Monday, December 31, 2012

our "can't live without" newborn list

weeks later as usual it has become overly apparent how little you really need for a new baby. mamas love and some good blankets should be more then enough. robin, like all my other babies is particular about few things, but when they find them, it is pretty serious.

a good swing and a comfy carseat have been key players in our little mans life, but when it comes to everyday home use there are only a few things i can think of that we couldn't live without. good cloth diapers, soft comfy clothes, good hats for cold weather and our vintage cradle have been just as important as these guys below - but before you go crazy trying to purchase all the things before your little one arrives, consider how little they will really need. robin is eight weeks old and going strong loving just these:
i can't rant and rave about muslin swaddle blankets enough! they don't even have to be the more pricey aden and anais, but theirs sure do come in adorable prints! robin got the monster mash set to go with the collection i already had going from stella. i don't use these to actually swaddle robin too much since it is pretty cold right now, but we use them for spit up rags, nursing covers, snuggle them up to his face and more! the more you wash them the softer they get and he even prefers to have his cradle lined with one for sleeping on. lately i have been washing them then having one in bed with me that i offer him after a bit - that way he has my scent on it to help him sleep and feel more comfortable.

good lord this invention is amazing! i keep joking with tim that once robin moves to his room i will need to get a sleep sheep for me - he jokes i can just get an app on my iPhone, but it just isn't the same - the sounds coming out of this soft sheep are amazing! the sleep sheep is a sound machine that offers four great nature sounds. robin and i prefer the ocean waves and even with all the noise of a household of six he instantly relaxes when i turn it on. the only down fall is the longest it stays on is forty-five minutes and sometimes that isn't enough and the shut off disrupts him just as he is falling asleep. we opted for the to-go version, it is a little smaller so it fits great in his cradle or carseat (is less expensive) and is exactly the same as his larger version.

with stella we really struggled with skin issues - a couple of doctors went back and forth if it was eczema or just dry skin. either way it was sensitive and irritable. when i was pregnant with robin i ventured into whole food for my first time ever (i know) and went a little nuts in their body care aisle - so many delicious goodies! i came home with the yet to carrots baby soap as just something new to try for stella, well low and behold since we switched to this soap/shampoo combo her dry skin issues are totally gone! when it came time to stock up for robin's arrival i knew exactly where to look! california baby had been suggested to me several time over the years but i could not wrap my head around its cost - yes to carrots, in my opinion, is just as good but at a fraction of the cost! i am only sad they don't offer more in the line...bubbles anyone?
this is a no brainer - babies spend months curled up in a snug warm place inside their mamas, of course they would find comfort in the same feelings once they are on the outside. we are swaddling fools around these parts. wether it is a snuggly zipper like sac or a warm fleece velcro wrap for the winter, i like to stay stocked up on these bad boys! plus, blankets aren't safe when they are teeny tiny so this is a great alternative.

sure, we pull out our trusty nose frida constantly or love to lay little man down on his colorful floor mat and i wouldn't be able to sneak away for a girls night if it weren't for my medela pump - but in the end, we get by with very little.

i went back and forth on listing a baby carrier - but really in those first few week, i personally, don't use mine a ton. now that robin is about eight weeks i use the ergo and conversion wrap a lot more, with the insert of course, but right at first i haven't found one that i am totally comfortable in, that i can go about my business without worrying that i am blocking his nose or something. 

what is your can't live without item?

when i polled my facebook followers i got answers like: the boppy, a bin of diapers + wipes by the couch, a good swing, and muslin blankets.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

robin dash :: month two

there is no way this sweet little prince is two months already!

when i say sweet i mean it - you rarely hear a peep out of this little guy unless it is time to eat or he is tired of being baby sat by the giraffe on his activity mat. he doesn't even mind when rowan uses her foot to hold his passy in while they watch cartoons in the morning.

