Tuesday, October 28, 2014

currently {vol. 7}

c u r r e n t l y

t h i n k i n g  *  we have a lot going on this week and so all day I've had thoughts, ideas and to-dos swirling around in my head. I have a whole lot of list making I need to do tonight after our babies are in bed. Good thing I love making lists!

I've also been thinking a lot about my fitness goals and how much I've not been making them a priortity lately. One of my goals is to run two to three times a week and so this morning I forced myself to pack up the kids, lace up my shoes, and head out into the cold, dark morning. It's such a great way to start the day but at the time feels like so much work. I'm so glad I went!

d r e a m i n g  *  some of those jumbled thoughts I talked about earlier are all about winter and the upcoming holiday season. I've been dreaming about snowy days and snowy nights. skiing adventures. weekend getaways with family. christmas carols. pine boughs garlands on my front porch. finding the perfect tree with my love. pinterest craft parties. cookie baking marathons. It's a Wonderful Life. picking out the perfect Christmas card design and then addressing each envelope with warm thoughts for each recipient. 

the list goes on and on. I've been trying to hold off on pinning Christmas-related things but this week I finally caved in and pinned something Christmas-y. Sorry, not sorry haha.

o r g a n i z i n g  *  in the hopes & plans post I typed up last week I mentioned getting ready for winter. I'm still working on it, including going through our snow clothes and figuring out what each of us needs this year to make it through the winter. 

I also did a little stroller DIY today to keep my babies extra warm and cozy while we stroll about this winter. We went on a run this morning and I realized how irritating it is to drag a blanket in and out of the house for them to sit on. So I cut out some sherpa I had and made little seat covers for them. I based it off the one you can buy for your BOB stroller, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. now I'll just have to see how it holds up...

l a u g h i n g  *  about all the little things Riggs has been saying lately. he's my entertainment for the day. I'm trying to remember to write down the funniest things he's said in the little journal I have for him. It's so easy to forget things, especially now that I have two babies to keep track of!

Riggs talks so much right now and has his own way of pronouncing quite a few words. Some of my favorites are 'baboon' for balloon, 'gargage' for garage, 'gorgot' for forgot, 'debotions' for devotions, 'winkle' for twinkle, 'howt' for heart, and so many more.

r e a d i n g  *  lots and lots of children's books. lots and lots and lots. Riggs is so into the Berenstain Bears and Little Critter right now, and I'm happy to read as many books as many times as he asks me to (most of the time haha). I would love to read a book for myself but I have so much else going on and no motivation to go out and find something interesting. It's sad.

linked up with Hannah for Currently at Joyful Life blog

Thursday, October 23, 2014

feeling kind of old today

me at 18
(with my friend, also Whitney, whose birthday happens to be tomorrow)

Today is my birthday. I'm 28 years old, emphasis on the OLD. I don't know what year this happened for you, or maybe this hasn't happened for you yet (lucky you!), but this is the birthday that makes me feel...well, like I'm truly a real adult. I'm not 18 anymore, really I'm not. I may sometimes feel like I am, and then I see an actual 18 year old, and I instantly recognize that I am definitely not 18 anymore. The funny thing is, it's not being married, owning our own house, or having kids that has made it clear to me that I'm actually an adult. It's just this feeling that I have.

I notice my skin looking different, with more lines and less luster. I notice that first thing in the morning (even a beautiful, sunny fall morning like today), I still feel tired. And I want to add it's not the tiredness I used to feel when I had stayed up late with friends or studying for a test. It's bone-deep exhaustion that hangs over me like a thick fog. I notice the way actual 19 year olds look at me, in that dismissive way they tend to looks at older adults who have kids. And I feel it.

