and cars, working with his tools, and getting into everything. He is also a bottomless pit when it comes to food…the eating never ends.

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We kept things simple and just ordered pizza for the party. My mom made Bowen a little bear cake which was perfect for my baby bear. She also set out snacks like, teddy grahams, gummy worms and moose droppings (aka Twix). We had the party at Gigi’s (my grandma) house. Gigi is home recovering from knee surgery so we wanted to bring the party to her. It was very casual and relaxing with just family hanging out and chatting.

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After watching my mom make this bear cake with fur, I’m dying to see what other animal cakes we can make. Give me all the animal cakes!…just give me all the cake.

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My dad also helped out and made this adorable lumberjack photo board. It turned out so cute and was a lot of fun. I have also decided my brother Shaun, looks like the ultimate hipster lumberjack with his black rimmed glasses. bobirthday

While I’m sad my baby isn’t so babyish anymore, I am really amazed at how much he has grown and changed into my sweet little boy. He is walking and climbing and learning new things every day. It makes me so happy to see that look of determination on his face as he toddles around the room making a mess of everything in his path. Happy birthday my little Bozilla!

 

 

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Hollis Turns Three…

 

 

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This girl.

This girl keeps me on my toes. She’s funnier, smarter, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined her being. She teaches me so much patience and mindfulness every day. I love that she loves dressing like a princess while walking around the house with her tools ‘fixing things like mom’. Brian and I constantly look at each other and shake our heads amazed at the things that come out of her mouth. She loves to have a good time and wants everyone around her to be having a good time too. She has only been a big sister for seven months and is already a pro at it. Bowen lights up when she walks into the room and I have no doubt they will be the very best of friends.

A couple of weeks ago Hollis turned three. (I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my tiny baby is now a giant three year old.) This is the first year that she has really understood what her birthday is and been excited about it. She knew there would be a party, she knew there would be presents and most of all, she knew there would be cake. Cake is very important to this kid. She is undoubtedly my child.

This is also the first year that she had an opinion about the party theme. I was fully expecting a princess party or even Peppa Pig, but no. I asked her what kind of party she would like and she said a giraffe party. I offered other suggestions, great suggestions, but no. This is what I love most about my darling daughter. She knows what she wants. She wanted a giraffe party so she got a giraffe party.

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I scoured Pinterest for giraffe cake ideas and found two different cupcake designs that I really liked. I sent them to my mom to see what she thought. We both agreed that we liked the layout of one cake and the decorations on the other cake. So we mashed them together and ended up with this guy. My mom did all the work, I really just watched her while tending to a fussy baby. (Bowen was working of 4 of his 6 teeth that weekend…) She used a mix of chocolate and white cake. Then she made buttercream frosting that she colored orangey-yellow. And she made the spots out of salted caramel flavored candy melts. The nose and feet are Oreos.hollis-three

It was delicious. I think it turned out really cute and Hollis LOVED it!

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We celebrated at my parents house with family. We kept it simple with pizza and salad, and decorated with orange and green for a jungle/safari look.

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My aunt and my grandma also surprised everyone with these sweet giraffe party bags full of giraffe swag!

Happy third birthday sweet girl! I can’t wait to see what theme Hollis picks next year!

 

Mom Style: Vacation Looks

 

So as many of you know, I had a baby…4 1/2 MONTHS AGO. What?! How is that possible? With my first baby, I fully expected to snap back to my pre-pregnancy weight at this point. Breastfeed they said. The weight will fall off they said.

No. Just no. That did not happen.

For some reason I’m one of those lucky women who packs on the pounds while breastfeeding. The weight just sticks like glue no matter what I eat or how often I exercise. After I’m done, things seem to pretty much go back to normal with a little work. This second time around, I already anticipated this problem so it has been annoying, but much less traumatic than the first time around. I don’t plan on weaning baby boy until around 12 months, so in the meantime, I’m stuck dressing this body the best I can.

Most days I live in my stereotypical “mom gear”. Yoga pants and a t-shirt are pretty much my uniform if I’m not leaving the house. I try to step it up a little when I actually encounter people other than my children. Since we are going on vacation in a couple of weeks, I would like to find a weeks worth of things that are a break from my ho-hum, everyday look. We are heading to Colorado and will be stopping at a lot of parks and outdoor attractions, so I want to stay cool and comfortable. I am trying to buy pieces that are a little more forgiving and that I can wear now and when I eventually (hopefully) lose some weight.

