Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Second Time Mom Fears | Little Ark Kids

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Lately Klair has been talking up a storm and constantly amazing me with her vocabulary and ability to form precise (and oftentimes grammatically correct) sentences. This has been going on for a few months now and increasing a lot lately. You would think I'd be used to it by now... but I'm not. I don't know if I can ever get used to having conversations with Klair because, in my mind, she will always be my baby.

Sometimes, I forget her actual age. She is so skilled at expressing her emotions, and so easy to talk to... that when she actually acts like a 2 year old it startles me and I find myself expecting more out of her. ...until I remember that she is  a 2 year old, and I should probably expect/allow it.  I guess I both love and hate the fact that she acts older. I mean, it's nice in terms of our ability to communicate effectively, but why does she have to be in such a hurry to grow up? She just barley had her second birthday, yet if you ask she'll confidently tell you she's six... and I think she believes it.

I broke down crying the other night to Sam. It was probably a combination of how late we had stayed up and pregnancy hormones, but I was pretty unconsolable on the point that Klair is simply growing up too fast. I know that parenting (like life) is nothing but constant change, but what if I don't want it to change? I really like the way things are now, and part of me would love to find a pause button... or at least a slow-motion option. Klair is adorable right now, and so fun! AND, she loves me... like... adores me, and needs me constantly. She actually wants me around... and I'd be kidding myself if I believed it will be that way forever. At some point I will no longer be mama/mommy, and I'll just be mom. Or, the dreaded "Mo-o-m!" followed by an eye roll. Please slow down baby girl, and stop growing for just a minute will you?

I think I also feel the impending birth of our second child. And, while I'm over the moon with excitement to meet him, I'll be honest: I'm a little nervous as to what another baby will do the dynamic of our family, and my relationship with Klair. Everyone tells me it will be fine, that we will adjust--and I know we will. But let's be honest, she's been spoiled. She has had my full attention during the days for, well, her whole life... and both mine and Sam's attention at night once he's home. It's going to be hard on my first born to suddenly have to compete for our time throughout the day. I know this is ultimately a good thing for her, a healthy change of pace... but I still have feelings of pre-guilt for the abrupt change that's about to take place--something I can't really prepare her for even though we've had many a conversation on the topic to try and soften the blow a little. And then I have feelings of guilt knowing that I won't be able to give our son the same level of attention that Klair received in her first couple of years... it's simply not possible. I want to do it all--be it all--but I feel inadequate to the task. Often times I think, "Ugh, I still have 15 weeks to go! That seems like forever!" Yet, when I contemplate the thoughts above I'm more inclined to feel like 15 weeks isn't nearly enough time. I want to savor and enjoy this time with Klair as much as possible, because April will rapidly approach and life is about to change drastically. I remember having a newborn... newborns are hard. And last time I didn't also have a toddler vying for my attention/affection.

Anyway, there's a peak inside the thoughts that have been plaguing me lately. Does it make sense to be completely excited for something while simultaneously terrified of it as well? Because that's how I feel about having a second kid. Quite the combination of emotions, I know. I can't really make sense of it myself.  I suppose all I can do is put my trust in the Lord and one foot in front of the other. My amazing husband reminded me that despite my own insufficiencies in parenting, He is sufficient... and it's enough to calm my worried mind in times like these.

On a slightly unrelated note, my daughter is pretty cute right? I know some people don't like it when parents openly brag about their kids... but I don't care. I can't help it. I find her absolutely adorable, and I'm in love with these photos that Sam took of her in her new little camera shirt--compliments of Little Ark Kids. Klair is obsessed with this new top, and I can see why. I love how simple Little Ark's clothing is--the type of tees that are easily dressed up or down depending on the occasion. In addition to being cute, this shirt is also so soft--a very comfortable option for a little girl on the go.

Make sure to check out this fun little local shop and their handmade apparel for kids on Instagram and Etsy, and have a happy (and safe) New Year's Eve!

