DIY Christmas tree garland for kids

Since becoming a mom, my preference for holiday decorations has become much more whimsical. I used to be obsessed with all of our decorations matching each other. White was the name of the game. I would never even think about having colored lights on the tree but, now I say the more color the better! 

Christmas tree garland for kids

 

The colorful Christmas tree garland that I made for Lyla last year fits my new decorating style perfectly. It’s bright, colorful, and has that homemade touch that screams Christmas to me. 

You can check out the tutorial I posted last year here. Trust me, they are SUPER easy – even in my tired mom of two state I plan on making a few more strands of it this year to hang around the house. Maybe I’ll try a shape other than Christmas trees – any suggestions?

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For all of you who are playing along in our Home for the Holidays bloghop, I can’t wait to see what fun recipes and crafts you all have in store for us today. Share your links below!

 

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Stocking Stuffers for Everyone

Welcome to day one of our Home for the Holidays Bloghop!

If you are a regular here, you know that our Thanksgiving ended on the highest of notes with the arrival of our son, Simon. We are so in love with him and are enjoying our time together at home as we try to figure out our new normal. 

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Of course, find our “normal” might take us a while, especially with all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas surrounding us but that is A-OK with me. It is the most wonderful time of the year after all 😉

My favorite gift-giving tradition is the stocking. As a child, there was nothing more magical than coming downstairs on Christmas morning and finding a neat row of stockings bulging full of goodies.

As an adult, I still love opening my stocking but I love stuffing them even more! For this post, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite stocking stuffers that work for everyone on your list. They are classics that we always found in our stockings Christmas morning and that I make sure find their way into my family’s as well. 

EVERYONE

1 // Christmas socks. We really don’t wear socks that often here in Hawaii but  I love getting a fun pair of socks on Christmas morning to wear throughout the day. 

2 // Bazooka bubble gum. Definitely my favorite kind of gum. Even if I did chip my tooth on a piece in college…

3 // Archie comics. My brother and I used to snuggle up on the couch together after opening all of our presents and read Archie comics all afternoon. Those were the days! I’m not a comic book reader any other time of the year, but on Christmas Day it’s on. 

4 // Everyone knows that the toe of your stocking has to be filled with an orange, right?

5 // Candy. Enough said. 

6 // Toothbrush. To balance out all of that bubble gum and candy action 😉

What are your favorite stocking stuffers? I’d love to hear in the comments below! And don’t forget to share your Home for the Holidays Bloghop links below! 

 

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Introducing: Home for the Holidays Bloghop

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Of course, I’m looking forward to stuffing my face eating an embarrassing amount of food but what I’m really excited for is that it means we can finally start talking about Christmas around here!

I know, it’s my blog so technically I could have been bombarding you with Christmas posts already but I know that not everyone is as Christmas obsessed as I am so I have been holding off. 

There is a ton I want to share with you about this, the most magical time of the year, and to kick things off I’ll be participating in a home for the holidays blog hop next week. We will be blogging about different aspects of the holiday everyday and hope you will join us! Check out the details below. 

 
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Make plans now to join the festive blog party each day from November 30th – December 4th!

With the holidays just around the corner, we want to share our favorite Traditions, Gifts, Decor, Food & more and we want to know YOURS! Join your hosts Neely, Branson, Lauren, Julia and Natasha the first week of December as we link up and step into your home for the holidays! 
 
The days for this blog party will be themed… link up as many posts as you like each day, as long as they fit the theme for the day! 
  • Monday – Gifts 
  • Tuesday – Recipes/Crafts 
  • Wednesday – Traditions/Activities
  • Thursday – Decor
  • Friday – Free for All! (Link up any holiday-related post, or make up for any of the days you missed!)
Make sure to link up with us every day and use the hashtag #HFTHbloghop to share photos and posts on social media. We will be retweeting and reposting your posts throughout the week… and on through the holidays! We will also pin our favorites to the Home for the Holidays Pinterest board! Come join the fun – find some new blogs and get your blog out there while spreading cheer throughout the blogosphere! 
 
It would be lovely if you would follow each of your hosts in some way! Feel free to give a shout out when you do so we can follow you as well!
 
 
 
 
Natasha @ Natasha Byrd
 
Julia @ The Quiet Grove 
 
 
Click to tweet and help us spread the word! 
 
