The Orange Slate

| simpler is more |
Parenting

Children’s Clothing, A Fashion Documentary, and Some Suggestions for Ethical Shopping.

June 22, 2017

Ethical Kids Fashion     

 Dressing Children Ethically 7   Dressing Children ethically 10  Dressing Children Ethically 12

A few years ago, Mark and I watched a documentary on Netflix called The True Cost. We watch tons of documentaries and this one promised to be interesting, but we didn’t really watch it because of any specific interest in fashion – I honestly knew very little about the fashion industry beforehand. It’s not exaggeratng though to say that that 90 minutes forever changed the way I think about shopping.

Ethical shopping is one of those tricky areas. I know there is so much more to fair labor laws or ethical consumerism than simply slapping standards onto factories or widespread boycotts. Especially when dealing wth countries where laws and social norms (i.e. child labor) and infrastrcture and income is so vastly different than ours, there isn’t an easy solution to so many issues. It would be the height of arrogance to say I even knew what the solution or even really what the “problem” is.

All of that is to say I don’t think any of us are going to solve the fast fashion crisis (and it is a crisis) or international child labor injustices (which is a significant aspect of, but not the entirety of, the fast fashion ethical discussion) today or tomorrow or even in our lifetimes. 

BUT.

Dressing Kids Ethically 2

Dressing Children Ethically 4

Dressing Children Ethically 3

Just because I can’t solve something neatly and slap a bow on it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a responsibility to be a better steward of the resources at my fingertips. I can’t pluck all of the children out of Bangladesh clothing factories and hand them private school educations, but I can make sure that I am spending my money thoughtfully, that I’m consuming in a way that models good stewardship for my children, that I am being consistent with our family’s values in the way that we consume and shop. 

Dressing Children Ethically 5

Dressing Children Ethically 6

In case you have been thinking about this issue as well, or in case you’ve never thought about it and are overwhelmed trying to find a starting place, here’s a very few ways I try to shop for clothing for our children a bit more thoughtfully.

  1. Buy LESS. Simply holding up a big yellow light on shopping for my children has given me enormous peace. I just try to curb the impulsive “oh my gooosssshhhh Violet would be so cute in that!”. Do I still buy impulsively on ocassion? Of course. But I try to avoid constantly acquiring new cute accessories ever time I walk through Target’s doors. I try to focus on the question of need rather than adorable (everything my babies wear looks adorable on them, so….;-) ). Do we need that right now? Do we have something similar or that will “work” equally well? Am I actually buying in season or for an event or weather that’s not really going to occur? It’s amazing what simple delay and a few occasional moments of passing over that impulsive urge to toss it in the cart will do for the budget. It also helps our home stay organized and uncluttered, so triple win!
  2. Buy clothes that will actally be worn a number of times. It may just be my little ones’ personalities, but they are incredibly resistant when it comes to clothes that are bulky or itchy or cumbersome or hindering. As in, screaming, whining, writhing, all-out-meltdowns from clothing that they dislike. And honestly, I could talk for a long time about the issues I have regarding putting our children in clothes that hinder their ability to just *play* freely and comfortably anyway. So when I’m shopping, I ask myself a few of these questions:
    1. How many times do I really think he/she will wear this?
    2. Can they play freely and comfortably in this?
    3. Can I let Violet or Miles just be themselves in those clothes or will I be ultra-picky about when this will be worn and stressed out about dirt and crumbs and wear when he/she is wearing it?No matter how cute an outfit is, if you’re child is uncomfortable in it, the numbers of times that he or she actually wears it is going to be limited. 
  3. Buy clothes that are high quality, that will wash well and last. Over time, I’ve learned which brands produce clothing that seems to last longer and wash/wear well. This relates to #1 – if clothes last longer and fade and wear slowly, the there’s less need to buy again.
  4. Buy items that can be mixed and matched easily and then be realistic about how many outfits a child needs. This is sort of like thinking in terms of capsule wardrobes for children. (If you’re interested in actual capsule wardrobes for children, Pinterest has some really helpful suggestions.) For instance, Miles had two pairs of overalls last summer that worked really well for him. He was comfortable in them and they matched every shirt he owned and he realistically wore them probably four times a week between the two pairs. We just rotated and washed. So if he’s wearing two pairs of pants four days a week, that only leaves a need for a few more outfits. This is something I’m still working on since quantity stacks up so much more quickly than I think it will, but I am trying to pair down the number of outfits we have in rotation because in reality, my children settle into the same clothing rut of 3-4 outfits that I tend towards as an adult. 15-20 outfits, most of which can be interchanged, is just silly, excessive, and means that some cloting never gets worn at all, especially at the age when children change sizes so quickly
  5. Discover some companies that engage in ethical production practices and turn to them often. I’ve compiled a list of companies I trust below to help you jumpstart the process. Is it practical to expect to know about the background, sourcing, and practices of every child’s clothing company? Not unless you have a lot more time than I do! But depending primarily on a few brands will help cut down your research time and ensure that your money is being spent on companies that you want to support.

Dressing Children Ethically 11

Dressing Children Ethically 9

Here’s a quick breakdown of brands that I trust and where I try to turn first when shopping for children’s clothing. 

  • Hannah Andersson – This company is at the top of my list. Their clothes are soft, comfortable, last better than almost anything else I’ve purchased. They also have demonstrated that they are thoughtful about their factories, sourcing, etc. The company has been around for a long time (my mom used to shop for us from their *catalogue* – remember those?) and their customer service is top-notch. They are based in Portland. Whenever I talk to someone about HA, the response is “They’re so expensive!” And if you just buy from the catalogue, they are. However, they consistently have great sales and their sales and clearance prices are absolutely competitve with other brands, especially if you do the initial work of checking sizes, planning ahead for seasons, etc. 
  • Burt’s Bees  – Cute soft clothes for babies and ethically sourced and produced. My only qualm about their clothing is that the colors and patterns seem a little boring after a while and for whatever reason, they don’t seem to wash or last quite as well as other brands. For babies that grow quickly though, their onesies and outfits are soft and perfect. The link leads to their Amazon pieces, although they have a real site also – the prices seem better on Amazon for some reason?? And who can argue with the free shipping, if you have Prime?
  • Primary.com – American-based and American-made. Primary was founded by two moms who couldn’t find clothes without ridiculous logos or labels and were frustrated by the lack of choices regarding simple basic quality play-clothes. I love the colors of their clothes and have been thrilled with everything I’ve purchased here. They run sales freqently and with a markup only slightly higher than your average Target piece, there’s no way to lose. 
  • Boden – Boden has a children’s line that is beautiful. The clothes are a bit pricey and I prefer the girl’s line to the boy’s selections, but I’ve been really happy with everything we’ve purchased here. Their sales are not as frequent but if you keep an eye on them, they can be very fruitful. 
  • Carter’s – Carter’s is, unfortunately, NOT a company that has made a particularly big deal outof sourcing or fair labor practices. So I do purchase less from them (or their lines on Amazon, which is where the link leads) than I otherwise would. However, their clothing last through washing, drying, and my children’s rough-and-tumble play better than almost any other brand (Hanna Andersson excepted – and this is a close tie). So if you’re at a point where you are simply trying to minimize some consumption while maintaing a VERY reasonable children’s clothing budget, start here. Buy some cozy sweet basics and they will wear well for an entire season (or longer. My children have rarely actually *worn out* anything from Carter’s. They just outgrow it.)

