Friday, November 21, 2014

us + changing leaves + the banks of the Matanuska River

Some of my favorite memories as a family have been made outside, wandering and exploring the trails and beaches that surround us in this valley we call home. No distractions, no walls holding us in, just endless miles of landscape for us to cover together.

Sometimes I struggle with balancing being fully in the moment and attempting to document the beauty around me through photographs. Often I have to force myself to leave my camera in my pocket (iPhone) or in the bag until we reach our destination, or until certain points along the trail that are especially picturesque.

Then there are other times that I get carried away taking pictures, upload them right away and then somehow forget all about them. Months later I'll be scrolling through files and find a set of pictures hidden away in a folder with only a date to describe them. That's what happened with these from early in September. I found them again a few weeks ago, and vowed to edit and post them soon. Today I finally got around to editing them and wanted to share them before I forget again. The leaves are long gone now and there's (still) no snow, so having these photos to look back on is especially nice right about now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

herding cats and sweating buckets...or what to expect when you sign your toddler up for soccer

We enrolled Riggs in a soccer program for the first time this year and have been going every Saturday morning since it started in September. The week before the first class I remember frantically searching the internet for what to expect during an indoor soccer class for toddlers. I didn't really find much, so I vowed to write about our experience here after our first session came to a close.

Saturday will be our last class of this session, and boy have we learned a lot. 

First and prepared for complete exhaustion after the first class and probably for many weeks to follow. And I'm talking about you, as the parent, not necessarily your toddler (they seem to have limitless amounts of energy, especially when you expect them to be tired out). There is just something about being in a loud gym full of toddlers and their parents simultaneously urging your child to participate while praying non-stop that the other parents don't think you're a total wack-job that will just wear you out. And that will also make you break out in a cold-sweat every single week upon entering the gym (tip #1: you will need deodorant, lots of it. And also a big bottle of wine ice-water).

The second thing we have learned? They won't always choose to participate. Sometimes, they will run giant laps around the entire gym while the rest of the adorably enthralled toddlers pop the bubbles with their tiny feet like the coach asked them too. Sometimes, they will lay on the floor in the middle of the gym ignoring you as you stand next to them and silently plead with them to get up and play the game the rest of the toddlers are playing. Sometimes, they will scream and cry and thrash their bodies wildly when you try to get them to sit down on their 'dot' during circle time as the rest of the wide-eyed tots peacefully pass the ball around, saying their names aloud when the ball comes to them. 

And you know what? It's okay. Really, it is. That's why you're there; so that they will slowly learn that participating is fun, even when they'd rather be doing something else at that specific moment. And so that you will learn that your child is learning and 'participating' even when it feels like they're not getting anything from the experience except for  dirty-looks from the other parents. Ditch your dreamy expectations (admit it, when you signed them up you stopped for a moment to imagine what that first Saturday morning class would be like...your adorable toddler, decked out in their tiny little uniform with the jersey perfectly tucked into the shorts, smiling and laughing as they expertly copied the drills that coach was showing them, while you watched lovingly from the bench, sipping on your chai tea latte and snapping pictures) of what it will be like and prepare for the worst.

This isn't to say that you should just sit back and let your child run wild every week. I try to make sure that I encourage Riggs to participate as much as possible, and sometimes even require that he participate or sit on the bench with me. However, there will be some rough moments. I strive to have a good attitude and stay cheerful throughout the entire practice, rather than allow myself to get frustrated and ask (often aloud) why it was that I paid for soccer practice when he'd rather lay there in the middle of the gym or eat a fruit snack on the sidelines (tip #2: bring snacks for after - don't be like me on the first practice, the only mom/dad not to bring snacks, trying to get Riggs' coat on and get out of there as fast as possible while he watches every single other child eat a snack and asks repeatedly what he can eat).

Every week after soccer I talk to Riggs about how practice went. I praise him for the good and gently remind him of how he could have made different choices during certain parts of class. It really seems to help and each week he improves so much. I am so proud of him and how much he has grown in regards to interacting with the other kids and listening to his coach.

Here is what you can expect during a typical toddler soccer practice.

  • Circle time/warm ups: each week practice begins with the kids sitting in a circle introducing themselves. Then they stand up and do a few stretches/warm ups. Circle time is utilized frequently throughout the 45 minute practice.
  • Drills: The kids do excercises that encourage familiarity with and control of the soccer ball. This includes tapping the ball with their feet, rolling it back and forth with their feet, jumping over the ball, and running in tight circles around their ball. 

