Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Four Baby Hacks that will Make Your Life Easier

I hope you haven't come here thinking these are going to be mind blowing, out of this world never-thought-of tricks! These four things are SUPER SIMPLE (and not genius) but have helped me tremendously! I decided I'd share since us Mamas share some of the same challenges.  

1) Create TWO changing stations in your home. Most of us folks in the DFW area have been "blessed" with a two story home. (Apparently, you can squeeze 'em in tighter that way.) In my early days, I thought it would be a GREAT THING to walk up the stairs to change my baby's know, get rid of that baby weight.  Well, clearly, since G was my first I had no idea JUST HOW MUCH I'd be changing. And let's be honest friends, going up and down stairs after birthing a child IS NOT GOOD.  So I used some gifts cards and bought a whole extra set of changing materials.....pad, cover, Diaper Champ, the whole bit...and put it in our bedroom, which is downstairs. This was a HUGE help.  Not only for me, but also for our parents who were helping out a lot too.  I'm sure the babysitters appreciate it too.  



No, it's definitely not the decorative accents I ever envisioned having in my Master Bedroom, but you know ya''s a season. Do what works and makes your day easier.  This season will be over in a hot minute and I can fill it with all the breakable pretties that I want for years to come. 

2) Create a safe space to leave your baby. I will say that this DID change my world.  We went to a birthday party and my friend had a little area gated off for her son.  We dropped all the babies inside and I ate my cake with two unencumbered hands. I told my hubby: WE NEED THIS. We went home and immediately started trollin' the house for a space.  We have sort of an open floor plan, so I wasn't seeing it.  And then it HIT ME.  The stairway closet, the black hole of suitcases. 


Y'all.  I started pulling stuff out like it was ON FIRE. By the end of the day, my little cherub was enjoying his new space!!!!  


Of course the first couple times I put him in there, he fussed a little bit.  But after a couple minutes, I'd hear him having a ball with his toys! I honestly think it was good for him because it confined him a little to focus and enjoy the toys in front of him.  (Otherwise, he's quite literally running around pulling everything out that he sees.) This is such a lifesaver for me.  I can take a shower, finish a blog, take a phone call, etc. knowing that he is safe, having fun and not running in between my legs! 


Even though he could probably climb over or pull the gate down now, I think he's kinda trained or convinced that it's there to stay and he's supposed to stay inside! So my advice is FIND A SPACE in your house! Clearly, it doesn't have to be big! A closet, the laundry room, guest'll change your world! 

3) Create a play space in the kitchen.  Y'all. How much time do we spend in the kitchen? If it's not serving up one of the 3 meals, it's the 2 snacks in between. LAWD have mercy. When G was in the kitchen with me, he'd pull out my pots, pans, cutting boards, utensils, etc, and then I'd have to wash them all over again.  So I spotted this little cabinet beside my stove and had an idea....

I turned it into his very own kitchen cabinet! I got some Melissa and Doug pots and pans,utensils, plush veggies from Ikea and made a trip to the Dollar Tree and let G pick out measuring cups, spoons, and other accessories. 

I even put some popcorn kernals in one of the spice containers so it made lots of noise when he shakes it.  Don't worry, I covered the wholes with masking tape!
Greyson LOVES his little cabinet.  When I'm starting on supper, I'll ask him to come in the kitchen and cook it up! I can't tell you how much time he's spent on the floor stirring, shaking and pouring. Definitely is a great imagination activity!                           

4) Create a cabinet for baby/kid stuff only. This may sound overly obvious and simple, but wow, when I finally did this, it was such a help! I noticed all of his snacks, meds, plates, cups, and utensils were all mixed in with the "grown up" stuff.  So when I was making a meal for him, I was going to 5 different cabinets and drawers. This cabinet has everything I need for him. Snacks all in one bin. His medicine in one container. Cups, plates, spoons/forks, bibs and burp clothes.  It's a one stop shop! This REALLY helps my hubby,  parents, and babysitters when they are taking care of him! 

