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Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 REVIEW

2016 was so good to us as a family! We had such a great year watching Grace grow and are continually so thankful for that. In 2015, we were blessed with the arrival of our sweet girl and while nothing can top that (obviously), I just feel so thankful with the opportunity that I have to spend my days with her. When I think back on the year, those are the moments that I think of first: hanging out with her all day, every day, our normal daily routine, and all of the incredible new skills that she's developed over the past twelve months that I was fortunate enough to be able to witness. That seemed to be the focus of 2016 and I'm sure will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Before even assembling this post, I could almost guarantee that a year in review would be a whole lot of Gracie, with a sprinkle of Andrew and I mixed in. For that, we count our lucky blessings every day. I hope that 2016 brought you joy and that you're looking into 2017 with hope and excitement. Happy New Years!

JANUARY...

The happiest girl on New Years Day

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

GRACE LOUISE IS 22 MONTHS OLD!

 
This sassy little girl turned 22 months old yesterday! The past month has brought more independence and a whole lot of sass. Except for when she was performing in her Christmas program at MDO. There was zero sass there, just a lot of staring! From her whole class. It was so funny to look around, because there was eight sets of parents videoing their children basically just sitting on a stage. They were so adorable, though! We're approaching the big 2 at lightning speed and Grace seems more like a toddler everyday. She loves to talk, dance, and gets excited to play with friends. She really has the sweetest little spirit.
 
NEW WORDS... apple, muffin, cracker, pizza, mac-cheese, flower, Christmas, shirt, pants, dress tights, stuck, carrots, bird, yogurt, applesauce, keys, jump, dance, bells, bear, drive, hat, lovey, try, airplane, reindeer, train, choo-choo, highchair, here, hug, kiss, snow, jacket, potty, dinner, cookie, help. Most of her new words this month clearly have a food theme! I feel like there's more that I'm forgetting and that this is the area of progress I'm going to have the hardest time keeping up with because she seems to be saying everything.
 
 
 
GRACE-ISMS... Grace's favorite word is currently no. Hands down. "Can Mama have a kiss?" "No." "Can Grace please sit down?" "No!" And so it goes on, all day, every day. She knows when she's being disobedient and makes the funniest little scrunched up face when she knows she's about to get in trouble to make us laugh. She seems to be out of the throwing food phase and I am so happy to see that one go! Every. Single. Number. that she encounters is two. She knows that they're not all two, but if she's going to count something, like four dots on a page in her number book, she says, "Two, two, two, two." And then looks at me (because she knows it drives me crazy!) and starts giggling. Her Gigi was here the first weekend of December and Grace put a bow in her hair. She now points to that bow daily and calls it her Gigi bow. She will ask to watch football and the news because that's what Andrew watches. That one really makes us laugh! We've been working on saying the names Paisley and Dietz (her two younger cousins) since she will see them so soon and she has decided that every baby is "baby Dietz". When we get Christmas cards with a baby on them, she says, "baby Dietz!" I have no idea why she's decided he's baby Dietz and not just Dietz, and why he's a baby and Paisley is not, but it's pretty funny.
 
 
 
GRACE CURRENTLY... is focused on naming who various items are under the ownership of, like going around to each cup on the table and saying, "Dada's! Mama's! Grace's!" She does it with phones, clothing you're wearing, plates, really anything she sees. She also is very into naming every article of clothing that we're wearing, down to earrings and socks. She still loves puzzles but has also shown a renewed interest in books the last few weeks. She's back to wanting to read the stories instead of just name all of the things on the pages. She goes down the list of everyone's names that she knows (Dada, Emmy, Pa, Gigi, Hols) every day and asks where they're at. The answer to all is normally work. Then she points to another room and says, "Mama work!" Grace also loves to love on Hendrix and yell for him if he's in a different room or level of the house.
 

 
 
 
 
 
Happy first day of Winter!

Monday, December 19, 2016

GIFT GUIDE: 1-2 YEARS

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6.7. | 8. | 9. | 10.
 