I have codes for discounts at Hannah Andersson (20% off of your first purchase), Boden (20% off of your firstpurchase), and Primary (free pjs if you spend a minimum of $50!) that I will gladly share. Just enter your email into that box on the right and I’ll send all three codes over. 

Have you watched “The True Cost?” What did you think??

Dressing Children Ethically 8

DressingKidsEthically1

 

Continue Reading

Friday Links

Random Links on a Monday.

June 19, 2017

outdoor play 3

The thing about working from home is that this actually translates to “I work from anywhere, anytime, day-or-night.” I’ve worked from countless vacations and away-for the weekends and other people’s “days off”. Then one day I realized I wasn’t sure I knew how to actually take several days in a row off. I was constantly checking in, no matter where I was or what I was doing.

kitchen decor flowers outdoor play    

I didn’t really know how to stop. Attempting to unplug from work gave me anxiety, fueled by the emails that I watched trickle in asking for this or that while I attempted to take time “away”.

So I’ve made it a goal to take some defined time completely away from work every few months, like a normal person with a normal job. My time away doesn’t necessarily perfectly correspond (or correspond at all) to our time vacationing or visiting family, depending on other factors, but no matter where I am, it has helped my state of mind SO much to just practice the fine art of checking out regularly. 

Today, I’m still in Michigan with my little guys but I’m also checking back in to my work email. I don’t ever want to take for granted how blessed I am to be able to have created this kind of schedule and possibility – that I get to be the one to feed my babies breakfast and snuggle them early in the morning and get them ready for their day while still maintaining some semblance of a career built on things that I can do well and enjoy fit around the things our family’s schedule demands and needs.

outdoor play 2
(Fun Fact: We took some of our wedding shots on this rock 4 years ago!)

links 6

All that is to say, while I had time away from work, I had a chance to catch up on lots of random bits and pieces. Whenever I’m reading or scrolling or researching or “researching”, I snag screenshots or links and throw them onto my desktop. Eventually I file these in my Evernote notebooks or pin them or whatever. I finally had a chance to do this yesterday and this post is basically a conglomeration of a bunch of cool totally unrelated things that have been sitting on my desktop, combined with a bunch of random adorable pictures of Miles and Violet playing at my parents’ home. 

granola homemad

outdoor play farm

 

This laundry room! It’s a big space but I think something similar could be done to a smaller room? (via The Home Edit Pinterest board)

This book on creativity is on my list as is Daily Rituals. I just finished Shauna Niequist’s Present over Perfect and it basically wrecked me. Like this quote: 

“I want the stuff in my life to be light, easily managed, simple, so thtat the best of my energy is free for people, dreams, creativity; so that we can make memories around the table, eating meals on those white plates; so that I can run after my kids in one of a half-dozen striped shirts;  . . . How we live matters nad what you choose to own will shape your life, whether you choose to admit it or not. Let’s live lightly, freely, courageously, surrounded only by what brings joy, simplicity, and beauty.”

 

On the fiction front…I’m struggling. I feel like I’m getting my fiction fix mainly from tales like King Jack and the Dragon (which, by the way, I’ve accidentally memorized. So I’ll find myself doing the laundry or making beds or something and all of a sudden, I’m chanting “Jack, Zak and Caper were making a den . . . .”) Love the book. DON’T love having it emblazoned in my brain. 

outdoor play farm 2

On a side note, I’ve finally committed to using my Kindle app on my phone more consistently for reading and I’m reading quite a bit more. It’s a tiny screen and kind of a pain, but I’m not comitted enough to e-reading to purchase something bigger yet and it helps me make the most of those random minutes. I don’t love being on my phone to read because I feel like it’s a bad example or something to my little guys, but I’ll figure that out later. For now, I’m reading actual books at a pretty fast clip again and it’s magic.

I’m trying to figure out ways to turn our very suburban square four-fence backyard into something that looks like this. Too optimistic that it could happen in the next 8 weeks?;-)

Now that I’m almost finished with the kitchen cabinets, I’m gathering ideas to make our super-boring hallway a room that I like more (can you like a hallway?). This hallway is so casual and cute. (via House Mix Blog) 

I made granola last week with this recipe, but I used melted butter instead of coconut oil. It was perfect – light, crunchy, flaky. I may never buy cereal again. 

I love love love her travel photography of her children. 

Continue Reading

Travel

26 Tips for Flying with Toddlers and Babies.

June 15, 2017

Toddler Travel Tips       

 

Flying witha toddler - 7

 

Flying with a toddler - 8 

 

My 2 and 1-year old have flown quite a bit already. At last count, Miles, who will be 3 soon, has been on 28 flights while Violet has been on 13. Most of them have been domestic flights and none of them have been overseas. But we definitely have had time and practice for establishing a system and “best practices” for our time in airports. 

 

Our last flight was maybe the first time I’ve flown with one or both of our little ones and felt like “Hey, we’ve got this!” Mark and the rest of us flew out on separate flights, but went to the airport together and were able to spend our pre-airport time in one of DFW’s airport lounges which made the whole trip a lot more exciting and fun (even for the grownups;-))  . I am that crazy mom that never lets my kids touch the toys in the waiting area or the play area of the restaurant or whatever, but in line with my philosophy about normal household rules being suspended during air travel, I let Miles and Violet play in the kids area of the lounge and they went to town on the fun toys and cushions. 

 

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything about traveling with little guys, but I feel like we do it constantly, so here’s a random collboration of some of my best tips. I’ve also written about flying with infants here and here before, but flying with two toddlers (mostly as a solo parent), is a different ball-game, so it probably merits its own list.

 

I’d love to hear from you – what did I miss in this list? What is your best tip for flying (especially solo!) with little guys? 

 

Flying with a toddler - 4

Flying with a toddler-9

 

Planning

 

1. When traveling, I read somewhere once that the easiest way to deal with schedules and naps when traveling is to stick to a regular schedule as closely as possible and to use the time-zone of the destination.

2. So if we’re flying during naptime, I plan for naps on the plane. It’s a great way to kill time. The caveat is that my babies have always been pretty reasonable about falling asleep on the plane if it’s near naptime or bedtime. If your toddler or baby will not nap on an airplane, then fly early enough to make naptime irrelevant or fly late enough so that they can nap before-hand.