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  1. Poncho blouse. Fitted tees are no longer my friends right now. I’m all about flowy, breezy tops that keep me cool and still look pretty and put together.
  2. Kimono Romper. I must admit, I am super late to the romper/jumpsuit trend. I’ve never own one…well at least not since I was 10. I like that this is just one item to pack and still a complete outfit.
  3. Pink Crepe Pants. I love this pale pink for summer. And I love me an elastic band right now.
  4. Floral Wrap Dress. Midi and maxi dresses are just the best. Shorts aren’t always my favorite, especially post baby, so I reach for dresses a lot in the warm months.
  5. Gauzy Tunic. Tunics are great all year long. They look good with shorts, jeans, leggings, etc. I like this light, gauzy material for summer.
  6. Jumpsuit. Again, I’m new to the jumpsuit, but this one looks so comfy and effortless.
  7. Striped crop pant. These lightweight, cropped pants are so easy to wear. The drawstring waist doesn’t hurt either.
  8. Colorblock Maxi. I hope the maxi dress never goes out of style. I don’t know what I will do. I love throwing on an easy dress and being done.
  9. Crochet Trim Blouse. I don’t know how I lived so long without some good, flowy tops in my wardrobe. As easy as a t-shirt, but looks a lot more polished. Bonus points if it’s something I can nurse in easily!

Still have a few items to get, but this post has me excited to start packing.  Bring on vacation!

Road Trippin'(with a toddler)

We are embarking on a road trip in a few weeks and I am so excited! Brian and I LOVE road trips. When we were dating, he traveled a lot for work and I would tag along with him on trips whenever possible. You really get to know a person when you are trapped in a car with them for hours on end. 🙂 We love driving so much we even road tripped on our honeymoon!

I love the flexibility of driving to our destination as opposed to flying. We can stop whenever we want to, or explore a different route, and take lots of pictures. I find it much more relaxing. Traveling with kids, however, has kind of changed everything. We have lost a little of the spontaneity from our trips. We have to schedule a few more stops and pack a lot more stuff, but I want our kids to love road trips as much as we do.

Hollis, who is 2 1/2, is quite familiar with long car rides. Since we moved out here to the farm, I try to visit my family back home in Kansas City about once a month (some months they visit us). The drive there is about 4 hours depending on traffic and how many times I have to stop. I have made the drive so often, that I have it down to a science. I can usually do it these days without any stops and our drive gets cut down to about 3 1/2 hours with traffic. Our road trip this summer is going to be about 8-10 hours of driving, so it will be a bit of an adjustment on our little ones. Here are some of my tips and tricks for making traveling easier with littles.

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  1. DVD Player. I know, I know, t.v. will rot your brain.  I don’t want my kids to rely on electronics to keep them entertained all the time, but sometimes it is a life saver. My toddler will watch a movie (or most of one) and then fall asleep. Sleeping kids on a road trip is like the holy grail. At the very least it usually allows me a quiet hour or two on our trip.
  2. Backseat Organizer. We were gifted one of these, and it has been really handy. Ours hangs on the back of the passenger seat and keeps things within reach of the me and Hollis. I can keep toys, books, snacks, drinks, dvds, wipes, diapers, etc. up off the floor and off the seats. It also keeps dirty feet off the back of my seats!
  3. Water Coloring Books. My daughter looooves these books. I think we have all the ones Melissa and Doug make. She loves that she can ‘paint’ and I love that there is no mess. The paint brush holds water inside and only shows up as ‘paint’ when applied to the pages of the book. When the pages dry, they erase and she can start all over again. I like these for the car bc they are a lot easier to maneuver than coloring books and crayons. She doesn’t need a hard surface to use it on and if she drops her paint brush, it’s no big deal because it’s just water.
  4. Wipes. Obviously these are a must. Messes happen, especially when toddlers are involved. I swear the harder I try to keep the car clean, the more messes we end up having.  I like to keep one of these universal wipes in the front seat in the console and one in the back where Hollis can reach them. I feel like I’m constantly reaching for these; to clean hands after stopping at a park, after using a rest stop bathroom (they never seem to have soap!), wiping sticky hands after a snack….the list goes on and on.
  5.  Cooler Tote. It does not matter how long of a drive we are going on, my child will ask for a snack. Sometimes we don’t even make it out of our driveway without her requesting something. Stopping for food can really add up on a trip as well as slow you down. I pack things like, apple juice, milk, water, string cheese, sandwiches, apple slices, and grapes to snack on. I like to keep some paper plates and utensils handy too so that we can stop at a park or wherever and eat. They are also really nice to have for when you get to the hotel or wherever you are staying.
  6. Treats. Snacks can make or break a road trip for me. I like to pack a lot of healthy options to keep us from stopping at every fast food joint we pass. BUT I also like to bring along a few treats that we don’t normally get to snack on. Sometimes sugar is totally necessary when you’re trying to stay awake to drive or stay awake to make sure your significant other stays awake to drive. It also makes a good bribe for when you do have to take the little ones in somewhere and need them to behave. I try to stick with things that are individually wrapped and that don’t melt too easily onto little toddler fingers.
  7. & 8. Magnetic Boards. This house board and this farm board are in my Amazon cart right now. I like to grab a couple of new toys for Hollis when we go on a long trip. I also like to hide a few toys she loves for a couple of weeks before our trip and then bring them along so they feel somewhat new to her. I let her help me pick out these magnet boards so she has something to look forward to playing with in the car. I like that the pieces are moveable, but stick to the board so everything stays together and we’re less likely to lose things in the seat.