Hope this gave you some ideas! I'd love to hear ANY organization or easy tricks from y'all!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

December Recap!

Well, now that we're 3/4 of the way through January, I figured it was quite time to recap December of 2016.  To be honest, it's taken 3/4 of January to recover from December of 2016. Heaven help, we squeezed in as much holiday cheer and jingle as we possible could into December. We added some things to the docket that I've always wanted to do here and it was indeed a very Merry Christmas. We'll start from the beginning.

To kick off our Christmas season, my dear gal, Jorie, hosted a little pancake breakfast for the boys. The plan was to all wear our jammies and watch Christmas movies all day! What really ended up happening is the boys destroying the playroom while we ran our mouths non-stop and Fred Claus played in the background. We still had a great time and hopefully this will be a tradition. 

 Later that week, we took them to the Grapevine Christmas Light Parade.  I've wanted to go to this ever since we moved to DFW, and it was spectacular! All the floats were wrapped in Christmas lights and the downtown area was beautifully decorated and so festive! It looked like something out of a movie! We ate at a little Mexican restaurant and then lined up for the parade!

The floats were amazing! I don't know what it is about a parade, but they always remind me of home and give me that small town feel! 

G about jumped out of my arms when the lighted tractor rolled up!

This float was our favorite! It featured scenes from National Lampoon Christmas Vacation, my favorite Christmas movie! 

The parade didn't start until 7:00, which is usually G's bedtime, so I was a little nervous. But G was a great sport and loved every minute! They were definitely some tired boys by the end and slept all the way home! 

Resident tips: Downtown is SUPER crowded and people line up along the route early. Next year, we'll get there REALLY early to eat OR take a picnic supper and eat on the sidewalk. The parade lasted about an hour and a half. 

That weekend, my friend Ashley hosted a beautiful Christmas tea and the next day I hosted my second Mamas Christmas PJ Party! 

I changed up my usual menu and did a Waffle Bar! Thank you, Pinterest for the fun ideas! It was by far, one of the easiest menus I've ever done.  I whipped up the waffle batter before the guest arrived, poured it in Dixie cups, and everyone made their own waffle with their choice of toppings! So fun!

We had a blast being "off-duty" for the evening! 
 The most darling thing is that Jeremie knew (from past experience) that we'd be loud and probably wake Greyson up.  So he booked a hotel room, and took Greyson for a little manly overnight date. He even took him to the Northpark Trains, which I was a little bit jealous about, but I'm glad they got to do something new together, since I usually get to do all that! They had the best time and Jeremie spoiled him on room service.

The next weekend Jeremie's parents came to town. Coincidentally, Greyson started singing "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town"....which is pretty much what we all felt like. Quite nice to have 2 sets of extra hands.  We took them to the Prestonwood Gift of Christmas show; this was actually our first year to go!  And lemme tell you-it was INCREDIBLE. I knew it was gonna be good...because it's Prestonwood, but WOW. Santa came flying in from the ceiling. There were acts that rivaled Broadway. There flying drummers. Camels. Zebras. Apparently there were baby Llamas OH MY GOODNESS but I missed those.  There were angels that flew in from the ceiling.  And let me just say-if you fly in on a zip line as an angel, YOU'VE MADE IT. This is a MUST SEE performance! Half the show was classic Christmas tunes and the other half was the gospel presentation and Christmas Story of Jesus' birth. Breathtaking!

Pregame chat..... 
See Santa flying in on his sleigh?!
This scene of the birth of Jesus' was completely breathtaking. I had chills just thinking of majestic it must have been!
Resident tip: Tickets for this show go on sale around November and typically sell out.  We got seats in the front row of the first balcony, which I actually would recommend for small kids. No one was in front of us and you could see everything so well by being up high.  Another great feature is that childcare is offered during the performance. If you have a little one that's one the border whether they'll make it through the show or not, you can still sign them up. If they get the wiggles you can run them over to childcare at any point. (I signed Greyson up, but never had to take him...he LOVED the show!) 