3. Once we land, we use that time zone. So if we fly from Dallas to California and it’s two hours early, bedtime is still as close to 8:00 as I can push it (even though the little guys will feel like it is 10:00). There is obviously always some flexibility here but it helps to have the new time zone as a goal-post and kids normally adjust to a new time zone very quickly. Adding an extra meal or a snack into the day sometimes helps get us to a bedtime that’s later than it should be.

We have never been one of those families that buys the seat for the infant. If you are, you’ll want to bring your car-seat on board instead of your stroller (see below). All of the advice below is applicable mostly if you have an infant-in-lap or an infant-in-lap and a toddler in a seat.

 

Flying with a toddler - 1

 

Packing

4. Most airlines will let you carry a dedicated bag for each child for free, plus your personal bag and/or carry-on. My advice? Don’t. Unless you have one adult whose entire purpose is that of a sherpa. The last thing you need when flying with little ones is a ton of stuff to juggle. I normally carry one generously sized personal bag and put everything we need for the flight (AND ONLY THE FLIGHT) in it. Sometimes I tuck a small purse inside so that I can more easily access my wallet and personal things, sometimes not.

Less is more. Unless you are going to be on a looooong flight, be brutally realistic about how much stuff you need in that one bag

5. Essentially, DO carry:

Enough bottles, formula, milk etc. for the actual flight time as well as the pre-boarding and luggage-waiting (and post-airport drive if that’s long).

  • A couple of diapers and wipes
  • An extra onesie or small outfit, because they day you don’t will be the day you have a disaster during take-off. Also, if you have plans immediately after landing, you can easily change their clothes and shed the airplane yuckies without digging into your luggage.
  • A FEW familiar toys for the flight. Wooden bead necklaces, small board books that can be cleaned later, and our Viking vehicles are always a big hit, as well as any naptime toys or blankets that are the norm (if you want the kiddos to nap)
  • Small snacks. It’s easy to go over-board here. Snacks are essential but small kids eat small portions. Bring food that isn’t sticky or ultra-messy. Goldfish, cheerios, pretzles, dried fruit, etc. Double points if they can hold it while they eat.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes. I love these.
  • Empty water containers to fill after security for the little guys. We have these toddler-size Contigo jugs for water. They never leak and even Violet, who refuses to use a straw, likes to use hers.
  • A water bottle for the parent or parents. 
  • A phone charger.
  • Your phone.
  • Headphones if your kiddo will wear them. 
  • A trashbag (see below)
  • An empty ziplock to store anything particularly soiled
  • A nursing cover, blanket, or sarong for nursing babies.

6. DO NOT carry:

  • An absurd number of diapers that you will never use. The likelihood is that you will not be stuck in the airport for 3 days. If you are, airport shops carry diapers. Plan accordingly.
  • Tons and tons and tons of extras. The frustration of sorting through too much stuff will always outweigh the convenience of that one tiny thing that you brought just in case and actually used that one time.
  • Toys that make noise.

7. The one thing I do always pack is a trashbag, because who wants to use those airport changing pads? This probably makes me the weirdest parent in the world but ohhh my gosh never. I find a dark empty airport corner, lay out a trashbag, lay the changing pad on top of it, and voila. Diaper changing station. When we’re done, I just flip the trashbag inside out so that it’s ready for another emergency change if one arises.

8.We normally check our carseats with our luggage. Is this remotely risky, since the airline could lose them? Sure, but they could lose them at the gat too. If we were traveling overseas, we might not do this, but for domestic flights, it has never been a problem. If the toddler (Miles is) is big enough to require a purchased seat, I just let him sit in the seat, buckled, without a carseat. If your children are the kind that will happily sit in those little stroller wheely things and you can check your stroller, or you definitely want your toddler in a car-seat, great. I always prefer to fly with my ultra-light, collapsible stroller.

 

9. This is where the magical carseat bags come in handy. I love ’em. I’ve tried a few different brands, but these bags are cheap, durable, and great. Use them a few times and then replace them. I love arriving, knowing that I’m puting my kids in clean {to them} carseats, rather than seats that have been touched by who-knows-who and placed who-knows-where. Yeck. If you are concerned about your carseat getting tossed around, just attach some packing material to it inside the bag to cushion any falls.

10. TSA will let you carry bottles through security. They get a little annoyed once you start hauling jugs of milk for toddlers through, but if you have a baby and a toddler, you can normally pull off an extra cup of milk (I like to bring my own along because it’s hard to find whole milk in the airport EXCEPT at Starbucks, which always carries it). However, if you pack things in small amounts, they won’t even make you open the bottles. For two toddlers, I normally take two empty water bottles/cups to be filled after security and two milk cups, which TSA check’s with their little magic wand things.

11. I also never travel with my computer in my carry-on these days. 1. It’s a completely useless appendage on the plane with two little ones and 2. It’s another thing to pull out during security. We don’t own an iPad (yet?), so the only electronic I have with us is my iPhone.

 

Flying with a toddler - 2

 

Flying with a toddler -5

 

Security

12. Go through the Global Entry process and get TSA pre-check approved. Children under 12 can fly with parents or guardians that are TSA pre-check approved

13. Make SURE that the gate agent places your pre-check approval on your boarding pass, “infant on lap” on your boarding pass if you’re flying with a child sharing a seat, and “pre-check” on the boarding passes of any other children under 13. We’ve experienced several variations of mistakes made on this front. One of them resulted in me waiting in line at security with a toddler and a six-week-old, discovering that my infant wasn’t on my boarding pass at all, and returning to the front desk after waiting for 20 minutes in a security line. NOT FUN.

But once you are TSA pre-check approved, security becomes SO much easier with little guys. You just literally walk on through. They check the liquids and the stroller. Bam. All done. 

 

14. Buy a light stroller. We like to keep our baby equipment pretty minimal, so our main stroller is this double Zoe, which is light and easily folded and unfolded with one hand. It makes flying with two minis a cinch. If you normally use a heavier stroller, make sure you travel with one that is light. Several of the airlines have changed their stroller regulartions and will only let you take light small strollers to the gate. On our first flight with Violet, American Airlines had just changed their rules and took our stroller, leaving us to carry both kiddos through DFW.

 

Boarding

 

15. If you have a toddler that can walk, use the time right before boarding to let him run, jump, spring, whatever. Burn some energy. 

16. I normally change baby diapers immediately before boarding so that I can avoid an in-flight change if at all possible.

17. I also normally do a quick assessment of my bag at this point to make sure the things I need at the beginning of the flight haven’t shifted into the dark depths of my bag.

 

18.If you have a baby, board with him or her in a carrier or wrap so that your hands are free for your toddler, stroller, bag, whatever. Our Ergo has been ridiculously valuable for this – I have used it for boarding past 1 year with both Miles and Violet. I put Violet on my back for the first time during this last trip and she loved it. If your kiddo will sit contentedly on your back, even better.

 

19.Miles normally sits in the stroller until the end of that boarding passageway. He has flown a ton and is super accustomed to boarding and all of that, but if you have a toddler that tends to run, this is where it’s a good idea to maybe hand him off to the flight attendants while you fold up the stroller. Either way, fellow passengers are normally enormously understanding and helpful for those occassions when I’ve needed an extra hand.

