Thursday, February 26, 2015

17 Month Update

Life lately has been one big whirlwind. I feel like I just finish writing a monthly update and it's already time to start another! Where to begin....this chick is everywhere and into every thing all. the. time. I realize that all toddlers like to be on the move, but our girl runs in turbo mode constantly, no joke. And let me just say, that I am e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d. This 30 year old body definitely doesn't have the same energy level as a 1 year old!

Since we're forever stuck indoors, we decided to get the tot a new toy (or two) to combat her restlessness. Jake and I can only read the same books so many times before we want to rip our hair out, so off to Toys R Us we went to let the tot burn off some energy and discover something new. Every time we go to my sister's house, Tay runs right into the twins' room and brings out one of their baby doll strollers. Once we convince her they're for the baby dolls and not her, she will push that thing all over the house stopping only to throw her baby doll out and put a new one in. So, upon adding a baby stroller to our cart last weekend, Tay decided she needed a new baby as well. I have no idea why she chose this one or who even thought to make a baby doll in an owl costume, but she loves it and insists on taking it everywhere she goes. Her new favorite is pushing the stroller up and down the hall and then leaving it at the top of the stairs which is super convenient for everyone. I'm just waiting for one of us to break a limb trying to climb over the thing.

Her little legs aren't the only things moving at a face pace these days, so are her lips! Girlfriend loves to ramble on in her secret toddler language (and then get upset when we don't understand what she is saying). Singing is still her favorite and always our go-to distraction. She's officially learned how to say "baa," "row," and "cup" which means Jake and I sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" approximately 900 times a day. And I think we can all admit that she makes the absolute best faces when she sings. I guess straining your neck helps get the pitch just right.

Now, for the not so fun things that come with having a fiercely stubborn toddler. Taylor has recently decided that she no longer enjoys being strapped in her car seat and now yells the entire time she has to be in it. This makes every day things like going to and from daycare/the grocery store/basically anywhere a real treat. When she is forced to endure such torture, she makes us aware of her unhappiness by taking off both shoes and socks every single time we are in the car. It's a three minute drive from daycare to our house, and she has all four items in the floor by the time we pull in our driveway. She also hates riding in the shopping cart which means one of us chases her around Target while the other quickly grabs whatever we need. Life with a toddler is such a joy, but I know that I will miss these moments once they're gone so I try to appreciate and laugh at how ridiculous we probably look whenever possible. But, let's face it, sometimes it's just not possible.

Speaking of things the tot dislikes, she absolutely hates when we dress her or attempt to brush her hair. I swear, she looks like a homeless child 99% of the time even though I promise we do bathe her. She is definitely a bit of a tomboy who cares more about playing than personal hygiene. On the flip side, Miss Independent loves doing things herself. She has recently started pulling everything out of her dresser (seriously, everything) and then putting on random articles of clothing. I will be in the middle of cooking dinner and the tot will walk in the kitchen with a pair of jeans on one leg, a pair of leggings on the other, a tutu pulled up to her armpits, and sunglasses on her head (upside down, of course). She is always so proud of her accomplishment, grinning from ear to ear. Then she strips everything off leaving a trail of clothes all the way down the hall. Taylor Tornado leaves her mark once again!

I realize how ridiculous all of this sounds (as I proofread I can't help but laugh), and I know that all the other mommas out there are shaking their heads in agreement because they, too, have been down this same road themselves. And then there are the pregnant mommas who are probably beginning to question everything. To you ladies, I promise that the happy moments don't even hold a candle to the others. A hug and a kiss from this sweet face instantly makes everything better no matter what the situation. I realize that we're probably just skimming the surface with the terrible two's lurking on the horizon, but  I love my little wild child so very much, no matter how rocky the path may be.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

As with most holidays celebrated in our household, we opted to make Valentine's Day a week-long event. Taylor wore every pink and red article of clothing in her wardrobe which turned out to be enough for 4 days worth of outfits. Thankfully she had a shirt with a heart on it so we were able to round out the work week. ;c ) Surprisingly, one of my favorites was this pink sweater dress that she wore to her Valentine's Day party at daycare. I will admit, our little girl looks pretty adorable in a pink hue, but that doesn't mean it's going to become an everyday wardrobe staple (sorry, Mom).