Little Ark Kids

Monday, December 29, 2014

24 Weeks & Some Creative Bump Styling

15890056000_9b473791fd_o 15890057290_e992cd1cd2_o 16051545356_af5eee6e07_oWell I made it to a fairly important milestone. I'm 24 weeks along which means that it is possible for my baby to survive outside of the womb... not that I want him to come any time soon, but it is nice knowing that I've at least made it this far. I'm finally feeling better from the nauseousness that has plagued me, and I have a few weeks left before I enter the huge and uncomfortable third trimester. Oh! And the longest cold of my life is finally gone. Life is looking up, just in time for the new year. Hopefully this is a good omen for 2015? I'm going with yes, yes it is.

I've been getting more experimental with my wardrobe lately. As my belly grows I have to increase my creative efforts to make my normal, non-maternity clothes work. In this case I paired a striped shirt with a black maxi skirt and a skinny belt.  This combination of separate pieces creates the illusion of a flattering maternity dress. I'm all about comfort these days so the fact that this outfit is nice and stretchy is only icing on the cake. Also, am I the only one who thinks that a floppy hat makes everything better? I'm really loving this style, and I feel like it adds a lot to any ensemble.

What are some ways you have made non-maternity clothes work for pregnancy (whether now or in the past)? I'm definitely open to new ideas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Us (Enjoy this gift)

Merry Christmas from us to you! My husband is a talented singer-songwriter who decided to record his own version of the song "Hallelujah" with a bit of a Christmas spin on it (the original song is by Leonard Cohen). He convinced me to sing with him (I'm a really shy singer... unless I'm in the car) and there is even a surprise from little Klair at the end of the song. If you would like this song please send me your email address, and we will send it to you as a Christmas gift from our little family.

Here it is in all its YouTube glory:

Also, the photo above counts as our Christmas card for this year. I wanted to create a physical, tangible... you know, real one to send out to people, but our little December sickness put us in survival mode. The Christmas card didn't make the cut on the list of most necessary things to do. Fortunately, this photo from Klair's 2 year old pictures is both Christmasy and adorable. I hope it makes your Christmas a little brighter!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Life Lately | Simple Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

3 6 December has been... trying to say the least. We started the month off with a stomach bug that was absolutely terrible for little Klair. I'm not sure I've ever seen her more miserable... and it broke my heart. Luckily she felt better in time for her birthday party, but this turned out to be a short reprieve because we each came down with a nasty flu/cold immediately after. That was over 2 weeks ago... and we all still have it to some extent. We still haven't even really had a chance to celebrate my birthday yet (which was on the 10th). Luckily Klair seems to be over the worst of it now, but I'm still quite sickly and Sam's symptoms are up and down. We're all feeling... exhausted and sick of being sick.

I will definitely appreciate having good health once we have it back again. Klair has some serious cabin fever lately, so I've been promising to take her all sorts of places once we're better. Everyday she tells me now "I get better, go to park" or "museum." I feel bad these haven't actually come to fruition yet, but I think the hope of them is still a positive thing for her to cling to. I'm praying that we will get better in time for Christmas. We have so many things going on this week with family and friends... I really hope we won't have to cancel on everyone.

Despite the misery of having a sick family, we have found ways to still have indoor, low key fun while trying to enjoy the Christmas season. We've been doing lots of puzzles, play dough, coloring books, reading, and bubble baths around here. Oh, and Christmas music. Klair loves singing all the different Christmas songs, and even though my voice is pretty awful right now we've been singing a lot. We've also taken drives to see Christmas lights and local temples, and I'll be honest, we've watched way more TV/movies than usual. I try to minimize that as much as possible, but when you have a sick kid it's sometimes all you can do to take their mind off of the pain and keep them happy/rested.

Tonight I was feeling extra ambitious and we even made these sugar cookies (the recipe is so easy and absolutely divine, definitely a keeper). I loved how truly happy it made Klair! She loved it. Sam and I even got into it, creating our own designs because my supply of Christmas cookie cutters is more pathetic than I realized. I'm pretty proud of my snowman and gingerbread man, but I think Sam's guitar takes the prize for most creative. Tomorrow we plan to use up the rest of our frosting on a gingerbread house for our family home evening activity. I want these activities to become traditions, and it's fun to have a kid that's old enough to start these kinds of things with.

Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe 

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups of white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt 

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. 

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. 

This recipe yields 5 dozen (60 cookies). That's way more than we needed, so I simply froze the dough we didn't use and now it will be much easier to make cookies in the future. 