dare i say, for the most part little man i sleeping through the night! even on a "bad" night though we are only up once for a quick snack and then right back to sleep. other wise it is about ten to seven for him. this month we are going to work on having him nap in his crib upstairs. as of now he sleep in his swing downstairs because it is just way to convenient but since he'll eventually have to get used to that bed i guess now is a good time to slowly transition.

just like stella he now loves baths and laying on the soft furry bath rug after. daddy is in charge of baths in this house and he does a great job at it! poor robin gets jumped over, things dropped on him, and constantly has to listen to sisters yell but he is really warming up to all of them. especially zoe, when she gets down to talk to him he coos and smiles like crazy - stella was the same way.

this boy is officially smiling! it isn't just sleepy dream smiles anymore - he'll flash that to die for gummy smile for anyone who is willing to work for it. tim gets them by tickling his lips and i get them by talking in a annoying mom voice telling him that i can't get over his fuzzy new hairs he is working so hard on growing.

speaking of new hairs - did i mention i can't get over how cute all the fuzzy new ones he has!

cooing is another milestone we have checked off the list, while he has been doing it for awhile, it is much more purposeful, like he is having a real conversation with us. he is also focusing on his hands a lot more and realizes he is the proud owner of a tongue. 

i am finding myself calling him rob more and more. i thought that would be a nick name he could choose later if he wanted but i think it suits him so well. aunt holly has reserved robbie as her nick name for him now. i also call him handsome rob, because you know, the italian job.

robin is not a little guy, i can't wait to see what his actual stats are but he is growing like a weed! he can barely wear any 0-3 anymore and we are already shopping for a convertible rear facing carseat that he will most likely need soon!

he fits right into this family of six so perfectly! while i hate how fast time is moving by, i am watching him turn into a little man and am loving every second!

happy two months little dash!

Friday, December 28, 2012

caught on camera

i wanted to cry when i pulled this photo up on my camera and saw how bad the quality was but that doesn't matter - i will print it, enlarge it, and most definitely cherish it forever. because these gummy smiles that he reserves just for me? they're what i live for.

that newborns-ness.

the toes, the smell, the little noises, the sleepless nights - all still there, just not so new anymore. i might have actually told tim a couple weeks ago that i could have one more. is this how michelle duggar ended up with nineteen of them, she could get that intoxicating newborn smell off her mind?

a great piece of advice i can offer you wether your are a first time mom or a fourth: take a hundred photos of those wrinkly toes, write down what his smell reminds you off, save all of his tiny clothes, keep a calendar or note pad that documents every time he sneezes - because all those moments? are fleeting and gone before you know it.

this boy is so delicious that i constantly find it down right impossible to set him down so the house goes uncleaned. we're in a constant state of couch parties all day in our jams while we eat things that can made quickly so we can get right back to the laziness and snuggling and loving and being a family of six.

this boy, these kids, this is the life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

cloth diapering our newborn


before robin was born i sold off the old stash that we had used with stella and started over fresh. i talked a little bit about our journey up until that point here and mentioned what the future held for us cloth diaper wise.

now, he is here and cloth diapering is second nature - i had some nerves building up to it, i had promise tim when the current pack of organic disposables ran out we would phase in the cloth. robin lost his cord piece on day four and was gaining weight so well that i wasn't worried about how they would fit. 

we ended up going two routes, both completely different from how we cloth diapered stella. we ended up skipping the idea of a newborn rental service and thank god - at only six weeks, robin already weighs twelve and a half pounds or more, so those would have fit for a millisecond and been a huge money loss on our part. instead, when i sold off our stash i used those same funds (so really the original purchase of diapers did last more then one kid) to purchase five bumgenius organic aio's and twenty-four prefolds with four thirsties covers in the first size.

first off, i can't rave enough about the bg elementals - we have had zero blow outs and minor leaks only happen by user error. this boy can really pee and poo and i am still getting used to this difference. they are so so soft and feel sturdy - i have opted to dry them in the dryer most times, because one down fall is they would take forever to line dry and since i only have five right now i don't want to wait, and i am not worried about them holding up for the next two years. they are a bit pricier then any diaper i have pawned after before, at twenty-five dollars a piece i will have to slowly collect more after the next few months.

