Showing posts with label motherhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motherhood. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Morale Boost

One of the surest ways to happily entertain a toddler boy is a trip to the marina to look at boats.  That was James Robert's requested activity on his day off of school this week.  

This was one of the best mornings out with both of the boys I've had so far.  It is hard to get us all out the door and keep them happy in tandem, but I'm working on the assumption that we'll all get better at it the more we practice.  

Getting into a new groove is definitely a work in progress!  But blue sunny skies, puffy summer clouds and a smile like this did wonders for the soul.  I think I needed this morale boost as much as they did. 

It is the type of deliciously ordinary day that feels extraordinary in the context of all of the other things going on. 
If you don't regularly visit Aspiring Kennedy, I highly recommend adding it to your perusal list. I immediately connected with Lauren's sentiment in her recent post about blogging.  Sometimes I miss the days before blogging became so commercial; I fell in love with this platform as a way to connect and catch a glimpse into peoples lives that felt genuine.  
And I'll continue to post as such; sharing tid bits and pretty pictures about normal life that isn't sponsored or part of a series or written with SEO in mind, but perhaps just the morale boost that we all need.  Finding a bit of blue sky and savoring it for the joy it brings your children.  Or the smile that you'll remember long after the baby teeth are gone.  If those things don't deserve a post, then what does?

P.S. Thanks for hanging in there with me as a get back in the swing of posting regularly.  xx

Friday, July 8, 2016

One Month of Thomas

And just like that, Thomas is one month old!  What a wonderful, chaotic and endlessly tender month it has been.  I didn’t anticipate how overpowering becoming a Mother again would be. Unwittingly, I took the last month to be as present as possible in life.  I didn’t want to miss a thing. 

Thomas sleeps on my chest most comfortably and I’ve surrendered to the inability to multitask while enjoying his company.  Because I just love every baby noise and the feel of his breathing. My hands feel continually full these days; if I’m not holding Thomas, I’m trying to dote on James Robert or sneak in a shower.  But my heart feels even fuller. 

Perhaps it is my ability to be more relaxed as a Mother the second time around or that Thomas’ birth was calm not traumatic, but I’ve experienced more elation in this month that I can remember in my life.  

Holding Thomas for the first time, watching James Robert become a big brother, falling in love with my husband all over again while watching him hold our sleeping baby, the tremendous appreciation for our family and friends who have taken care of us are the memories I’ll hold dear forever.  

It’s not to say these days haven’t been challenging, they are!  Despite my desire to document life, it has often been too chaotic to do so.  Mat was out of town for a week, James Robert has thrown us a few curve balls as he adjusts and we decided to drive to Michigan for the 4th of July weekend… 11 hours in the car with a 3 year old and 3 week old was a bold move! But the blessing of welcoming a baby who was so prayed for has been worth every challenge and then some. 

These are a few of the pictures I did manage to capture this past month.  And because I’m learning to celebrate the little victories (doing the laundry, making dinner, getting out of the house alone with 2 kids) I’m going to consider this blog post a banner achievement to send us into the weekend.  Wishing you all a great one! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies (aka what to bring a new Mama)

We aren't quite settled into a new routine yet, but have been savouring this newborn phase as much as possible. I am loving all of Thomas' snuggles and new baby sounds; he's just so little! Besides recovering from delivery, the most challenging part of being a new Mom again is breastfeeding around the clock.  It certainly is easier the second time around, but it still surprises me how all-encompassing and worrisome it can be to make sure that everything is going well. That's why these lactation cookies are my favorite little treat.

When James Robert was born, my sister in law lovingly made me a tin of these cookies and I remember them fondly.  The best part about lactation cookies is not having to share-- having a little dessert all to myself is an indulgence that I look forward to each day!

These lactation cookies are made with brewers yeast and oats to help support your milk supply.  I supplemented the original recipe by adding dried cherries and chocolate chips (feel free to omit if you dare).  A week or so before my due date, I made a batch of this dough and portioned it out into balls and froze them.