 

20.Once we get to our seats, OCD parent that I am, I whip out an anti-bacterial wipe and wipe down the backs of the seats, the armrests, the window (BECAUSE THEY WILL LICK THE WINDOW) and the trays. Am I weird? Oh yes. But it gives me a slight peace of mind on the flight to know that I at least tried to clean off the millions of creepy airplane germs as Violet frantically tries to eat the armrest.

 

Flying with a toddler -3

 

Flying

 

21.The airlines won’t let you keep an Ergo or any kind of carrier with a clip or buckle attached during take-off. When I’ve had little babies, this has been an issue because sometimes they’re asleep and WHY WOULD YOU WAKE UP A SLEEPING BABY AT THE BEGINNING OF A FLIGHT? If this happens, just unlatch the latch behind your neck. Your baby will think he or she is still cozy and secure and the attendants can’t argue with this.

 

22.The beginning of the flight is the best time to nurse or give your baby a bottle if it coincides with their normal schedule. It will alleviate any ear pressure during take-off and mine normally fall asleep which is a double win.

 

23. Now that Violet is older and only nursing during a couple specific times of day, our system is a little different. Miles gets headphones (wireless – how cool is my 2-year-old) and my iPhone once we take off. He snuggles up with his paci and stuffed elephant and tends to be perfectly content that way for at least an hour. This is what happens when you starve your children of technology during normal days.;-)

 

24. Unless it’s time for her mid-day nap, in which case she’ll nurse and fall asleep, Violet is pretty content to play on my lap, read a book with me, sing, snack, whatever. She’s 14 months though and this is honestly THE WORST age for flying. When they don’t have their own seat, they want to crawl and climb, and they can’t move. It’s torture for everyone involved. Just keep them occupied and entertained. Snacks always help. At this age, a bottle or paci during take-off will still help with ear pressure.

25. If you can take advantage of airport lounges, do so. Depending on the individual airport USO policies, military families can often access the USO even when not flying with a military spouse. Check the benefits list on your credit card. You may be able to access one of the other airport lounges. The extra space to let little ones burn off some pre-boarding energy, the slightly-more-private space – totally worth it with kids.

26. Make flying fun! Bring snacks and juice treats that aren’t usually allowed. Break the household electronics rules. Sing. Play silly games. Chances are that your little ones will love flying. It’s a huge adventure for them. They love the activity, the vehicles, the novelty. Miles talked about our last flight every day for two weeks before we boarded. Just relax. Flying with kids can be stressful and it is definitely a lot of work, but with a little preparation (and a lowering of all germaphobe standards, Hi Self), it can be just another memorable experience you and your little ones get to enjoy together. 

 Hungry for some more ideas? Hailey writes a lot about their family’s current travel project and this post about a day in Paris with a toddler is full of great general trips for traveling with toddlers while Ashley Ann’s posts about traveling with her kids are just incredible, period. 

 
Flying with a toddler - 6
 
 

Continue Reading

Food

The Only Frittata Receipe You May Ever Need.

June 6, 2017

  Frittata_Breakfast_4

 Frittata_Breakfast_7

Breakfast has always been taken seriously in our home. We have always used slow mornings to make a big breakfast or to saunter over to one of our favorite breakfast spots. Because of this spring’s weird work schedules  (and mostly because of Mark’s travel schedule), big breakfasts and slow mornings on Friday have recently become a dependable, comforting routine around here. 

Normally I will mix up some waffles (with Miles’ eager assistance). We’ll add fruit and yogurt and pour-over coffee and then we’ll bask in the coziness of our almost-weekend, almost-another-week-in-the-books morning before the day begins to roll. Mark and I will linger over the table and sip our coffee. Miles and Violet will wreak havoc in the living room, wandering back occassionally for another bite of something. 

Frittata_Breakfast_8

Frittata_Breakfast_5

Frittata_Breakfast_6

This past Friday, I added a frittata to the spread. The frittata was perfect. Other things that morning? Not so much. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I burned my hand in an idiotic move trying to style the table for a shot before we sliced in it. Next, the syrup bottle shattered in the microwave. 

Meanwhile, we’ve been painting our kitchen cabinets and so our kitchen around the styled Instagram shots actually looks like a construction zone, with every cabinet at a different stage of priming or painting. 

BUT. After attending to the burn and cleaning up the glass, we sat down to THE MOST DELICIOUS FRITTATA. Seriously, add this one to your arsenal. The salami adds just the right touch of salty crunch to it and the potatoes edge it just a little closer to a satisfying hash. 

Frittata_Breakfast_2

Frittata_Breakfast_3

The Only Frittata Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 a red onion, chopped finely

1 cup frozen chopped potatoes

3 tbs. olive oil (I normally use this kind)

7 eggs

1/2 whole milk

1/2 grated parmesan cheese + a bit of reserve to sprinkle on top.

1 tsp. pepper

5-7 slices of hard salami, chopped

1 tbs. oregano (I use fresh, but 1 tsp. dried can substitute)

 

Instructions

Heat up the olive oil in a large oven-proof saucepan . Make sure the pan is coated thoroughly. Add the onions, garlic, and frozen potatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Saute until the potatoes are browning and the onions are transparent.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 of cheese, and pepper together. Add the chopped salami and oregano to the pan. Allow it to saute for 1-2 more minutes.

Add the eggs, stir the mixture gently, and let it cook on medium heat until the eggs begin to set at the eggs. Sprinkle the remaining reserved cheese on top and move the pan to the oven.

Cook for 11-13 minutesin the pre-heated oven or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. After removing the frittata from the oven, allow it to sit for 3-4 minutes before serving. 

________________

Sources:

Potato-Onion Frittata (via Martha Stewart)

This Vegetable Frittata (via Bona Vita)

Greens, Eggs, and Ham Frittata (via this issue of BHG)

Frittata_Breakfast_1

 

Continue Reading

Photography

Balloons and Pom-Poms.

April 26, 2017

If you are not the kind of person who likes cupcakes, baloons with confetti INSIDE, the happy spring colors of green and pink, adorable babies, and snap-happy mothers, skip to the next post. You’ll want to skip this one. 

In the randomest of trivia, both of my children’s birthdays fall on holidays in 2017. Violet’s first birthday fell on Easter and during a trip to Michigan so we celebrated with the sweetest family-and-friends-like-family party the day before Easter, on a day that magically turned into a freakishly sunny, warm day.  (leading to a birthday present in the form of a first sunburn, no less). 

Spring baby birthday_1

 

babygirlbirthday4

 

springbabygirlbirthday3

 

babygirlbirthday5

 

I love first birthdays (and baby birthdays) around here for many reaons. Probably part of this has to do with the fact that we tend to invite very few actual other children (part of this has evolved naturally from the timing of my children’s birthdays, which have historically made it hard to track down available little friends) and instead, we turn it into a fun mostly-adult party – win all around. 

