7.18.2014

friday foto: three cheers.

I don't know if you can hear it, but somewhere in cyberspace, there's a giant exhale. That's coming from yours truly, from my corner of the world, where after a month of chaos, we are settling down.

If in May, we were getting grounded, we spent most of June becoming totally ungrounded. Between our uncharacteristically hectic travel schedules, the four of us have not been under one roof for a stretch of more than five days in the last 30. For us, that's not the norm and it was only made slightly less chaotic with the help of our loving parents and super nanny.

For so many reasons, Mari's birthday on Sunday was so major. Turning three is, right? But, her birthday weekend was also the finish line after a challenging month, testing so many things in so many ways. 
But, we made it! And I'm excited to get back to a routine. Take on that summer bucket list (which I may share before it's not too late). And do some really boring things like reorganizing our kitchen storage and my desperately neglected iPhoto library. Who's with me?

Thanks for all of your sweet notes and comments (here and on Instagram) with birthday wishes for Mari. It has been a pretty perfect week (party coverage coming soon!).

Also: this is a total fake-out. We forgot the party hat for the real candle blow-out, and this was a re-do. Hope it's not too obvious. Good sport, that little Mari is.

For more Friday Fotos, start here.

7.15.2014

solid mechanics.

This post has been a long time coming, and it's all about babe, just fyi.

When I was learning the solids ropes with Mari a couple of years ago, I thought about sharing the process for how she got fed; in other words, not so much on the making of the food, or the tools and equipment used, but how it layered into our day with an ever-changing newborn schedule.
The hardest thing for me, with both kids, was figuring out what rhythm [read: schedule] worked for them, and letting that be the guide. As with most things baby, kids have a way of letting us know when they are ready for a change, and with Jenna, I've let her take her time and show me the way. I guess that's what happens with the second kid, when I'm not so hung up on expectations - of my baby or myself.

Do I feed Jenna solids before milk? After? Do I space out her feedings throughout the day? Did I start with rice cereal like everyone says you must? And how many times a day?

Before I dive in, I'll say that as with all things new in newborn, I relied heavily on my best gal pals who had navigated solids before me. Their words and advice is what helped me most. It's my hope that I can pass on some learned tips to those who may be going through solids for the first time.

All that said, here's a rough schedule and guide that I've rediscovered over the last few months as we experience solids, all over again. For your reference, Jenna is now 7 months old.

7.13.2014

happy birthday, baby.

Dear Mari,

Today's your big day! And you're not such a babe anymore, are you? Three sure feels good. It also looks and feels so very grown up.
{photo by Jenna Beth Photography}
My wish for you today is that you feel the joy that I feel every time I look at your sweet face, or when I see you looking at your sister's sweet face... or when you squish her cheeks like everyone does to you. Thank goodness for those cheeks. I don't know life without them.

You are growing and changing so quickly, and you've taught me to embrace time's passing by living in the moment and soaking up every ounce of it. Whether it's eating a strawberry, hopscotch'ing, making cupcakes out of the beach sand or just relaxing, which I really never thought you knew how to do. But, now that you're a whole three years old, relaxing is a thing, and you're quite good at it, even if only for a moment.

My favorite thing to do with you is dance. To our family and friends, that should come as no surprise. Thanks to your daddy, our living room dance parties have the best soundtrack and are enjoyed often. And your observant little sister - who is not far behind - probably thinks we're crazy.

Crazy fun is what it is when I'm with you.

I love you more than the moon.
I love you more than the stars.
I love you more than the sea.
I love you more than all three.

Happy third birthday, my sweet, kind and brave girl.

7.07.2014

big girl room for two.

Six months later and just days before my oldest turns three (THREE!), our girls are in a groove, co-habitating/sleeping and it's working, I'm so happy to report. And, even on days when it's not working so great, Jenna and Mari's room is still my favorite place on earth. It's a perfect blend of peace and pop that just plain makes me happy.
When we were gearing up for baby no. 2, our doc suggested to get Mari cozy and comfy in a big girl bed before the babe arrived. After hours pouring over toddler bed vs. twin bed options, we went big and we haven't looked back. And neither has Mari.

Jenna's gender was a surprise, so we kept everything the same and in the same layout, with the addition of Mari's new bed; blue-gray walls, tangerine highlights, and for Mari, hints of coral and petal pink. You can read up more on how we made Mari's nursery work, plus a list of sources here

With the same tools in an attempt to keep life simple, we've re-organized a bunch. Can moms agree that with kids, their rooms are a never-ending re-org? Between outgrowing toys, shoes and clothes so quickly, it just keeps going. But, I like that, and because we're in tight quarters, we're constantly challenged to only keep the stuff that we really love*.

