trimming the tree

every year, on the day after thanksgiving, my little family and i cut down a christmas tree. it is one of my favorite days ever and i may even like it more than thanksgiving. the kids can run wild and my husband and i look on at them with smiles. eleanor hops from tree to tree until she finds the perfect one for us. it's so funny because we can show her a hundred more trees, but when she has her mind set on one ... forget about it. 

afterwards, we go to brunch and talk about how excited we are to get home and decorate the tree. with wolfgang being a bit more mature this year, it was fun for him to help hang the ornaments ... although he mostly just threw them at the tree ... of course that made us laugh, big time. 

so now our house is sparkly and cozy and smells of nature. we have been watching christmas movies everyday and haven't really gotten out of our pjs or off the couch ... it has been perfect and i look forward to spending the rest of our winter days doing the very same. 

last year, on our way home from the tree farm, we made a stop at the store because we needed a new tree stand. arick dropped me off in front of the store and i ran in ... while i was in there, i grabbed a pregnancy test because i just had that feeling, ya know? i was little more emotional than usual and and crampy ... once we were home and while everyone was distracted by the tree, i sneaked upstairs and took the test. the line was faint, but it was positive ... i remember so vividly feeling so happy and nervous and scared. we hadn't planned on having another baby and i wasn't sure how my husband would react ... so i didn't tell him that day. and as i helped my family of four decorate the tree, i fought tears and held a smile in my heart ... i was pregnant with my third baby and knew that next christmas, we would be a family of five. there would be another baby at the tree farm and in my arms ... and it was true. now we have a beautiful, little rufus.  and we are a family of five.  


moonschooling eleanor

honestly, im not quite sure where to begin ... nearly three years ago, we were living in a neighborhood where the schools were not so great. before deciding to home school, we looked into private school and as much as we loved what we found, we just simply could not afford it ... i had recently quit working to stay at home with eleanor and try for another baby (wolfgang) ... so after weighing all of the pros and cons, we decided that i would home school eleanor. she was going to be in kindergarten, so we were both completely new at the whole school thing ... we created a school room in our attic and used an online program for resources, text books and lesson planning. our days were very routine and it didn't take us long at all to get the hang of it. when we first began, i was very pregnant and three months into her kindergarten year, wolfgang was born. it was tough, but he managed to slide right into our routine ... and although i didn't find many homeschoolers in our area, i involved eleanor in dance classes, swim and other classes like theater and art. ... for the most part, our first year of homeschooling went pretty well ...

fast forward to her first grade year ... her first grade year was hard. i became pregnant with rufus and wolfgang was walking. between the morning sickness and chasing a toddler, we were struggling to maintain a rhythm. i was struggling. ... eleanor had reached a point where she was extremely bored, defiant and lonely. our days at home just simply were not enough for her ... and our relationship was suffering ... there were even days that she refused to participate in school. as i typed that, i can almost feel how horrible those days were. the utter defeat, exhaustion and hopelessness. it wasn't her fault. what we were doing just wasn't working. 

we were in the middle of trying to sell our house and knew that our main goal at that point was to move to an area where eleanor could go to public school ... she needed to be around other children her age. she needed to be in an environment where she could flourish. and more importantly to be happy. 

after nineteen months on the market, our house finally sold. she could start second grade in public school. we were thrilled.

... it is now november and my sweet girl loves school. she is growing and smiling and wakes up everyday exuding the purest joy. she has made friends and is learning so much. just two weeks ago i met with her teacher who informed me that eleanor is an absolute joy to have in class. she said that she is kind and always happy to start the school day ... and i have to be honest, the evening of the parent teacher conference, i walked to the school for our meeting and the entire walk there i worried. i worried her teacher would tell me she is behind and struggling. i worried that she would tell me that what i taught her during our two years of homeschooling didn't stick ... when i found out the opposite was true and that she is learning and that i didn't completely fail her, it filled my face full of tears and on the walk back home, i sobbed. i sobbed because i hadn't failed her like i thought i did. i sobbed because all of that self doubt and worry just had to be released. i sobbed until i was free from that darkness.

this has not been an easy topic for me to talk about. truth is, it weighed heavy on my heart for a long time. a part of me felt like a failure for giving up home school to send her to public school. i kept thinking, "other moms can do this. why can't i? what's wrong with me?" ...  all i wanted was eleanor to be happy. all i wanted and will always want is to see her happy. to see a smile on her face ... and now that i see that everyday when she gets home from school, i know that i didn't fail her at all. not even a little bit. she was just lonely. and now she isn't. and that's all she needed. it wasn't that she wasn't learning at home. it wasn't that i wasn't teaching her well. it was just simply that she needed to be around kids her own age. her loneliness was so heavy. and it broke my heart. she needed a change.

everyday she gets out of school at 2:30 and the boys and i walk through the woods by our house to pick her up. one day on our walk home, we were talking about being kind to one another and i was saying how i don't always know the right things to say or do and she told me this, "mom. don't worry. you don't have to be the perfect mom. you just have to be a pretty good one." ...
...and it made me think. we don't always have to know what is right for our kids and maybe sometimes it will take us a while to figure it out. and that's okay. that's life. we are mothers and fathers, but we are also human just the same. and our children do not need us to be perfect. they just need us to be there. they just need us to love them. they just need us to be trying. they just need us to be pretty good.


p.s. many people have wondered where i came up with moonschooling eleanor ... back in my early twenties, when arick and i were still new, we would host these parties with a small group of friends and we called it moon school. we went on trips together and often times eleanor, who was just a tiny babe, would be right there with us all ... my friends would make fun of me and say that i am going to moon school all of my kids and teach them all kinds of witchcraft and what not ... haha (those were my free spirited hippy days) ... anyway, when i began homeschooling, it made me smile because it sort turned out that way- minus the witchcraft ... and that was that ... Moonschooling Eleanor. 