Around the time she turned a year old is when Grace started showing her real preference in toys. Various things have had their day in the sun over the past year, but her devotion has not wavered when it comes to books, her Baby Stella doll, and, most recently, puzzles. She currently has ten of the Melissa & Doug wooden puzzles (and just might be adding to that with her Christmas requests) and does each of them multiple times a day. She's also built up quite the board book collection (she can still be destructive with normal pages) and loves both having them read to her and also reading/looking at them by herself. My mom got her a PBK anywhere chair before she was born and I used it to take her monthly pictures her first year of life. It has been well worth it's cost! She loves to watch Mickey Mouse in it, read books in, climb all over it, etc. Grace's girly side continues to come out with each passing day, but one of the first ways we noticed it was in how much she loved playing with her musical make-up vanity. She puts it on herself and us, and it's so adorable! She's starting to play with it less as she realizes that it's not quite as rewarding as digging her fingers into mine, but she does still like it. The play purse is so popular that Grace received no less than three for her first birthday! The vanity, purse, kitchen, and Baby Stella doll all directly correlate with this age as it is when children typically start enjoying pretend play and mimicking the natural events of everyday life. Over the last six months, Grace has really started playing with her kitchen. Which is super adorable. She likes to prepare food, feed it to her variety of babies, push them around in the grocery cart and doll stroller, and even make plates for us. I included the Little People sets in the honorable mentions because her interest in them seems to come in waves, but I know the bulk of kids her age really enjoy playing with them. She is starting to take more interest in her blocks daily. She loves her water table when it's warm outside! It's currently freezing outside (literally!) so it's only downfall is that it's a seasonal toy. Like with anything related to children, preferences can vary, but I think you can could find a winner for any child (in this age range) on this list.
 
{Playing with her Little People Farm at 13 months}
 
{Water table fun at 15 months}
 
{Enjoying some light reading at 17 months}
 
{Preparing a five course meal at 18 months}
 
{Books, Baby Stella, and her chair at 19 months}
 
{Playing pretend with Baby Stella at 20 months}

Friday, December 16, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE

{Happiest kid ever! Tee | Jeggings | Sweater no longer available | Sperrys}

Happy, happy Friday! Can you believe there's only one week until Christmas (weekend)?! I told Andrew yesterday that I was already getting sad about taking all of the Christmas decorations down because they make everything feel so cozy. We kicked off this past week with Grace's Christmas program at MDO. She didn't really sing or dance but she did give her jingle bells a few good rings. It was so adorable to see all of the children up on the stage! She also had her Christmas party at MDO this week and tomorrow we have Andrew's work Christmas party. Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! I just can't get enough. Tonight, we're going to our favorite steakhouse for date night and going to look at treadmills because...

{The race is not until October. However, so many people apply that they do the cut-off and drawing almost a year in advance!}
 
I got into the Chicago Marathon! I am so excited! And, it has been so, so cold here. Last winter was really mild for the Midwest and I feel like this year mother nature is trying to make up for that. Fall seemed to hit late, but the wind chills so far this Winter are bone chilling. Do you know what's hard in the cold? Dressing a child! It's incredibly unsafe to leave heavy coats on them in their car seats and also such a pain to take the coat on and off to run 30 feet from a car to a store. Vests have become my best friend! They are so much easier to get on and off and keep her core warm and toasty. Plus, she looks adorable.
{Vest | Shirt not online but similar here | Leggings | Boots}
 
Gracie got a big girl stool or her bathroom! She stood on it to brush her teeth last night and loved seeing herself in the mirror.
 
This week's Sunday best. Enjoy your weekend!
{Grace: Tights | Similar dress here | Shoes | Erin: Sweater | Similar scarf here | Skirt is old but love this one | Tights | Shoes are old but nearly identical here}
 
 


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

GIFT GUIDE: AGE 0-1


1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7. | 8.
 
A walk down an aisle at any toy store will suggest to you that there's roughly 500 toys catered to your child's age at any given time.

Monday, December 12, 2016

MY CHRISTMAS WISHLIST

 
 
 
 
1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. |  6. | 7. | 8.
 
Stocking stuffers are my favorite things to buy for others! I love brainstorming for things to fill Andrew and Grace's stocking with and had the most fun putting together the some picks for my own stocking as well.

Friday, December 9, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE

{Waiting in line to see Santa}
 
Happy Friday! I forgot how giddy the month of December makes me. The Christmas season really is a magical time and it brings a little sparkle to everything "normal" throughout the month.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BABY PRODUCTS: BATHROOM & DIAPER BAG

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6.
 