The best part of any holiday has to be the indulgence of sweets - and this one was no exception! I made some chocolate dipped marshmallows as a fun and easy treat to take to Taylor's party (and so I could secretly hoarded a half dozen for myself). I must've been feeling exceptionally festive Thursday morning because I allowed the tot to have one of them for breakfast. I know, I know - what was I thinking? But she was off to daycare so that sugar rush really wasn't my issue. ;c ) Marshmallows are always a hit with the tot, but add chocolate and sprinkles to mix and this girl is all about it!

Due to a completely chaotic work schedule, I was unable to attend Tay's Valentine's party, but we more than made up for it that evening with treats and presents! This crown that our sitter the tot crafted at daycare was the perfect festive accessory. Kuddos to our sitter for coming up with such a fun holiday craft! 

Tay loved her new big girl cup (twirly straw included) and of course went gaga for the cotton candy, but most of all she loved that Princess bubble bath! Without even realizing it at the time (as it was the only bubble bath I could even find in our Target's sad excuse for a baby section), this is the first "Disney Princess" thing Taylor has ever encountered. Turns out she - like every other girl in America - is pretty obsessed with them. Looks like the Easter bunny may have to bring her this bath time Ariel doll for her basket this year!

For dinner I made my favorite childhood meal: cube steak and mashed potatoes smothered in mushroom gravy. Yummmm. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Jake and Taylor quickly realized why it's my favorite as they devoured two plates each. We followed up our meal with some tastsy chocolate covered strawberries for desert. Our little ninja managed to sneak a few extra strawberries off the plate and into her mouth before her dad or I could notice. Well played, kid

Needless to say, this Valentine's Day contained a little more excitement than last year's when Tay was a whopping 4 months old and basically a pile of drool. Just another reason why I love each new stage that she goes through! Aside from the sugary treats and endless supply of smooches, I am so thankful for both of my Valentines. These two make my world go round.

I hope that your Valentine's Day was filled with as much love and laughter as ours! XoXo 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Toddler Must-Haves

Now that Taylor is officially a toddler, I thought I would follow up on this post and share some tot-friendly products that we use on a daily basis. These are all products that have either been given to us, recommended by other parents, or things we've stumbled upon randomly that make our day-to-day life a little easier.

NUK Gerber Graduates Sippy Cups - We had spent too much time and money on different types and brands of sippy cups until a former stay-at-home-dad friend of mine recommended these to us. We have yet to have a single spill with one of these! The secret is the little white piece that connects to the lid. This bad boy stops the liquid from seeping out of the spout even after your toddler has slammed the cup onto the floor for the 15th time that day. We tried nearly every cup at Target to no avail before finally falling in love with these. No drips, no spills. Toddler tested and approved. And the best part? You get 2 for like $8. Cha-ching!

Straw Cups - Taylor learned to drink out of a straw around 6 months when she randomly grabbed my tumbler and went to town on my smoothie. Since then, she has insisted on drinking out of my cups whenever she sees them. In order to decrease my tot saliva intake, we decided to purchase some toddler straw cups in hopes that she would leave mine alone. We have tried a lot of different types and brands, but I like these Munchkin cups the best. The straw folds away completely so you don't have to worry about it getting dirty or spilling in the diaper bag. This is my go-to cup when I know we'll be going out to eat or traveling in the car. Taylor gets to be just like momma and I don't have to drink her backwash - everybody wins!