This birthday has me feeling a little bit dismayed. It's not necessarily that I'm worried about growing older. It's more that I regret not enjoying my young adulthood as much as I could have. I am so bad at truly living in the moment and being happy where I am, I'm always looking on to what's to come. And no time was this more true than during my early twenties. I was so focused on getting college out of the way so I could get married and have kids. I didn't take the time I should have to enjoy that time, and now it's gone.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't love the stage I'm in now. But there's nothing like two young babies and a husband who works a lot to make it clear how different life is now. I still feel like it's a little unreal that I'm truly a mama to two kids, and I'm so in love with being their mama. I guess I'm just saying, man time goes by fast. Appreciate where you are in life and don't wish it away, once each day passes it's gone for good.

In addition to my little bout of melancholy this morning, I'm also feeling very thankful for so many things, including just the privilege to wake up today, safe and with plenty of food to eat. And I'm especially thankful that I get to spend my day with my two beautiful babies, who bring such immense joy to my life. I wouldn't trade anything, even going back in time for a day or two, for being their mama today.

Monday, October 20, 2014

hopes and plans

I'm taking a break from the currently link-up this week (past weeks, here) to list my hopes and plans for the next couple of weeks. I have quite a few things I want and need to do, so I figured listing them here would help motivate me to actually get them done!

o n e  |  c h r i s t m a s   p r e s e n t s: I'm sorry if this is too early for some of you, but I am planning some homemade gifts including photo books and a few sewing projects, so I need to get started soon on this! I also need to decide what to get Riggs for Christmas and his birthday. I hate that they're so close, but what can you do? I want to get him some stuff that he'll love and get a lot of use out of.

t w o  |  w i n t e r   p r e p a r a t i o n s: I need to put away summer stuff/toys and prepare chicken coop and yard for winter. this is nearly done but there's still more I need to do, including getting skis waxed and bikes put away. also getting storage solutions figured out for halloween/fall decorations and for more Christmas decoration. I also need to get more decorations, especially for our front porch. I want lights on our garage this year too!

t h r e e  |  f i t n e s s  g o a l s: I'm almost at 4 months post-partum and need to get my butt in gear to fit back into my clothes and get things tightened back up, if you know what I mean. especially with all the holiday feasting coming up. I was doing good running in the morning for about a week, need to get back at it! It's definitely harder to squeeze it in with both kids, but it's really important to me, so no excuses!

f o u r  |  f a m i l y  p i c t u r e s: I'm waiting to get them done till there is (hopefully) more snow and so that Raina can really 'pose' and smile for the pictures. I also want to get our photobook of pictures for the first half of 2014 ordered and one for Raina's early babyhood ordered too. 

f i v e  |  s e w i n g: I have quite a few sewing projects (mostly quilts) that need to get finished up and more that I want to get started on, like dresses for Raina, afore-mentioned Christmas presents, and some more wool leggings for Riggs.

So.  That's quite a bit of stuff and there's quite a bit more that I'm forgetting. I'll be checking back in a few weeks to see what I've managed to check off and what still needs to be done. 

Hopes and Plans

Monday, October 13, 2014

currently {vol. 6}

t h i n k i n g  |  about the things I need to get done with the rest of my day after Riggs wakes up from his nap. my list includes a trip to town, figuring out what to make for dinner and then actually making it, and laundry. there's always laundry. also hoping to get some more sewing done tonight after the babies are in bed, but I'll probably just end up snuggling on the couch with Steve, which is probably better anyway.

m a k i n g  |  the fall urge to craft has come upon me once again and I've been knocking out sewing projects right and left. I also have some plans to crochet a few more scarves (for me and Riggs and also for some friends) and am toying with the idea of making a few things here and there as I craft for my babies to list in an Etsy shop. this stroller quilt would be one of the items I would have available for preorder...thoughts?

w e a r i n g  |  oh Hannah why did you have to include this one?! you guys, I seriously wear workout/lounge clothes all day, every day. I only wear jeans to do outside chores and for special nights out on the town. also, I would wear skirts/dresses more too if I could find some that I loved. it's tricky to nurse in most dresses. 

also I still don't quite fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans (I can get them up and even button them, but it's not a pretty sight haha) so that's a problem. maybe I'll go work out after I finish this post, except that I probably won't. sigh.

