Apr 16, 2014

Filling a Toddlers Easter Basket: Dairy Free Style

Last year we celebrated the twins first Easter and got them a few great little Christian books to start their collection, but the boys were too young to celebrate Easter traditions. They enjoyed watching their cousins look for eggs, hanging out with their grandparents and great-grandparents and being with family. But, basically it was just another day in the life of a 3 month old baby.
 
For all of the pictures of Easter last year look here.
It's incredible to look back and see how those newborn rompers just swallowed them. 
They were so so small!
 
This year, I have two walking little toddlers who will really love Easter eggs. One of their very very favorite toys are shaky eggs (bought from Isis Parenting when they were still in business but similar to this), so I feel fairly sure that picking up and shaking Easter Eggs in an egg hunt will be fun for them. I'm not as sure they will care what goes inside though!  (EDIT: We went to the boys first Easter Egg Hunt and they loved it! For all the details, great pictures, and an adorable hunting video, check out this post.)
 

 
Two happy boys wearing bunny ears in Target.
 
Just like my parents did for me, I plan to give them each empty Easter baskets on Easter morning and sending them searching for all of their Easter goodies. We will be hiding more than just eggs though! I have started planning what treats they will get, and have to say it isn't easy.
 
The boys aren't old enough for jelly beans and other small candy. And really, due to Davy's dairy allergy, most candies are out completely. I started looking at the Easter basket items at Target and everything was either chocolate (dairy-tainted, delicious, chocolate), sugary, or the non-edibles weren't age appropriate for babies (toddlers? When do babies become toddlers?) who still put everything in their mouths. So I had to look a bit harder and take advantage of the awesomeness that it is the Internet (not hard for me with my Amazon and Etsy addictions!) but I found some really great Easter Basket items, some I have already bought while others I am considering!
 
 
[one] The dollar spot at Target is full of great little Easter gems, but many aren't age appropriate so I had to be careful. I found a few great things though! The boys are absolutely loving the water table they got for their birthday (that we finally assembled and put outside last week now that's it's springy and warm!) and just laugh and laugh as they splash and dump water all over each other and me. I just know that these splash balls ($1 for a two pack at Target but very similar to this splash football on Amazon (same brand even)) will be popular. The other thing I found in the dollar spot are these adorable sidewalk chalks in little Easter holders. I have talked to multiple moms whose children started using sidewalk chalk around 14/15 months so this should be great. I'm hoping the little holders stop them from getting quite as much chalk dust everywhere. I have a feeling it won't really help. (Good thing they can go clean up by dumping water out of the water table!) I bought these in a pack with two pieces of chalk and one holder at Target, but Alex Toys sells this similar chalk with holders (but it isn't Easter themed). Also from the Target dollar spot I picked up two pairs of cute bunny ears (pictured on two adorable baby models above) for the boys monthly photo (how are they almost 15 months?!?).
 
[two] I just love these crocheted Easter Egg rattles from etsy and can't wait to see the boys play with them. They love their shaky eggs so very much that I just know these will be popular! Cute crochet work. Bells. Rattles. How can I go wrong? (In fact, the boys found them a few days ago and loved playing with them! I had to rehide them so they can come out for Easter baskets though.)
 
[three] A long the same lines as chalk above, I bought the boys their first set of markers and a pad of giant paper. I plan to tape the paper down on the dining room table in front of their high chairs and let them color away!
 
[four] When the boys and I play outside, they love watching the wind blow decorative little pinwheels. The only ones I own were bought years ago as d├ęcor for a party we hosted and have seen better days. So for Easter the boys will each get a high quality plastic pinwheels made by Seedling. I saw these little gems at a local Dallas boutique but you can order them from Amazon right from your couch.
 
[five] My boys love to put things in and out of containers. So I couldn't pass up this adorable egg sorter from Tomy. Eggs that cheep and have adorable little faces. How can you go wrong?
 
[six] Another great place to look for Easter trinkets: the party aisle! I found these cute wooden clappers and these large sized bouncy balls both by Spritz and on clearance at Target. Perfect!
 
[seven] It wouldn't be Easter without a few food items. And eggs to fill! My boys will be getting Go Go Squeeze Applesauces and eggs filled with Cheerios, Happy Baby Puffs (they are dairy free!), Annie's Graham Cracker Bunnies, and animal crackers. They also really really love fruit so I can't resist adding a brightly colored orange or two to the hunting grounds!
 
