Tag Archives: holidays

She Says… Mother’s Day, Times Two

Even though my Mother’s Day started and ended with cleaning up puke with my bare hands, I daresay it was one of the loveliest, sweetest, most special days for me and my little family. If you had asked the pre-kids me if that was even possible, I would have said, “NO WAY”.

But it is.

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First things first, I have these two beautiful baby faces to gaze into all day. And Benjamin’s cute face, of course. And Schnitzel’s cute, furry dog face. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I adore these three (and the dog!) so hard that sometimes it seems that nothing else in the world matters.

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I remember on my first Mother’s Day (with a kid outside of my belly) that I write about how having a baby had changed me. It transformed me. It made me a better “me”. More understanding, more thoughtful, more gentle, more patient, more present, more organized. After that, I kind of thought the transformation was complete. The shift from pre-kids “me” to post-kids “me” was made.

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But now, on my first Mother’s Day with two sweet babies outside of my belly, I can honestly say I have grown into myself in a way I didn’t expect, even three short years ago.

Motherhood has seeped into every nook and cranny of my heart and blown up like a balloon until I thought I might explode from the power of it. I have felt the unmistakable bliss of true, unconditional love. Twice. I have felt the overwhelming (yet futile) motherly urge to protect my boys from unavoidable sadness and the familiar pain of unkind words. I have felt the turn of the sharp knife of guilt in my belly, making me doubt the tough decisions that I have made as a parent. I have felt the impenetrable bubble of my family’s laughter while sitting around our dining room table, laughing until we’ve forgotten which private jokes we were even laughing about in the first place. I have spoken words in what feels like a secret language with my boys, knowing that they know what I mean to say even when I can’t find the words to say it out loud. I have felt the firmness of their little heads under my chin as I cuddle and rock and sway and hold, long after they thought they needed me to. I have locked eyes with my partner, my husband, above the boys’ heads, acknowledging the perfection that we have created and how lucky we are to be able to bask in it every day.

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Motherhood has continued to change me every day since that very first Mother’s Day.

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It has given me the confidence to trust my instincts. To listen to my heart. To NOT listen to those who are not worth listening to. To know that I’m raising my boys to be kind and generous and to give really good hugs. To know that I’m trying my hardest to support them and help them grow while respecting their individuality.

Being a mother has made me grow into the person I always wanted to be, even when I didn’t even know it yet.

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The journey is far from over. And maybe Mother’s Day will be my personal, yearly marker to take stock of how far we’ve come, as a family. How far I’ve come, as a mother. And to look ahead, to the future. To all of the changes yet to come. To all of the joys my family has yet to experience. To the sadness and the pain that we wish we could be spared, but alas, we cannot. It’s all ahead of us. And we’ll move forward as a unit, my three boys and I. And I know that we will continue to change. To grow. To be better.

Every year, I hope to be more “me” than the year before. And I hope the same for my boys.

She Says… Easter Bunny Dreams

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I’ve always been a little bit on the fence about creating and maintaining the myths of things like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up believing in all of these, and more, and I don’t think that I’m any worse for it. But there is something… strange… to me about telling your kids lie after lie to keep up this farce.

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To Benjamin and I, Santa is worth it. Santa is the pinnacle of the magic of the holiday season. The Tooth Fairy we haven’t decided about yet (we have a few more years before that milestone hits), but I’m thinking we’ll spin that imaginary web as well. But the Easter Bunny? That one just seems downright strange to us. A gigantic bunny hippity hopping into your house and delivering a basket? Perhaps no weirder than a dude in a red suit coming down your chimney, but Benjamin and I agreed that it seems unnecessary to lie about this one too.

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At our house, Easter baskets are from Mommy and Daddy, and the big bunny who we happened to see last weekend is just a person dressed in a costume for Easter.

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I think the whole “person dressed in a costume” conversation is why Owen insisted that he wear his frog costume after the Easter egg hunt (see below). Perhaps in our effort to keep Easter a little less lie-oriented, we confused Easter and Halloween. Ha!

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Maybe if Owen was a different kid, one who reveled in stories of make-believe or didn’t try to “figure everything out”, we might have been more likely to tell him some tall tales. But this lie just seemed like more work than it was worth.