Now I can just pull out a few and pop them in the oven in order to have fresh cookies everyday.  Lactation cookies are the perfect treat to gift yourself or a new mama!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons of flax seed meal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashion oats
1 cup chocolate chips
2-4 tablespoons brewers yeast
1/2 cup- 1 cup of dried cherries, cranberries and/or nuts

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Mix the flax seed meal and water and let sit for 5 minutes.
3) Beat butter and both sugars until fluffy then add eggs and beat.
4) Add flaxseed and vanilla and mix well.
5) Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and brewers yeast together.
6) Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, once well mixed add in oats and chips + dried fruit or nuts.
7) Scoop onto baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Having a Baby!

Today is the day!  We are headed to the hospital this morning for my c-section and I couldn't be more excited to fill this little basket with our baby boy. 

I hope to be back with some posts later next week. In the meantime, hope you'll follow along over on Instagram (megan_leanderson) or snapchat (meg_leanderson).  

While I'm away: 
A summer salad recipe that I can't wait to make when I get home.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Make Any Bag a Diaper Bag

One of my favorite digital destinations for Motherhood inspiration is Mother.  It’s beautifully curated and the topics are fun to peruse.  One recent article interviewed the founder of Baggu, Emily Sugihara, about avoiding a diaper bag

The moment I opened the article, I realized that I hadn’t given a diaper bag much thought for baby number two.  It suddenly dawned on me how care-free it feels to have one child to tote around who doesn’t require much stuff! I have a traditional diaper bag from the first time around, but I would prefer the freedom of using multiple bags.   

With Emily’s tips fresh in my mind, I’m going to try using pouches to make any bag a “diaper bag” even as I double the amount of stuff that I need to carry.   These are some of the most eye catching and functional options I found (including a very budget friendly choice that is actually a school supply pouch with a clear front and label pocket).     


Friday, May 20, 2016

Hospital Bag Checklist for C-Section + Free Printable

My c-section is scheduled for June 10th, and I hope to make it until that date!  But, just in case, I started putting together my hospital bag this week (thanks for all the feedback over on snapchat: meg_leanderson).  The first time around, I packed more than I needed and I wasn't planning on having a C-section.  Taking that experience into consideration, I created a checklist for my hospital bag and made it downloadable for anyone else who may be packing their bags too!

Some of my favorite items: 
Bag- I love the canvas zip top bags from Land's End.  They are very similar to the LL Bean boat and totes, but I like this version better because of the zip top, interior pockets which are convenient for packing and the front exterior pocket. This one is a size XL and it should fit all of my stuff and the baby's.  Right now they are on sale!
Nursing bra- these from cosabella are my new favorites
Nursing and C-section friendly PJs- I love this one because it will be flowy over my stomach and is nursing friendly; it also came with a cute robe.  And I love night shirts like this
Baby stuff- The gowns from kissy kissy and receiving blankets from magnolia baby are wonderful for coming home and the boppy cover is from Pottery Barn Kids

-The first time around I ordered a Bravado nursing tank only to end up in tears at the hospital to find it was too small for me a few days after the baby.  While it ended up being great in the longer term, I would recommend purchasing a cheaper one in a larger size for immediately post baby.  Target has some great options.  
-Going to the bathroom can be a traumatic experience after a c-section and is necessary before leaving the hospital.  Probiotics and fiber supplements are a girls best friend; I'll likely be bringing those to the hospital too. 

I am hopeful that with some foresight and mental preparation, this will be a smoother experience than with James Robert.  Last time, I was in labor for 27 hours before being rushed into a c-section; this time, it feels like a luxury to know the date and be able to plan.  And because regardless of how a baby is delivered, it is an incredible celebration, I'll be packing the bubbles this time too!  

(click image to view larger, download or print)
Download or prink checklist here.

Monday, May 16, 2016


Mat has an uncanny ability to capture me candidly; anyone who knows us has probably shared a laugh or two over the sneaky funny videos or pictures he’s taken of me over the years…(thank goodness he’s not on snapchat).  Most of the time I laugh along hysterically, but there are more times than I’d like to admit that he captures something that he finds endearing only to hear me grumble in critique.  

Back in January, when I chose the word courage as my word for 2016, one of my goals was to be courageously authentic.  And as much as I hate to admit it, that can be very hard for me on social media. 