next, i was surprised at how much i like using prefold and covers - twelve of the prefolds i got are called "perfect size" and are perfect for tri-folding and laying in the cover just like any other insert. they too provide great protection and as along as the cover stays clean i only use about two a day. with robin being so big, it won't be long before we have to jump up to the next set of buttons on the covers and start using the regular length newborn prefolds but either way this system is one of my favs.

sadly, we are not using cloth at night like i would have rather - he is just way to heavy of a wetter and being small his diaper already bulks him up enough without adding fifty soakers. he is ebf so his diapers go right from pail to wash with no worries of pulling the sprayer out yet. i am married to rockin' green soap and am having fun trying out new manly-er scents with this little man. i even discovered it was a little cheaper with free shipping (with a prime account) to order it from amazon, score.

so, that is where we are six weeks in. i am still greatly feeling the savings - even when people question me. it doesn't really matter what costco diapers cost, have you read the studies about the stuff they put in them? scary. andplusalos, you should see how cute his toosh looks in a bumgenius aqua colored elemental.

stay tuned for another update soon!


Monday, December 24, 2012

twas' the night before christmas...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

tough love christmas

i seriously considered titling this: the truth about christmas, because this year it's a little bit about santa showing some tough love and lessons on life.

this week i have been on a major mission to purge anything and everything i can in the house, i got on such a organizing roll that it didn't even phase me when i chucked a gift from christmas last year into the "get outta here" boxes. i even told tim, just go ahead and take it all to goodwill - knowing full well there was some stuff in there i could sell and make some extra cash. i just wanted it gone. 

each room that i went through it felt like more and more weight lifted from my mind. i have talked before about how my kids are brats when it comes to consumerism. i mean, what kid isn't? and i fully admit a lot of it is my fault - i get crazy excited giving them new toys, hoping it will bring them as much joy as that moment is - but it always fades crazy fast.

aside from the fact that money is tight right now, rowan and stella's attitudes have been blow your mind bad lately, somewhere along the lines they started thinking like they were entitled to all the things. they are not. so, remembering how last christmas went, overwhelmed kids who literally got sick of opening gifts, we set out with a different plan this year: one gift for each kid.

no joke, they literally do not need a single other toy nor will they ever take responsibility for more toys and it will just be one more thing i have to clean up and then be mad about. it is a vicious cycle people. 

so, zoe is getting an iPod touch: a spendy gift but we will be able to face time, email, or text with a more open line when she is at her dads. plus she is a little music lover so she can store all her favorites and play the games she is always going at on my iphone. 

rowan is getting a table and chair set: she always wants to play playdoh, or use glue, or so on and we don't have a good place for her to do that. trying to stick to a strict no toy rule, this was so perfect for her as we decide she was still a couple years too young for a desk.

stella is getting a small trampoline: if you know her, this is so right up her ally and a great way to burn off all that girls extra energy. aside from being a little stressed about where it will go (it isn't huge) i have wanted on for her for a while and i feel extra good about it knowing that rowan and stella will get equal joy out of each others gifts.

while, we see that it would be totally silly to spend a lot of money on robin this year, he is getting a handmade, minnesota shaped wooden teether as a special keepsake item that we can explain was his first christmas gift.

i also love that family is on board with this idea and the girls are getting things like their first wagon, dress-up clothes, and a bb gun for zoe - stuff that keeps them active and outside!

i have gotten myself a little worked up a couple of times worrying the magic will be missing from coming down to a tree full of gifts - but in the end i know this is all for the best and a great lesson to be taught.

so that is our christmas! anyone doing something similar to give your kids a great but minimalist christmas?

happy birthday sweet girl!

nine years ago today, this girl made me a mother. it was the most perfect birth with the most perfect daughter to follow.

you continue to amaze me with what a smarty pants you are with a zest for knowledge and doing sweet things for the people around you. i am so proud of all of your accomplishments these last nine years - i can't wait to see what the future holds for you, my first born.

skys the limit for you my zoebug. happy birthday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

stuff stella says

its hilarious when your kid names her doll baby jesus and then you start hearing things like...