a coupla boys and the changing of seasons

the seasons are changing once again and the days are growing colder. our coats have been brought up from storage and nowadays, whenever we leave the house, i have to make sure the kiddos are bundled and warm. with this being ru's first autumn and winter, i had to dig around for hand me downs and had a lot of fun shopping for a few new things ... im a big fan of dressing boys this time of year. what little boy doesn't look completely adorable in a classic pair of corduroy overalls? i mean, come on ... i even bought a pair of matching cable knit jumpers because i am definitely gonna be one of those moms ... definitely. my mother always put my brothers in matching outfits and i love all of the photos she took of them side by side .. it's the sweetest thing. 

these past few weeks we have been spending our mornings at home ... keeping warm by the fire, watching the same movies over and over again, playing with favorite toys and have even started decorating for christmas. ... after naps or when daddy gets home, we go for wagon rides and listen to sister tell us all about her christmas wish list. wolfgang points at cars and dogs and goes, "ruff ruff or vroom vroom" ... rufus usually falls asleep. and i smile at how wonderful it all is. 

these days have been so good. these days will flood my memory one day of what it was like being at home with my babies during the cold months ... all is well. all is warm. we are happy. 

*boys are wearing clothes from gap kids. timeless pieces for the cold months of the year. items that can be handed down or tucked away for memory's sake... the little oxfords ru is wearing will surely be pulled out of the cedar chest  someday and make me weep. oh yes, that is certain. xox. 

*this post was in partnership was gap kids.


salt dough ornaments

our christmas spirit is off the charts right now. last year i hosted thanksgiving, so i was focused on turkey recipes and how to set a pretty table ... but this year, i am not hosting, so i dove head first into christmas ... 

eleanor has already made her list and asks me everyday if i remember what she wants. goodness, i loved the holidays as a kid, but i love it even more as a mommy. 

anyway, the day after thanksgiving we will make our annual trip to the tree farm to pick a tree. we will bring it home and hang our candlestick lights and just a few ornaments on the tree ... usually something we have made together. all of the other ornaments that have been passed down and gifted to us will hang on our smaller tree upstairs. it's all so very fun and exciting. so much magic in this season. 

this year for our main tree we are making cranberry garland and salt dough ornaments. super easy and super fun for our little ones ... and the best part is we can put on holiday music, drink hot cocoa and spend time with one another ... making memories. 

salt dough ornaments ;

  1. mix together 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/4 cup salt. blend well. 
  2. while mixing, slowly add water until a dough forms (about 1/2 cup). careful not to make it too wet!
  3. wrap dough in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for about twenty minutes.
  4. roll out dough on floured surface and cut shapes. 
  5. poke holes using a toothpick. 
  6. bake in a 300 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. check often ... you want them to harden, not turn brown. 
  7. lastly attach strings and decorate if you like ... one idea is using tacky glue and small beads! or just leave plain. im sure there are other ways to decorate and im sure you can find those ideas on pinterest!
side note: that wooden rolling pin belonged to my grandma who passed this summer. this morning as we rolled out the salt dough, i thought of her. there were a lot of grand children on my mom's side of the family and my grandma lived in an old schoolhouse. (very tiny) ... on christmas day when we walked into her house, there were presents stacked so high, almost to the ceiling! and they nearly covered her entire living room ... so much magic and memories during this time of year and i just love it so much. xo.


tortellini with eggplant and peppers

during our last trip to the library, i decided to check out some cookbooks because i was getting a little tired of fixing the same old thing for supper every night. the kids love tacos and chili, but mama needed a break (i do make more than just those two things, of course) ...so i decided to challenge myself and try a new recipe every night this week. ... 

the first night i made tortellini with eggplant and peppers from the cookbook real simple//easy delicious meals ... and it was, real simple, easy and delicious. 

my husband is more of a steak and potatoes kind of guy and the kiddos are super picky, but everyone gave it a chance and i thought it was super yummy. i definitely recommend you try this at home!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
kosher salt and black pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 pound cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated parm 

  1. heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. add the eggplant, bell peppers, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  2. add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for one minute. add the broth and tortellini. simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the tortellini are cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. 
  3. stir in parsley and 1/4 cup of the parmesan. spoon into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan. 
i paired this pasta with fresh bread i made in my le creuset. you can find a recipe here

enjoy!! xo


wolfgang turns two

balloons and toys and a trip to the movies. fun with family and pizza hut pizza. chocolate cake and farm animal sugar cookies. a messy face and a happy heart. we love you, sweet boy. oh, do we ever. can't wait to see what this next year will bring ...



my little wolfgang is turning two on friday and i cannot believe it ... i know it is cliche to say, but really ... where does the time go?  i have been using my spare time (ha!) to prepare for his party on saturday. it will be simple and small, just the way we like it ... on his actual birthday, his sister has the day off from school (yay!), so the five of us are going to do something fun together. we will most likely see the new peanuts movie because who doesn't love charlie brown? ... it will be wolfgang's first movie and i can already see how cute he will look sitting in a theatre chair with a tub of popcorn between his legs ... precious ... cannot wait to celebrate our little man. he has brought more joy to our lives than i could ever put into words. we just love him so much. 

these photos are of wolfgang in the yard the other day. my husband was raking leaves and wolfgang was jumping in the piles. over and over again. it was a wonderful, childhood moment. we would count one, two, three and he would come running and dive in. his little grin made us smile out loud, every time. 

and here is a photo of our newest peanut who is snoozing beside me right now ... he is so easy to photograph and i just cannot help myself :)

*the boys are wearing clothes from the baby gap's new peanut line. so, so cute and will go perfectly with our movie outing this weekend. :)

*this post was in partnership with gap kids.