The bath products for babies is where I ran into some of my biggest failures when Grace was a newborn.

Monday, November 28, 2016

GRACE'S NURSERY

 
When we bought our house, we always intended on this room being a nursery if we were blessed with a child. It is the only room with a chair rail and is also the smallest of the bedrooms. After the house

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

BABY PRODUCTS: KITCHEN ADDITION

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! I hope everyone has their stretchy pants ready so they can indulge tomorrow. Ha! What better way to kick off a holiday that revolves around eating then to talk about the baby products that are kitchen centered? When I was pregnant and scouring the internet and pestering my friends for product recommendations, I never once remember anyone ever advising me on a highchair. People have opinions on strollers, car seats, and even what nursing pillow is best, but nada about highchairs. I registered for your basic highchair that every mainstream brand tends to have a variation of assuming they were all the same and to just pick a color combination that I liked. Fast forward six months, to when Grace started eating solids, and that run of the mill highchair became my arch nemesis. It was an absolute beast to clean. It had multiple little crevices perfect for little hands to fill with purees, chunks, and anything else that graced her highchair tray. I seriously hated it. Was I doing it wrong I wondered?! Simply put: no. I asked all of my friends who had similar ones and they all said something along the lines that it was torture for them, too. I suffered for a month or two and then after looking thoroughly, chose the Boon Flair. Now that I have a 21 month old, it puzzles me even more that people don't put more thought into choosing their highchair. It's strange, people are willing to spend more on a stroller, which I'm not suggesting that you skimp there either, but other than a stroller, a highchair is one of your most used items. Think about it, you use it three times a day! So, treat yo'self.
 
 

Monday, November 21, 2016

GRACE LOUISE IS 21 MONTHS OLD!

Our sweet girl is another month older, another month closer to turning two. Unless you ask her, then of course you'll hear that she already is. I'm fairly certain that I've said this every month for the last year, but I think this month was my favorite. It had it's set of challenges, and the farther we progress into toddlerhood those seem to be revving up, but she is still just so fun! I know that a lot of people tend to say that the newborn/baby stage is their favorite, so I'm the minority here, but I love late baby/toddler more. (I'm sure I'll be eating those words when the terrible twos really hit!) I understand why the baby stage is appealing with all the snuggles, lack of tantrums, typically being able to please them with eating or sleeping, and just general sweetness, but I've got to be honest y'all, the baby stage was not the easiest for me. It was quite the adjustment and I really over complicated it with the obsessions over if she was eating enough, sleeping enough, not taking time for myself, etc. As time continued on I found my groove as a mother and Grace has developed into the most amazing little person. This little personality that continues to shine more and more with each passing day truly just lights up my life and while I'm sad that it's gone so fast, I really do find myself excited to see exactly who she will become!

Friday, November 18, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE

Today is the big day, y'all! Today, I'm putting up my Christmas décor. Ha! I planned to put it up earlier in the week but it has been so unseasonably hot for November in the Midwest. However, a cold front blew in last night, so today it is! Does anyone have a yummy (preferably cheesy) potato soup that they care to share? We can't get enough soup when it's cold out. This week was full of Grace-centered activities for us: two play dates at local parks, lunches with sweet toddler friends, getting a picture of Grace for the Christmas card, and it ended with our sweet girl getting her first real cold. She's handling it like a champ and I'm sure will bounce back to full health in no time. For now, I'll soak up all the extra cuddles that I can get. Happy weekend!

{The sweetest little morning view}
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

MUST-HAVE BABY PRODUCTS

Which baby gear is worth it? What are must-haves versus what the (ever growing) baby products market just wants you to think are must-haves but are actually irrelevant? This topic is what led to me wanting to start a blog to begin with. When I was pregnant with Grace, I loved seeking out the advice and opinions on baby gear from my friends that already had littles. They were great at telling me which pieces they had and loved versus which ones they were making work but wouldn't buy if presented with the same decision again. I love researching products, from baby to beauty to home, so I spent many of the early nursing months researching everything from best sippy cup to easiest to clean highchair. I've been asked to share my product recommendations enough times that I now keep a master list in my email! Truth.