"ah, i drop baby jesus!"
"i go nurse baby jesus"
"ugh, BABY JESUS leave your hat on!"
"NANA DON'T TOUCH MY BABY JESUS!"
"i get baby jesus a ice pack - he fall down. owie"

#dailyrowanprekphoto :: october and november round-up

i am so behind on these! i also have to admit that i am super guilty of not being good about snapping a photo every day - boo! things got so nuts right around having robin and then tim was taking her to school for two weeks that we just let it slip. these days it is cold and rainy when we leave the house and i am lucky if i even remember my phone. oh, and then there were the few times i accidentally deleted it before it even got edited. oye!

all of that aside we still managed to snag a few good ones and some with some awesome stink face going on - it isn't always sparkles and unicorns when we are leaving in the afternoon. frustrations run high when we can't seem to look away from the tv to tie our shoes and find our back pack.

she is growing like a weed lately and i can't believe my eyes when sometimes i swear she looks twelve and not five. craziness.

so, while i try to get better and remembering to document our stepping out the front door, here is october and november's #dailyrowanprekphoto round-up for your viewing pleasure:
make sure you follow @olive_juiced on instagram so you can keep up weekly! look for the hash tag #dailyrowanprekphoto

Thursday, December 20, 2012

rowan week: calm down jar.

calm down jar for the win!

this is probably my most favorite part of the changes happening around our house. to different people it might mean different things or be used different ways but here is how we are utilizing ours:

rowan struggles with keeping calm in a lot of situations, a huge one being when people come over to visit for example. she is immediately in their faces, touching too much, being grabby, being gabby and so on. when i read up on the calm down jar i was super excited about how it would help rowan curb these emotions and adjust more smoothly to environmental changes like that.

when rowan gets overly excited and it appears impossible to get through to her with our words, she gets handed a shaken up calm down and is asked to sit on the stairs. it does two things: 1. it acts as a timer, i tried my best to make it so the glitter is mostly rested on the bottom around five minutes and 2. the act of concentrating on watching the glitter fall is relaxing.

our calm down jar was super easy and inexpensive to make! other then a quick trip to target for three dollar glitter glue, i had all the supplies at home. it took a little playing around with to get the mixture right for the best timing but we are super happy with the result.
the cast: elmer's glitter glue $3 at target, a mason jar (you could use a old water bottle!), food dye, and random glitter (fine is best).

i started by filling the jar mostly up with hot hot water from the tea kettle (super important for melting the glue). 

next, i added about 1/3 of the bottle of glue. again, just play with the mixture to get your preferred timing right - more glue to slow it down, more water to speed it up.
the first one i made i used a little over 1/2 and it was too thick and it takes hours for it to settle. stella calls it her outer space jar now instead.

i continually stirred while adding glue to help mix and melt it.

the glue i bought already had glitter in it, but i chose to add a bunch more glitter. how much you add doesn't really affect the timing, it is more for visual reasons and finally i added a few drops of blue food dye to give it a more fun color.

i let it all cool a while then super glued the lids on ensuring if one of my kids tried to, i don't know, drink it, they couldn't!

voila!
i have read it can be used more for meditation but for now it is just helping us gather ourselves when we get a little too excited. 

can't wait to hear if you make one!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

wednesday crafternoon: diy beautiful bird wings!

i made this completely with stuff i already had laying around. if i can do that...you can too.

i am not laying claim to this awesome tutorial but wanted to instead share with you how easy it was! you know, once i realized i read the pattern wrong and was wondering why my five year old was tripping over the giant wings i had created, ha! i eventually took those apart to give her this finished product.

the secret? the scallops are in strips of four-five so if you were thinking how could you possibly cut all those feathers out - well, i folded my fabric into layers of up to six and used my pattern to cut out a ton at a time. the tutorial shows a thirteen inch span for each wing but i actually ended up making mine twenty, which turned out perfect for my five year old.