Tweet: Join the #HTFHbloghop and spread holiday cheer throughout the blogosphere! http://bit.ly/1j84im9 @neelykins @bransonmerrill @talkofthetrains
 
Grab a button!  
 
Home for the Holidays Blog Hop
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Daily Wellness Reminders

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeHealthyForEveryPartofLife #CollectiveBias

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I don’t know about you, but I often find myself getting pulled in a million different directions this time of year. My mind is constantly running through my never ending to-do list which is exhausting so, in an attempt to free my mind of some of the clutter, I created a daily wellness reminder sheet to keep on my fridge. 

The sheet helps me visualize the four main roles in my life (wife, mom, friend and self) and highlights some of the ways that I can stay on top of my wellness game for each of them which frees me up for playdates and date nights.

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Building and maintaining friendships is so important for your overall wellness yet one of the hardest things for me to do. I’ll be the first to admit that I get so wrapped up in taking care of my family that I tend to do things like forget to respond to text messages in a timely fashion, failing to give my friends the time and attention that they deserve. (sorry, friends)

This is something that I definitely want to improve on and I plan on doing by focusing on staying in touch both online, through snail mail and in person.  

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As a mama, it is so easy to neglect self-care. I’m not talking about the basics like brushing your teeth and washing your hair (although, some days if I get my teeth brushed before noon it feels like quite the accomplishment), but about taking time to make sure your spirit is happy. It may not get to happen daily, but I love when I have a few quiet minutes to just sit down and dive into a devotion. 

Another way that I can take better care of myself is by, well, taking better care of myself. I know, it sounds like a no-brainer but a lot of times I find myself so busy taking care of everyone else that things like taking my vitamins and taking care of my skin slip my mind which is why I love having these reminders on my wellness checklist. 

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I recently picked up some Emergen-C to help me pack in the Vitamin C that I know I am lacking. It’s quick, easy, and delicious plus it helps me with my daily water intake. I love when I can kill two birds with one stone. Cheers to more healthy days, more healthy nights!

mom

The dictionary defines mom as “one’s mother” which is so simple it’s almost comical. I tried again and looked up mother and was told that it is “a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.”

HA. Yes, they are both accurate, but we all know that there is a lot more that falls into the mom category. My definition of the word would include a few more things. Things like mess cleaner, food preparer, tantrum soother, boo-boo kisser, mess cleaner, laundry doer, mess cleaner and ummm mess cleaner. 

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I’ve been working on allowing myself some grace in this category because, try as I might, I am not – and never will be – super mom. There are always things that are going to fall through the cracks (graham cracker crumbs, I’m looking at you) but I do try to focus on a few things that help me feel like a better mom. 
wife

It’s so important to me that Alex and I provide an example of a healthy, loving relationship for our children and I work hard to keep up my end of the bargain. Lucky for me, Alex makes it easy and I love being his wife.

One of the best things, I think, that we can do for our marriage is to keep dating each other. 

Our dates don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be enjoyed. Just yesterday, we picked up donuts on the way home from church and had a donut date while Lyla napped and it was perfect. But as much as I love our at-home dates, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house, just the two of us. 

On the off-chance that we have planned a date that involves leaving the house without baby, and have gone through the trouble of setting up a sitter, I want to make sure that we are feeling our best so that we don’t have to cancel.

In a perfect world, nothing would interrupt date night but sometimes a long day at work (or long day with a busy, nap-skipping toddler) can bring with them pesky headaches and/or muscle aches that make enjoying your date night a little more challenging. If you find this happening to you, I suggest keeping an Advil Tablet Vial in your purse or glove compartment of your car – that way you have easy access while out and about. You don’t have to worry about it working either because it’s full of the original round tablets that have been providing safe, effective pain relief for over 25 years. 

While on our dates, I always try to listen intently. As a mom, it’s sometimes hard for me to push back thoughts of how things are going back at the house and give my full attention to my husband but I know that it is super important and it’s a skill I continue to work on. 

And, since all good dates end with a kiss, I make sure that my lips stay soft and kissable. I’m a total sucker for good lip balm and ChapStick Total Hydration does not disappoint. I love that it’s 100% natural and instantly smoothes and moisturizes my lips. 

By focusing on my overall wellness in each of these categories, rather than hard specifics, I feel like I am an overall healthier person. 