Miles’ birthdays, which he shares with America, have always been so fun to plan and decorate for, but there is just something about a spring birthday for a baby girl. I may have gone a litte overboard shoppig Amazon’s party section, but the result was just as dreamy and blossom-y as I could have hoped.

 babygirlbirthday13

babygirlbirthday17

 

 

babygirlbirthday16

  babygirlbirthday19

My mom had these little cup-cake topper ladies tucked away for an appropriately festive occassion and what is possibly more fairy-like than a little girl’s flower party? I tried a new cupcake recipe and my mom applied her frosting magic.

I don’t love the present-opening scene at childrens’ parties and we are attempting to only bring toys into our home very intentionally, so we requested that guests just bring their merry selves (a request with which people mostly happily complied). My parents gave her a special gift, her very first real doll; Mark’s parents sent flowers; Mark and I and a few family members had a few special little gifts for her that we gave her at different times during the week, but it was honestly so relieving to not add frantic present-shopping and wrapping to my to-do list and to be able to focus on the event and the food and the people.

babygirlbirthday24

babygirlbirthday20

(Probably important to note that I was just snapping pictures of people mingling on the deck and Violet spontaneously began practicing her princess wave. It was equal part hilarious and concerning.)

babygirlbirthday15

babygirlbirthday14

My poor children. We’re totally doing this for all of the rest of the birthday parties forever. 

Violet, who hates all headbands and hats, refused to cooperate and wear her pink polka-dot party hat. 

babygirlbirthday8

babygirlbirthday9

babygirlbirthday10

babygirlbirthday11

Miles and Violet look they are plotting an escape here. “Just keep smiling, girl. We’ll sneak out the back door in about 14 second here when they blink.”

babygirlbirthday15

I’ve listed most of the sources and/or similar items below in case you want some party inspiration to show up at your door. Bonus tip: if you want to keep a baby or toddler occupied for hours, just order a few of those fluffy pom poms and toss them around. Need a birthday present? Show up bearing a dozen. You’ll be the favorite parent at the party. Violet would have been perfectly content to chase them all day.

Sources:

*Pom-poms

*Balloons with confetti (similar)

*Streamers (similar)

*Party hats

babygirlbirthday26

babygirlbirthday27

babygirlbirthday25

babygirlbirthday23 

Continue Reading

Life

Spring 2017: A 90-Second Update.

March 29, 2017

Spring update - 2017 

Backyard play

simple home spring simple play 8  

 

 Oh, this old thing? Just a quick blog update because I know you’re DYING to know exactly how we spend every second of our day. All of your burning questions about our closets, our bookshelves, our pantry? Answered below. What other better way could you possibly spend the next 90 seconds?

BUT. There is actually a little coupon thingy for our loyal-est fans below, so ready-set-GO. 

Reading:

Violet and Miles: All of our DK Touch and Feel Books (Violet’s current favorites), King Jack and the Dragon (Miles’ current favorite), and I Am a Bunny (Mom’s favorite to read out loud). 

Emily: Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways and Shauna Neiquist’s Present Over Perfect (on my Kindle app).

Cooking: Lots of quick pasta combinations, different vegetables and hummus, and different toppngs on toasted English muffins or Naan bread as Mark is traveling every week for work and my patience for cooking elaborate meals for me and two littles is nil. I’ve been trying to put a lot of care into our weekend meals to make up for all of the lost family meal-time and I love this frittata chart for help putting together a yummy breakfast.

Enjoying:

Emily: Naptime! My coffee. Watching my little herbs and flower pots flourish. I also love watching Miles and Violet learn to communicate and play. 

Miles has discovered the magic of play-dough and will play with it alone and quietly for loooooonnnngggg periods. Violet loves to bang her toy hammer violently on the toy piano. Both are pretty fascinated by Mom’s ability to blow really  “biiiiiigggggg” bubbles (as Miles says) and our yard is currently like a bubble bottle graveyard. 

Simple play 6

Simple play 4

Wearing:

Emily: AE jeans (or my favorite Calvin Klein pair, snagged from Costco! These are similar.) and a comfy tee from Target or Gap most days. I’m working on organizing a semi-capsule closet for the summer for myself and the kids.

Miles: We’ve begun the overalls rotation of 2017. Last year, we rotated two pairs basically all summer. It was the easiest system for dressing a busy toddler. This spring, I’m rotating a khaki pair, a jean pair, and a long pair sort of like these. I loved Primary’s long tees for kids this winter and just ordered short ones for the warm weather. Then it’s just mix-and-match all summer long! 

(TIP: Primary is giving a free pair of pajamas to a few of my friends whose order totals $50 or up (the free shipping limit!). I’ll pass along the gift to the first 10 people who send their email to emilymamccord at [geemail] dot com (and I’ll benefit too, so thanks in advance!). 

Violet: Dresses from Hannah Andersson, leggings from Primary, all of the cute Carter’s onesies. I realized that the unfair advantage that we give boys begins young, as I keep trying to put Violet in cute dresses that trip her up as she crawls instead of a simple leggings/onesie outfit. Fortunately, I have an opinionated 11.5 month old and she lets me know in no uncertain terms when she hates her dress/headband/stupid skirt.

Watching: 

Emily: Gilmore Girls. I’m binging every evening while I work out, work on scrapbooks, whatever. I miss sharing time and tea and our shows with Mark, but I’m making the most of my solo evenings!

Miles: Curious George, on repeat. There are two specific episodes that he prefers and we watch these over and over and over during his allotted 30 minutes of evening screen time. (Should he have any screen time? Probably not. Does this seem like a reasonable compromise? Yes.)

Violet: Mama’s karaoke skills and her brother’s tricks. (No screen time for babies around here until 2. Or 30. Or something.)

Simple play 5

Children playing piano.

Wishing: 

Emily: That our pool would hurry up and open!

Violet: That she could run after Miles. Soon enough, girly!

Miles: That Mom wasn’t SO BORING and would let him eat ice cream for dinner every night. Sorry, kid. 

 

Continue Reading

Home

A Simple Cleaning Routine for Spring (and a free guide).

March 13, 2017

simple cleaning routine 1

   

simple cleaning routine 4

 

Keeping a home clean and tidy with two toddlers (or any amount of children of any age!) is not for the faint of heart. I have become frustrated on numerous occasions when I start to feel like a hamster on a wheel – moving from one room to the next cleaning just in time for new messes to spring up. I don’t think housekeeping is less challenging when one parent is home full-time, but my work-from-home schedule means that I have to be very thoughtful about what I am doing when, which has helped me to be disciplined about establishing a cleaning routine.

Our current routine seems to be working for now and has give me a lot of peace of mind. I have certain tasks defined for certain days, but a flow that makes it easy to move chores around if something unexpected arises. Also, if something falls completely through the cracks, I know it will get taken care of soon anyway. 