[eight] We are HUGE book people around here. Right now the boys very favorite book is Dear Zoo because they love lifting the flaps. For Easter, I bought Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs? and they are already loving it. I also like Easter with its great touch and feel pages and right now on Amazon it is less than $3 with free prime shipping. Can't beat that! Last year the boys got the Little Lion Bible and not only does it look great on a shelf, it has great bible stories. Easter board books are pretty popular and easy to find (heck even my grocery store has them!) and reading to your baby is so incredibly important!
 
[nine] Every stylish Easter Egg hunter needs the right clothes. The boys have adorable smocked Easter Jon Jons to wear to church on Easter morning. I can't find them online and they need ironed so I can't snap a picture. Sorry! It is most similar to this one from Vive Le Fete. I also seriously considered getting something less Eastery and more re-wearable like this seersucker set from Mud Pie, but I wasn't sure the boys would have an occasion to wear that again before they outgrew it.  We also got monogrammed Easter shirts from Etsy that the boys will wear to their Easter Egg hunt and in their bunny pictures. (EDIT: The boys haven't had their bunny pictures yet, but we have worn our shirts for the Easter Egg Hunt and they are as cute as cute can be. Look here for the pictures.) I bought them from Tres Bien Boutique which is owned by a local Lake Highlands mom. I love a good monogram and I love to shop local. So these are obviously perfect!
 
[ten] And of course, every tot needs an Easter basket to collect all of their goodies in. I grew up with traditional baskets every year. My mom owned lots of baskets (like this one) and one of them was "my" Easter basket every year. (And then it went back onto my moms basket hangers. None were ever really mine.) I really thought I wanted to use an actual basket for the boys and then buy a cute monogrammed liner (like this one). The more I look on etsy, the more I'm drawn to the cloth bags like this, this, or this. I also love some of the more neutral burlap bags. And it seems like they could be useful all year round for toy storage. I personally love this, this, and this. Sadly, this year I'm not ordering personalized baskets for the boys this year. I don't want to choose something and then not be able to find a coordinate for baby three next year, so I am holding off on baskets and will buy all three at once next year.  Instead I put my DIY hate on.  I bought two basic metal buckets from Target and will add the boys names myself.  (EDIT: See the finished product here. And of course you can see the buckets in action on my hunt post.)
 
 
 
What goes in your Easter baskets? Any great ideas for one year olds? What are the Easter traditions in your family?
 

 
(Inspiration for post from blog posts here and here)

And joining in the Easter Basket Blog Hop here.
 

Apr 15, 2014

House Tour: Our Family Room

 
 
Come on in! Welcome to my family room!
 
Andrea over at Momfessionals is launching a few new series posts on her blog and I'm excited to play along, especially for house tours.
 
Looking in at other peoples houses is one of my very very favorite things to do. I think a perfect Sunday afternoon would be spent going to all of the local open houses! Sadly, Casey doesn't agree. He humors me some weekends (what a good husband!) but he thinks you only need to look at houses if you are serious about moving. I totally disagree obviously.
 
So basically, this post series was designed just for me. A chance to virtually peek into folks houses. Without needing to convince Casey. What could be better?
 
Before we had kids, we had a nice, well decorated family room. It was a room I really liked. It's perfectly central to our house (which sadly means it doesn't have any windows since it's centered) but it is spacious and really is the heart of our house. When the babies came, this room was occupied by the invading forces.
 
 
Baby gear was everywhere. But I told myself it was just a season. We wouldn't need three swings, two bouncers, two playmats, a play arch, floor blankets, and two boppies forever. Once the kids got old enough we would use the sunroom and game room and I could have my family room back.
 
I was partly right.
 
As the kids have gotten older we no longer need swings and bouncers, but they still have stuff. Lots of it! And we are using the sunroom and game room more and more for their toys and their playspace. But, none of that means I have my family room back.
 
The reality is that the room is just too perfectly central to the house to not be full of baby. It is the perfect holding space while I cook since it is right off the kitchen. It works as a play area while I get dressed because it is just a short hallway away from the bedrooms. It is great as a containment space while I load the kids into the car since it is right near the garage. Basically, it is a great containment zone.
 
So it still has toys. And now gained fencing all the way around! It started with a fence in front of the TV and a fence in front of the fireplace to block off these two danger zones. When they were crawling and pulling up this was sufficient.
 