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I found all of my wellness products on my last trip to Walmart. What are some of your date night essentials? How do you keep on top of your overall wellness? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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** I created the images above using free clip art from Angie Makes 

 

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Lyla’s Birth Story

Before I started exclusively blogging here, Alex and I hosted a little website/blog that we mostly used to keep up with family living outside of Hawaii. Eventually, the lines between what I shared here and what we shared on the other blog started to blur and this site became home to all of our online updates.

We are getting ready to take our other site down, so Alex suggested I visit the site and save any posts that I don’t want to see deleted and boy am I glad I listened. 

For obvious reasons, the post that stuck out to me the most was Lyla’s birth story. When I was pregnant with her, I loved reading birth stories. I wanted to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. Reading all of the different stories helped me feel more at ease about doing it myself. 

As I get ready to deliver our second baby, I have been experiencing all sorts of anxiety. Funnily enough, reading my own birth story from just a year and a half ago has helped me relax about going through the process again. It reminded me of how amazing it is when you finally meet the little person that you have been bonding with for the last 9 months. How the pain and the discomfort just melts away as soon as that little baby is put in your arms. How beautiful the whole process is. 

Since I enjoyed re-reading her birth story so much, I’ve decided to share it here. 

I’ll warn you: it’s long. 

So, if reading birth stories is your jam – you’re welcome. If not, I’ll see you next post! 

In the middle of the night (3:38AM to be exact) I woke up thinking to myself “I think my water is going to break” so I jumpedhobbled out of bed and ran into the bathroom and sure enough, after I used the toilet I stood up and there it went. Keeping in mind the words of the nurse from earlier that day, I decided not to wake anyone up just yet. I thought to myself that even if this was the start of my labor, we had plenty of time until I had to be at the hospital.

Knowing that I wanted to be fresh when we did finally decide to go in, I decided to jump in the shower. I started to have semi-painful contractions while showering and the hot water felt so good on my back that I ended up staying in there for about an hour. When I got out of the shower, Alex was awake and I let him know that my water had officially broken. I also woke up my mom and decided to call the hospital to see when we should come in (their answer: right away!)

The drive was pretty uneventful, my contractions were getting stronger and more painful but I had nice breaks in between each one. The closer we got to the hospital, the more excited I started to become – we were going to meet our baby (hopefully) TODAY!

We finally got to the hospital around 7AM. Unfortunately, it was shift-change time so we had to wait around for a while before they put me into a triage room.

Once we were in the triage room, it was like a switch was flipped in my body and I was in full-on “this is not a joke” labor. At least, I thought so. A nurse came in to check my progress (4cm) and to make sure that it was actually my water that broke (it was).

LYLA BIRTH 1

Throughout my pregnancy, I knew I wanted as natural as a labor as I could handle. The nurse that was helping us in the beginning saw I was in a lot of pain and started to push the epidural, but I declined. (not having an epidural was my only “hard rule” that I set for myself) I was open to other drugs for pain management though, and found myself asking for Tylenol to “take the edge off” (HA).

No drugs could be administered though, until we moved to the delivery room. The nurse informed us that there weren’t any rooms ready at that time and that as soon as one was available, they would move me to it.

WHAT.

I remember being really upset by that news. I needed to move to a room, and I needed to move soon. My contractions were right on top of each other and I was literally writhing in pain. I’m sure the nurses thought I was being dramatic — just another first-time mom in the beginning stages of labor who has NO idea how bad it’s going to get. (HA again)

LYLA BIRTH 2

After what seemed like an eternity, they came to get me and wheeled me to the labor and delivery room. They transfered me to the new bed and our nurse told me she was going to check my progress.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” were here words.

My heart sank. I was convinced that I had somehow gone backwards in my progress and if that was the case, I surely would die.

But thankfully, I didn’t move backwards (really don’t think that it possible) but instead I had progressed from 4cm- 10cm (in less than two hours) and it was time to have baby!

Everyone in the room was shocked. I felt a little bit of relief knowing that I was near the end, and that the reason I was in SO much pain so early on was because I was going through the hardest part of labor, and I was doing it FAST.

LYLA BIRTH 3

The room was ready for delivery, my body was ready to push & I could see the end in sight and then I hear the nurses tell me not to push.

Again, WHAT?!

My doctor wasn’t there yet, and they wanted me to wait for him. At this point, I don’t even remeber having a reaction to this. I knew he would get there when he got there and I just focused on trying not to push (which is almost impossible) Luckily, there was a really great nurse by my side who encouraged me and let me know to do small pushes during the contractions to help with some of the pressure.