a n t i c i p a t i n g  |  and planning for the upcoming winter months. we've been making plans with both sides of the family for fun weekends out and about around the state and I can't wait. I'm trying to brainstorm fun actives and delicious foods for us to eat while on our adventures, and so pinterest has once again become an evening hobby as a result.

t h a n k f u l   f o r  |  the way all the little pieces of my life have come together to make it what it is now. my heart is so full everyday, despite the struggles that come naturally with being a wife and a mom to two babies. At nearly twenty-eight years old, I feel like I'm doing what I truly want to do and free to be myself, to really be myself. It's amazing to realize and as we enter the season of holidays that focus on giving thanks and spending time with the people we love, I feel incredibly blessed to have such a full heart and fulfilling life.

Friday, October 10, 2014

16 fall books to read with your toddler

I think we all know how amazing fall is...the blogosphere is just filled with posts dedicated to just how great and cozy the season is. As far back as I can remember I've loved the anticipation that comes with ushering in each new season and getting excited for all the special activities that come along with it. I want to encourage that same magical excitement in my kids, and aside from decorating, one of the best ways to do so is to read seasonal themed books. 

Riggs loves to read, so this is an easy one for us. We have way too many books, so we usually check out most of the seasonal books from the library. Of course we do own a few of our very favorites, but I make it a habit to put away all seasonal books once the season has passed so they're extra special each year when we pull them out. 

I thought I'd share our top sixteen favorite books about autumn and all the fun things to do during this amazing season. I'm not really including any halloween-specific books in this list, because a lot of them are still a little scary for Riggs. We do have the Little Critter halloween book but that's really it. Some of the books I've included do mention halloween briefly, and I prefer that to books just about witches and gouls, ect. 

our fall favorites: 16 books to read with your toddler this autumn

 1. Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell: this is a short little story that describes a visit to a local farm to pick out apples and a pumpkin. It also covers carving a jack-o-lantern and dressing up for halloween. 

 2. Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur: An acrostic poem for each letter tracks the passage from end of summer to winter. This book has beautiful illustrations and is a good way to incorporate poetry into your child's literary 'diet'.
 3. Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead: This is a sweet story about animals getting ready for winter. I'm a sucker for beautiful illustrations and this one is full of them!
 4. By the Light of the Harvest Moon by Harriet Ziefert: After the last harvest is over a magical fall wind stirs up the leaves and the leaf people arrive to celebrate under the light of the harvest moon. 
 5. Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills: Riggs is obsessed with Duck and Goose so this was a must for us. It's another cute Duck and Goose story, this time about searching for a pumpkin. 
 6. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson: This is a sweet story about Fletcher, who learns that it's ok for the leaves to fall and for winter to come. 
 7. From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer: I love these "let's read and find out science" books and this is another great one, following the life cycle of a pumpkin. 
 8. Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher: Another story about what happens under the light of the harvest moon. Riggs loves any story about the moon so this is one of his favorites. 
 9. Mouse's First Fall by Lauren Thompson: We have this in the board book version and it's a sweet little story about Mouse learning about fall. 
10. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell: Owls, who doesn't love owls? These baby owls are waiting for their mama to come home from hunting for them.  
11. The Busy Little Squirrrel by Nancy Tafuri: Squirrel is getting ready for winter and doesn't have time to play with his friends. This is a cute one and especially good for us because we have our own busy little squirrel that Riggs loves to watch out in our little forrest. 
 12. The Fall Festival by Mercer Mayer: No booklist of ours would be complete without a Little Critter book. Riggs just loves Little Critter and I love the simple way they're all written and the cute illustrations.
 13. Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White: This is a great story about learning to make the best out of what life gives you. And it's about pumpkins, which we are a little obsessed with right now.
 14. We Gather Together by Wendy Pfeffer: I love this book, it's a great way to introduce a variety of cultural traditions relating to harvest time to even the youngest kids. 
15. We're Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger: Sound familiar? It should. If you love 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' you'll love this one. Riggs loves books like this that are easy for him to memorize and 'read' to himself.  
16. Woody, Hazel and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow: I love this book. Two of the cutest little acorn children you ever read have quite the adventure after they are blown away by a brisk autumn wind. This might be a little too much for younger toddler, but Riggs loves this one and listens intently to the entire story.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