 
Then they started crawling aggressively and fast! And attempting walking. So we had to add a corral.
 
 
Now, the fence in front of the fireplace is gone. They understand "no" well enough that I could get rid of that piece (it lives by the front door so we can take it outside and play in the front yard on pretty days!). But the corral and the TV fencing remain.
 
Every few days I move all of the fence so I can vacuum up the dog fur tumbleweeds. So I took a few pictures, some with and some without the fence.
 
When you come through my front door,
you pass through a small foyer
and then you see my family room.
 
This shot gives a good overview of the whole room. It's also the only picture I took that shows the ceiling. When we bought the house, every.single.room. had popcorn ceilings. We had all of them scraped, retextured, and painted and in this room we had them paint the center of the ceiling a pretty chocolate brown. At the time my plan was to paint one wall in the room the same color. I still want to - seven years later!
 
This is the wall I think would look great in chocolate. And now that I have kids I would love to make it a chalkboard wall. Maybe someday I'll get around to it?
 
Yes. That is still a decoration from the boys first birthday on the wall.
Three months later.
I just can't bare to take down all of the pictures of my tiny little babies.
 
These panorama shots help orient you in the room.
 
 
The doorway visible in the top photo leads to the sunroom (then through the sunroom you get the addition with the gameroom, office, and media room). In the bottom photo you see the hallway that leads back to the bedrooms. You can also see the foyer table (which is right next to the front door). Across from that table are two double doors that lead to the dining room. To the right of the fireplace is a small hallway that leads to a half bath. Next to that is our laundry room which passes through to the garage and the kitchen. Those spaces are better visible in this shot.
 
With an adorable dog photobomb!
 
I used to have a piece of art above the teal console, but it found a better place in a different area of our home. I think that I will turn that area into a "command center" to our family but I haven't done it yet. It's a pretty small wall so I know I'll need to be creative with anything I do.
 
Also visible in that shot is one of my favorite pieces of art. My sister bought this pencil sketch of my home church and the church we got married in as a wedding present and it means so much to me! I kind of hate the sconces on either side of it, but I'm not ready to redo this wall yet. So they'll suffice! I would absolutely love to find someone to do a pencil sketch of Munger Place Church, the first church Casey and I joined together and the church where our boys were baptized.
 
First United Methodist Church of McKinney as sketched by Dick McGowan
 
Here is a better shot of the whole fireplace wall. And a view of my filing system - in an old military trunk.
 
Ignore the messy trunk. It has my files.
That were recently seriously dug through to find a missing tax doc.
Nothing like waiting until the last minute!
 
The corner with the television. Because, as we established yesterday the TV has a big place in our lives, we need a big TV. So, yeah.
 
As I said, my family room will never be overrun by toys. Ha!
 
And this is a better shot of the art wall.
A few random little pieces I like and an air plant in need of water.
 
Same wall. Different perspective.
 
But the room you are seeing just isn't my reality. My reality has a huge fence all the way around it. And is filled with two little boys. And the messes they make. So here is the room about 60 seconds after dropping twin one year olds into it.
 
And then again thirty minutes later.
 
The beginning of the toy explosion.
 
That's what my family room really looks like! At night and at naptime we pick up all the toys and it becomes a calm(er) space again. But during the days, it is filled with toys and books and laughter and squeals.
 
My two little messes.
 
And I wouldn't have it any other way!
 
It is a family room after all.
 

Apr 14, 2014

What's on?

I am posting twice today because I completely forgot that today is a linkup with Andrea at Momfessionals for a series of posts called "What's on?". This post outlines the posts you have to look forward to in the series and gives you the information to link up yourself. It's so fun to peek into everyone's dirty little pleasures so I'm going to play along and I really hope you do to! An worthwhile reason for a double post. Right?
 
 
The twins go to bed pretty early (7:00), so after they go to bed Casey and I have a "TV Date" almost every night he is in town and watch a show (or two) together. (We lead really exciting lives!) I also watch a show during lunch some days while the boys nap. A few minutes off of my feet is a welcome thing for this pregnant mama! So, we record a lot of television and our DVR is constantly full. Currently it claims it only has 27% of recording space remaining - which is normal for us!
 