-Make sure you refrigerate for at least an hour. 
-You can cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your cookie sheet and roll your dough out on the parchment paper. Then press your cookie cutters down on the dough, peel away the scraps, and easily transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet without ruining them while trying to pick them up. 
-You don't have to simply use cookie cutters. We didn't have many Christmas ones, so we played with the dough and came up with our own designs. I actually thought this was more fun!

Here is a link to the buttercream frosting recipe that I used (that I always use for that matter--it's my go to frosting).

**I mixed the frosting with food coloring and poured it into empty condiment bottles I got at the grocery store. These made the frosting process so much easier, especially for little Klair!**

We've also busied ourselves with wrapping presents for others (Klair was particularly fond of "helping" us wrap, even though she complicated the process more than anything else). At first she struggled with the idea that the toys she helped us pick out were for her cousins, but once we explained the concept of giving she caught on quickly and now she is really excited to give everything away. It probably also helps that she knows she has presents coming too. We've explained the concept of Santa, and if you ask her what she wants for Christmas she'll tell you "a Frozen present." Apparently anything Frozen related will do.

Sam already built her this kitchen, and we hid it in our basement. We showed her a picture and asked her if she would like it, to which she replied "I like it! I love it! I want that kitchen. I get kitchen for Christmas and bake mommy a cake!" I can't wait to see her face light up on Christmas morning when she sees it all set up and ready for her to play with. And I'm pretty excited about my cake too :)

It only took Sam about 4 hours to assemble... when it arrived it came in the pieces you see in the first picture. Don't worry, I was there for moral support. Ha ha! He is such a good dad. (And yes, those are balloons from her birthday party that are still kicking around.)
It's funny how trials in life can make you appreciate things more. I won't sugar coat it--this month has been rough. It seems like we just can't catch a break. Yet, through all of it there have been a lot of silver linings. For one, baby boy is healthy and growing. Sam even felt him kick for the first time the other night! That was such a sweet moment. Additionally, Sam has a new job. He is working with some incredible people, and he has a lot of opportunity for growth and learning. We've also had some amazing loved ones serve us by bringing dinners, offering to watch Klair so I can rest, and simply checking up on us with loving calls of concern. And, last but not least, we have been able to spend so much time together as a little family. We've born forced to cancel all of our plans with others in fear of spreading germs, which has been hard. But, in a way, I've enjoyed this time with just the three of us.

We're obviously not as lively usual, but we've still found ways to have fun and come closer together as a family. Isn't that what the Christmas season is all about? I was feeling sad the other day because I didn't feel like we had had much time to foster the Christmas spirit, like the season had passed us by... but in reality we've enjoyed a great deal of the what Christmas really is--family, service, love, patience, and finding joy in the journey. Christ stands for all of these things, and I'm so grateful for his example to me. We're really quite blessed.

I mean, look at this face. We get to wake to this everyday.
Sam and I have been teaching Klair about Christ this month. Although we've told her about Santa and some of the fun traditions, we have really tried to center her thoughts and ideas of the holiday on the Savior. And, I'm happy to say that I think it's sinking in. If you ask her what Christmas is about, she'll tell you matter-of-factly "It's Jesus's birthday!" and "I love him."

I can find happiness, even in times of despair, because of Christ. He truly is the gift of all gifts, and I'm beyond grateful for the added perspective, beauty, and meaning that he gives to my life.

If you haven't seen this video yet, I highly recommend watching it. It's such a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of the holiday we're about to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lauryncakes Big Fat Giveaway | Over $1000 in Prizes!

My good friend Lauryn is the author of the blog, and she just hit her one year anniversary! To celebrate, I have teamed up with a group of awesome bloggers and companies for a giveaway you won't want to miss.With 17 winners and over $1000 in prizes, your odds of winning are better than great... just in time for Christmas! 

Simply enter the giveaway below through the Rafflecopter.
It is easy to get entries, and Rafflecopter never spams your email.
The giveaway will end December 24th at midnight, so there is only one week to enter! Hurry, hurry!