Particularly, as my pregnancy has progressed, I walk the fine line of love and and embarrassment for my bourgeoning body.  I am in awe of all that it is capable of and I love the life that stirs inside of me.  But I also feel self-conscious at times with a belly out-to-there.

I so badly wanted to document this pregnancy as it will likely be the last time I go through it.  My goal was to take a weekly picture. But as the months have progressed, I have found it harder and harder to take a picture of myself that I feel good about.  How sad is that? 

This past weekend, Mat found me in the soon-to-be-nursery nesting up a storm.   He took a few pictures of me which I quickly dismissed. But he very sweetly urged that I let go of control and allow him choose a picture to post of me for the week.  

What he chose touches my heart.  When I look beyond the idea of what I typically post, I saw myself through his eyes. And pregnant or not, that is a gift.  When I looked at this picture, I saw a crazy nesting lady.  He saw his beautiful wife preparing for the birth of his son.  I saw unposed.  He saw a mother and her caring.  But then I saw it too- it’s authentic.  It’s a real moment that he felt worth documenting and I couldn’t be more grateful to see life through his eyes. 

It does take courage, and perhaps another pair of eyes, for me to unfilter my life on this blog and social media.  But in the end, that’s what I hope to do. I hope this place on the internet can be a space that celebrates the styled and wildly-unstyled moments of life.  Because both are to be celebrated.  

For the next couple of weeks, my husband suggested that we do an experiment where he gets to pick one picture of me that documents my pregnancy to post per week.  I’ll be over on Instagram using the hashtag, #throughhiseyes.  

I invite you to join in! I invite you to let your significant other pick a photo to post.  What would they choose? Maybe you’d be surprised to find out what they see through their lens too!

Follow along on Instagram here

Friday, May 13, 2016

5 Tips for Parents of Children with Food Allergies

This week is food allergy awareness week.   Chances are that if you don’t have a food allergy in your family, you know someone who does.   I still remember vividly the day that James Robert was diagnosed with his peanut allergy; it was one of those life-changing events that touches your family in a way that is difficult to understand until it’s your child.  

I can’t speak for every food-allergy parent, but it has been anxiety-producing for me.  It can feel overwhelming to provide constant diligence to protect your child. It changes the way that you think, plan and travel and live on many levels. 

I’m so thankful for campaigns like the one that FARE is putting on this week in order to raise awareness. Did you see the Empire state building lit up for the occasion?
eating out and travel can be stressful and require a lot more planning, but it's still possible!
We’ve been successfully avoiding peanuts since he was 8 months old and I have learned a lot along the way.   To any new parent who is dealing with a food allergy diagnosis,   I remember being in your shoes.   It does get easier.    

There are so many things that you will be doing to take care of your child.  But I urge you to also take care of yourself.  It can be a scary and sometimes overwhelming road.  Not that I have all the answers, but with time, I have learned a few things to lighten the load. 

These are my top recommendations for food-allergy parents:
  • Find a support system from other parents of children with allergies.  Join an online group in your area (there are many on Facebook or your allergist can usually recommend some) or seek out the other parents at school who understand.  Forge friendships and share your concerns and your best practices.  I can’t tell you how much it has helped me to find solace in other parents who have walked the road ahead of me.
  • Find an allergist that you trust and that speaks your language.  We visited a few allergists before finding one that we really liked.  And don’t be afraid to ask questions!   
  • Support allergy awareness and be an advocate for the cause. As my son gets older, it has been helpful to participate in things like the FARE campaign, Teal Pumpkin Project, at halloween and also provide allergy safe snacks at some of his play dates.  I find that many other Mom’s have NO intention of being hurtful, they simply don’t know or understand allergies.
  • Be prepared that there will likely be awkward conversations in order to be your child’s advocate.  I’ve had to ask friends to refrain from certain foods or directly discuss actions I wasn’t comfortable with and it can be hard.  But ultimately it is my responsibility to keep my son safe while he is little.  Take solace in knowing that you might feel like you're fumbling along, but we all are.  
  • Make peace with your epi-pen.  We have yet to use ours, but initially, I viewed the eli-pen with as much fear as I did the allergic reaction.  I had a lot of anxiety about using it and how hard it would be for my son.  But I now try to take comfort in knowing that I have something life-saving at my finger tips.  While you don't want to have it be the default action, having to use the epi-pen is NOT a failure. Once I made that paradigm shift, I took a lot of pressure off myself.
My heart goes out to families who are dealing with anaphylaxis allergies on a daily basis, especially those who have multiple severe allergies.  I recently read a study about how the stress of food allergies can affect parents adversely, perhaps even chronically.  I hope that any Moms reading this post will feel free to email me or comment below if they want to connect further!  

