Monday, December 4, 2017

Decking our Halls

"Yep, drag that sucker up here!" I shouted to the hubs, taking advantage of his wine-induced coma after a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. No sooner is the last candle blown out and the dishes stacked next to the sink that our family begins decking our halls for Christmas.

As the tree made its way up the stairs, we began evaluating our space and dreaming of how it would look over the next few days with sparkle and lights. Given it's the second year in this home, our vision was pretty solid, but it's always fun to mix it up just a little.

A room with a view: simple snow-coated succulents, pics Santa, gentle lit garland
on the stair, traditional stockings and mixed up the red and black buffalo plaid
ribbons on the tree and accents with some gray and white.

Simple switch of regular items and added some golden glass trees,
sparkling evergreen and jingle bells.

The table is used often for crafts and dumping mail, so
keeping it simple is key. These are great staples from Chip & Joanna's
Target line.

Simplicity mid-island as much family activity occurs in
this happy place. Some sprinkled snow, pinecones, mix
of ornaments in a Hearth & Home lantern. 

A touch of spirit near the oven, including the warmest
winter scent of birch.

The countdown is on next to a big ol' pile of candy canes.

The top of the coffee table is reserved for monster truck racing, so
kept it simple with lanterns, battery-operated candles and a
pop of winter greens.

Keeping the family tradition alive with Dickens' houses passed
on by my Grandma. Fake snow and a village lines our front
cabinet as guests enter.

The Lego winter village gained a train station this year! A holiday
favorite for the kids to build and use their imagination for the month.

There's something about the spirits and sparkle that makes us want to snuggle in, curl up by the fire and slow our pace to really enjoy time with the family. We can't wait to share it with those we love over the coming weeks!

May your interpretation of holiday space bring you all the happiness this year.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Go West!

It's no secret our little family of four grapples with staying out west from time to time. Well, make that two of us since one wouldn't fathom leaving his baseball buddies and the other's main focus is whether we have Babybel cheese in the house. While we adore the warmth and kindness of neighbors, the amazing schools, slightly more open land and the amount of house for the money, it's just so....far.

That's why when Lenexa announced they were bringing a public market near the area, we got a little giddy. Described as an open air concept with various food and retail vendors, our minds wandered to our time in San Fran, where sushi, candles, fresh bread and friendship bracelets could all be found in one good-smelling, bustling place. And while its soft opening wasn't near the scale of that, it was nice to have some of that big-city feel just 10 minutes from our house.
In the wide-open space so far is a beautiful mix of fine woods, natural and more cooler elements. Bench tables line the middle, while patio lights pop in all the right corners. Several small vendors bring scents of local soaps, tasty chocolates, aromatic coffee and baked treats. Mixed in are the pizza, dumplings, barbecue and ice cream tastes. Comfortable seating is movable and includes a variety of large-scale games to be enjoyed by all. Outside dons wide-based chairs, perfect for perching by one of their lit fires or for gazing onto the green complete with a few statues holding history of Lenexa. Nearby runners and swimmers are making their way around the beautiful new rec center, lined with shining silver and neon lights. Parking was easy, and all around was new housing and the promise of a soon-to-be-thriving mini downtown.

Our first visit was a cold, misty Friday night, likely influencing a more minimal crowd. But for a family seeking a low-key start to the weekend, it was just right. The kids enjoyed taking in the scenes and getting competitive over the table-top games.  Dinner options from the main food places were just ok, with tasty dessert from Foos and Christopher Elbow making up for it.  

Overall we left thankful for  the dollars and creative thoughts that went into breathing life out west, and the chance to try something new. We can't wait to see what it will look like in spring and summer of 2018. And if you want to come even a tad further, say K7ish, we'll welcome you!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Spiderman's Survival Kit

"Yep, grab the backpack, it's got all the goods in it," I said to the Mister, one hip on the door while two hands balanced waters, Goldfish, gift and of course, the ever-famous iPad. We were headed to a birthday party, which isn't always easy with someone who has the senses of Spiderman, so preparation is always key. Couple that unconditional love, patience and no expectations, and you're sure to feel you've done your best have a fun experience for you and your kiddo.