365 project: Riggs in 2013

I finally finished putting together the slideshow/video for Riggs' 365 project from 2013. I'm excited to share it here with you guys. Participating in a 365 project the year he was born is what helped me to grow so much in my picture taking skills, I'm so glad I did it. That being said, I'm not doing the same thing for Raina. I feel like I should technically feel bad about this, but I don't.

I take a lot of pictures of her too, enough that I don't feel like she'll be missing from our family photo albums or anything. And I take multiple pictures of both kids every single day at least 98% of the time. I'm just not going to be logging them on a separate blog. I will make a similar video of her first year in photos though, just because I love the process of making them and I think it's a great alternative to looking at the photos in an album.

Anyway, enough rambling. Here's a picture a day of my sweet boy (who slept much better last night) in 2013:

To see Riggs' 365 project from 2012, click here.

To see other video compilations I've made of Riggs, click here, here and here

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

when toddlers go all-out crazy

purchase from hello
Since birth, Riggs has been an easy child. And when I say easy, I really mean it. He latched on immediately after birth and nursed great until he weaned at just over two. He slept great, with us for nearly eight months and then in his own room in his crib with no problems after that. While not the most adventurous eater, he still ate well and tried lots of new foods when offered. He was happy and easy going and rarely cried.

Well lets just say things have changed. I'm typing this in my dark living room at six something in the morning, not because I'm one of those moms who has everything together and likes to be up before my kids ready to face the day. Oh how I would love it if that were the case. Instead, I'm out here with bloodshot eyes ready to give up before the day has even started. 

My tiny little three-month-old baby who you'd reasonably expect to be the cause of my bone-deep exhaustion? Peacefully sleeping like a little angel. My two-and-a-half year-old who has always been an amazing sleeper? Mumbling to himself in his room, still awake after getting up at 4:45. And this is like the 46th day of this. I'm so tired.

It started out somewhat innocently. We switched him to a toddler bed just before Raina was born, and he actually did great. Going to bed was when he'd try and push his limits, which was rare. And then after Raina was born, his normal 7-7:30 rising started to creep earlier and earlier. 6:45am felt like it was still the middle of the night at first to me after being up a few times in the night with the baby (who now only wakes once or twice at the most from 7:30pm to 7am to nurse). 

And yet as early as it felt, I know from reading books on sleep that 6:45, 6:30 or even 6am is a biologically normal time for young children to wake up, and that his sleeping habits might just be changing slightly as he got older. I think this was my first mistake. Instead of putting him back to bed and making him stay there until 7, I let him get up and start the day. Day by day this kept creeping earlier and earlier.

When he started getting up before Steve's alarm even went off (at 5:15am) we'd just tiredly pull him into our bed in the hopes that we could all go back to sleep. Which may have worked, if that alarm didn't go off five, ten or fifteen minutes later. And if Steve didn't have to turn lights on and make normal getting ready noises for the next thirty minutes.

Thinking about it now I'm realizing that we started making mistakes in how to respond to this from the very beginning. Thinking it was just a fluke at first, it didn't even cross my mind to make him get back in bed. And then when it kept happening, I still didn't mind because I'd just pull him into bed and enjoy the thirty minutes of quiet cuddle time. And I wasn't too worried about the hour or two less sleep because he was still sleeping at least two hours for nap time. Until suddenly, he wasn't. 

About two or maybe even three weeks ago (the days are all blurring together at this point) he just started waking up after only an hour of sleep. This was instantly concerning to me, because I knew he needed to sleep longer. He was waking up cranky and grumpy and crying at the drop of a hat. This wasn't the normal wake-up adjustment period either, it would sometimes last an hour or two. This is the point when I started to get really worried about his sleep situation. 