Thank you to our sponsors and all the amazing bloggers that made this giveaway happen!

blue beanie white sweater
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The nitty gritty details:
Open to US only. Winners will be contacted by email after being chosen and must reply within 24 hours, or else the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen. Winner is responsible for anything outside the given prizes (example: deciding to buy something other than the given prize) or shipping on returns. Contest is in no way affiliated with Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin', Youtube, Tumblr, or Twitter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Firmoo Glasses & 22 Weeks Pregnant

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I have bad eyes. Like, really, ridiculously poor eyesight... and they get worse every time I go into the eye doctor. I was trying to explain to my daughter the other day why she can't play with my glasses the way she does all of my cheap sunglasses, and all I could come up with that wouldn't get lost in translation to a toddler was "Mama's eyes are broken. They don't work. Glasses fix them, so you can't play with them." Broken. Ha! It sounds so dramatic, yet it's actually pretty true.

Fortunately for me, I love the look of glasses. I think they are such a fun way to accessorize. I usually wear contacts because I enjoy having peripheral vision, but there are certain outfits that simply beg for a nice pair of specs to complete the look. Unfortunately prescription glasses are expensive, especially with lenses strong enough for my eyes... or so I thought. Recently reached out to me about doing a review for them. I thought for sure they would offer me a pair of non-prescription glasses--essentially frames with clear glass lenses. To my surprise I was told I could choose any pair of glasses AND order my prescription for them! I of course obliged, and that brings us to this post. I'm absolutely in love with these glasses I chose, and they're by far my new favorite pair. I wear them constantly.

Would you like to know the best part for those of you reading this? You can get the same deal that I did, but you don't even have to write a blog post in return (although you might want to anyway by
the end of it all). Right now Firmoo is offering your first pair of glasses for FREE! They have so many great frames to choose from, and they even have photos of various face shapes so you can compare to your own and get a sense for how it might look on yours. You should definitely check them out!

Also, on a completely unrelated but very important note, I'm 22 weeks! I can feel baby boy kick so well now, but Sam has yet to feel it too. He's convinced that the baby is messing with him, and that it's a sign of how their relationship is going to be :) We have his nursery almost completed (blog post to come soon) and we have a name picked out (another blog post to come soon). Furthermore, I've been feeling a lot better lately... well, with the morning sickness stuff at least. As soon as the nauseousness started to subside I got sick with a nasty cold which has been plaguing me for over a week--even on my birthday. How unfair is that? My birthday was still pretty great though, I scored this amazing Michael Kors Watch and Sam managed to spoil me despite my pitiful condition (another blog post to come soon).

I think I'm finally over the worst of it now, and I'm really looking forward to feeling better and having a little energy back! Poor Klair came down with it today though so... it's likely going to be a rather long week for all of us. I wish I could just take it from her. Poor baby. Here's to hoping she gets better by Christmas! We have over a week... I'm feeling pretty optimistic. We've been sick too much this winter already though... am I the only one who is tempted to lock my family in and hold out for the long winter?


Green Baby Doll Dress | Cable Knit Scarf | Gray Booties | Michael Kors Watch | Black Skinny Belt

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Klair Marie's 2nd Birthday

It has been birthday madness around here lately. Chaotic, and so fun :)  Klair's big day was the 29th, which happened to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Due to the undesirable closeness to a holiday that takes a lot of people out of town, I decided to postpone her party until the following week. Thus, on her actual birthday we simply spent the day together as a family and properly spoiled her.

The Actual Birthday
We woke up, I made breakfast (Klair requested eggs--her favorite--and I kindly obliged), and we headed out for a day of adventures.

First we took her to Target to pick out "one" toy. She walked up and down the toy aisles for what seemed like an eternity, excitedly exclaiming "I LOVE this!" or "This is cool!" for just about every toy. After awhile we realized she couldn't pick just one thing... it wasn't physically or mentally possible for her. She was never going to leave on her own. We let her take the next thing she admired--a broom set--and we also let her pick a few things out of the dollar section because they had Frozen books and we're kind of wrapped around her little finger. And then we finally left Target.

Next, we took her out to lunch. She told us with certainty that she wanted mac and cheese, so went to a local restaurant that serves the classic Kraft that Klair loves so much (I think she may have been more excited about the sucker that came with the meal than anything else).  Then we took her to the mall to ride the carousel--a favorite cold weather past time of hers. Had it been a warmer day we would have gone to a park, but when your kid's birthday is practically in December you have to get a bit more creative. Luckily the mall had other forms of entertainment, and we rented the cutest electronic cow and took turns riding it around the mall with her. She was the envy of all the kids (and some adults too) and you could tell she soaked up every minute of it!