P.S. I love all the inspiration over at Petite Allergy Treats and I recently discovered the wonderful site, Safe Happy Family

Monday, May 9, 2016

Life Lately: Slowing Down

This weekend felt like hitting the reset button.  Spending time together as a family tends to have that effect.  And perhaps because I know there is such a huge change on the horizon, I'm soaking in these moments as a family of three with as much sweetness as possible. 
Walks by the lake after dinner have become possible again with the longer sunlight and warmer temperatures.  We count geese, discuss the waves and recap our day.  It's a sweet ritual that we will remember fondly about our time in Canada. 
As of Saturday, I'm 34 weeks pregnant.  By the end of the day,  my walking becomes somewhat of a waddle.  And in general, I need to go a bit slower these days.  Third trimester and all of it's quirks and exhaustion have required me to take life at a lower speed. And while it can be frustrating at times, I'm hoping that this pace is just pregnancy's way of preparing me for the days ahead. 

Slowing down has provided opportunity to appreciate so many of the little things in life lately:

The way that James Robert has been looking so grown up, but his profile will always be that of my baby.
The flowers in bloom outside and gifted to me by my sweet boys for Mother's Day.  They truly brighten my day. 
And the affection that I am lavished. 
Slowly but surely, we are making the way to the end of this pregnancy and I'm going to do my best to shift gears to this pace. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Favorite Moments of Motherhood

To celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, I reached out to some of my favorite Moms on social media to let them know how much I appreciate them.  They are the mothers who's stories resonate, uplift and inspire me weekly.  Maybe you have some of those too? I encourage you to let them know how much they impact you!

The joy with which these ladies are Mother's to their little ones emanates through the screen! I'm so grateful for how they have shared their journey! Through their blogs, Instagram and Snapchat, each of them has provided a beautiful reminder that Motherhood connects us- no matter how far or different our lives may be.

I asked this group of inspiring Mothers to share a favorite moment of Motherhood. I hope you'll enjoy reading as much as I did:

Tess from One Small Act 

My favorite thing about being a mother is every little thing. Seriously, I don't think I can choose just one thing. The way they look up at me with unconditional love filling their eyes or the way they force me to stop and cherish life's smallest moments. They way they laugh, cry, and give me the longest and hardest hugs I've ever experienced. I love everything about being a mom!

Amanda from Marshalls Abroad:

My babies are ages two and eleven months, so one of my favorite things right now is watching their faces light up when we're reunited, even if it was only a few minutes apart. My husband and I are still their best friends and their whole world; we get this incredibly short, precious period of childhood to teach and raise them up, and it will impact them for the rest of their lives. I am so very grateful for the gift of my children, and for the important job of motherhood!

Natalie from East Coast Chic

I would have to say my favorite thing about motherhood is seeing the world through a child's eyes again.  My boys find wonder and amazement in the everyday things that I usually take for granted.  A bus going by, a snail on our driveway, birds flying overhead.  It helps me to step back and take a moment to enjoy and appreciate this world we live in.  

Liz from Pure Joy Home 

My favorite thing about being a mother is seeing the joy on my little ones faces from the most sweet little innocent moments like having a picnic in our backyard. It doesn't take much to make these babies happy, just quality time and attention. My favorite moment happened recently when we were having one of our "family sandwiches" a giant group hug and little Brian looked at us and said "I love my family!". What's better than that?

Christine from This is How I Mom:

I love so much about being a mother- nothing else has ever felt so natural and so challenging but so rewarding to me. So I guess if I was going to choose just one thing that’s my absolute favorite thing about being a mom it’s the challenge and opportunity each day brings. It’s not always easy but the rough times pass and we both learn something new about each other and about ourselves. 