Coinciding with all of this, he's become a very selective eater. Some days he'll happily eat up anything you put in front of him, but most days he eats very little and will cry on and on for the foods he wants (yogurt? chocolate milk box?). I've been feeling like a failure constantly worrying that he's getting enough nutritious, filling food. 

On top of everything, over the last two months all four of his two-year molars are coming in, he had hand-foot-and-mouth, and now all four of us are sick with a nasty head-cold. You guys, I'm so tired. I'M SO TIRED. 

Sorry to yell, but really. Today it just hit me. And I feel that building anxiety of wondering what on earth I'm going to do to get him back on track.

So. Please. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers. And if you have gone through a similar situation and have some magic cure, PLEASE share. 

BUT if you just want to share whichever sleep training plan worked amazing for your baby or something, I'm sorry to sound rude but I'm just not interested. He goes to bed great at night and has no problem falling asleep for naps. At this point I think the problem is perpetuating itself because he's so over tired. I'm looking for tips on how to get his 'sleep bank' filled back up so he'll sleep longer at night. 

Thank you all in advance and please if you see me at 7am at Target in my PJs looking a little bit like a bum, don't judge. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

holding her close: National Babywearing Week

It's National Babywearing Week this week and I wanted to participate not only by wearing both my babies but also by sharing my experiences over the past couple of years with a variety of carriers. I loved carrying Riggs when he was a baby, just to hold him close. But now that I have two, babywearing is often a necessity if I want to get anything done. 

This includes around the house, when I need to get chores done and one (or both) of the babies needs to cuddle. I don't think dinner would have been made the first two months after Raina was born with out wearing her.

I also tend to use a carrier when I'm grocery shopping or out somewhere that I need to wait in line, like the post office. Riggs is still young enough that waiting in a long line can be difficult for him. Strapping him on in the Ergo is such a great solution because it keeps him close and is a great chance to physically connect with him, which doesn't happen as much as it used to. 

Compared to some mamas, I'm not a babywearing expert by any means. But I have tried out a few different carrier types and brands and have found I definitely prefer some to others. Here's my list of carriers I've used and my notes on each of them. 

| |  Solly Baby Wrap  | |

I n f o r m a t i o n :
The Solly Baby wrap was created by a mom who was frustrated with some of the carriers she had used. She experimented with fabrics until she found the perfect fit for her and her baby, and then started making them as business. That business has grown quickly and now is her and her husbands main form of employment and support for their family. Solly Baby Wraps are intended for use during the first year of a babies life, but are safe up to 25 lbs. 

Price: $65

Solly Baby website: click here
Solly Baby instagram: click here

D i d  L i k e :
This wrap is amazing. I don't think words can describe how perfect the fabric is. It's soft and lightweight and the colors are just beautiful. I thought I was done with wraps after trying the Moby Wrap (which I have included in this post, a little further down the page), but this wrap has completely changed my mind. I love carrying Raina in it both when she's awake and asleep, it feels vey secure without being constricting. 

Owner Elle also provides a variety of instructional videos on the website that make it very easy to learn how to correctly and safely use your new wrap. 

D i d n ' t  L i k e :
There isn't really anything negative I can say about this wrap, except that I wish it came in even more colors.

V e r d i c t :
The Solly Baby Wrap is extremely high quality and I strongly recommend it as a must-have for anybody with an infant.

this picture leads me to my next favorite carrier...

| |  ErgoBaby Carrier  | |

The ErgoBaby is what's referred to as a soft structured carrier and is ergonomically designed to safely position your babies hips while they are being carried. It comes in a variety of different styles and is designed for use from 12-45 lbs. You can also purchase an infant insert to use with the ErgoBaby carrier from 7-12 lbs. 