 
 
 
I'll start with the shows I watch with Casey:
 
Blacklist We can't seem to get enough of this show. I love that each episode has a "true" end instead of being a soap opera style, but their is still this big arch over everything. All of the mystery surrounding the husband is just wow (#MrandMrsKeen). I think that James Spader is just amazing.
Scandal This show. I just can't. I mean -- first Olivia's dad. And then her mom. And all of the push pull between #teamfitz and #teamjake!! Right when I think I am clearly #teamjake he goes off and does what he just did (sorry trying not to post spoilers) and so I think maybe I'm #teamfitz but he's still married and I just can't get behind that. Every episode has huge twists and turns and keeps me on the edge of my seat! It has intrigue, mystery, surprises, and just enough romance.
Grey's Anatomy I know a lot of people gave up on this show, and we have had a few times where we almost have. But every time we are about ready to give up it sucks us back in. This last season has been pretty incredible! I'm clearly sucked back in.
Nashville I never hear anyone talk about this show so really thought Casey and I were alone watching it. But we just love it! We adored Friday Night Lights (and I would still argue it's one of the best shows to ever be on TV) so a show with Tammi Taylor just can't be wrong! And as Rayna, she is pretty much amazing. I love that they are showing her being a great mom and having a thriving career!
Shark Tank For two finance nerds like us, it doesn't get much better than this! A show about profit margins, earnings ratios, and the American Dream. Need I say more?
The Big Bang Theory Smart humor. Not as offensive and inappropriate as so many of the sitcoms nowadays. I love Kaley Cuoco as Penny and think she is really underrated. And of course, Sheldon. Oh Sheldon.
House of Cards Okay, so this isn't actually on the DVR. But it is what we are watching! We started this one fairly recently and flew through Season One. We started season two last night after the boys went to bed and watched the first two episodes. It is just so well written! If you haven't seen this one, get yourself a Netflix account stat!
Other shows we watch when they are on: Suits, Necessary Roughness, and Rookie Blue.
 
 
 
 
And now a few shows I watch alone (on the days I don't just flip on HGTV):
 
The Voice This is the perfect naptime show, especially when the twins were younger, because I could stop and start at any time. This season is almost to the live rounds which is when I feel like I finally start to develop favorites and really root for folks. So far, I don't have anyone I love.
The Vampire Diaries Casey and I started this show together but he had given up on it. I'm getting close. But for now, I still follow the adventures of Elena, Damon, and Stefan.
Survivor I'm not a very good Survivor watcher and haven't watched all the seasons or all the episodes, but I do really enjoy it when I can! This season I don't really have any favorites. When they announced the season I was rooting for the brains (duh! I'm a doctoral candidate - of course I'll root for the nerds!) but the team completely imploded. Now after the merge I just don't know who to root for!
Other shows I watch when they are on: The Bachelor, So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother, Covert Affairs, Project Runway, and The Lying Game.
 
 
 
This last category of shows is probably my "dirty little secret" that I'm now about to put online.
 
When Casey and I lived in The Loft, his office was just around a corner (remember no walls - just two story living) and while he would unwind from his day be playing video games, I would turn on the TV. This way we were in the same area while w both wound down. Somehow this developed into a habit of me falling asleep in front of the television. I have gotten TV sleeping down to a science and figured out the best shows to fall asleep to. I need procedural shows where I have a rough idea how it will end before it even starts. It normally takes me 2-3 nights to finish a show because I (hopefully!) fall asleep before it ends. Lately I've been having some horrible pregnancy insomnia. Actually, I think some of it is a fear of falling asleep because I don't ever throw up during the day - it's all at night. Regardless, I'm not falling asleep easily despite being ridiculously exhausted. So I'm going through more "sleepy shows" than usual. Currently on the DVR to fall sleep to: CSI, NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, Blue Bloods, and Person of Interest. When I don't have a DVRd show to fall asleep to, I can almost always find an episode of Law and Order on!
 
 
Also on our DVR - a ton of episodes of Storage Wars, Storage Wars: Texas, and Pawn Stars. These are great short little shows. Actually, they all used to be better before they got so popular. But, they're still decent. And finally, our DVR has a few episodes of Crisis. We hate missing out on great new shows but we also hate to start a new show and have it cancelled a few episodes in. So when we see a new show with good looking previews we set it to record and wait and see what the buzz is. We haven't heard a thing about this show but the previews still look really good. Are you watching Crisis? Is it worth starting? Or should we go ahead and delete it?
 
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