Spring seems like just the right time to start re-thinking through home systems that may not be working or may need a refresh, so I’ve outlined our home’s systems below to inspire you. I’ve also created a customizable guide for you to use – click here to access it (if you’re already subscribed, it will magically appear in your inbox tomorrow!).

Right now, I have a weekly schedule pinned in my kitchen that includes 3 lists:

  • Daily tasks (basic room maintenance, things like dishes and sweeping that should happen almost every day)
  • Days of the week with cleaning tasks for those days.
  • Monthly (or less frequent) tasks that need to be occasionally tackled, but don’t merit weekly attention.

Daily Tasks

Daily tasks include things like making the beds, doing a quick clean of the main sink/toilet area, cleaning the kitchen after meals, sweeping after dinner, etc. Every day I also make sure that I full wash, dry, and fold at least one load of laundry. Having a list of daily chores helps prevent total chaos from setting in and frees me from constantly wondering whether I should keep cleaningor if things can wait. If there are a couple of loads of laundry to be done, but I’ve already done one and things are busy, I can just mentally check that chore off until the next day, knowing that today and tomorrow I’ll keep working through the dirty.

simple cleaning routine 2

Weekly Tasks

I’ve done this system differently through the years. When we first got married, all of our cleaning would happen on one day. When we first moved into this house, I tried to “batch”, by vaccuuming one day, mopping another, tidying another – this system outlined below is the best one I’ve found for right now. I don’t feel like I’m constantly trying to keep up or catch up and if something gets missed, I just take care of it the next day and roll everything forward by one day. In general, following this little schedule has kept our house at my “happy level”* of clean without too much stress. It also takes into account our busy days, days I run certain errands, Mark’s schedule for certain days, etc. 

I separated our main, primarily used areas into Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday cleaning sessions and do all of the cleaning for each area on the designated day. On Monday for instance, I dust, vacuum, and steam** the living room. 

On Tuesdays, I meal-plan and order groceries (if I’m ordering that week) or I go to Costco with the kids in the afternoon.

I designated Wednesday as my paperwork/receipt/bills/whatever day and I pick up groceries if I’ve ordered.

Thursday is our biggest laundry day. I start early and no matter how much laundry is in there, I make sure that the room is empty by the end of the day with everything folded, dry, etc. I also take some time on Thursday to clean the washer and dryer bodies, dump out the trash can, and sweep and steam the laundry room.

On Friday, I change all of our sheets and knock out a few big occasional chores. I also take an opportunity to sweep up any rooms that may be collecting dirt or dust.

Over the weekend, I deep-clean our main bathroom and maybe do an extra sweep of major areas or an additional big monthly chore if there is time.

simple cleaning routine 3

Room Cleaning Routine

When I say I “clean” a room, I generally do the following:

  • Pick up and put away clutter
  • Use a cleaning cloth and damp water (or this oil soap on wood furniture) to quickly dust major open surfaces. 
  • I use this feather duster to dust shelves, nooks that have more “stuff” on them, lamps, gallery walls, etc. 
  • I use this duster to dust both sides of blinds, high corners, and floorboards as well as to quickly sweep beneath any furniture. 
  • I use my steamer to clean the floors (sweeping first if there are a lot of dust or dirt partcles).

This sounds like a lot, but all of the steps outlined above except the steaming take me no longer for any given room than 2 or 3 minutes. Steaming takes maybe 5 minutes for our largest room. 

Also, knowing exactly how I clean has allowed me to slim down the cleaning supplies I keep around to just a few basics, which the clutter-buster in me LOVES.

Ready for a guide? Here is  a free customizable planner to help you refresh your home’s cleaning routine.

So now I’d love to know – what is the most challenging part of keeping your home tidy for you? Or do you have a schedule that just magically works? Tell me below!

*This is different for every one and every stage. Some would probably be shocked at things I’ve left off or the infrequency of certain chores, others by how often I do certain things. This is just some encouragement to try systems until you find the one that works for you and your home. 

** For some, this would be mopping and not all rooms necessarily need to be mopped every week. But I absolutely swear by my Bissell Symphony steamer. The heat ensures that the floors are really deep-cleaned and it’s as quick as vacuuming. If a room is particularly dirty, I might sweep before running it. I used to get really frustrated by how long it took me to truly deep clean floors and how dirty they immediately got, but the steamer has changed this completely. It’s paid for itself so many times over – it’s honestly saved me dozens of hours by this point!

Continue Reading

Food

Easy Weeknight Lentil Stew.

March 4, 2017

 Easy Weeknight Lentil stew

Soup and weeknight cooking are two things that get an unfair rap. This is entirely unnecessary when something as wonderful as The Kinfolk Table’s Four Corners Lentil Stew exists. This is a recipe that boasts three particularly positive qualities:

  • 12 minutes of hands-on time.
  • 40 minutes from cupboard to dish. 
  • Scrumptious.
  • Healthy.
  • Did I mention that it takes 40 minutes?

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbls. olive oil
  • 3-4 cups of water
  • A few cubes of chicken bouillion or chicken broth
  • About 1/2 a cup, or a splash, of whatever white wine is open
  • A lemon
  • 15 oz of crushed tomatoes (or, in my case this week, some whole tomatoes that need to be used up and a little bit of paste)
  • 1 tbl. cumin
  • 1 tbl. garlic
  • 1 tbl. ginger
  • Cilantro (or not, again, as in my case this week*)
  • Flatbread

Mince the onion. Toss it into a pot with the olive oil on medium heat and allow the onions to cook until transparent. Slice the lemon into medium-thin disks. At this point, if you’re using these cubes, unwrap four and heat in two cups of water (about 3 minutes in the microwave) until the cubes are mostly dissolved. If you’re using chicken broth, skip this step and drink some wine while you wait for the onions to cook.

After the onions have cooked for a few minutes and are transparent, toss in the cumin, garlic, and ginger. Wait about 3 minutes or until the spices start to become really fragrant. Then add the crushed tomatoes (or about two cups worthof whatever tomatoes you have lying around.) If you use whole tomatoes instead of canned, be sure and add a few tablespoons of tomato paste or sauce as well. Add the broth, about 1/2 cup of wine, and additional water, totaling 4 cups of liquid. The ratio of broth-wine-water does not need to be exact. Toss in about 4 of the lemon disks.

lentil stew 2

Cover the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a medium simmer. Chop about 1/2 cup of cilantro. After about 30 minutes, or once the liquid is mostly absorbed, turn off the heat. It can sit for about 45 minutes before being served or you can serve it immediately. Serve with a generous toppig of cilantro and some warm flatbread.

This soup freezes well, can be doubled easily, and makes a great lunch the next day. The portions above make about 3 generous meal-size servings and could probably serve 5 adults if not served as the main course.

*In these photos, there’s a dollop of pesto on the soup rather than cilantro because it was all I had on hand. It was fine, but cilantro would have been better. 