My biggest tip to road tripping with little ones is be flexible. We like to look ahead on our route and take note of places really want to stop at, places we don’t mind missing if the kids are asleep, and also places that would be good to stop at if the kids need an extra break. It’s important for them to get out every couple of hours to stretch their legs and run off some energy. We like to stop at parks, but rest stops and deserted shopping malls (when it’s super hot or raining out) work too. Anywhere that we can play a game of tag or run around a bit are good. The best part of taking a road trip is that the journey there is just as much part of the vacation as the destination is. You can make it as fun as you want!

 

Teething Essentials

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My little man is four months old already. How the heck is that possible? I swear last month was February. We can’t possibly be nearing the end of June right now, can we?! I’ve learned a lot the last four months about my little guy. He is quite a bit fussier than his big sister. He does NOT like his carseat. He’s not crazy about the swing. He is chubby and pudgy in all the right places. He loves to be held…all the time. I call him my little hot tamale because he puts off an insane about of body heat. And like his sister, he laughs and smiles easily, which I love so much.

I try so hard not to compare my children to each other, or to any other children, but it is really, really hard. I love how different they are, but so much the same too! One thing that they both started at the same time is teething. They both started the teething process at 4 months. Just when we were getting into an awesome night time routine and sleeping almost through the night, BAM, teething rears its ugly head.

Here is what is worked for us so far…

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  1. Terry Teethers.  One thing both my babies loved was when I wet a wash cloth and freeze it for them to chew on. They much prefer soft over the plastic, freezer teethers especially in the early months of teething. I stumbled upon these terry cloth teethers that you freeze. I love that they are soft and so easy for baby to hold and are much cuter than wash cloths.
  2. Hyland Teething Tablets. I tried all the tablets and all the gels, and this is the only one that worked for us. I have a bottle upstairs, downstairs, and one in the diaper bag. These are a must.
  3.  Bandana Bibs. With teething comes drool…lots and lots of drool. I love these little bandana bibs. They are so soft so baby doesn’t mind wearing them all day. The prints are cute with pretty much any outfit and I’m not constantly having to change out wet shirts/onesies.
  4. Sophie.  Normally I would say, “$20 for a chew toy?! Pass!”, but Sophie is actually worth it. My mom bought one for Hollis and we have gotten other similar ones, but both of my kids gravitated to Sophie every time. It’s lightweight and easy to hold and get in the mouth even for my four month old.
  5. Mortimer Moose. We have a thing for Moose in our family so we received a couple of these as gifts over the years. It has lots of textures for baby to chew on. It has a good mix of hard things and soft things for their gums. I also like that you can hook it onto the carseat or stroller so baby doesn’t drop it on the floor.
  6. Teething Loop. Hollis loved this one for a long time. Super easy for baby to hold on to and lots of things to look at and nibble on. I was also able to loop it onto high chair and stroller straps to keep it off the ground.
  7. Teething Necklace.  I’m late to the party on this one. I wish I had one when Hollis was a babe. She loved to chew on my necklaces and I would have happily let her chew on this. I also love that it comes in all black and doesn’t scream, “I’m a teething necklace!”.