  • At some point during practice the coach leads the kids to the drinking fountain for a water break.

  • Games: the rest of the class is spent playing various games, some that include the soccer ball and many that don't. The purpose of most of the games is to encourage listening while running and playing. Many of the games require listening closely to the coach's direction, like red light-green light, for example.

Despite feeling like never stepping foot back into that gym after some weeks, I'm really happy with how Riggs' first experience with organized sports practice has gone. He has already learned so much and loves going to soccer practice every week.

If you have any questions about something I didn't mention, feel free to ask! I am an open book...haha.

Monday, November 17, 2014

currently {vol. 8}

t h i n k i n g  a b o u t ...  how much I miss this space. I so wish I had just two more hours in the day so that I could spend more time editing/organizing pictures and writing blog posts. I have so many ideas and things that I want to write about and they just seem to fall to the wayside as the days and weeks pass in a blink. I'm working on setting up one day a week where I have childcare for two-four hours so that I can work on personal projects, but it's also the worst time of year to try and add one more thing to our schedule.

l i s t e n i n g  t o ... the washing machine run. Other than that there is purposeful silence so that I can listen for Raina waking up. Both babies are sleeping in their room for naptime now and so far it has worked out pretty seamlessly. Even when Raina has woken up sooner than Riggs I've managed to sneak in and pluck her out of her crib before he wakes up.

I did (finally) order a video monitor for their room because I want to be able to go in my room or even outside to do chores during their nap without worrying about them. And it makes me feel better safety-wise once they share the room during the night too. Riggs wouldn't mean to hurt her but I have these awful scenarios pop up in my head from time to time, like stuffed animals or blankets being tossed into her crib and covering her face while she sleeps. monitor it is.

w o r k i n g  o n ... editing pictures from a 'session' I did for my bff and her new little family of four. I'm trying to work on my photography and editing skills (the latter needs the most work, editing is sooo time consuming and I become a mega-perfectionist and I have no actual training whatsoever, I'm just sort of learning as I go) and taking pictures for friends is a great start. I'm loving the pictures so far, the lighting was just gorgeous, as evidenced by the photo I included above - and for those of you non-Alaskan's that was taken at about 11am. We have barely any daylight this time of year, which can be challenging for taking natural-light photos, especially inside.

h o p i n g ... that I can keep up on eating better and running 2-3 times a week. I've done a pretty good job over the last two weeks but every day it's like a giant test of self-control (convincing myself I really don't need to eat and entire bag of peanut butter m&ms) and will-power (convincing myself it will be worth it to bundle up both kids, pack them in the stroller, get cold weather gear on and the dog leashed up, to run for 30 minutes while also praying I won't have to pee five minutes into the run or worse - you other mamas probably know what I'm talking about...). Luckily it has been worth it every single time I've forced myself to get out there.

This weekend Steve and I hiked in Girdwood on the Winner Creek trail (which is four miles round trip) during most of which both kids were in packs. Riggs walked about a mile combined on the way there and back but Steve and I were really wanting to go at our own pace to get an actual work out in. We talked a lot about wishing we could have run the trail and how we want to make it a priority to get out and hike every weekend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

keep calm craft on [crafting on]

It has been much too long since I linked up with Nicole at Frontier Dreams for a Tuesday crafting post. But I have been crafting up a storm lately, mostly sewing, and when I haven't had time to actually be sewing, I have been scheming and dreaming about it. I always feel a strong urge to once again take up crafting when the temperature drops and winter settles in, and this year was no different. I have so many projects I want to start, and way too many started already that it was almost hard to chose what to share this week.

Last week on Instagram I shared some bonnets I've been working on lately. I have more to share about that in another post, today I'm focusing on a little play mat/quilt I finished for Raina recently.

I used scrap blocks from a quilt I made for my niece two years ago and some extra minky I had for the back. I quilted it myself, which was an interesting experience since I was too impatient to wait until after I could run to the store for a walking foot. There is quite a bit of puckering in a few places but it was a great learning experience and it just adds to the charm. I also machine quilted the binding on, which I figured was just fine for a play mat.

I love how it turned out and it's nice to have something that's thick, soft and cozy for her to play on, especially during the winter on our cold floors!

KCCO link up: "The act of creating, in one form or another, preserves my sanity amongst the chaos of life. This explains why I always have more than one project going at a time as well as why my housework tends to fall behind." - Frontier Dreams

Monday, November 10, 2014

Raina Grace: four month update

In case you're a little rusty on your math, four months equals one third of a year. How did this happen?! Four months sounds so final, so old, so not newborn-ish. While I have been mourning Raina's newness a lot lately, I have also been so enthralled by all the wonderful things she is learning and doing as she gets older.