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Nevertheless, Owen and Emmett were both tickled to come downstairs and find their baskets. We opted not to do an egg hunt at home, since we always go to Grammy and Grampy’s house for the hunt in the afternoon, so we had a nice, quiet morning playing with Easter toys in matching monster pajamas.

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In the afternoon we had a nice early Easter dinner with part of Benjamin’s family and the boys did the annual egg hunt. I think this is the last year Emmett will be placated with “finding” just one egg on his own. Owen is going to have some competition next year!

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Owen loved being just like the adults this year, with his own little pre-dinner mocktail and blazer/tie combination (that he picked out himself, without fussing at all).

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He even asked Grampy to put on a tie so they could match (copycatting again!).

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You know, just like the adults… with a frog suit on.

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Easter Bunny or no Easter Bunny, we had a sweet day celebrating with family.

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And everyone was pooped at the end.

 

Side note: Apparently we’ve really gotten our money’s worth with Owen’s “fancy clothes”. That red tie was featured on Easter 2012 (HOW CUTE IS LITTLE OWEN!) and the blazer on Easter 2013! I think they’ll both need to be replaced for 2015, but perhaps Emmett with be big enough for the tie by then…

She Says… Wakey Wakey and My Stylish Valentine

Oh, friends. So much to catch you up on, once again, and no time to do it. I have been starting my days too early (more to come on this later) and burning the midnight oil working for the last few weeks/months straight, and I’m burnt out. BURNT. OUT. The end is in sight, but I’m still a few weeks from becoming a normal human being again; which in turn means that this blog is a few weeks from being regularly tended. But I’ll be back, yo. Soon.

In the meantime we are back in a phase of early wake-ups thanks to a little 3.5 year old alarm clock who sometimes goes by the name “Owen”. I’ve been doing this parenting thing long enough to realize that everything is a phase (EVERYTHING), so I’m doing my best to just ride it out. But man, when I turn off my laptop at 11:30pm and then hear cries/the pitter patter of little feet/doors slamming/toilets flushing at 4:30am, it makes me a little bit cranky.

And by a little bit cranky I mean a lot.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Remember when we got the “OK to Wake” clock? And then we went through a phase when it had to be removed from his room because he was too anxious/excited about it turning green and it was actually causing him to wake up earlier? We made it through that phase after a while and the clock went back in his room. It worked beautifully until a few weeks ago when the same thing started happening. He nudged the “rules”. He began asking if he could wake up “a little earlier” to read books before his light turned green. Or he would get up at 5am to go pee and then hear cars outside and make the logical assumption that since other people were awake, that it was time to wake up. And his clock was about to turn green. And then his active little body could only sit still or “read books” for so long, and he was popping out of his bed, slamming doors, running down the hallway to peek under our door to see if our light was on, etc. For some reason, the clock has made him ask more questions than having no clock at all. And now that he has some understanding of time and how to tell time, NOT having the clock seems to leave him confused and anxious as well.

Inevitably these early morning shenanigans have woken up Emmett, and despite our best efforts (demands) for everyone to stay in their room and quiet until “the light turns green” (we still have never given in to going downstairs before the clock turns green), we’re in a dark, dark place filled with 4am potty trips and crying and negotiations/deal-making.

On one hand I wonder if he’s currently getting too much sleep. He goes to bed at 7:30pm and is almost always asleep by 7:45pm. He’s exhausted at this point and I really can’t see forcing him to stay up any later. He’s also still napping during the day (usually 2.5 hours, but recently I’ve cut it back to 2). Again, he’s usually exhausted midday and still crumbles to pieces if he misses his nap (and HELLO! I love and need those 2 hours of him napping as much as he needs them sleeping), so I can’t see doing away with it quite yet. In the past, MORE SLEEP has always beget MORE SLEEP for him. So I hesitate to change his schedule and take away sleep if what he really needs is more sleep. With Owen, more sleep has pretty  much always been the cure for… everything. But it certainly seems like his body is ready to get up for the day at 5:00am on average. And that’s just a wee bit too early for me.