Snack Cups - Unless you want Cheerios in every crevice of your house, buy these containers. If we give Taylor snacks in anything but one of these, she makes a huge mess as she has no concept of spilling or the fact that the dog doesn't need to eat a handful of Teddy Grahams each day. They're made of plastic, dishwasher safe, and the top lid is pliable so it's easy for little fingers to reach in and out. These are the only containers we use in the car because the lid keeps those sneaky goldfish from falling out and then being stepped on by little toddler feet. I highly recommend these cups, unless vacuuming up snack crumbs is your cardio, in which case - knock yourself out!

Silicone Bibs - My sister gave us these after the twins no longer had a need for them. Not only had they survived one baby, but they had survived two and still were in excellent condition. I'm certain that it's impossible to ruin one of these things. While they are a bit pricey, they are definitely worth the cost. They are so much easier to clean than cotton bibs and the built-in crumb catcher is great for snagging all of your toddler's falling debris. I'm not sure how but the tot only gets about 60% of the food she eats into her mouth while the other 40% always ends up on the floor (or in Charlie's stomach). This handy invention is sure to save you time and energy on post-meal clean up. And the necklace design will ensure your little diva is fashionable even if she has Alfredo sauce mashed in hair.

Sound books - As much as toddlers like texture books, they love books that make sound even more. Tay received this touch and feel animal sound book for her first birthday, and it continues to be one of her absolute favorites! She will press the buttons over and over, squealing with delight every time. I think she enjoys it so much because she is able to do it herself (her desire for independence has become too high these days) and, of course, because she is obsessed with cows.

Wheely Pig - This toy was introduced to us when my friend purchased a wheely ladybug for a friend of our's little girl a few years back. That gift was the hit of the party (and by far her favorite gift), so I couldn't wait to purchase the pig and mouse for my twin nieces last Christmas. Again, they were a huge hit and continue to be even at the age of 3. Tay received a pig for her first birthday last fall and has loved it ever since. We originally received the small but decided to send it back for a large so that Tay would have room as she grows (the kid is all legs). This thing goes on carpet, hardwood, and tile surfaces and even though it has been rammed into every piece of furniture we own, it doesn't have a single scratch on it. I am so completely impressed with this line of products and love how adorable each animal is in its own way. These are an all around win in our book!

Shape Sorting Turtle - If you're like me, you probably remember playing with one of these when you were a kid. This is one of those classic toys that has been around forever because kids love them. They just do. Case in point, it has been a favorite of Tay's since she was about 9 months old. She loves figuring out where the shapes go and gets so excited when she puts the piece into the correct hole. Really, you can't go wrong with any of these types of toys. They're inexpensive, easy to clean, great for developing hand/eye coordination, and provide a fun way to learn shapes. Plus, it's something that Taylor keeps coming back to as she ages. What's not to love?

Wagon - So long stroller, this family has upgraded to the wagon world. I mean, why spend your days strapped into a stroller when you can experience the freedom that comes with riding in a wagon? Ever since the tot rode in the twins' wagon for the first time last summer, she has been hooked. Like, climbs in as soon as she sees it and throws the biggest fit ever when we make her get out. So we were infinitely relieved when Tay received this Step 2 wagon for Christmas. I was going to buy her a Radio Flyer for her birthday but talked myself out of it because I thought she was too young at the time. Wrong! And although we've only been able to use the wagon a few times so far due to the cold, we have determined that it will get plenty of use in the coming months. This thing comes with all sorts of add-on's: a removable canopy (which will be a must-have come summer), bins for extra storage, cup and snack holders, and multiple seating options. I can't wait until it warms up so we can really break this thing in!

Mini Family Album - If you're like us and have family spread all across the map, this is an excellent gift for any occasion! After stumbling upon this website just before Taylor's first Christmas, I fell in love with the idea of her having her very own mini family album so that she would be able to learn everyone's names and faces even though we only see some of them once or twice a year. The mini book is the perfect size for little hands and the wire binding and thick pages make it durable yet easy to use. The website was super easy to use and the cost is right on point. Now that the tot is a bit older, she absolutely loves this thing and makes sure to flip through it at least once a day. This little book is a huge help in keeping those family members who live far away a constant presence in her life. Plus, it's a book, so you know she loves it.