Afterwards, Jeremie and I pretty much dumped the in-laws and baby off at the house, stuffed some clothes in a bag, and peeled out on 2 wheels to our annual overnight date in downtown Dallas! This was our 4th year to do this! (Including when Greyson was newborn!) We stayed at our favorite downtown hotel, The Adolphus!

We grabbed a late lunch at Ellen's Southern Kitchen (AMAZING!) and that evening went to the Twelve Days at Night exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum. It was beautiful and festive, and most of all, so good to get some one on one time with my main squeeze.

We SLEPT LATE, praise all that is Holy, and bummed around in one of our favorite areas, the Bishop Arts District. We were so hip and grabbed brunch at this place called Stock and Barrel. Listen. I meant to take a picture of this beautiful fancy french toast, but it was going going gone. It was one of THE MOST delicious meals I've ever had. J got a more savory dish and it was fine too. Food is definitely a hobby of ours and we love finding new favorites like this! Will definitely be back!

By noon we turned into pumpkins though and headed back to Plano and our little guy. ; ) 

That week was Greyson's Christmas party at Mother's Day Out. I love going to his little school parties, it makes me feel so mom-ish. When we arrived, his teachers made us all wait outside the door and they sent out the kids one by one with a little plate they had made with their footprint on it. Melting heart in 3...2....1...

Unfortunately, Greyson HAD to eat his party snack on the plate, so some of the paint came off when I tried to wipe it clean.   The teacher told us that we could seal it by putting it the oven for 20 minutes. Well, this ended up just turning the paint brown, so now my commemorative plate looks like a dirty green footprint that resembles a Christmas tree. No doubt I'll still treasure it for years to come though. 

Greyson was really tickled that he looked just like Frosty. 
Since we were going to Mississippi for Christmas, we decided to do Greyson's gifts the week before so he could enjoy them. We had a BLAST the night before playing Santa and setting everything up! 

His eyes were as big as saucers as he came down the stairs. The little boy certainly comes out in Jeremie in regards to buying Greyson's gifts.  Where one Tonka truck is good, 4 are better.  (He claims, if you're gonna do it, you have to do the "SET".) I had already picked out the Paw Patroller, so we just went with it. It was really fun this year seeing G get excited about his gifts! 

Jeremie wanted to have something that Greyson could literally SCOOP with his Tonkas, hence the cotton balls. (Again, one bag didn't suffice, we needed 3 bags of 400 cotton balls.) I understood the goal, it was cute. Until it wasn't cute anymore

I'm still finding cotton places...
 That weekend we headed to the Polar Express train ride in Grapevine. We haven't had much of a winter here this year, but let me tell you. It was POLAR Y'ALL. The HIGH that day was 30. It definitely made it feel like the North Pole, but logistically, all the layers with a toddler, OH MY. Greyson was a trooper though, and I really don't think he even noticed.

While we waited on Jorie and company, we went inside to have G's picture made with Santa. Went about how I expected. 

 We waited in line to board for about 30 minutes.  The train was so cute and decorated.  And WARM. It was about  a 30 minute ride and during the ride, they hand out "letters to Santa" you can fill out, and then Ms. Claus brings each child a silver bell (like in the book).  Super cute and fun!

The boys wanted to sit in their own seat. ; ) 

Us mamas are glowing because events like this (well, for me and Jorie at least) are like a dream come true. It's our favorite party of Mama-hood. Jeremie and Ethan are good sports and just along for the ride. In fact, J really doesn't like "characters", so Ms. Claus kinda weirded him out.
When we got off the train, they had snow machines going and we walked through a trail of Christmas trees into a tent where they had a brief Christmas show (Santa included) and afterwards handed out little cups of chocolate milk. I LOVED this event and think that next year Greyson will really take in the "magic" of it all.  Definitely glad we went. 

Resident tip: Tickets for this go on sale in July and completely sell out!  So put a reminder on your phone! We arrived super early and had our picture taken with Santa BEFORE boarding the train. I know that's not in line with the book, but....really....

We were never able to squeeze in a family photo session, so my friend Shelley and I tag teamed and set up a fun shoot for the boys!  This is the way to do it friends! We had so much fun!