Continue Reading

Home

10 Suggestions for Simplifying.

February 24, 2017

 Simplifying3

Simplifying4   

Simplifying is always on my mind – how can I make this less complicated? More streamlined? I want more time, less “to-do”, ya know? Minimalism is the hottest trend since pancakes, but I’ll never achieve true minimalism. And I don’t particularly want to. But I do want to continually ensure that our possessions are items that we actually need, use, and love, that we aren’t just storing stuff that we will never use. For me, it’s an issue of stewardship and of focus. 

If I have less, I have less to care for, organize, clean, and thus, more time to spend on the things that matter to me. I’m less distracted and I can simply enjoy our home and life more.

I’ve noticed though that sometimes I’m even over-complicating my pursuit of the simple. So I thought I would share a few practices in our home that I rely on consistently to keep things simple, keep us moving forward, keep us connected. Hope you enjoy! What are some practices you would add to this list?

Simplifying6

Regularly shed clutter. 

“One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity.” – Marie Kondo

Scheduling an enormous spring-cleaning purge may be cathartic, but I’ve found that my heart and home benefit more from simple consistently shedding things. Do I keep passing up the same shirt in my closet? I toss it into the donation pile. Do my kids keep ignoring the same toy? I hide it to see if it will be missed and then donate it. The likelihood of deeply regrettingthis process is low; the reptition will improve the practice; slowly your home will become less filled with distracting piles of stuff you don’t use and never will and more filled with things that bring you joy and items you truly use.

Practice a routine. 

“We become what we think about.” – Earl Nightingale

A routine is not the same as a schedule. A routine helps eliminate the overwhelm of choice and gives your day momentum. For instance, almost every day, my morning looks like this:

Wake up. Make coffee. Drink a cup of coffee. Nurse Violet. Feed my kiddos breakfast. Get everyone (including myself) completely dressed and ready for the day. Make beds and clean up the kitchen and bathroom. Performing the same basic activities every morning helps to propel all of us into the day. Hesitation and listlessness seem to breed frustration and grumpy hearts while a sense of direction and purpose put all of us in a better mood. 

Simplifying5

Enjoy daily rituals. 

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin

A ritual can be part of a routine, but it is not the same thing. A ritual is something done regularly that fuels your heart, body, and or mind. Some of our family’s rituals include:

  • My cup of coffee in the morning
  • Snuggle time with our babies first thing in the morning.
  • Reading a short devotional together. 
  • Reading stories to my little ones before bedtime (this is a great way to introduce kiddos to Bible stories!). 
  • Summer evening walks after dinner.
  • Enjoying cups of tea together after our babies are in bed.

Rituals provide moments throughout the day for decompression, connection, and slowing down. I can be swamped with work and our schedule can be filled to the brim, but if a few of these rituals are scatted through my day, I still feel as if I have margin. Start by writing out a few of your favorite daily moments. These are probably your rituals, or some of them. Begin to prioritize them, to build your day around them, to use them as moments to connect with your loved ones. 

(A quick note on rituals and children: Kim John Payne has some wonderful suggestions for establishing rituals with children in his book, which I HIGHLY recommend!)

Reduce choices on things that don’t matter. 

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

8 different kinds of mascara, five different brands of creamer, 5 breakfast options, 18 different pairs of pants – an abundance of choices isn’t necessarily beneficial. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. I’ve slowly begun the process of elmininating the quantity of choices I need to make every day. I have certain brands of makeup and personal care for me and my children that I know we like so I just stick to buying those when we *actually run out* rather than constantly trying out new products. For instance, we’ve begun offering limited choices for meals, especially breakfast, for both ourself and our kiddos and it has reduced the morning/meal craziness immensely. Menu-planning has helped me make grocery and meal choices once a week rather than having to make 12 different decisions afternoon at 4:00 p.m. (Do I go to the store? Do we go out? What do I cook? How long do I spend cooking? How old are those zucchini?) I’m trying to carry this ove into the wardrobe department, but we’re still working on that. 

Bottom line? If you find yourself standing in the same place every week (or day!) trying to decide between the same options, start there. Commit to one small decision and elminate the back-and-forth. Then do it again. It’s refreshing! 

simplifying1

Don’t fight your nature.

 “Define yourself as one radically loved by God. This is your true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” – Brennan Manning

I will never be the world’s greatest interior designer. It’s just not in me. I’m impatient and have a pretty short attention span when it comes to perfecting a room – I also get frustrated by the (pernicious?) message of consumerism that seem to subtly hide underneath the perfect “minimalist” rooms of my dreams. Most of our furniture (all?) is used or inherited; neither one of my children had a nursery designed before they were born.

Our furniture is meant for rowdy rough-and-tumble, for messes, for littles. The pieces we’ve purchased either can endure all of the above or I plan to replace them and so am not terribly attached. These things used to stress me out (“We will never have our gallery walls designed!” “My couches look dated!”) but I’m slowly learning that quickly perfecting a house is just not something that really interests me.

I’m slowly learning that the pressure I exert on myself to make a Pinterest-perfect house just isn’t worth it because it doesn’t bring me joy and it distract me from things that do (if it brings you joy, by all means, focus there!) Slowly editing our house to fit our lifestyle and actual needs (rather than a computer image – white is in! So is Danish!) as I have time and inspiration has brought me a great deal more joy and so I try to focus there. 

This is all to say – if Instagram and Pinterest tell you that it’s important, but you don’t wake up wanting to do it, THEN DON’T. You don’t need to grow indoor plants or weave or paint all of your rooms monochrome white to succeed at the things you are meant and called to do. 

Simplifying2

Intentionally step away from screens.

“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu

I think we’ve all lectured ourselves on this a million times and anything I could say has been said better elsewhere. I’ll just leave it at this. The peace and joy in our household is almost perfectly proportionate to the discipline I have demonstrated about my devices that morning. My temperment, the behavior and focus of my little ones, my own ability to focus – it’s all related. We don’t all need to have our devices on and available every single second. Make time to just go outside without your phone. Spend time with your kids and be unavailable to the world. Do this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for at least a few minutes and you’ll begin to treasure time without your devices.  

Identify the things that are important to you. 

“You get more of what you notice and affirm.” – Michael Hyatt

On my list? Intentional time with kiddos. Reading. Reading aloud together. Reading by myself. Time together cooking and eating. Time remembering and recording our memories. Time writing. Getting to know my neighbors. Time with Mark. #notmoresocialmediafollowers If your “thing” is growing a virtual audience, go for it. But I recognized a while back that this was just not the area I was ever going to be particularly passionate about or good at. If I have blog readers, great. If some people like a picture I post, fun! But my livelihood and my children’s future is not tied to the time I spend on my screen. So I’ve tried to step away from Social Media more. I’m also never going to be a famous painter. 

“It” stuff – clothes, furniture (see above), shows. Being right on the edge of fill_in_the_blank trend just has never mattered a ton to me. So I don’t spend a lot of time on those things.