Price: $120+

ErgoBaby website: click here

D i d  L i k e :
The ErgoBaby carrier was my favorite with Riggs. I used it from when he was about two and a half months on (I still use it for him). It's easy to strap on, very secure and also extremely adjustable. Steve and I both use the same carrier and it takes just seconds to adjust the straps to fit either Steve's taller frame or me. I also like the zipper pocket, as I'm often hiking or skiing while wearing it and need somewhere secure to store my keys. 

D i d n ' t  L i k e :
If I could change one things about the ErgoBaby carrier it would be for it to have a longer panel for carrying toddlers/supporting them while they're sleeping. This is why many people prefer the Tula carrier over the Ergo. I've never owned a Tula and since I already have an Ergo I'm happy to keep it for now. 

V e r d i c t :
The ErgoBaby Carrier is a favorite and in my opinion a soft-structured carrier is a must-have for anyone with an infant or toddler.

| |  Baby K'tan  | |

The Baby K'tan is a wrap-sling hybrid. It is easier to put on than a wrap and can be used in a variety of different hold positions. They are also very economical and come in a variety of colors and in different sizes for safety and comfort. The Baby K'tan is safe for use from 8 to 45 lbs.

Price: $49.95+

Baby K'tan website: click here

D i d  L i k e :
The K'tan was the first wrap/sling I used with Raina after only using the Moby Wrap and the Ergo Baby with Riggs. I loved it! It was so easy to put on and position Raina, and I loved the color I get as well as the reasonable price. I also loved that because it was resonably priced, I didn't worry a bit about it getting dirty when out and about, like when we were berry picking and I smushed at least a few berries into the fabric of the K'tan. I absolutely loved this carrier for the newborn phase when I was taking her in and out multiple times a day.

D i d n ' t  L i k e :
The K'tan comes in two pieces, one that wraps around the main carrier for when baby is a bit bigger. It seemed very inconvenient to keep track of both pieces when we were out and about. Also, the sizing is a bit tricky. I have a long torso so I figured I'd need at least the medium. But I realized that I probably should have gotten the small, because after using it for about an hour or so, it stretched out and Raina would often be too low in the 'pouch' to make me feel safe. Also it was not as secure (in my opinion) as the Solly Baby Wrap, which is one piece, when I'd bend over and move about. I felt like I always needed one hand free to secure her head. The fabric is also heavy weight and got pretty hot at times (they do offer wraps in a variety of fabrics, I had the original). 

V e r d i c t :
The Baby K'tan is still a great option for new moms looking for an easy-to-use carrier for their young infant.

you can kind of see how low it sags in this photo

| |  Moby Wrap  | |

The Moby Wrap is very similar to the Solly Baby wrap except for the material. It has been around for quite a while and is a favorite of a lot of babywearing mamas. Intended for babies 8 - 35lbs. 

Price: $44.95+

Moby Wrap website: click here

D i d  L i k e :
It held Riggs close to my body and felt very secure. It is also the most economically priced of all the carriers included in my round up. 

D i d n ' t  L i k e :
While it was secure feeling, it was also very confining. The fabric is a thick cotton which is very stiff feeling and hot, and was also harder to keep straight while wrapping for me, compared to the light fabric of the Solly Baby wrap. I also didn't love the color choices (at the time - they have more now).

V e r d i c t :
The Moby Wrap might be the choice of other mamas but I would rather pay extra for the Solly Baby Wrap.

| |  full-frame backpacks  | |

Metal framed baby carrier backpacks are an essential item to have around if you hike a lot, especially with heavier toddlers. I'm not reviewing a specific brand today, as we've had a few different brands and they're pretty similar, it's mostly based on user preference and what you're looking for in a pack. Osprey, Dueter and Kelty are a few of the most well-known brands, you can learn which is the best pick for you buy visiting your local sporting goods store, like REI

Price: $189+

REI's online baby backpack shop: click here

These are just my opinions of course and I wasn't paid or sponsored by any of the carrier companies to write this post. I'd love to hear what carriers you all love and if you've written a similar post please leave a link to it in the comments so I can come on over and visit!