These pictures are from a random weekend morning and are very un-styled. Their room is so tight that it's got no choice but to stay neat and organized after the eruptions from puzzles, legos, books and stuffed animals, and with Mari's help, we put it back together at the end of every day. While I've moved around a few toy bins/baskets/catch-alls, these organizers from The Land of Nod have been a great addition to this sweet space. They are lightweight enough that Mari can pick them up or drag around, whether in play or clean-up mode.

By the by, my other favorite toy keeper is your basic white galvanized drink tub, similar to this. I'll snap a few one of these days.

Without further ado, here's a close up of her bed, sans bed rails. 
And now, a few of how the rooms looks every. single. day.
There's lots more work to do here - and I'll share with you some more photos, details and sources soon.

In the meantime, we're totally preoccupied with all things birthday this week. The pinata is out and ready to be stuffed; birthday garland hung and now all that's left is to enjoy small gatherings with family and friends here and there into the weekend.

*If you're interested in how we think about toy storage - or rather, how we aspire to think about toy storage - you should read Mary's post on the subject. As always, she's spot on. 

6.20.2014

friday foto: my favorite party tricks.

If you're in the market for some party tips, here's the how-to with links from Jenna's baptism, starting with the decor, like these most perfect tissue paper fans from Shop Sweet Lulu that are my new favorite party tricks, simply because they are so simple to pop up, and bunched together, well, they're just fun.

I also included the party menu, with a few recipe links. What I find I do increasingly more of, with each party, is glam up store-bought items, most of which I get from our friendly Trader Joe's. Life and time savers.

But, what made this party extremely simple was boxing up the main course - a salad - ahead of time. Just before we headed out to church, I had a furious assembly line going with twine, napkins and forks and while that might have been the least attractive I was all day (physically, in all senses), it really was the best party decision I've ever made.

It was grab and go at its cutest, in my opinion! You can see photos in the original post down below.
Decor
+ Shop Sweet Lulu: Tissue paper fans, stripey straws, twine, napkins and tassle garland (not pictured)
+ Garnish: Kraft take-out boxes (in size small) and disposable wood forks
+ Trader Joe's: for all flowers
+ Invitations: designed by yours truly

Menu
+ Drinks: sparkling water, sparkling lemonade, sparking blood orange juice (all from Trader Joe's)
+ Appetizers: deviled eggs, melon and proscuitto skewers and Trader Joe's fresh bruschetta with crostini
+ Main: The Barefoot Contessa's lobster and shells salad, with wild shrimp subbed for lobster, garnished with a pile of arugula and Trader Joe's breadsticks on the side (note: Trader Joe's frozen wild-caught shrimp is amazing and very worth it, thanks, mom, for finding them!).
+ Dessert: Trader Joe's meringue cookies, heart sugar cookies (perfect icing coloring tutorial: here) and strawberries and sweet cream cheese

And, lastly, my advice to anyone who asks questions on party planning: start with Shop Sweet Lulu, get inspired, find your color palette, make smart purchases and then get down to business. The end.

6.17.2014

jenna's baptism.

Jenna's sweet baptism day looked and felt so similar to her big sister's a couple of years ago; just as meaningful, happy and special, in all senses.
Here are a few photos from a very small celebration we hosted at our home following the ceremony. Filled with the sound of little feet and lots of giggles, we really did repeat a few of our favorite party tricks, like lobster and shells and plenty of supplies from Shop Sweet Lulu. I did, for the first time ever, use Garnish and loved the results!
Holy cow. My photography (and editing skills, or lack thereof) needs some serious work.

I'll have a follow up post this week with source details and links to what we served up for food, if you're in the market for an easy party menu (with lots of store bought goodness!).

6.13.2014

friday foto: coral peonies.

Peony pictures are sweeping the socials, aren't they? Well, when in Rome.
This beautiful bunch was from Jenna's baptism, which we celebrated in May. If you're a Trader Joe's shopper, this gorgeous, poufy flower is nothing new to you. 

I've been putting together a post on our little celebration for way too long now, and I'll be sharing it with you soon. It it wasn't really intentional for Jenna's baptism to look and feel just like Mari's, but I guess when you have something that works, it works. You know what I mean? 

Happy weekend, all!

For more Friday Fotos, start here