In addition, we also used an amber necklace for Hollis. I was very skeptical and didn’t get her one until she was one years old, but it honestly helped her and I wish I had gotten her one sooner. I don’t have one on Bo yet, but I plan to get him one when he is a little bigger. We still needed teething tablets some days, but the amber seemed to take the edge off and helped us use fewer tablets.

I’d love to hear what your teething go-to items are!

One Proud Mom

I’ve only had a few Mother’s Days of my own, but I swear with each one I get weepier and weepier. I think about my babies, I think about their birth, their milestones, their future graduation from med school…the future tropical, private island they will buy me in appreciation for all the dirty diapers I’ve changed and times I’ve been thrown up on….just kidding. A mom can dream though, right?

Right now Mother’s Day around here is just another day. A day full of diapers and laundry and fetching fruit snacks, but I look forward to the days of homemade cards and macaroni necklaces.  Every day as a mother of little ones, you deal with crying and the highs and lows of the day, searching for moments of quiet and trying not to focus on the dirty dishes piling up. But through all that work and feeling exhausted, you see those little faces and are filled with joy like no other. Celebrating mom’s is important, but celebrating the little ones that make you a mom is also important.

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(photo credit: Lynnie Lou Photography)

 

This year I got to celebrate with my newest little one. We also got to celebrate his baptism.

Bowen Newborn PicsWe had a party before hand at our house. The weather was perfect and the company was good. Bowen is so lucky to have so many people who love and care about him. 0507161009a0507161007I can’t believe his baptism is already here and gone. He is growing so fast. He has been the best addition to our little family and I can’t picture life without him. I just love him so much.

And I better stop before the weeping starts up again…

 

 

 

Favorite Make-Ahead Meals

For once, our freezer is stocked. I still feel like it’s not enough, but I have no room for anymore stuff, so I guess it will have to do! I’ve been making a few extra meals each week for the last few weeks to stock up on meals for when the baby comes. I’ve learned that anytime I make a casserole, to just make two of them and freeze the other one. It really doesn’t take anymore time and saves me from cooking a meal on another day. It’s so handy that I will continue to do it from now on to have an easy meal for busy nights or nights that we just don’t feel like cooking. I thought I’d leave a few of my favorite make-ahead meal recipes here for anyone who wants them!

1. Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

Confession: I don’t love ground beef. I never have. BUT we raise cattle and my husband loves beef, so we end up eating it more than I would like. My trick to eating it, is to change it up…often. Casseroles allow me to do that. This sloppy joe tater tot casserole is a crowd pleaser. I like that you can easily adjust it to make a little or a lot and it freezes really well. It’s also really easy to add veggies to, like corn or peppers.

2. Runza Casserole

We call this Bierock Casserole here in Kansas. I didn’t know what Bierocks were until I met my husband. If you’ve never had one, try one! They are hearty and filling and delicious. Bierocks are usually a mix of beef, cabbage, onions, and seasoning baked inside of a roll. They are great to freeze and pull out for lunches on the go, but they can be somewhat time consuming. What I love about this casserole version is that it’s soooo much easier. You still get all the yummy flavor of a Bierock without having to stuff individual rolls.

3. Chicken Pot Pie

Who doesn’t love dinner in pie form? Crazy people, that’s who. I love chicken pot pie. It’s so easy to customize with your favorite seasonings and veggies. Sometimes I make pie crust from scratch and sometimes I don’t. Just depends on my mood and how much time I have. Sometimes we do a savory beef version to change things up, but I’m pretty partial to the chicken version.

4. Eggplant Parmesan

This is my favorite. I could eat egglplant parm every day. Throw in a basket of bread sticks and I’m a happy gal. Luckily my husband likes it too. You could make it with meat sauce if you wanted to, but I like this as a meatless meal for a change.

5. Shredded Chicken

I love having shredded chicken ready to go. I don’t have a recipe really, but I usually just throw about 4-5 chicken breasts (I use frozen most of the time) in our crockpot and add salt, pepper, and garlic and let it cook all day on low. Then I just shred it with two forks and put it in a freezer bag. I use it on salads, paninis, soups, casseroles, pizza, etc. I also like to make a batch with red, yellow and green peppers and some fajita or taco seasoning for a quick meal of burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, or tacos.

I also love to freeze lasagna, enchiladas, chili, marinated chicken and breakfast sandwiches and burritos. I love to cook, but man is it nice to have some things all ready to go on busy night!

What are your favorite make-ahead meals? Or quick meals for busy nights?