On the other hand, I wonder if some of these issues are stemming from a yearning to understand time and how to tell it. I wonder if giving him more information about time will help, or hurt. I really don’t know, and I don’t know what a 3.5 year old can really grasp or understand.

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It’s a good thing he’s so darn CUTE.

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That’s his outfit for “Fancy Day” (his school’s alternative to Valentine’s Day) that he chose all by himself. No, he wouldn’t let us iron his pants.

I’m sure the sleep thing will pass, and one day when he’s a teenager and I can’t, for the life of me, wake him up to get him to school, I’m sure I will look back on this and laugh. Given the millions of other things that are battling for my attention right now, I am trying not to waste too much brain space on stressing about an issue that I have very little control over. But seriously? I would like some SLEEP.

Tips? Thoughts? Helpful tactics you have used? We already do ALL of the sleep tips like totally dark room (we have sliding shutters that seal out the sunlight like he’s locked in a windowless jail), sound machine, etc. Should I just abandon all “rules” and let the kid wake up whenever he wants? Honestly, I would consider that if he could do it without waking anyone else up, but I’m not sure that’s possible…

 

She Says… Snow days and schedules (or lack thereof)

Happy New Year!

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Apparently I needed a little vacay from the blog as well as work since I haven’t blogged since Christmas. We had a wonderful week “off” from our normal schedules (presents! sicknesses! family! more presents! short school days! SNOW!) but now we are anxious to get back to normal. Well, Benjamin and I are. Owen has no idea, but he is too. Dude gets all out of sorts when his daily routine is messed up (read: our “wonderful” week, while undeniably wonderful, was rife with uncharacteristic tantrums and whiny/sad ‘tude).

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Yesterday both boys went to school and Benjamin and I clicked away at our computers, working working working. And then the weather channels went craycray talking about the impending blizzard.

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By pickup time the snow was coming down really hard, and this morning we woke up to this.

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Lots of snow, yo. 12+”. And it’s still coming down. Daycare is still open (HALLELUJAH!), but not until 10am. So we’re having another weird schedule day that will involve a lot of shoveling as soon as Emmett goes down for a nap.

I love snow. I do. I don’t even mind shoveling (until, like, March). But my work inbox is overflowing and I have more to do than I can possibly get done in a short day. So, umm, Happy New Year?

My blog friend Meg over at Phase Three of Life has a really nice tradition of picking a theme for the upcoming year every January. I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions (except that every year since having Owen, Benjamin and I always resolve to go out more!), but I like this idea of thinking of a theme that can help guide your behavior throughout the year. Meg’s choice, Patience, totally struck a chord with me. I could easily just say, “Hell yeah, sister” (as I do almost every time I read her blog posts) and be done. What mother of a preschooler DOESN’T need patience? But there’s another word that I think I may need to hear even more than Patience.

Calm.

Work feeling crazy? Be calm.
Owen screaming his head off? Calm your voice before you talk to him.
Emmett STILL not sleeping through the night? Calm down. He will. And you will miss these days.
House a mess? Behind on laundry? Floors covered in crumbs? Take a deep breath. Be calm. It will all get done.
Mind racing with all of the things on your To Do list? CALM. Start with one.

We all need a little calm in our lives, no? I hear myself saying to Owen all the time, “Calm your body.” “Calm your voice.”. The truth is, I should take my own advice sometimes.

May 2014 be the year of Calm.

What’s your word?

She Says… A Very Happy Holiday

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So I mentioned on Christmas Eve Eve that both boys got RSV for Christmas. What I didn’t know at the time was that they would also both be hit by a stomach bug later that day (vomit central), and Owen had an ear infection on top of all of that. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all! At that point, all I wanted for Christmas was to spend a few hours not covered in someone else’s bodily fluid.

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Thankfully after a pitiful, weepy, super-sad 24 hours (this stomach bug was rough!), Owen was back up and running. Emmett’s stomach issues lingered on and off for the next two days, plaguing our Christmas with random Exorcist-style, projectile vomit sessions.

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Nonetheless, Christmas was awesome.