also, i made almost the whole thing no-sew. at the last minute i threw a stitch down the edges with my machine to help stop fraying and i sewed the neck and wrist ribbons on, but that was it. you could totally get away with making this without owning a machine.

funny story though - i made the base out of fabric left over from our wedding, that was used to cover tables, so don't look too closely because when rowan has her wings spread wide you can spot a win stain or two...oops.

so, if your looking for a last minutes diy christmas gift for your little one, niece, nephew, or neighbor - this is it! it took me only a few hours to complete and was free to make! i had rowan convinced that it was a skirt for me while i made it so she was really pumped when she woke up to this fun suprise all for her!

rowan week: the marble jar reward system

i was a little weary on trying out this idea - we had attempted it months ago and the whole concept of earning the the marbles or having them on the line when it came to behavior, went right over rowan's head. fast forward to last week and so far i am surprised at how well it is going!

i think if we had went about it the same way as last time, the results would have been the same, so here is what we did differently for rowan: i pre-bought her prize, ideally i was planning on letting her pick it out but then i saw this for a steal and knew it was part of a toy she has at her dads that she loves, so i knew it would be a winner. now that we had the "prize" it was put on display as a reminder, right next to the marble jar. i had purchased it before i had the rest of my idea in motion, so it sat on the counter for a good two days drawing a lot of intrigue from rowan who practically drooled with excitement every time she looked at it.

next, tim and i came up with a set list of expectations and chances to earn a bead - that way the guidelines were clear and it would hold me accountable for not randomly threatening to take away marbles and then forgetting about it. we went into this agreeing it wouldn't be black and white - she didn't need to perfectly meet each one to earn a marble, that is why i worded a lot of them "...the best i could." we want rowan to succeed and feel the excitement of reaching her goal and getting her prize, so we are in no way supporting a fail here but if it takes her three months then it takes her three months.

this first fill up at least, we are using large marble/gems - this way it will fill much faster giving rowan the chance to succeed quickly without loosing interest and feel the excitement of getting her prize so that she will continue to want this to be a part of her daily life. after this we will use regular marbles and the prizes will be things more like staying up extra late to watch a movie or a ice cream cone, it doesn't always have to be big, extravagant, or a toy - rowan responds just as well to simple prizes like i just mentioned.

when dinner is wrapping up each night we pull out the laminated sheet and all together go over it - we ask her how we think she did on each one and sometimes she even surprises up by admitting she thinks she didn't meet one or two. tim and i agree if she met them or not, if she did anything extra to earn the something extra (i use this as a bargaining chip too when i need her to be extra well behaved or helpful), then we add however many she got to the jar. on average she has been getting about half of them a night so far.

she gets really pumped each night as she sees the level rise - so far i would say this is working out great for her and us! we are seeing a better attitude and she is feeling a lot more in control of herself and her actions. this is a hard one to include stella on but rowan has already proclaimed that of course stella will be able to enjoy her prize with her.

i learned about the marble system years ago as a nanny - have you ever tried it with your little ones? what did you do differently that worked?



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

seven weeks

rowan week: chores!

right away i knew that chores would be a part of this household make over - the girls weren't consistently being held responsible for cleaning up after themselves or being active members of this household. that was in large part our fault and i am more then willing to admit that - but either way that was about to change.

it was a constant struggle to stay on top of rowan to remember to clean up after herself or even stay on task when she was asked to. just like her mama, rowan is very goal and visually oriented when it comes to finishing things so i knew that creating a system where she could be in control of her tasks was key.

i had been searching online for some starting points to create our home chore system and finally settled on mixing some ideas to come up with this:
to get started, i literally walked around our house, mainly the girls bedroom and upstairs living areas, and made note of their common reoccurring messes that linger. then i hit the computer and with google images open started downloading clip art that matched those "tasks" they weren't following through on.