Bath Time
Crayola Color Drops / Glow Sticks / Bath Crayons - All three of these items make bath time infinitely more fun. Who doesn't want to sit in green water while drawing a cat on the side of the tub? Uhhhh not us. And definitely not since Taylor has moved into the "I hate having my hair washed, rinsed, or touched" phase of her life. I am all for anything that will make bath time easier, especially since it's something we have to go through on a nightly basis. At around $5 each, these make great stocking stuffers or last minute gifts for any toddler. And as soon as she outgrows the "I need to put everything in my mouth" phase, she has a couple bottles of this awesome bath foam waiting for her as well. I may or may not have used a little myself in the interim. Mom's gotta have fun, too!

Stacking Boats - We randomly received these in one of our monthly Citrus Lane boxes and Tay loves them. Aside from her empty Minnie Mouse bubble bath container, these are her favorite bath toy. They're colorful, easy to clean, and durable enough to withstand her ramming them into the side of the tub repeatedly. One of her favorite songs just happens to be "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," which only makes her love these boats more. The tot singing "row, row, row" in the tub with a bubble beard might be the cutest thing ever.

Now that the tot is fully mobile, we have moved into a completely new range of clothing options. Gone are the days of buttoning onesies after every diaper change! Thank. The. Lord. It is so nice to be able to throw a shirt and pants on the child and let her run free. She's also capable of wearing dresses now (a crawling baby + dress = a frustration nightmare) which means seeing her skinny little legs run around in the cutest tights and leggings. Last year, it was nearly impossible to cram her chubby legs into skinny jeans, but she is rocking them this year like it's nobody's business. I absolutely love it! And now that Tay is wearing a size 5, our shoe options have expanded exponentially. Not gonna lie, the child has a better selection of footwear than I do (and at a fraction of the price). As much as I am loving this age because of her personality and her abilities, I love dressing her even more. And while she loves rocking hats and sunglasses, she won't wear a bow in her hair to save her life. Regardless, shopping for toddler duds is so much more fun than buying sleepers and onesies.

That completes the line up for now! Are there any toddler must-haves that your family simply can't live without? If so, I'd love to hear about them - and possibly add them to our collection, too!

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Taste of Spring

Can we talk about the crazy awesome weather we had in the Midwest this weekend? Sixty degree temps on both Saturday and Sunday and sunny skies that seemed to go on forever. Talk about a dream come true! With a forecast like that, we were determined to spend our entire weekend outdoors, and I'd say we were pretty successful. It's amazing what a little fresh air will do for the soul!

Saturday morning we opened the kitchen windows and dined on homemade waffles. The cool, crisp air combined with fresh fruit and giant dollops of whipped cream (that make my mouth water just thinking about them) was the only way to kick off a weekend this good. After breakfast, we laid the tot down for a nap so that we could get some much needed vacuuming and laundry accomplished. Tay was clearly too excited to sleep, because she spent the entire hour rolling around in her crib, playing with her stuffed animals, and talking to herself. We took her binky away last Thursday and this was our first at-home nap battle since then. I fully expected her to cry the entire time, but she didn't shed a single tear. This girl has been a straight up rock star at Operation No Bink, and I think it's safe to say she has kicked that bad habit for good!

Saturday afternoon we were off to a gender reveal party for the sweetest couple. My cousin and his wife are expecting their first baby this summer and we were so happy to be part of their special day. Taylor had a blast chowing down on everyone's cake, helping Danielle open her gifts, and running wild the entire time. I was super lame and didn't take a single photo (I'm not sure I even took my phone out of the car...), but I can assure you Danielle is the cutest pregnant lady ever and these two will be the best parents! Thanks again for having us, guys (and here's a new post for you, Danielle)!

And even though Tay and I sported our pink, the blue confetti revealed that the happy couple would indeed be having a precious baby BOY! So, so happy for you three!!