Sarah from Vintage Blue Balloon:

One of my favorite moments of motherhood is, when my 6 year old son dropped my favorite yellow glass water pitcher (full of water), shattering it to pieces, the water seemed to create a lake in our small kitchen. He looked at me with dread and horror while saying, "Sorry Mom! I know it was your favorite" as quickly as those words escaped his mouth I was through that lake of water and shattered glass holding him tight saying "YOU, you are my favorite, I love you".  

I remind myself of this story when I am having a particular crummy day. It reminds me that sometimes I get it right .

Thank you so much to Tess, Amanda, Natalie, Liz, Christine and Sarah for sharing.  Wishing all my readers who are mothers, expecting or mothers in their hearts a very special Mother's Day.  xx

I'd love to hear from you too; what is your favorite thing about being a Mom?  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Getting to Know My Mother

In honor of Mother's Day, I dedicated my post for this month on Her View From Home to my own Mama.  Perhaps you can relate to the story I tell?  The older I get the more precious my relationship with her has become.  
"Knowing my mother more deeply also has meant finding myself. She is the vase of flowers I carefully arranged on a shelf vignette. She is my decision to leave the house with less makeup because she showed me by example that less is more and beauty is within. She is in the courage I use to chase my dreams, with the wings she bestowed and still bolsters. She is the voice in my head telling me to turn to God, to let my faith carry me on this journey of life and to find what makes me feel fully alive." 

I'd be so touched if you'd like to read the whole story here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Life Lately + A Baby Sprinkle

Life seems to be racing these days.  Between Mat traveling a lot for work,  welcoming visitors to town, our trip to Paris and the general busyness that comes with caring for toddler I feel like March and April have gone by in the blink of an eye.

Earlier this month, I had some complications with pregnancy that left me feeling rather uncomfortable and overwhelmed.  Baby is doing wonderfully which is what is most important.  But I would have been lost without the support of the women in my life these past weeks (near and far).  I'm such a private person that I find it difficult to admit when I'm having a hard time, but I share this to really encourage other women out there, especially those who are pregnant, to let other's know when things get tough.  Pregnancy is a beautiful and complicated journey that is I've come to appreciate is best taken with others.

I was especially grateful for a baby sprinkle that my friends threw last weekend.  It was the perfect opportunity to really reflect and appreciate the tremendous excitement that is building for this new baby.

When I moved to Canada a little over a year ago, I couldn't have imagined meeting a group of women who are as supportive and uplifting as the one's I've been lucky to connect with here.  I was so touched that they wanted to take the afternoon to help me celebrate. It was such a heartwarming occasion and one that I won't forget!

My Mom was able to make the trip to Toronto to join me and I was so grateful to have her here.  The weather even cooperated enough to go without a jacket!

I've still been loving the milestone cards I received from Made by Joy; it's been such a fun way to document this pregnancy.  
And for all my pregnant friends out there, I wanted to share my adoration for this dress from Cos.  It is quite possibly the most comfortable thing I've put on my body lately and the best part is that it's is totally wearable after the baby too.  I fell in love with the color, but when I discovered the pockets, I was really sold! 
Also, I had to share one of my favorite moments of the sprinkle was being surprised by a video that Mat and James Robert made.  It had me in absolute stitches; you can see it here if you want a laugh too. A special thanks to my husband who made the video- it's such a treasure!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pregnancy Favorites + A Prenatal Yoga Giveaway!

I'm a few weeks into the third trimester and feel like pregnancy stuck up on me.  One day I woke up and my belly had seemingly grown exponentially.  And even though this is the second time, I think I had forgotten that "oh-I'm-so-pregnant" feeling.  Funny how that happens!  This weekend I'll be celebrating baby boy with some family and friends and I feel so thankful to have made friends in Canada who have supported me so much during this pregnancy.

Being pregnant is such a beautiful and wonderful experience, but not without it's massive challenges. I know it's cliche, but having the support of a community of mamas far and wide has been what has helped me most (hello calling my own Mom everyday).  That being said, I've also found that the little things really can go a long way in making the nine month marathon most enjoyable.

For the past 7 months, I've been keeping a list a little list of my favorite maternity items.  Some are the same as my last pregnancy, but many are new and I wish I had known about them the first time around! Here are some of my favorites:

1) Tea has been one of my biggest pregnancies biggest indulgences.  A good rooibos, peppermint or this Wellness Tea are in heavy rotation.  I especially love this one because it is good throughout the day (despite the name) and very soothing. 