Also in this category? Activities with kids that *I don’t care about*. All of the moms in the world may be taking their kids to Wally-Wonder-Goo-Goo-Place on 5th street. If that is not your thing, let it go. My children have never been to the local Children’s Museum equivalent. Or the Trampoline Park. Or anything else remotely that cool. This is because I’m an unashamed germaphobe and we have ton of toys and I’m The Most Boring Mom on The Block. My children are under 3 and will never remember visiting these places. If my kids want to play with something different than our toys, we go outside. Or we go to a different park. This is just us.  Find your “you” and then shed the rest. 

\

Simplifying7

 

Spend time outside. “The earth has music for those who listen.” – William Shakespeare

Off you go now. 

Meet your actual neighbors. 

“It will be our love, not our opinions, which whill be our greatest contribution to this world.” – Bob Goff

Chances are, you live in a neighborhood. With actual other houses (not Pinterest ones!) with actual other people (not bloggers!). Make some bread or bake some cookies, and go ring a random doorbell. And then do it again. Amazing gifts start to come your way when you realize that friends are actually everywhere, not just on your phone or your moms’ group or church.  The world begins to seem so much more full and simple and beautiful all at the same time when we stop overcomplicating basic things like “do you have some butter I can borrow?” 

Maintain a basic neatness standard. 

“If you can’t find something, clean up.” – Gretchen Rubin

This is different for everyone. For me, this means that beds are made, bathrooms are presentable (sinks and toilets cleaned, trash removed), and the breakfast dishes cleaned. If you would be mortified if someone walked into your house, maybe it’s time to reassess. If you spend half of the day cleaning your house and can’t ever get anywhere before 11:00 a.m., maybe it’s also time to reassess (or see the first item in this list – maybe you just have too much stuff!). 

Hope these little tips help you on your journey towards simplifiying and creating a home life that you love! 

Continue Reading

Parenting

Ramblings about Nap Transitions and Saying “No”.

January 31, 2017

slow childhood 4  slow childhood 6

We’re through that phase that I like to call “the fog” in Baby Time. I feel like I’m the mother to two energetic happy curious toddlers instead of a toddler + cranky picky baby. I know some people LOVE that infant stage (the “glowworm” days), but honestly? I don’t. I love having a little one who is more mobile, more energetic, more excited, less “what-is-going-on-let’s-spend-all-evening-Googling-parenting-articles”.

So January, which is normally boring and depressing and cold has been a January for the books (the unusually warm weather hasn’t hurt, either). Watching my kiddos slowly learn to interact and relate is one of the most fun aspects of parenting yet, and one I didn’t see coming.

Right now? Miles is talking a million miles a minute. I love watching his vocabulary explode. I may have a had a slight panic-episode the other evening when the mom of one of his friends started talking about preschool applications. But that’s for another post another time.

 

slow childhood 7

slow childhood 5

Violet craws like a mini-speedster and cheerily practices standing whenever she decides she’d like some attention. I think her days on all fours are numbered. This is ironic to me, because when Miles was this age, I was not on my “let them live” band-wagon and we pushed and prodded and encouraged him all we could. And he didn’t. And he decided to crawl at about 10 months and didn’t walk until 19 months.

Violet? We’ve let her take her time. We’ve spent a lot less time time prodding and a lot more time in quiet observed independent play. I know this isn’t always the case with timelines nor do I think one should measure a child’s progressor success at this age by (fairly artficial) imposed developmental milestones, but it was a good lesson for this Mama.

slow childhood

slow childhood 2

Speaking of transitions, we are DOWN TO ONE NAP a day with Violet. Only other parents who obsess over schedules and rhythms and nap timelines will care at all about this but, folks, this is like Second Christmas to me. I LOVE the one-daily-nap phase. Our daily rhythm now involves one nice transition from lunch to bed right around 12:30 and lasting until 2:30/3:30 (or whenever around this time they wake up). I can’t “make” them go to sleep. But I can enforce a family quiet time consistently. (Spoiler alert: they almost always go to sleep. Violet sometimes wakes up early as she is still transitioing a little. If she does, I give her time and space to play quietly alone in her crib instead of quickly snatching her out of bed, a practice which consistently buys me a few more minutes of precious quiet time for now.)

It was only in the midst of this nap-time transition that I realized how much saying a firm, kind “No” is a part of maintaining our family’s rhythm. It’s boring. It’s lame. But it’s important. It’s especially vital to our week because I work from home and have to protect my work windows as well as my time with my little ones. When we say “yes” to too many things or overschedule or skip or fudge naps or bedtimes, there is a prety rapid domino effect and it’s not pretty.

slow childhood 3

Sometimes, unique events or schedules merit a missed nap or a late bedtime. But these are rare and intentional. Most of the time, my childrens’ need for a predictable, steady routine has to trump Everything Else. Playgroups, events, outings, lunch with other moms, appointments – all of it falls second to our big-picture routine.

This is coming on the end of a few weeks where I’ve found myself saying “no” more than usual. It has felt both weird and freeing. No, I can’t commit to that; it’s my time to work. No, we can’t attend; that’s our nap-time. No, we can’t plan dinner late; we need to put our kids to bed.

This may earn me the title “Neighborhood’s Most Boring Mom” and sometimes I feel like a cranky hermit, but you know what? It’s been worth it. I think sometimes moms and dads who spend most of their day at home with their littles fall into the trap of feeling like their schedules (and the schedules of their babies) don’t matter. After all, you’re home! Where do you need to be? Why does it matter if you have lunch at 10:00 or 2:00?  Who cares? Throw caution to the wind. Stay up late. You can sleep in tomorrow.

Maybe this works for some. But for our family? When I start to be careless about our time, individually and collectively, moods and behavior and emotions start to slide. I’m slowly learning how very much my kids need me to protect their days and routines, even at the expense of things that are fun.

A side benefit of this is that I have an added excuse to protect *my* day and routine. We are all more productive and rested and happy. Everyone wins, except for Exciting Mom Awards, of which none are being handed out over here.

A quick piece of unsolicited advice? I think sometimes we stay-at-home parents undermind our own work. We think “Oh, I’m just a parent. I have so much time My schedule doesn’t matter.” No, you don’t. Yes, it does. Your time is not free or value-less. Your time is dedicated to taking care of lots of little finicky humans. Respect yourself and your time and your little ones. Treat the work you do with the dignity you would treat a job. Draw boundaries; follow through; protect your tools of quiet and rest.

I am not one who enjoys saying “no”. I hate it. But I’m getting better at it, for my kids and for me. One of the greatest gifts these baby days have given me is the gift of days that are covered by a quiet peace -peace-filled days AND peace about turning down good things for better. This is hilariously ironic considering how very un-peaceful some days feel with littles, but this unexpected fruit of these efforts to build a maintain healthy home rhythms? I’ll take it.

P.S. Need some more encouragement? This book taught me so much about confident, calm parentng.

Know a friend who needs to read this? Share the image below to Pinterest!

Nap transitions. simplify schedules.

Continue Reading