After too much sugar and no morning nap, the tot was entirely too wound up to even think about napping on the way home. So, we filled our bellies with pasta and put the tot to bed early in anticipation of the Sunday Funday we had planned. The next morning, the temps were in the 50's and climbing so we hurried through our weekend cleaning routine while the tot napped then loaded up the car and headed for the park. The place with packed with dogs, kids, and adults of all ages enjoying the sunshine. We brought Tay's wagon and a picnic lunch and decided to make a day of it. This girl ran, swang, and snacked her heart out for as long as she could, but a lack of naps finally took its toll.


We headed home that afternoon with the feeling that only a day spent outdoors can give. We were happy, relaxed, and exhausted. I laid the tot down late that afternoon without a single fuss - she turned over and went right to sleep. That evening we BBQed and left the windows open as long as we possibly could. The smell of charcoal and the sight of Taylor's sunburned cheeks almost made my heart explode. This weekend offered a true taste of spring, and I can't wait for more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Weekend Recap

After a long and draining work week, we were more than ready for Friday to roll around. My parents were on their way to our house that evening and we were anxiously awaiting their arrival. Taylor hadn't seen her Granny and Papa since New Years, so we were are all overdue for a visit. (Side note: I'm not sure why my attractive, 50 some year old mother enjoys being called "Granny", but she does so we oblige.) While we were waiting, I had the brilliant idea to put the tot's hair in pig tails for the first time. My parents hadn't seen her in a month and her hair has finally started to grow so it seemed like the perfect opportunity! Plus, if I turned on her videos and let her sit on our bed she would surely cooperate, right? Wrong. We basically had to hold her down the entire time only to end up with this half-ass 'do. I was able to capture a solid two photos on my iPhone before she ripped one of them out. Awesome

The next morning we woke up early. Granny and Papa read the tot books while Daddy cooked breakfast. While Taylor nap, my mom and I headed out to do a little shopping. I absolutely love shopping with my mom, and I'm sad we don't get to do it more often - especially kid-free! Since we've had issues with Taylor brushing her teeth, I decided to pick her up a new toothbrush. Some friends of ours mentioned that their son used an electric toothbrush and loved it, so I thought why not? I'm happy to report that we haven't had a single issue since purchasing this thing! Tay loves brushing her teeth now and even asks to do it multiple times a day! We're heading to the dentist for her first check up on Thursday, so fingers crossed we receive a good report.

That afternoon, we threw on our Mizzou gear and headed to Mizzou Arena to watch a little Tiger basketball. Jake was able to snag some suite tickets from work and we thought it would be a fun event for a cold and rainy Saturday. Plus, it's another activity we can cross off the Tot's list of firsts! She had a ball dancing along to the band, clapping when they made a basket, and eyeing Truman the Tiger everywhere he went. But mostly, she enjoyed snacking and watching the TV's in the suite. Totally could've done both of those things at home, kid!

We finished off the day with BBQ and ice cream - Papa's favorites! After the sugar kicked in, this girl was going nuts, running around and showing off all of her talents. She definitely enjoys being the center of attention.

The next morning, Granny had the brilliant idea of reintroducing this Mega Blocks mini wagon to Taylor. When she was younger (and smaller), the tot used to love being pulled around the house in this thing but now that she's older (and bigger) it's a little harder squeezing her body into the thing. Somehow they managed to work it out and Tay had a blast cruising around the kitchen all morning.

That afternoon, we said goodbye, put the tot down for a long nap, and I got to work breaking in our new washer and dryer (which I love). Tay was so tired that she slept for 3 1/2 hours! I just didn't have the heart to wake her since she's still fighting off the last of her cold. Plus, it was a yucky wet mess outside and we didn't have anywhere to be (thankfully). While she napped, Jake and I snuggled up on the couch as the snow fell. It's no secret that I despise winter, but if it's going to snow that's exactly where I want to be. A great ending to a great weekend!