Sensory soothers aren't just for the sensitive superheroes- many children need more breaks, calm-down tools and safe places to share big feelings than our current world allows them. Here's some of our favs:

Aqua motion: calming, distracting and something a child can
cup in their hand and focus on. Find them in educational
toy stores or Amazon

Their favorite song! Mix up their movement by offering
a beloved tune, either unusually loud, quiet or in a
safe place where they can regroup
Pocket bubbles: portable, magical and provides long
minutes of fun as a sort of treat

Ocean waves nightlight: so soothing and unique, it sends
gentle waves across the ceiling and offers several sounds.
Easy to use, affordable and has a timer. A more relaxing
bedtime routine can be yours! 
Swing: where a child may have trouble getting all of their senses to integrate,
the swing can do for them! Like a reset button that's also fun and calming.
If it takes up too much room, try swinging them by their ankles upside down or side
to side - they'll show you what they like.

Weighted blanket: to help them feel safe, protected and
cocooned into bed or couch as their body works to settle

Portable wipes: whether they are Costco's baby wipes or these nicely
individually wrapped ones, find the unscented and tuck them in all your favorite
places on the go. Not only does it help the kiddo that likes impeccably clean
hands, but distracts them for a moment while they work to open the package.

Matchbox cars: their wheels spin and you can use your imagination. Plus they are
one dollar when you're in a bind.  What's not to like?

Headphones: that fit comfortably for children and cut one of their senses
while the others are hard at work. Perfect for when they are feeling overwhelmed
or at crowded events.

Kiddie countdown: an app on your phone that counts down with fun music
and a mysterious picture when the words "Two more minutes" are too much
for your kiddo. Everyone likes to know what to expect!
Social stories, Miralax, essential oils, tagless clothes and socks, deep pressure, quiet spaces and visual cues are also a must in our household, all of which you can find tips on through Pinterest. So get shopping! Calmer days are ahead...for everyone.

What are some of your kids' favorite things when life gets to be a bit much?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

On the Daily

"Hmmm, what'll it be today? I don't think the words 'cranky, exhausted or stressed' are strong starters," I say to the Mister, a thin black Sharpie poised above my palm.

It was Monday morning. The kids hadn't slept in weeks, deadlines were looming and the grind of long commutes, sports practices and everyday life were upon us. And although it had been a mostly enjoyable weekend that included hugs, long bedtime stories, laughter and time outdoors, it was already almost as if they hadn't happened at all.

Many work weeks started like that, and ended with me having zero energy for my beloved family. Something needed to change, and quick.

The best place to start? The ol' noggin.

I began to ask myself and others: How do I set positive intent for the day? What can I do to revisit it when fatigue or challenges try to get in the way of it? Why is it so damn hard to live this utopic life others dream of and just be grateful for it? Where's the perspective?

As usual, A had the answer. Earthy, experienced and Zen, she shared her trick of writing one word on her palm in the morning that sets her attitude and intent for the day. Frequently she shared she wrote, "fierce, calm, productive" or "joyful." Between her tough boss, teenagers and needy clients, she found this subtle reminder she can visit in as simple as grabbing a sip of water a motivating way to stay in the positive zone.

If something like that is helpful for the already cool-as-a-cucumber A, it could work for me too.

Week one I had trouble committing to just one word (I'm a marketer - we're women of much fluff). So I scribbled a small acronym that highlighted where I'd like my mind and heart to settle in for the day. Several weeks later, I was down to one or switching it to two, depending on what the soul needed in the moment. Words on my palm frequently include things like chill, authentic, love hard or energy. And while it isn't so much about the act of placing ink to skin, it's a nice way to trick your body into taking a meditative moment to set positive intent for the day. And to revisit it when things got off track.