She has grown so much this month - I've noticed that suddenly her 3-6 month sized clothes are fitting a little more snugly and much more shorter than they did just a few weeks ago. She's up to 15.12 lbs (75th percentile) and is 26 inches long (98th percentile). According to her pediatrician, she's practically perfect in every way (which I wholeheartedly agree with of course) and right on track for where she should be at four months developmentally.

Here are a few highlights from her fourth month of life...

loving her snug seat
she spends about 15 to 30 minutes at a time in her seat every day and really enjoys being in the kitchen with me (I know, I know, the warning label says not to put them up on the counter, but I don't leave her up there unattended)

 sleeping in her crib for naps
I rearranged Riggs room and bought him a twin mattress so that we could set the crib back up. I put Raina in her crib for naps where she sleeps for 2+ hours twice a day. I always put her down while she's sleepy but still awake and so far she seems to be a great sleeper just like Riggs was.

drooling, a lot
This girl is a drooler. She can soak a flannel bib in under half an hour, haha. 

She has the sweetest smile and is the happiest little baby, just smiling all the time at anyone or anything that catches her eye.

loving her big brother
She adores her big brother and although she is definitely her own little person I see so many similarities between her and Riggs. I stayed at my parents the other night and both babies ended up in bed with me. I took this picture at 3am because I was so amused by how they were both sleeping the exact same way. Heads back, arms out, knees bent and ankles crossed. So sweet!

link to Riggs' four month update, here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween two-thousand-and-fourteen. I just want to keep saying (typing?) it, mostly because it rhymes and I like things that rhyme. We had a fun Halloween 'season' this year, complete with decorations and costumes planned ahead of time. What wasn't planned ahead of time was how sick poor Riggs would be on Halloween, but we still ended up having a pretty good day. It helped that we celebrated all week long.

We started with a Halloween celebration at Library Group on Tuesday. Riggs shocked me and happily wore his mask and tail, which for the record, I didn't make. I purchased them from Opposite of Far, which also carries lots of other amazing animal masks. Anyway, he wore them proudly during all the book reading, craft making, and snack eating. He chose not to wear them the second I tried to take some pictures of him and Raina out on the lawn in the sunshine. Of course. I managed to get one before he ripped it off and threw it on the ground. It wasn't meant to be anyway, because the sun was so bright that poor little red riding hood couldn't even open her eyes. 

Then Wednesday we had a little Halloween Party at Nancy's house. We planned it so that the kids would have a fun place to wear their costumes. Only problem? None of them would wear them, haha. The only ones who wore costumes were the babies who were too young to protest. We still had a great time and ate lots of yummy fall treats.

Riggs loved little Gyffy and barely left his side the whole time.
He also got in a rage over Nancy's son Griffin trying to 'wake
Gyffy up' by moving one of the nine pillows Riggs had stacked
on top of him while 'putting him to sleep' on the couch. toddler problems...
Thursday and Friday were pretty much a blur. Riggs woke up Thursday with a fever which quickly climbed up to 103.8 and hovered there for way too long. I was so sad about how bad my little guy felt, and wished I could have done something to make him feel normal again. Halloween morning he was still feverish and miserable but after a long nap he seemed to be on the mend, other than a racking cough. I dressed them up so Steve could see their cute little costumes and to take some 'official' Halloween pictures, then we came inside to snuggle. No trick-or-treating (or 'tricker treating', as I saw on quite a few IG posts, haha) for us this year, and not a single trick-or-treater came to our door either.

Despite Riggs being sick we had a pretty fun year. I think next year he will be old enough to go trick-or-treating with Steve, although our neighborhood is so rural and spread out that I'm not sure how many people would actually be ready with candy. Last year we went to town to the Halloween Carnival put on in the Fire-station, and that was fun (and for those of you who clicked back to see my post, how cute was Riggs as a hobbit?!). I was also thinking it would be fun to go to Anchorage and let Riggs trick-or-treat with his big cousins, I know he would love that!

I also plan on brainstorming months ahead of time for what matching costumes I can come up with for the kids. I thought it was so fun to have their costumes coordinate, and I know there's only so much time I have to do so before they don't want to match.

I hope everyone had a lovely and safe Halloween weekend filled with fun and lots of your kids' halloween candy. I leave you with this adorable picture of a cute little baby bat we found on our doorstep back on Halloween 2012...