Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Current Kid Lit Wish List

We just took the girls for our annual trip to the see The Nutcracker Ballet this past weekend.   Kenley is really into the story and loved the nutcracker that Alice the Elf brought her that morning that she broke it's arm like Fritz and now has to take care of it like a good nurse like Clara.  We have a Little Golden Book version of the story, but I would love to add one of these two copies to our library for their gorgeous illustrations.

Kenley is definitely our little artist.  Crayons, markers, paint, they are definitely her favorite way to pass the time.  We love Julia Denos illustrations (I Had a Favorite Dress and Grandma's Gloves), and can't wait to add Swatch to our collection.  I Don't Draw, I Color! is basically Kenley's second life motto.... right behind famous words of Ricky Bobby "If you ain't first, you're last".

Ashlynn would love any of the stories involving make believe.  We heard that Mimi was sending some of her fairies down south with their own doorway, so http://amzn.to/2gZp73J would be a great compliment.  Henry's Bright Idea is like a new spin on Winnie the Pooh with all of today's favorite woodland creatures belonging to the Walnut Animal Society.

Last, we've noticed that a majority of our favorite stories include our favorite furry four-legged friends.  Antoinette is the follow up to the beloved Gaston, and Miss Moon the story of a Dog Governess who imparts all her knowledge and advice that can go beyond the dog park.

What's on your current kiddie book list?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

American Girl Birthday Celebration

Kenley had a great 3rd birthday, it was probably her best day ever.  She woke up to chocolate chip banana muffins and some presents, including a Bitty Baby.  We got ready for school and she had her celebration there and popsicles with her class before the end of the day.

By the time she got home, I had put together her new microphone and the kids sang "LALALALA", the ABCs, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, to their hearts content.  After a short rest of mom imposed quiet time, we headed over the American Girl Store at Southpark Mall.

Out of habit back in PA, I still always park at Nordstrom, which at this mall is at the opposite end of where we were going.  As we made our way though the store and then the mall, Kenley shouted excitedly, for everyone nearby to hear, "I ride the alligator! I go on the alligator!"

... the escalator!  dead.

We caught a glimpse of Santa on our way to the store, but he had gone back to the North Pole by the time we left.  That Santa is one busy man.  ;)

When we got to the store we spent some time checking out all the dolls and toys and then made our way to the bistro for our birthday dinner.  It was just us three since Dad was traveling for work.  I thought this would be a nice way to make an ordinary Wednesday into a special birthday Wednesday.  The girls both brought their Bitty Babies, who got to sit with us, and started with some chocolate milk for the girls and cups of cream for the babies.  The girls enjoyed their meal, the coloring books, goodie bags, and mostly the ice cream and cake.

It was the perfect little outing and definitely memorable for them.  Memorable for me was driving through a tornado on the way home.  I had no idea the weather was going to turn and we left right when our town went under a take shelter warning.  I'm super thankful we made it home safe, but what a way to turn a fun and fancy free evening into a super stressful one!  And with her birthday past we now full speed ahead to Christmasville!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kenley's Big Girl Bedroom Reveal

Kenley's room is probably one of the most completed rooms at the moment in our new home.  Aside from a fresh coat of paint,  everything is the same from her last bedroom. We switched the color from SW Vaguely Mauve to BM Frosty Pink.   The girls firmly identify themselves and their belongings as Ashlynn = Purple and Kenley = Pink.  Sometimes, I encourage them to branch out and show independence in their opinions and picking whatever strikes their fancy, but usually they stick to the plan and I won't deny them of their pink and purple phases. It'll most likely be tossed aside with their princess dresses one day too soon.

Bed Frame: thrifted and chalk painted | Bedding Set: Xhilaration
Chair: Ikea Extorp Jennylund | Pillow:  Skoope Home via Brickyard Buffalo 
Unicorn: White Faux Taxidermy Pom Trim Curtain Panels:  DIY (tutorial, similar)

Our new house features 9' ceilings on both floors, which is really nice added bonus.  However, the curtains I added black pom trim to, are now a foot too short for ceiling to floor.  Instead of the hassle of making new ones, I just made due and hung a curtain rod right over the blinds.  

Currently, we keep minimal if any toys in the girls rooms.  We have enough space in the loft that it gives me them one less space to keep tidy.  Books and stuffed animals pretty much full up the space and the bedroom is mostly for sleeping or having quiet time to wind down with a story.   I mentioned Kenley's favorite story is Twelve Dancing Princesses and we read it nightly.  She also can recite Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in it's entirety.  

