baby's first christmas ... a gift guide

i had planned on doing this post much earlier, but good grief time got away from me! ... with rufus only being four months old during the holidays, we decided not to overdue the gift giving for him. of course, he has to have a few wrapped goodies under the tree though ... i think if we didn't buy him anything, his big sister would not be happy! she is so protective and worries often about her brothers and their little hearts. 

anyway, some things were already wrapped, but will be included on the list below ...

that's it! ... now that i linked all of those, it does seem like quite a bit ! 

if you are wondering about the square prints - you can go here!

i also wanted to include a couple of photos of the gingerbread house eleanor made ... she had the best time putting it together yesterday while her brother's napped. such a sweet girl, my eleanor. :)

merry christmas to all who is celebrating! now i am off to play santa ... and maybe have a sangria or two. ;)



i have been feeling a bit "in it" lately. when i was little, if my brothers and i were being quiet or off, my dad would ask us what we are working out in our heads ... and i guess that's been me lately. 

it really began on friday at eleanor's school christmas program. i sat in the middle of what seemed like a million folding chairs in the gymnasium. it was dark and all you could hear between songs were whispering parents and the squeaking sound a tennis shoe makes against the floor when a little kid changes sitting positions ... i sat there alone, scanning the room for eleanor. i knew she was in there, but as soon as i locked eyes with her and she gave me a big, smilely wave, it was only then that my heart began to beat a bit slower ... she was safe. the fifth graders began to play carol of the bells on their xylophones and my head went somewhere. suddenly i knew exactly who i am and who i have always been ... and i missed everyone i had ever known ... my nostalgia slowly flooded that room. i was a little kid again. it's amazing how much we lose of ourselves once becoming parents ... maybe i shouldn't say lost - but forgotten ... so then i caught myself scanning the room again, only searching for the seven year old version of myself. i wanted to walk up to her, tap her on the shoulder and scoop her up and hug her until we became one again. because i miss her ... her innocence and curiosity. her patience and hope. 

yesterday morning, i woke up still yearning for myself. my bedroom was always such an important and safe place for me growing up. i spent most of my days sitting on the floor of my bedroom, looking at my things and listening to music or just sitting there ... 

i hadn't officially made this room in our new house mine yet. sure it has my things in it, but gosh i hadn't even put a stereo or a record player in it yet. the record player along with all of my favorite records are sitting on top of some boxes in our basement ... and i hadn't gotten around to painting yet either. the color was like a blueish gray and yea it's okay, but on a dark, rainy day, it is sort of fluorescent in color and i just wasn't feeling it ... so yesterday, i began the process of adding kristen to my bedroom. i painted the walls a soft white and ordered a new bed frame. the record player will be moving up soon ... and my days during quiet time hours will be all about me ... im gonna worry less about what needs done around the house during those hours and just focus on who i am and what i need .. it will be good. 

here are some photos that i took throughout the day. we stayed home all day and it was so nice. my favorite kind of day. 

*paint for bedroom is du jour by valspar and you can see my new bed frame here  ... also, ru's adorable bunny ears came in the mail yesterday and it had us all "awwwwing" you can find that hat here

p.s. i want to thank my readers for following along here. i haven't been feeling very confident lately on social media and often times worry too much about what i post on instagram, but i never feel that way about this space. it feels so safe to me. it feels like me. and i love that. xo

p.s.s. below are some photos of the seven year old me


ten more days till christmas and some chocolate chip cookies

this morning when i woke up, the first thing i heard was eleanor shouting, "mommy! ten more days til christmas! just ten more days, mommy!" ... i put on my big, fluffy white robe as i always do and sleepily kissed the top of her head and said something like, "oh no, it's one hundred more days" and then she giggled, said "noooooo" and ran away. 

daddy rushed her off to school and the boys and i enjoyed a lazy day at home. i wrapped gifts on the butchers block while the boys soaked in the sink. wolfgang told rufus all about thomas the train and i swear rufus looked at him so attentively as if he knew exactly what big brother was talking about ... during those moments of watching them together, i honestly think that was the most thankful i had ever felt. it's as if in that time, everything in my life was in exactly the right place, ya know? like i was actually living my dream. 

when eleanor got home from school, we decided to bake chocolate chip cookies. we knew daddy wouldn't be home until after bedtime, so we figured we'd spoil our dinner by stuffing ourselves with some sugary goodness ... these cookies do not take long because i have been making them for many years now. they are my go to dessert if i need to whip something up quickly ... i have made them so many times i even have the recipe memorized ...

 i love baking with my kiddos. they are so good at finding magic in the simplest tasks ...

anyway, here is how to make our chocolate chip cookies: 

makes about three dozen

  1. mix 2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 sticks butter (room temp) and 1 teaspoon vanilla. set aside.
  2. sift together 2 1/4 cups flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  3. combine wet and dry. blend well. 
  4. stir in one bag semi sweet chocolate chips. we always throw in some chopped walnuts, too but you don't have to. 
  5. drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. bake at 375 degrees on the lowest rack for about 11 minutes. 


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.