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Owen couldn’t calm himself down enough to nap on Christmas (too much excitement… who can blame him). Usually that is pretty much a death sentence for our day. But the holiday brought out the best in him and he had a wonderful day, entertaining one and all at our Christmas dinner with Benjamin’s family. Emmett had a great day, but decided to decorate my outfit with one final projectile vomit right before we sat down to eat dinner. Yum.

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Unfortunately Owen woke up Thursday morning to the hard truth that Christmas was over. There was no more advent calendar. No more anticipation. That was a tough pill to swallow and we had a morning full of tears and tantrums.

You can’t win ‘em all, huh?

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So now both boys are feeling better and we’re looking forward to the next holiday!

She Says… Gifts that will keep on giving

I hope your holidays were filled with cheer and happy little faces!

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And plaid, in our case.

Ours certainly were, despite a vomitrocious Christmas Eve Eve (for both boys), which meant no school on Tuesday for either one and no work for either parent, which consequently means work hanging over our heads for these precious few vacation days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

On Christmas, though, none of that mattered. A wonderful day was had by all. And somehow we avoided the massive sugar rush/meltdown/holiday craziness that I was pretty much expecting. A Christmas miracle, perhaps? Whatever the reason… I’ll take it.

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One thing I never got around to posting this year was a holiday gift guide. I always love it when others bloggers do these because it gives me some good ideas for my own kids, and I really enjoyed sharing what was going to be under our tree last year. But alas, the busy-ness of the season took over and I didn’t. And, frankly, those lists are all well and good, but we all know that sometimes kids have the weirdest reactions to things we think they’ll love, or fall in love with things we thought were pretty meh. So I thought I’d do a Top 10 of Owen’s favorite Christmas presents this year AFTER they were opened and the wrapping paper was cleaned up.

A huge shout-out to all of the grandparents and family members who filled our tree! “Santa” brought each of the boys one present and a stocking, and Benjamin and I got the boys 2 little presents each. That’s it. And still, our tree looked like this:

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There were LOTS of presents. For everyone.

Top Ten Christmas Presents for 3 1/2 Year Olds
(Links below are to the This Place is Now a Home Amazon store, where I keep lists of all of my favorite kid-related products. I get a teeny kickback if you order from these links.)

10. Walkie Talkies. This was the one thing Owen asked Santa for. He saw them in a book about construction workers and decided he had to have them. The funny thing is that in this iPhone era with texts and video chats… who needs walkie talkies?! He hasn’t yet mastered (read: CANNOT UNDERSTAND) how to hold down the button while he’s talking, so so far they are a bit of a bust. But he was so excited about them and I think once he gets the concept of how to talk, they will be really fun.

9. Pogo stick. Hilarious. Owen is surprisingly good at it! Great way to burn off some energy inside in a small space.

8. Water pen books. A laughably simple idea, and yet, he colored two entire books cover to cover and wanted to do them again and again.

7. Magnatiles.We already have Lego Duplos and MegaBlocks, but these are different enough to be completely novel. They can build super tall and bring to light lots of lessons about magnets and gravity and physics. Benjamin and I didn’t want to put them down either.

6. Leapster. Or, as Owen calls it, his “lapper”. Yes, we caved and got (asked for!) the ubiquitous kid’s tablet. Given that I am a mean parent who is really strict about screen time, I imagine there will need to be some pretty firm rules about when and how this present can be used. But it has already given us some much-needed still/quiet time and I can tell Owen is learning a lot. Also, using the stylus and touching the screen challenges his fine motor skills more than most other toys.

5. T-ball T, baseball bat and “real” catcher’s mitt. Owen loves to try to play baseball in the backyard (his favorite way is with a tennis racket and tennis ball – ha!). Given that it’s really hard to toss it to him perfectly every time, I thought a T would be a perfect present. It was too cold to really enjoy on Christmas but I think it will be a huge hit come spring.

4. Giant piano mat. ‘Nuff said. For my little budding musician whose favorite game is playing “band”.

3. Flying, screaming slingshot monkey. This silly stocking stuffer turned into one of the best gifts of Christmas. Owen can’t quite get the finger slingshot motion, but (thankfully) the monkey still screams if you throw him across the room. Owen spent a ton of time throwing him around the house and laughing hysterically when the monkey screamed. Endless entertainment… except if Emmett is napping.