Dresser:  Ikea Hemnes 
Peach Knobs: Anthropologie  | Gold Knobs: DIY painted gold | Lamp:  Target Threshold
Mother Daughter Print:  RK Designs  | K Initial:  Michaels (DIY painted gold)
Happy Girls are the Prettiest Print:  A Painted Arrow | 'Hello' Sign:  Simply Sawdust (DIY Painted)
Shamrock Print:  DIY | Hanger:  Initialee 
Wall Frames:  Ikea Ribba (DIY painted gold), Sondrum

The ikea dresser is still holding together nicely and offers more than enough storage.  The gallery wall is identical to her last room, but 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.  The dresser and frames fit perfectly between her bedroom door and walk in closet. 

I'm still looking for the right decor to place over her bed.  It was something I never completed in the last house and hope to do here.  I've been looking for a faux floral swag, but just haven't found anything that matches what I imagine in my head.   I also am considering repainting her bed frame, but it's just not a priority at the moment.  Her bedding has held up really well, despite being incredibly cheap.  I also snagged a second set of sheets during a clearance sale. The moroccan pouf went seamlessly from a nursery chair footstool to a launch pad into her bed.  I love when things can continue being functional.

Now, if only the rest of the house can de-clutter itself and I'd have some content!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kenley Drew - 3 Years Old

Oh Kenley.  How I can't believe it's been three years since you completed our family, and yet, how has it only been three years, it feels like you've been part of our lives for so much longer.

You are a spitfire and you keep us on our toes.  You two girls could not be more different, but thankfully you couldn't love each other more.  You are fiercely independent and sometimes we feel you were sent to us to make sure we understood other parents with 'strong-willed' children and that we weren't going to breeze through this parenting gig.  Despite your ability to still throw an epic tantrum, you have grown and accomplished so much in this past year.

You started with a ditching your crib in lieu of a big girl bed, then quit the paci habit shortly after.  After that we tackled potty training which I was so glad to be through by swim season, even if we then visited every public bathroom possible.    For the second half of the year, you started pre-school, gymnastics (non-parent child classes), and most recently dance.

You have been learning a lot at school and will randomly surprise us with what you know.  You have always loved to draw and paint and I was pretty impressed when you started drawing actual faces over the summer without being really taught to.  You now can draw our family.

Your favorite book is Twelve Dancing Princesses and can name at least eight of the princesses, even if you do call Clover, Alice.  I also like to read Uni the Unicorn afterwards every night and recently have fallen into my trap to get you to enjoy the story of the Nutcracker.  I may be preparing you for your first trip to the ballet by getting you familiar with the story and some youtube videos so you'll stay in your seat at the performance.  You do fancy yourself a ballerina, which you were one for Halloween.

We have been working hard with getting you to control your emotions and use your words when faced with a problem, which at 2 years old, can be tough, but you have gotten a lot better at calming yourself and will even tell us when it's time to take deep breaths or that you just need a hug.

But being strong willed isn't your only leading characteristic, you are a clown.  You can be so silly and regularly have us in stitches. You love a knock knock joke, and tell us the same one with potty humor daily.  'Knock knock' 'Who's there?' 'Baxter' 'Baxter Who?' 'Baxter go potty!'... and it cracks you up harder than any one else!

Our favorite on running gag is that you refuse to accept Drew as your middle name and insist yours, too, is Hazel, like your sister.

Me: "Hey there Kenley Drew!"
Kenley: "No!! I'm NOT Kenley Drew!  I'm Kenley Hazel!"
Me: "No, Ashlynn is Ashlynn Hazel, you're Kenley Drew"
Kenley: " No, she Ashlynn Drew, I'm Kenley Hazel!!!"

This has been going on for a solid 8 months, possibly longer.  

You are incredibly athletic and live by the motto of the one and only Ricky Bobby,  "If you ain't first, you're last".  Even while walking the dog or getting to the car, you HAVE to be first, or watch out.  You LOVE tv, you continued through your Daniel Tiger phase for months, before switching to our nemesis Special Agent OSO, and now are hooked on StoryBots and any Mickey Mouse Christmas movies netflix can offer.  You're favorite activites are coloring, playdoh, and playing in your kitchen making me pancakes and various soups.

You love to cuddle and find your way to our bed pretty much nightly.  You love the dogs, especially Baxter, even if he is 'grumpy'.   We are so excited to see you grow this year and your personality is going to shine through everything you do.