So while this isn't the holistic good eating, drink enough water, sleep more than four hours per night and get time to yourself kind of self care, it's an attainable, inspiring one that keeps me going.

What about you? What inspires or sets your intent for the day? Or, what is your word, for today?

The Skinny on the Anni

"That's right - opening day, right at noon. I'll be there!" I shared excitedly to my gal pal on the phone, fully knowing that as a non-card holder, the situation would already be dire.

Luckily a few bloggers and friends had gone before me, reporting a less thrilling Nordy's Anni Sale than years past, which was both a beautiful and sad thing. Nice in that some dough can be saved and bummer in that the thrill of that fall fashion find was probably not going to be a reality this year. My husband and stack of mounting healthcare bills probably lean toward a mini celebration.

With a pen and paper in one hand and laptop balanced on a soft pillow, I studied with the kind of ferocity one does months before the Bar exam. Skipping the clothes almost altogether (hello, carrying around an extra 55 pounds and accessories always fit), I created my wish list between post-its and Pinterest. And when that Friday came around, I went in for the kill. With one hour to invest, it went purses, jewels, shoes, kids and home goods. Here's what I left with:
A pretty little something to add a touch of sparkle for day or night
Vince Camuto cross body that's just the right size and a unique,
gray brown to pair with any fall/winter ensemble

Ugg sneaks in a perfect neutral for fall that scream comfort and style
Teeny CZ studs that sparkle and are sized as if they were real

Copper mug, for those evenings that call for  a Moscow Mule

A cozy throw for the days I spend typing away in the home office

In these boxes were also a few Under Armor pieces for the boys. The scented candle, Zella leggings, plum jacket and a few other favs were left behind thanks to budgeting reasons.

So overall, not too shabby. Because come Anni sale or any time in between, Nordy's is top notch.

What did you bring home in your lovely, yellow-box themed sacks?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Channeling Your Inner Joanna

"Ok girls, how are we ever going to pick?!" I emailed the crew, the date of our upcoming girls' night on the horizon. Several strings later we were on a roll, clicking through Pinterest and modeling our favorite quotes we'd see in a book, mom blog or that fabulous wall at Scheels.

All this searching was for our upcoming night o' creativity, where we'd spend an evening in a beautiful home in Olathe making whiteboard signs. Always looking for something fun to do on our monthly outings, the mom pack stumbled upon Pinterest Parties, a fun, affordable and creative way to brighten a home. Having perused A's Facebook site, we landed on the whiteboard sign. Because who doesn't love a taste of Magnolia in their life?! The monogram, baseball, and Love signs were all close seconds.

With wine and bundts in hand we met, gathering in A's basement just perfect for crafting. Here, she had already laid out the whitewashed boards, our custom stencils, the paints brushes and the sound of inspiration in the background. Warm and welcoming, she got us started with easy instruction and stories of mommyhood.

Intimidated at first (because crafting), we each took our time outlining our choice, checking in often and building confidence along the way. Soon we were on a roll, choosing paint colors, complimenting one another's and catching up on our lives.
Hundreds of brush strokes later and touch ups by A herself, she placed the hanging on the back and we held up our masterpieces one by one. Unlike so many of those painting parties, these were works we'd actually hang in our home. And looked a bit like something Joanna Gaines may select in a store. Success!

It was a great time had by all, and a nice way to relax and use that right side of the brain you don't normally get to in the days of parenting small children. Highly recommend it - here's how to get started!

1. Like Pinterest Parties on Facebook
2. Visit the page and view "Services" on the left
3. Click "send email" to shoot A dates, times and project choice
4. Schedule and show up!

Then, get your Joanna on. Happy crafting!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pillow Walk

Get it? Like pillow talk, but different? need these sandals! They are the cushiest, cutiest, go-with-everything sandal of the season. And they're only $60. Plus it gives you a reason to pop into Nordys. And they're like walking on pillows.

Whatever color you choose (I went for the gray), there's something casual, work-ish and athleisurely that pair with these perfectly.