Friday, March 25, 2016

How to Mom Like a Pro

  • Make the top of the dresser a chalk board by painting it with black chalk board paint. 
  • Buy easel on clearance for $9
  • Keep washable everything well stocked (within reason, of course)
  • Provide free access to all of the washable stock (within reason, of course)
  • Show child how to use and create with all things washable
  • Also show child how to wash the washable
  • Let them paint in their pajamas
  • Never admit that it was just an impromptu pajama day
  • Call it pajama day as if it were a special occasion
  • Pretend like pajama days are a rare event
  • Wash laundry while you're bluffing about the pajamas
Experience hours and hours of fascinated creativity and no screen time while you do laundry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sheng & Elizabeth | Engagement

He makes her feel like dancing, and her infectious giggle entices him to hold her close as their fingers intertwine. She hums as they rhythmically guide each other, creating their own special dance. The wrinkles in her nose when he makes her laugh tell the story of her adoration for him. She loves adventure, and he loves her love of adventure. His gentle strength keeps her calm and focused. Together they choreograph the sort of love story that will last. As their feet tap the pavement, moving each other and dancing together they breathe in the breathtaking moments that are the stepping stones to a joyous ever after. They are best friends. There's a wedding coming in October. There will be dancing and laughter, and their love will sparkle in all of the glitter. When the final flecks of glitter have been swept up and all the messy details of wedding and planning are over, there's two hearts with one love and the tenacity to dance forever.

It was so much fun to hang out with this fun couple as we clamored all over Eau Claire to capture their love in some spectacular ways. They take their love of adventure seriously, even in a photoshoot. From the rocky ridges cutting out the river along Phoenix Park, to Grand Avenue Cafe where the barista served up a gorgeous pair of their "prettiest drink ever", then we were off to one of the named coldest places in the U.S along the Putnam Park trails, and tried not to get lost in the confusing maze of the UW campus.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Paper Art for Kids

 This was a fun card project. Cut shapes out, draw some lines, supervise the glue stick and assist the older one in accordion paper folding techniques and let them have fun.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Simple Life

Most of my days begin in the wee hours of the morning. A tap on my shoulder and the 3 year-old politely imploring, "Mom, can you snuggle me, pleeeeeeease?" I stir, not really willing to share my comfortable space with a thrashing, whispering small human, but at the same time how long will this thrashing, whispering small human only want to be snuggled? He wiggles his way right under the covers and straight into my heart as he somehow takes ownership of the width and breadth of my pillow and the entire expanse of the queen sized bed.

Somewhere around this time, the nocturnal deaf cat starts howling as he prowls around the house. I hug the edge of the mattress and contemplate what a world without cats would be like. Quiet, peaceful, simple. I like simple, I think to myself as the first rays of sun pierce the sky. I can tell the 3 year-old is no longer sleeping when he starts whispering every single thought that flutters across his active mind. 

We live a simple life in our simple rented duplex in a simple country neighborhood. Our furniture is scuffed and worn, our possessions are few, and we're not very fashionable. We like quiet evenings, hand's on projects and fresh dirt. The dog knows all of our friends by name and the cat howls when he's bored. I know the simple life doesn't appeal to all, but it works out for us, and this is what a day in our simple life may or may not look like. 
 When I get out of the shower, there's reams of paper now turned into art by pajama clad little artists. Colton draws S's and fish, while Jimmy writes his name and creates "score cards", as he calls them (something to do with football, I'm not sure I really understand it though, but that's typical of football with me).

 They dress themselves in their favorite Packer shirts and "play library" which is a huge mess but typically involves all of Dad's history "war books" and Dr. Seuss.
We never elude to to the midday sleepy time as a nap, for naps are unacceptable. Being quiet and listening to music as we accidentally drift off to sleep however is far more favorable, and having your big brother tell you animated super man stories before the quiet time commences is a thrashing, whispering small human's favorite way to do things. Also, extra points if the mattress is on the floor.

And then somehow I have this uncanny ability to never know what to fix the family for dinner. Even as the meat is cooking and water is boiling and the man of the house will be home any moment, I'm still all "Dear Pinterest, I don't know what to cook--- Oooo look! A craft!"

It's a simple life, not without it's bad days or frustrating moments. But it's where we are right now. And today is about choosing to be content--embracing the childhood of my sons and enjoying the simple things. You don't need a lot of money for that.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Perfect Irish Coffee

It's Saint Patty's Day, so when you have Irish ancestors and you're a coffee lover you have to celebrate, am I right? My first taste of any sort of alcohol was actually an Irish coffee many, many moons ago at an Irish pub, so of course it was theeee authentic Irish coffee. Little did I realize how high my standards became in that moment when it comes to a proper Irish coffee, because unless I'm in an Irish pub, if I pay somebody to make me an Irish coffee I get a cup of watered down, synthetic flavored, cheap motel tasting coffee.