Then we took her home and napped for a bit (she and I both needed it). Once we woke up it had really warmed up outside so we ventured to a nearby park. From there we took her on a little hike above the city so that she could see the sparkly lights. By this point we were pretty exhausted and we ended our birthday festivities with frozen yogurt from our favorite local fro-yo place.

It was wonderful day filled with all the simple things Klair loves. We really enjoyed spending so much quality time with each other to celebrate the fact that God blessed us with her exactly two years earlier.

The Party

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I think I must be cursed. If I even think about putting an event together, the universe bestows a gift of sickness upon me. I wanted to make Klair's party extra special (I think I love to torture myself or something) so I decided to have it at our house and make/bake all of the food. I figured I could space the baking out and start early in the week, freezing the goods until it was party time. Unfortunately we came down with a stomach bug, and even though it was gone in time for the big day I wasn't able to start my baking and preparing until much later than I had hoped. Fortunately it all came together, but I was definitely down to the wire towards the end of it. It seems like this always happens. My dream is to throw a party, and to have the universe cooperate enough to make me feel at least a little less frazzled. Maybe someday.

The Decor
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For the decorations I went with a simple color scheme of pink, yellow, and blue. You can see that our party decorations mingled a bit with our Christmas stuff, but Klair didn't mind--and the tree came in handy as a great place for gathering presents!
**also, just a tip--hanging lanterns are sooo much easier to put together than pom poms. Take it from me. I've done my share of both, and I love the simplicity of lanterns---no fluffing!!

Food (with links)
I made:
//french vanilla cake with buttercream frosting
//lemon cupcakes** with buttercream frosting
//brownies with chocolate frosting
//marshmallow pops (which were the biggest it with the kids and by far the quickest/easiest to throw together)
//Homemade rolls
//Sweet Pink Sparkling Lemonade

** I know the post says gluten-free cupcakes (because while I was pregnant and breastfeeding I had to eat gluten-free) but the same principle applies to regular cupcake mixes as well**

I also put out some animal crackers (one of Klair's favorites) and a big bowl of fruit to add a little health factor. My wonderful sister brought eclair cake (we call it e-Klair cake... get it?) and I put out some chips and salsa for variety. I also made some homemade rolls and offered meats and cheeses for some substance in case anyone was hungry for something a little more savory.

Oh and I threw together some Costco meatballs in the crockpot by adding a little barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's) and peach jam. They're so easy, and always a big hit.


//Bounce house-- we were going to rent one, until we realized that it was almost as much to rent one as it is to buy one on Amazon. After looking through various models and reviews, we found the perfect one for our basement. It became Klair's main birthday gift from us, and she is already obsessed with it. We told her we would set it up for her party, and for the week leading up to her get together it's all she talked about. It ended up being such a big hit with the kiddos! I'm so glad it's ours to keep.I have a feeling we will be using it a lot--particularly during the colder months to try and get some of her energy out in a productive way.

//Bubbles-- my original vision was to go out on our back deck with a bubble machine and let the kids have fun chasing/popping bubbles. Well, I bought a cute little Hello Kitty machine from Target and... it didn't work. I'm hopeful they'll let me take it back. We tried to find another bubble machine, but had no such luck. Instead, Sam just bought a bunch of bottles of bubbles and let the kids blow them up themselves. This ended up being a huge success--the kids loved doing it themselves.

//Unstructured Play Time-- I was going to come up with a list of specific activities--but then I realized that these kids are little... and they would have more fun simply playing. Thus, we just let them loose in Klair's toy room and in our basement where we scattered a bunch of toys--and they all had a blast! My little girl could not have been happier.

Overall the party really did go so well. We had a great turnout of both family and friends. Klair was surrounded by people that love her... it was enough to make my heart swell with love and gratitude until it felt like it was going to burst. We are extremely fortunate people to have so many loved ones in our life! And I'm incredibly happy knowing that my daughter is the recipient of so much genuine affection. She had the look of pure joy in her eyes, and it was more than worth any effort it took us to put it together.