in a photoshop document, i then made a grid and inserted the pics with room to add text to explain the task and for some word recognition, printed them off, some in doubles so that rowan and stella could have them on their charts at the same time - then i cut those into squares. while i was doing that i also whipped up a super simple so and so's "chores" sheet with a line dividing "to do" and "done" for each girl.

next, i sent tim off to staples to have all of the chore squares laminated as well as the actual chore charts so that they would last awhile (laminating is super cheap at staples btw - i may or may not go a little laminate crazy sometimes). when he got home i glued the individual chore squares to clothes pins so that they could be easily clipped to their charts each morning. since all the ones i made aren't applicable every day and there are a lot - the extras are now stored in a glass jar on our counter.

so far our routine has gone like this: while the girls are finishing breakfast i bring the charts and clips up to the counter and select the ones i know need to be done then i place them back on the dishwasher. when they are done they already run right to them without having to ask - what has worked best for rowan is doing one at a time, even if that means running up and down the stairs a lot. when she completes a task she switched the clip from "to do" over to "done" and so far gets really excited as she knocks each one out.

i also picked up a dial egg timer, rowan responds really well to racing the clock. i don't set her up to rush through anything but rather be encouraged and reminded that she can't take all day to pick up five legos, which i swear happens sometimes.

stella's daily chores usually remain pretty simple and i end up helping her - i am not placing a ton of expectation on her in that department yet but letting her participate is fun for her and great practice for when it is her turn to start really doing chores and earning rewards for them.

it is interesting to see how much i have grown along with rowan as we implement all of these new systems. learning to cater to each child's needs to help them succeed is so important, it took a little more patience getting here with rowan but i am happy to report a huge change in simple daily activities like these that used to almost always involve yelling, anger, and tears.

getting her chores done with out any struggle is one way of many rowan is working her way to a prize. next up i will talk about how she is earning "points" by being present in bettering our attitudes when it comes to simple daily life and working her way to a set goal by doing so, using a marble jar. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

lessons in tragedy

yesterday i noticed stella in her super girl cape bouncing on the couch, ready to spring into the air. usually i would stop her, ask her to sit down and remind her that we don't jump on the couch - but not that morning, i just smiled at her and helped her count down...1...2...3

because she is three and life is too short.

i can't think of a single word or action right now that would do the tragedy in connecticut justice, that could start to fill any hole that is now left in the hearts of that town. also, i don't want to this to be another post that just gets lost among all the others of its kind, so instead i am writing it down as a reminder to myself.

when your world is in such dismay that young adults are fleeing to a massacre as their only option and we are left helpless and left scratching our heads, desperately searching for a why, the best you can do is find lessons in tragedy.

last night when the president addressed sandy hook, it was like he was speaking straight from my heart. when he used the words to describe how having a child is like having your heart out of your body walking around, how they are the most vital part of you. truer words have never been spoken.

this tragedy has taken a toll on everyone emotionally, our entire nation affected, feeling the loss along side that little town, with the parents of those tiny people. as a parent myself, i think we feel it a tiny bit more - i can't speak for everyone, but as soon as the news started unfolding i began panicking about my children who were at school, because you want to know the truth? that could have just as easily been their school. mental illness and troubled people and unpredictable people are everywhere. 

so, here is where i am at today - i am once again reminded that it is a huge part of my job as a parent, to make sure that if life were cut short for my tiny people, that it would have been the best life. i have always stood on the camp life is short anyway, so it is perfectly ok to be silly and eat ice cream before dinner and skip school to have a date with your kids and make messes to just live life to the absolute fullest that you can provide. but we get busy and life gets messy and kids are naughty and it is easy to lose sight of this bigger picture. 

we have chosen to not talk to the kids about what happened - we can hardly wrap our heads around it ourselves so i can't possibly expect them too. rowan goes to kindergarten next year and she doesn't deserve to have to worry that this might be something to expect when you are that age and at school.