That is not an Irish coffee experience.

So after trial and error, I learned to make my own. Let me tell you the real way to have your Irish coffee.

You will  need:
Approximately 1 shot of Irish whiskey (or to taste)
About 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or to taste)
Freshly-brewed, rich and strong coffee
Whipping cream

Combine whiskey and brown sugar in the bottom of your Irish Coffee mug. Add coffee until about 3/4 full. Shake whipping cream to make it frothy, and then slowly pour over a large, upside down spoon to make a layer of frothy cream over the coffee. Take a slow sip and enjoy all the layers of flavor merging together to dance on your taste buds.

That, my friends, is how the Irish enjoy the warmth and creaminess of all the good things in life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sometimes Miracles Come in Pairs

Science only goes so far... And then there's God

There are times when life puts an agonizing dream in your heart. It's so strong and so surreal you don't really know how to deal with it, you just want it--need it, rather--so bad. But it doesn't happen. It consumes your heart, you chase after it and chase after it but it's just beyond your grasp. You see it happening all around you, for other people but it's never for you. And then you have a ray of hope, it's becoming reality; this dream of yours is coming true. But when a wrecking ball of despair swings in, and this dream is once again shattered in three hundred thousand broken shards of hopelessness, you're not sure you have it in you to keep the dream alive. 

That's what it was like for a childhood friend of mine. Her and her loving husband, they just wanted a baby. Their dream was to hold and love and care for a child, to be a mom and dad to that special little someone. But maybe some dreams are just a farce. A cruel mockery of what you can not have. 

Tears, prayers, doctors, a final dose of faith and the tiniest glimmer of hope, a miracle began to shape in their lives. Not one, but two precious babies. Born very prematurely these little miracles defied all odds. Little Kensley and Westin. Beautiful, cuddly definitions of the word miraculous. 

Every day Susanna and Mabvuto look at their babies and it's all of their dreams come true over and over again. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Let Them Play

Play is the highest form of research.

I love this quote, particularly as it relates to early childhood education. It has been an unprecedented discovery for me, as I provide the tools and allow my young children the freedom to simply play, that their curiosity compels them to find answers, their wonder drives them to explore, and their excitement causes them to create. In play the young mind comprehends things far more effectively than what structured desk time and educational work sheets dictate. They are but little, their minds are bright, their hearts are eager to know all there is to know. Playtime is essential for their development and is the most important basis of their education. 

"Play is often talked about as if it were a 
relief from serious learning. 
But for children, play is serious learning. 
Play is really the work of childhood." 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bubbles, Bubbles, My Bubbles!

It was the first blissfully warm day of the year. For being February, it was literal perfection. I believe it even touched 60 on the thermometer before quickly retreating back into Winter for a reprieve of the balminess of Spring. It was still February after all.

Naturally, a pair of strawberry blonde brothers spent the afternoon exploring this new muddy habitat that was emerging from beneath all of the stale white cold sloppy stuff. One of them even took a snow shovel to the yard in hopes of discarding what was left of this Old Man Winter just a little bit sooner.

Before long, little brother emerged from the garage with a highly coveted token of last Summer's leftover fun. Bubbles. I watched the longing glance of envy from the older one. He disappeared into the garage in search of another bottle for himself but to no avail. They were all empty.

Now, I have been known to resist the cultural standard of "sharing" and "taking turns" that we are to impose upon our children. It is my hope to instill a sense of ownership along with proper respect for one another. So without intervening, I just sat back and waited to see what would happen. 

Of course Colton was less than eager to give up his beloved treasure, and Jimmy knew it was a lost cause before he even thought to beg and plead. Instead he disappeared into the house for a few moments. When he returned he had his own bubble bottle, filled with a solution he created himself using dish soap and (not quite enough, but that's between you and me) water. He had found a tiny whisk in the kitchen and began to blow the biggest coolest bubbles you ever saw. Admiration seeped from the little brother (and the mother, to be sure!), and together those mud splattered brothers blew bubbles to their hearts' content.  

Creative. Problem solver. Team player. That's my boy. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

We Made a Wish and You Came True

It was a beautiful Winter day.

I'm just going to pause here for effect because that was a little bit of an emotional conundrum for me to pen such words.

I do not do Winter. Winter makes me cry. But not this day; this day was absolutely lovely. It couldn't have been more perfect considering it was February. Cassie had contacted me a few days before and it all fell together at the last minute--this quick and sweet Winter Maternity session. And by last minute, it was almost literally the very last minute because within a week this sweet couple's beautiful little girl was in their arms.