2. Aquadoodle mat. I was afraid this might be too “young” for Owen, since it’s really simple and not that exciting. Boy was I wrong. He rolled around on the floor drawing for a long time. And I could leave the room knowing he couldn’t paint/color on anything other than the mat. Hooray!

1. Games. We knew this was going to be a big game Christmas, since Owen’s favorite thing in the world is to learn and play board games (and cheat… but that’s another blog post for another day). He got Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Elefun, Tumblin’ Monkeys, Hungry Hungry Hippos and Twister. We’ve played each one at least twice and he can’t get enough.

And, lest you think I’ve forgotten about my 2nd child, he got some presents too. But realistically he didn’t need any toys (since we already have more than enough for Owen), or clothes (since we have those too), so he mostly got upgraded things that weren’t very exciting (a diaper clutch for Mama, baby food containers, new bibs, fleece booties). But the one cool, new thing for the almost-6 month old set that he did get is a Go Pod. It’s a travel jumperoo that folds out like a camping chair. SUPER easy to set up and really fun to be able to pop him in it on the go.

Ho ho ho. What was your kid’s favorite present from Christmas?

She Says… Happy Holidays 2013

Santa came early this year!

FOR US: Both kids are plagued with RSV. Coughs, wheezing, runny noses and sadness abounds. Just in time for the happiest day of the year! Perhaps we’re continuing a fun family tradition, as the same thing happened last year, after two healthy fall seasons. As with last year, we’re determined not to let it get us down. Fingers are crossed that it passes sans chest x-rays and puking this year and Santa can make them forget the rest.

FOR YOU: The annual This Place is Now a Home family video Christmas card is here!

Enjoy. May you all have HEALTHY, happy, harmonious holidays with the ones you love.

 

In case you missed previous years’ videos…

- 2011
- 2010
- 2012

She Says… Giving Thanks

I know, I know, Thanksgiving was last week. But I decided to spend my long weekend relishing in my family rather than sitting in front of the computer posting pictures. And then with the excitement of the nursery “reveal” and Uh Oh Pasghettio giveaway (if you haven’t entered, go do it! You have until Sunday night to win a super cute set of wall art prints) I didn’t get to it. So here we are.

As I mentioned last week, I didn’t get to the grocery store until the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. Thankfully I got everything I needed and didn’t have to fight anybody for the plump little 15 pound turkey I snagged. Win!

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I worked from home all day Wednesday, though, and since work was so crazy I didn’t get a chance to start prepping or cooking until Thursday morning. Thank goodness for family who offered to make some of the dishes. (And thank goodness for having 2 ovens to cook in!).

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We spent the morning hanging out in our pajamas and watching the Macy’s Day parade. It is honestly one of my most favorite things to watch. Ever. Even trumps those darn Kardashians that I seem to end up watching whenever Benjamin is gone. I am pretty sure the parade is where I first fell in love with Broadway/musical theater. And that’s definitely where my love affair with the Rockettes began.

Watching it with Owen and seeing him mesmerized by the choreography and costumes and delight in the floats and the balloons made me get all verklempt.

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We hung out with both sides of Benjamin’s family. Very thankful to have family nearby to celebrate with (and grandparents who will entertain the littles while I cooked away).

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Food was cooked (all gluten free!)…

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wine was drunk (drank? drunken? drinked?)…

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food was devoured…

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bellies were full.

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The boys even got their first taste of Hanukkah (Thanksgivukkah?) as we lit candles with some of the Jewish side of the family.

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Despite the busy-ness of the season, we have a LOT to be thankful for.

 

She Says… Last Minute Lady

It’s not like me to wait until the last minute to do things.

But right now, between crazy work, crazy kids, having a crazy hardworking husband and being crazy enough to say yes to a million other things, I’m struggling.

Little Miss Usually Prepared just found herself at the grocery store at 8am the day before Thanksgiving with a list a mile long (but really mainly I NEED A 15lb TURKEY AND IT HAS TO BE FRESH BECAUSE THERE’S NO TIME TO THAW A FROZEN ONE). Yeah. I’m hosting Turkey Day tomorrow and haven’t had time to give it more than a passing thought.