Happy Birthday, Little Biscuit!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Home for the Holidays

Being in a new home for the holidays is both exciting and bit uneasy.   I am excited to start new traditions in our new town, but also nostalgic for the traditions we already had and anxious to see if they will continue with the same anticipation in our new space.

Kicking off the holiday season, we are spending our first Thanksgiving as a family of four here in our new home, just us.  It's a bit melancholy, to not spend the day that's fixated as holiday with a bustling house full of guests, without any, but between the distance and the potential to go from a family dinner to a SNL sketch before the pumpkin pie is cut,  well... it is, what it is.   And on the plus side, I don't need to worry about ironing my table linens, holler! 🙌

I know the girls are so excited to get ready for Christmas and decorate the house and tree.  I do think this will definitely be the best Christmas yet.  Ashlynn has been scouring the Target and Toy R Us toy catalogs and already has written an unofficial list for Santa.  Kenley is pretty excited to be turning 3 next week and will tell anyone with a set of ears. We have a town tree lighting and tickets to the Nutcracker so the season will kick off strong.   The Elf on the Shelf game will need a kick in the ass this year as I'm pretty sure I'll no longer get by moving it around every few days.  Our Advent calendar will need an upgrade too since I'm pretty sure last year at least a week's worth of days were left empty of activities or ornaments to hang.

On the bright side, I am ready for the Christmas book countdown and already have the books wrapped and ready to go under the tree December 1st.   I thought I'd reshare this list of 25 MORE Christmas books from last year in case you were looking to add a few more to your stash!  (24 and 25 are my pop culture favorites!)

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20

21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

And speaking of pop culture, who's ready for the Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life?!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Countdown Deals

Not sure if anyone else is prepping their list for Santa Claus, but the countdown to Christmas is on!  While I definitely don't start pulling out the tinsel until after the turkey is eaten, I do start prepping my shopping list so I can appropriately sale stalk.  I like to price watch items and check for store coupons so I know I'm getting the best deals on the items, I'm planning on buying any way.  Plus, it keeps me on task instead of grabbing random things and going off of budget.  

We will be heading to Toys R' Us later so the girls can get some ideas for Santa.  We headed to the mall last week and he was already there!  Kenley was terrified and Ashlynn was overwhelmed with being unprepared.  We told her we'd come back (probably in a month!) to put in our request :)

Some great deals going on today include...

Some super cute Land of Nod items actually worth their discount!  Check out the other Zulily sales to save on shipping!

Save on lots of Ravensburger and Wonder Forge games on Amazon's daily deals.

... and Free Shipping on all stockings too.  

Save up to $60 on American Girl BeForever Holiday Collections, all priced at $150.

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Halloween 2016

Hello.  I'm just going to pretend like I regularly keep up with this... is that okay?  I really didn't expect to fall so off the blogwagon, but between still getting settled and trying to rush through last three seasons Gilmore Girls, we are finally getting there with the house and I'm just getting into Season 7.

After our girls trip to the pumpkin patch, we had a really great October.  Dad traveled almost every week, so the girls and I had a lot of time to explore our hood, meet neighbors and make some new friends, and of course all things Halloween.

This last weekend started with Pete running a 5K in Charlotte.  It was a Hero Run, so Iron Man, Captain America, and Wonder Woman were there to entertain the kids (and scare Kenley).  We did our family duty cheering at the finish line, thankfully dad was a beast and clocked in under 22 minutes so our wait for brunch wasn't a long one.

After brunch and getting into costume, we headed to the neighborhood Fall Festival where the girls bounced themselves silly on moonbounces on every corner, sampled free cake, accepted candy, and even had Queen Elsa make them each a balloon animal.  Since it was in the mid 80s (WTF Carolina, where is Fall?!) we headed back before heading to friends for an evening hang and child meltdowns.


On Monday, the girls had their Halloween parade at school, adorable as always, and then trick or treat.  We were told Halloween was insanity in our new hood, and compared to most, people really do go all out.  However, we were told to have at least 1000 pieces of candy, but come Tuesday morning, I returned two jumbo unopened bags to Target.  I guess being a Monday, it wasn't as crazy as the past years.  Since the girls are young and did have school the next day, we were a bit relieved.

Other fun things in October included that the girls got off the waitlist for gymnastics and suckered me into getting them signed up for dance as well.  I never imagined myself a Dance Mom, but my gosh, sneaking peeks in of them in class couldn't be cuter.