The night before we headed to Mississippi, we squeezed in our FAVORITE Christmas tradition, which is riding around Deerfield looking at lights while we sip hot cocoa. 

Umm...Look at that two story snowman!!! Apparently, they didn't use their front door for the season.
This was one of my favs this year!
I'm pretty sure we had exhausted our activity resources in DFW, so it was time to head to Mississippi to see the fam!  
This was the first time we attempted to drive all the way (9 hours) and we were pretty nervous. Thanks to the DVD player and little tray that my mom gave G, he was completely content! It was amazing!

Big thanks too to Chic-fil-A and these rowdy boys who wore G out during lunch time.

We arrived at my parents' in record time.  CC immediately took him to her "new old" swing (a replica of one my grandfather built) and Pop immediately took him to the tractor! I essentially was hands free for a week.

I got to do a little hunting with my dad.  Ironcially, while Jeremie went Christmas shopping. 

We headed to J's parents for the next few days and Christmas came a early for the little guy so he could enjoy........

You can take a boy out of the country.....
We had a great time hanging out with family and getting to tote our nephew around a little bit!

I love how the sign lit up "Nice" for the grandparents and "Naughty" for the kids.....
 On Christmas Even, I let Greyson open his "Christmas Eve Box", with just little goodies. I got the idea from this blog post, and I hope to make it a tradition! It was fun to put together!

Christmas morning!
We started off our Christmas day with the usual breakfast at Jeremie's grandparents house. Our generation has BEEN FRUITFUL the past few years, and it really hit us this year how many new babies and kids we have. So special! 

We headed back to Nona and Papa's for immediate family gifts, naptime, and the 2 hour process of packing the car to head to my parents' house. It seems like no matter how much space we have, we seem to fill it to the brim. 

My parents are just 30 minutes down the rode from Jeremie's.  Makes it SO EASY on holidays! By now, Greyson had gotten the hang of this "present" thing, and was ready for Christmas #2! He was so excited when my mom unveiled his brand new grill.  

He had the best time spinning around on some exercise/balance contraption that Auntie Amy brought with her. When I heard her yell "It's like Spin the Bottle!", I had to poke my head in and figure out what she was doing with my child.
Super fun getting to hang out with my sis and brother-in-law.
My brother always NAILS it with Christmas gifts, and this year he completely shocked me with a Dak Prescott Cowboys jersey! I was SO EXCITED!
I'm hesitant to post the next set of pictures. I'm afraid that 1) My family will end up on some type of Watch List, or 2) My friends will report me to "What Not To Wear".  So the day after Christmas, my Dad, sis, and her hubby decided to go do a little target practice down at the family farm. It was HOT. Like 80. I didn't check the weather before I left, and really, it's December, right? So I literally had nothing to wear on this very warm outing. I ended up sporting my yoga pants, a National Lampoon t-shirt my mom gave me for Christmas as a joke, and....wait for it.....some Crocs. These were the ONLY shoes of my size that I found in the bottom of my childhood closet. It was like a real life version of Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases.

Nevertheless, we had a BLAST (pardon the pun).  

My sis is ready. And hilarious.

We HAD to do a selfie. #toughfaceseveryone
Because we couldn't get enough of Christmas, that night we all went to see the South MS famous Lewis lights. We were pretty close to getting kicked out, because you know, Greyson is a 2 year old among 500,000 twinkling lights.  But we made it and had a great time.

And so we LOADED up the car again.....John Deere tractor on the cargo holder in the back, and headed to Texas!  Wish I had a picture, we were like the Clampetts.

We got home and it looked like a bomb had dropped.

I don't know about y'all, but I felt a little like the porcelain figure of my Christmas decoration that lost his head. 

We finally did get all unpacked and settled back in. We stayed home for New Year's and enjoyed some friends, football, and of course, some delicious food!  

Our last pic of 2016!  What a super fun year and wild year for our family. We had many adventures, big meltdowns, lots of growing, big changes, but most of all, another year of memories in the books.