so, in the wake of all of this we are being extra silly with the girls and loving them extra hard. we are accepting extra book requests at night and using whole bottles of bubbles at bath time. we are making huge messes to create crafty master pieces and letting a bag of marshmallows slide as a healthy snack. i am doing my job as a parent to ensure, that if my tiny people should leave this earth suddenly, to go home to the hands of their God, that it would have been the best life.

rowan week: a dry erase busy book

this week is all about fun stuff for our, or your, preschooler.

it recently has become very apparent to us that rowan was in need of more structure and schedules to help her grow, excel, and prepare for kindergarten next year. there had become far to much arguing, leaving behind messes, bored whining, and surge of emotions for this household and we have been on a mission to correct it. i have spent a lot of time researching schedules, chores, activities and so on to help us sail into this new way of life - and it isn't just rowan playing along, stella and zoe will be in on all this fun stuff too. that is just it too, while everything has a lesson behind it, we have learned with rowan that she responds really well when something is being presented as a "treat" rather then a strict expectation.

for starters, we put a major halt to tv watching - the girls are allowed a movie here and there, but no more mindless zoning in on nickelodeon anymore. as rowan week unfolds i will talk more about new chores we are doing, how we are calming ourselves down, earning and losing rewards with our behavior, and today about a new busy book for whoever is looking for something to do.
i got really excited when i saw an idea like this on pinterest and pinned it away for safe keeping. seemed like such a genius idea and i have been trying to get around to making busy books forever - after some investigating i saw the version i had pinned was centered around lds conference time, but that didn't stop me from cooking up a version of my own. i wanted it to have a little of everything for everyone, but its core reason of existence was learning. oh, and it had to be relatively mess free - bonus points if it was super inexpensive to make.

so, i started googling and searching pinterest for homeschooling packets, coloring page sites, preschool and kindergarten printable sites, and more - there is a HUGE wealth of all of that out there for free by the way. my two favorite sites that i stumbled upon were:


everything about these sites are their content were super well designed and right up my ally - i may or may not have downloaded all the things. mr printables even has huge wall art, paper crafts, flash cards, seasonal activities, and more. super mom moments was my favorite for grabbing easy to use worksheets and tips on how to utilize their content.

to kick start our book i just downloaded a little here and there - some kindergarten readiness stuff like lowercase and uppercase letter matching and tracing, opposites work sheets, and color wheels. i added some fun coloring pages and a us map with capitals for when we are ready to get a little more advanced. i threw in a constellation map for fun and typed out in dashed letters, the whole names of everyone in our family and other good words to learn how to write and spell, like washington and barack obama. especially for rowan i added a very user friendly time work sheet - something that she has recently show interest in and i would love to help her master that now if she is wiling! in the very back are blank wide lined pages for practicing any sort of writing they want, rowan is always wanting to know how to spell obscure things and this will be perfect for that. some of the pages rowan will need to ask for help for but i am excited to work in this book with her.

for the front and back cover i just printed this adorable alphabet poster from mr printables and added my own text for the front one and left the back alone in case someone needs a quick reference for letters.

did i mention it was dry erase? 

with a quick trip to target for supplies, i picked up some crayola dry erase crayons (that come with a cloth!) and some up and up brand sheet protectors. now, they will be able to write on the pages as they work through and continue to use the same ones over and over without wasting away our printer ink reprinting. plus, they're crayons so no marker mess and smell, score!

this whole project cost me only eight dollars as i had the binder already and printed all the sheets at home! to start, the book only has about twenty-five pages in it but when i can get more organized i want to get sets ready to switch out weekly or monthly. i saw a lot of packs that focus on seasonal themes that would be a lot of fun and there are so many coloring page options that i am sure they will always be begging for new ones. if stella takes a liking to this too then i will have to make her, her own with more toddler appropriate activities - we have been meaning to start some basic preschool homeschooling for her anyway to get her ready for going to rowan's current school next year.
so far it is a hit! not that asking for tv had been an issue as of late, but i am willing to bet that rowan would rather bury her face in this then watch cartoon any day! i am already thinking of sitting down with her this week and letting her pick out some of the coloring pages that are going in - maybe christmas themed?

can't wait to hear if you make one yourself and what kinds of things you chose to add! 