2) I wish I would have known about this bra from Cosabella the first time around.  The investment is worth it for a bra that is comfortable, pretty and wearable while pregnant and nursing.   If is so nice to not feel like you're sacrificing your femininity for function. It's so comfortable, I've slept in mine on many occasions. 

3) BabyList is one of my favorite discoveries for curating a baby registery/wish list.  BabyList allows you to pull items from any website and even ask for things like home cooked meals.  It is easy to use, has great guides and I was pleased that it allowed me to add things from both US and Canadian sites.    

4) Prenatal yoga was a wonderful part of my first pregnancy, but this time around, I struggled to find a class/studio offering prenatal at a time that worked for me.  I tried a few youtube videos and DVD's but didn't find anything I loved until I was introduced to Julie at Yoginology.  She has created an online community for expecting mothers and a course of downloadable prenatal yoga classes that I just love. Her teaching style and personality make you feel so supported even over a video. You can pick from 10 minute, 30 minute or 60 minute sessions and you can even download the classes to have access while you're traveling etc.  I wish I would have known about it sooner as they have been immensely beneficial to me in the past couple of weeks. If you're interested in winning a membership to the prenatal yoga classes and community, be sure to follow me on Instagram for a giveaway! 

5) I have tried to document this pregnancy as well as I did my first and these pregnancy milestone cards from Made By Joy have been one of my favorite keepsakes in doing so.  

6) Thank goodness for my snoogle.  Worth every single penny.  I was skeptical, but after sleeping without it last pregnancy, I can confidently say that this investment changed the comfort of my pregnancy more than anything else.  A comfortable, supported night sleep is such a game changer.  

7) At the beginning of my pregnancy when I still wasn't telling everyone, I especially enjoyed listening to the Pregnancy Perfect podcast.  It's inspiring and interesting to hear so many different women's stories of labor, delivery and motherhood.  

8) Peppermint essential oil was another one of those little things with big impact.  I found it to be one of the most useful remedies for morning sickness.  

9) Finding pretty maternity clothes can be a chore.  I fell in love with COS before I was pregnant, but was delighted to find that many of their clothes are easily bump adaptable.  It's a wonderful place to look for non-maternity but bump-friendly dresses, like this one.  I love that you can wear them after baby too. 

10)  Practicing self care is one of the biggest challenges as a mother to a toddler.  I find myself running around and being exhausted so much more this pregnancy.  Weather it's a nap in the afternoon or treating myself to a pedicure once and a while, taking time out for myself has been so important.  For friends who are local to the GTA, I wanted to share that my most favorite way to treat myself is by visiting La Fleur De France in Oakville.  It is by far the best spa experience I've had; Dalila and her sister made me feel so special and pampered, not to mention that they are so knowledgable about natural skin care and ingredients to avoid while pregnant.  The facial I had there truly made my skin glow.    

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Second Time Around

I'm thrilled to have been invited to be a monthly contributor over at Her View From Home.  It's such a lovely community of women and the stories shared continue to inspire me about motherhood, faith and life.

This month, I'm sharing a bit about being pregnant for the second time.  Hope you'll pop over and check it out here

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

James Robert's Train Birthday Party

We had the best time going back to Charlotte last week to visit family and friends!  While we were there, James Robert turned three and we practically celebrated the entire week.  A highlight was getting all his little buddies together for a train themed birthday party (he started asking for a train party months ago)!

Since we no longer live in Charlotte, we rented a space to host everyone.  Planning from a distance was a bit challenging, but I tried to keep it simple and easy to execute.  I have such a weakness for party planning, especially for kids parties.  So luckily, my Mom helped me create some simple DIY train party items such as a tissue paper garland and the cute train she made to play "pin the smokestack on the train game". The invites were the jumping off point for our navy and green color scheme.  