Friday, November 11, 2016

FRIDAY FIVE

Fridays are my favorite day with Grace. We don't have any activities that we go to, I typically don't have any errands to do, and now that it's cooling off we don't have to get straight out the door so that I can run before it gets too hot. We have a lazy morning, go for a run when we're ready, and then "pay pay paaay!" to her little heart's content. As we head into the weekend, here's a look back at five of my favorite things from this week.
 
I absolutely love dressing this girl! Her little walk is so sassy and that seems to be magnified in a tutu.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

OUR PLAYROOM

 
When we bought this house, the room that is now the playroom seemed like a total waste of space. Houses in the Midwest are a lot different than what we're used to coming from Texas, for a multitude of reasons. Most obviously with the split-level floor plans and the presence of basements! Our particular house happened to have (most of) the basement already finished when we bought it. Ours is one large room with a powder room and (unfinished) small storage room. We weren't even expecting Grace yet, but my initial thought when we looked at the house was that the basement would make a great playroom because it's directly off of the living room. Fast forward to actually having a child and we realized how long it would be before Grace would be playing on a different level of the house solo! I quickly came to the conclusion that being in the basement for the bulk of the day was impractical. Which brings us back to making use of what we originally deemed our "useless" room. On the floor plan we were given when we were still looking at our house as a real estate listing, our playroom is referred to as the formal living room. Until we had Grace and wanted to begin setting up a playroom, it was our nothing room. It transitioned into being a playroom so naturally for us due to it's location. It's on the same floor as the kitchen and dining space and it's also close to the bedrooms -- which is a needed factor when you're making frequent diaper changes! When Grace was a few months old, we kept a play mat and rock 'n play in there so that I would have a place to lay here when I needed to make dinner. During a mindless Pinterest session, I started browsing playrooms and it really took off from there! I love the way the space is set up currently!
 
 

Friday, November 4, 2016

COUCH TO 13.1

In August of 2015, when Grace was 6 months old, I knew that I wanted to start incorporating exercise into my daily life. I wasn't ready to leave Grace in a gym daycare facility and trying to exercise around Andrew's work schedule was not ideal (he leaves the house at 4:30 every morning! I could go in the evenings, but I like having time with him then and have no motivation to work out that late in the day) so I decided I needed a jogging stroller. Andrew wasn't as quick to jump on that bandwagon since A) we already had two (awesome) strollers and B) good jogging strollers are pricey! I started watching the swap/sale pages on Craigslist and Facebook and quickly came across a BOB Revolution. Perfect! Unfortunately, I didn't find the motivation to actually start a real running regimen. I used the stroller for walks around our neighborhood but that was about the extent of it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

HALLOWEEN

Happy 1st day of November! Time to break out the Christmas decorations and start the Santa Claus countdown. Don't worry, I'm not being serious... I wait until mid-November before I put up the tree. That somehow seems to be the most logical thing to me. The idea of "decking the halls" in all of their glory is too time consuming to entice me to do it for 1 month of joy, so I split the time that my Fall décor and Christmas décor is up. Fall décor goes up the 1st day of Fall(ish) and stays up 6 weeks, then Christmas gets it's time to shine. Makes perfect sense. Also highlights the fact that I spend way too much time thinking about useless things. But let's not focus on that and, instead, let's recap Halloween with the cutest little Minnie Mouse that I ever did see!
 

Monday, October 31, 2016

PUMPKIN PATCH

A few weeks ago, my parents came up for a visit and we decided to take a family trip to the pumpkin patch. Andrew and I took Grace last year, when she was 8 months old, which was basically a trip for a photo op. It's crazy the difference that a year makes!

8 Months Old
 
1 Year, 8 Months Old

Friday, October 28, 2016

GRACE LOUISE IS 20 MONTHS OLD!

What better way to dive into my first post than to talk about our baby transitioning from a baby to a toddler? 20 months. Almost two. How?! Grace has really become her own little person over these past few months. She's learning and doing so many new things everyday that it's hard to keep up! She is communicating so well, almost always wants to walk when we're out and about (and tries to refuse holding my hand), loves to make us laugh, and has started "school" one day a week. The toddler tantrums have started but (knock on wood) they've been fairly easy to diffuse. She's still on the bigger side, and while I don't know exactly, I would guess that she's still in the 70th percentile for weight and height.  
 
AGE: 20 months (and counting)