Friday, December 14, 2012

the christmas crazies

i have to document today the two separate incidents that are making me question humanity. what is it about this time of year that brings out the worst in people? calm down, just twelve more days and you'll have the precious michael kors watch and figgy pudding.

i was driving down our street on the way to drop rowan off at preschool when a lady came flying out of a parking lot entrance. she didn't even try to stop and she did it so late that i had to slam on my breaks hard, sending back packs, mittens, and maybe children lunging forward in the van - i literally slid on the wet pavement. i of course honked my horn to alert her to the fact that indeed she was a (expletive) and what do you know? she flipped me off, mouthing some sort of profanity back my way. excuse me miss, i didn't mean to intrude on your get away with my van full of precious children.

then, today was already one of those not great days, where my kids go to school with bed head because i used up all my energy fighting about having marshmallows for breakfast. i dropped rowan off and headed to fred meyer to procure stella a batman hoodie complete with cape. on the way out i was trying to avoid eye contact with the salvation army lady with no teeth, because just like when i walked in holding only my debit card in plain site, i did indeed still had no change to give. she struck up conversation anyway, "can your daughter have a candy?" holding out a hard peppermint candy. me: "oh, no thanks" (awkward smile) lady: "wow, you're too strict of a parent!" oh! thank you - because that is something i was recently questioning,  i guess i was over thinking letting my toddler eat and possibly choke on your hard piece of candy, hand one over - said nobody ever.

i feel like this is how it is every year when the holidays roll around again, or is it that we are just more sensitive to it? people drive a little worse, they smile a little less, they are more impatient with one another. what's the deal?

this is my favorite time of year to pay for the person behind me at starbucks, hold the door for a rush of people, let my kids ring doorbells and dash leaving little treats for our friends and people we barely know, for taking cookies to the fire station and more!

what do you do to spread cheer this time of year? what is the best thing you have seen someone do for someone else in spirit of the holidays?

the rohr family, twenty-twelve, a year in review.

our 2012 christmas card 
two thousand and twelve, what a year you have been.

i am not sure i am on board with actual christmas letters quite yet, i barely have had extra time to shower these last few months let alone recap our lives for your reading pleasure. then it would need to be on fancy paper that i would have take to staples to have the letters printed on because our printer is touch and go on quality. so, there's all that...

this year we just got creative and added a qr code, that says "scan me!", that leads you to our little corner of the internet and while this blog has become a lot more then a rohr family activity log, i still post all the important going ons and pictures of our adorable children. i realize a lot of the people we are sending cards to won't have phones capable of scanning the code but it will be fun for those of you that could! so as a precursor to you pouring yourself through the files that are our life i wanted to wrap our year up in this here little post to get you started.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

a little story...

i'll tell you a tale...

once upon a time, amanda and i were in a group of great girl friends in high school. we did a lot of crazy fun stuff like wear whip cream bikinis, go to florida, march in band, eat at red robin (a lot!), and more. when we graduated amanda when off to seattle and i to bellingham, but we stayed in touch - she even babysat my oldest daughter when she was a wittle baby. 

here, i have provided you with proof of said braces, jean jackets, and zits (i also, obviously, liked to tan, a lot), i mean that we were friends way back when we were practically newborns ourselves...
fast forward a few years and amanda and her high school sweetheart scott had reconnected and gotten married and tim and i were dating. not much later amanda found out she was pregnant with her first daughter ellie and a short while later, me with stella. it was weekly play dates, girls nights out, and coffee dates from there on out.
in march this year we both found out that we were expecting again the same week, both due on november 17th! eventually my due date was moved up a week, but how crazy is that? liam and robin were born three and a half weeks apart and i can imagine are going to grow up and be the best of friends!

there isn't another person on the planet i would have wanted to have this crazy fun journey with! how cute are these boys?