Some of my favorite elements are below. 
popcorn boxes/ invites/ tissue garland DIY/ hats/ whistles/ three t-shirt/ suckers/ stickers/ DIY train

To entertain the kids, we set up a game we called "toss the coal in the hole" which was a hit; what kid doesn't love being allowed to throw something?  The "pin the smokestack" game was equally fun. 
Mat made the cutest train tracks on the ground with electric tape!
We also had an art table set up with lots of crayons, stickers and a hat, bandana and whistle for the kids to be a conductor- these served as fun party favors for kids to take home. This pop-up train got a lot of use too.  We lucked out on the day of and had beautiful weather, so the kids also went outside for bubbles and chalk. 
three t-shirt 

For the food, we kept things as simple as possible. Veggie and fruit platters and James Robert's favorite chick-fil a nuggets were served.  
JRL candy dishes
And since James Robert has a peanut allergy, I made a few desserts at home.  One small cake/cupcakes for the kids and also the most  delicious birthday cake popcorn.  I loved the way it looked in these popcorn boxes adorned with custom stickers. I have to say, this was perhaps the hit of the party so I wanted to make sure to link to the recipe here.  I'll definitely be making it again- it was perfect for a kids party because it was egg and nut free!  
popcorn boxes/ stickers
While the details were a lot of fun, I found that I hardly took any pictures because I was too busy enjoying everything- which is the best kind of party, right?!  We felt so lucky to have so many friends join us to celebrate, many we hadn't seen in over a year.  It was really a special day.  I wish I had gotten a picture of all the kids together, but here's our best family shot!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Letter to My Birthday Boy

Apologies for the radio silence this week; there is a birthday to plan and trips to pack for and an oh-so-pregnant belly that seems to dip me into exhaustion a bit more than usual these days. 

We had a hint of spring this past weekend sandwiched in-between the typical cold and snow of a Canadian winter.  And while I’m doing  my best to appreciate what this season has to offer, I am more than excited to escape back to North Carolina next week and feel some southern temperatures.  

I fear that I may not have the time to sit down and write a birthday letter to James Robert next week amid all of the celebrating and visiting we will be doing.  And this afternoon, as I reviewed some pictures I took of him recently, I was struck with a strong feeling of motherhood nostalgia.  My sweet boy turns 3 in about a week and it couldn’t feel more surreal. So I hope you don’t mind me sharing a letter to him here, for posterity sake.  

To my dearest James Robert,  this portrait captures your spirit.  You’re wide-eyed, you’re delighted and delightful and you’re ever the source of light and love in our lives.  Three years is but a small way of marking time in the grand scheme of the impact you’ve made.  Your life has magnified the beauty in mine.  I still marvel that I get to be your mother and what a perfect gift God bestowed when he allowed me to take on that charge. 

The days are few when you do not give affection willfully and freely to those around you.  Friends, neighbors, even the bus driver to whom you wave frantically to are all glad recipients of your charms.  But to me and your Father, you provide the most endearing and unending level of affection. You are sensitive to other’s feelings; you’re compassionate and thoughtful.  You ask questions that speak to your intuitive and caring nature.  I have yet to put you to bed at night without countless kisses and one more “I love you’s” being whispered as I creep the door shut. 

Your Father and I relish these days.  To watch you blossom at school and make friends at church while learning to be more independent is a joy.  You are very much part of our dinner conversations, not so much because you’re the topic of conversation, but because you tend to guide them; you are loquacious beyond your years. To see your pride in mastering new tasks and the happiness you exude while “performing” with your instruments are the memories we’ll return to for years to come. 

Trucks, trains and sticks remain at the top of your favorite things.  But you also love to read books with us and have become more and more curious about the characters. You’ve inherited a 4th generation sweet tooth and you are most delighted when allowed to eat dessert- there are no words to describe the smile you displayed when we made banana pudding a few weeks ago.  This year, your relationship with Major has become even more tender;  he is your best buddy and playmate (until you don’t want him to lick you anymore). 

Your new playmate, coming in June, will love you tremendously too.  You talk to your baby brother in my belly so much these days and ask me endlessly to recount all the things that you “get” to teach him.  It will be joyful beyond measure to see you fulfill the role of big brother. 
As you turn three, I want to remember you as this picture captures.  An absolute twinkle in your eye, a wonder for the world and zest for capturing all that life has to offer, be that a snow flake on your tongue or all that comes after.  You are such a blessing, my son.  Thank you for being you. 

All of my love,