Not long after, Dr. Oh arrived and quickly put a gown on. FINALLY it was show time. We wasted no time and I started to push. Apparently, my pushes were effective (and girl was more than ready to make her appearance) because 11 short minutes later, she was out!

Well, halfway.

Lyla came out with her cord wrapped around her neck twice. It was so tight that the doctor wasn’t able to unwind it so they had to cut it there before she was able to come all the way out. I was always told that the head and shoulders were the hardest part to deliver, and after that the baby would just “fall” out so I was not a happy camper when I didn’t feel that relief that I was expecting (it was at this point where I let a few expletives fly — whoops!)

Once they got the cords cut, she was out and they took her to the warming table and Alex was able to do a ceremonial cord cutting.

I did it. 

I was over the moon. Baby girl was here.

I knew I still had to deliver the placenta, and that the doctors would have to stitch me up so I wasn’t concerned that they were working on me. I had a sweet baby to meet.

They gave Lyla to me and just like that, my world was changed. I’m not even going to try to describe it. You can listen to a million people try to explain that feeling, read a billion birth stories like this, and picture it in your head a trillion times but nothing will ever fully prepare you for the moment that you meet your child.

It’s magical.

While we were off in baby la-la land, the mood in the room quickly changed. The team of doctors and nurses suddenly got serious and we realized that they still weren’t done working on me.

I remember thinking, “this definitely isn’t normal”. (I was right)

Without getting too graphic, I was hemorraghing & the doctors were having a really hard time getting it to stop. The small team of nurses that were in the room for delivery quickly multiplied and I was all of a sudden surrounded by people giving me shots, applying pressure and attempting to give me IV medications (my veins were flattening out because I was losing so much blood, so getting an IV in place was a challenge)

Luckily, the team was able to get the bleeding under control before I needed a blood transfusion (the team was in-room ready to go). Slowly, the room started emptying out and I was able to relax.

While all of that “excitement” was going on, the nurses had taken Lyla out to the nursery. But once my doctor gave them the ok, they brought her back in the room and we were able to soak her in.

She’s perfect.

She is everything I imagined her to be, and nothing like I imagined all at the same time.

LYLA BIRTH 4

The experience as a whole was nothing like I expected. There was no laboring on a birthing ball or time for family face-time calls. It was fast and it was furious. It was the hard and it was scary. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat (cliche, I know)

When I think back on that day, I am so beyond thankful for Alex & my mom. Together, they were an incredible support team and I think I would have lost my mind without them there.

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We spent two nights in the hospital before coming home. The nurses took amazing care of us and I was almost sad when it was time to leave!

LYLA BIRTH 8

 

Told you it was long! Fellow mom bloggers: did you share your birth story? I would love to read it! 

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Watercolor Coffee Filter Leaves | Fall Toddler Art Project

I really love Thanksgiving but I have to admit that I am more than ready to move on to Christmas this year. With every day that passes, it takes pretty much all of my self control to not bust out the Christmas decorations.

Last week, Lyla and I found ourselves strolling ever so slowly through the Christmas aisles at Target which did not help lower my Christmas-fever so I decided that we needed to do a fall-ish craft ASAP.

Enter these watercolor coffee filter leaves.

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The set up for this craft is super simple. While bean was taking her nap, I cut out some leaf shapes (alright, one shape over and over) from plain ol’ coffee filters and then drew on some leaf veins (is that what they are called?) with Elmer’s Glue. 

By the time she woke up, the glue was dried and we were ready to paint! I taped the leaves onto a paper folder that I had laying around, gave her some watercolors and a couple of brushes and let her at it! 

toddler-watercolor-artI let them air dry for a few hours (hello, Hawaii humidity levels) before attempting to remove them from the folder. They were still a little bit wet, so I hung them on the clothesline in our laundry room overnight. 

The next morning, they were dry but the tops of the leaves were funky from being clothes-pinned all night so I stuck them under a stack of books for a while. 
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The book-smashing did the trick and the leaves came out nice and flat. 

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The last step was to get those bad boys displayed. To do so, I simply strung a piece of baker’s twine through the top of each leaf and hung them in her play area. 

Quick, simple, and easy – just the way we like our toddler crafts (and as an added bonus, we crossed another thing off of our falloha bucket list!)

 

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