I had just enough time to run the kids to school, run to the grocery store to spend my whole paycheck on all of the fixins for a delicious Thanksgiving meal, run back home and run my breast pump during an early morning conference call. In all my unshowered, yoga pants-ed glory. Glamorous, eh?

Luck was on my side, though, and I found a perfect, fresh, gluten free turkey who was just the right size. I even scored some deals on Thanksgiving essentials (maybe it pays to be a Last Minute Lady once in a while?). I think we’re going to be fine. I’m thankful that time is the main thing I’m short on right now — first world problems, I know.

And now here I sit, pumping (again) and scrambling to get as much work done as possible before the long weekend. Taking a moment to remember that all of this scrambling is for a good reason. That Thanksgiving isn’t really about the turkey. It’s about taking time away from the running and the scrambling to be thankful for all that we have.

This day will always remind me of the day before Thanksgiving in 2010 when I learned I was pregnant with Owen (who is one of the two greatest things I have to be thankful for this year!). And last year, when I was newly pregnant with Emmett but not yet sharing the news (we finally spilled the beans here).

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Hope you have your turkeys already… the grocery store was already a madhouse at 8am.

She Says… Halloween 2013, The Last of the Rainbow Costumes

As you know, we LOVE Halloween up in the This Place is Now a Home home. Benjamin and I loved it long before Owen came around, and ever since he was born I love it even more seeing the magic and craziness and silliness through his eyes.

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For Owen’s first Halloween I pimped his Bjorn out to look like this popcorn bag. Who knew that little costume would end up making the rounds on Pinterest and Babble and Buzzfeed and lots of other sites? Certainly not me! His second Halloween I could not get my act together to make a costume as I normally like to do, so we settled for a $5 dog costume from the consignment store down the street. Score. He totally loved it and couldn’t have cared less about my handiwork, or lack thereof. Last year I jumped back on the homemade train when he requested a pumpkin costume.

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Felt + hot glue + a minimal amount of sewing = my jam, folks.

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This year, knowing my costume-making time was limited with a newborn in the house, I asked him to pin down his costume idea weeks before Halloween. As anyone with a 3 year old will tell you, this is a gamble, since he could easily change his mind at any second. So when he picked what he wanted to be, we talked it up for weeks and weeks and I let him help me with the process as much as possible so he could understand that I couldn’t just magically change the costume at the last second. It worked.

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What did he request? Well, after thinking up many, many crazy and hard-to-craft ideas, he finally shouted out, “A BUTTERFLY WITH ALLLLLLL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW!”.

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And thus the rainbow butterfly idea was born.

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I love that his innocent little heart had no preconceived or gendered notions about rainbows or butterflies. I loved watching peoples’ faces as I told them that’s what my sweet 3 year old SON wanted to be. I loved watching his face light up as I added each color to the wings. The kid loves his colors.

I realized the other day as I heard Owen refer to something as a “girl thing” because it was purple that this may be our last year of uninhibited rainbow love (despite my assurance that boys and girls can like ANY COLORS). I’m so happy I could celebrate it with this costume and I don’t even care if he’s embarrassed of it years from now.

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The wings turned out just as I had imagined them. I knew I couldn’t make them out of hard plastic or cardboard because I just knew as soon as he put them on he was going to be running around full speed ahead. I was right. So I essentially freehanded a pattern of a wing shape with a little “body” in the middle and cut it out of black felt twice. Not wanting to futz around with sewing and turning it inside out and stuffing it, I pretty much just made a sandwich of two pieces of felt with 2″ craft foam in between and sewed the edges shut from the outside. Then I cut shapes out of colored felt and hot glued them on.

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In the end I needed a bit of readjusting as the straps weren’t placed quite right, but nothing a little hot glue couldn’t fix a few minutes before we headed out the door.

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Emmett tagged along as a little caterpillar (swaddle + hat we already had with a pipe cleaner made into antennae).

We all had an awesome time trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, but I was equally as pleased when Owen said, “I think we should go home. I have enough candy”.

Thankfully the sugar high has worn off since then and we’re back to our normal life. But the wings are still in full rotation in our dress-up bin.