Our favorite baby "toys" as of late

There is no shortage of super awesome baby toys out there. Beautiful wood toys. Noise-making toys with lights. Balls. Books. Plush toys. Etc, etc. And while we own a fair amount of them, I swear Everett is not interested. According to Baby Center, Ev is in a stage called "object exploration." So to the curb with our carefully curated toy collection. The "toys" pictured above are front and center in our house these days. I like to joke that manufacturers should put age-appropriate guidelines on things like chapstick, mascara tubes and calculators as that is what my little babe is interested in most of the time. I'm assuming that one day he will be interested in all those lovely Montessori toys and blocks, but for now this is what is running the show.

1. My face lotion container.
2. The car charger. 
3. Ty's tooth paste.
4. Hank's dog bone (please don't judge me. we pick our battles around this house).
5. The empty popcorn bag that I have taped shut.
6. An empty squeeze-pouch food container.
7. The empty dish soap bottle - this one is a big hit when I squeeze air out onto Ev's face/neck/head/etc.
8. A basket plate that also acts as a fan (Everett loves wind).
9. A crumpled plastic fireman's hat we got at the Provo City Birthday Celebration from the city fire department. So many smiles repeatedly taking this off of mom's head / Everett's head / mom's head / Everett's head...
10. The IKEA trashcan that used to actually serve as a trash can in Everett's room but now serves as the star in games such as "Mom the trash can head" and "knock the trash can over and roll it around."

Not pictured but equally enjoyed: the remote control, tupperware containers, a basket full of baby food, Hank's frisbee, and all spring door stoppers.

A trip to Jackson Hole

Ty started a new job last week (a new super awesome job). And as he was so blessed to make his own schedule at his last job and got 6 weeks paid vacation(!), we thought we should take one last family holiday before he started his new way-less-flexible-and-vacation-friendly job. Ty found a decent hotel deal at The Lexington in Jackson, WY. And since I had never been (which is practically a sin in our group of friends), and we have some amazing friends who we wanted to visit there anyway, we thought we should take advantage.

We weren't there long enough to make a "What to do in Jackson and the Tetons" list, but I will tell you 10 things that I learned in our weekend there.

1. I am positive that the Tetons were the inspiration for the phrases "purple mountains majesty" and "jaw dropping," as well as the words the words "grandeur" and "magnificent."

2. Liberty Burger on Cache is delicious AND affordable -- a knockout combo for Jackson.

3. Jackson is a small town, and common crimes include the stealing of rental cars and bikes and driving/riding them across town simply because you didn't want to walk. The police reports specified almost 100% of the cars stolen had the doors unlocked and the keys in the ignition.

4. On the first day of "on season" the Fjallraven store (among others) is not open even if their website states they are.

5. But...even though many stores are not open, the first weekend of the on season is most definitely the time to go to Jackson because you practically have the town and the Tetons to yourself - heaven.

6. In Jackson Hole, "The Grand" does not mean "The Grand Canyon" or "The river running through the Grand Canyon."

7. If you let your baby eat grass in the Teton valley you will find grass in his diaper the next day.

8. If you try to buy a t-shirt from a t-shirt store in town, you may be the only customer and spend 5 minutes yelling "hello? HELLO?" from the cashier-less counter only to, in the end, just take the tag off the shirt and leave it on the register counter along with enough cash to cover the cost.

9. You may also see a garage sale sign and make your husband drive in circles for 10 minutes around the supposed address only to realize the date on the flyer was for the day before.

10. Lava Hot Springs is conveniently located exactly half way between Jackson and Provo and stopping for a dip on the drive home is the perfect little respite when traveling with a 6-month old who doesn't love long stints in his car seat.

A lovely save the date

My sweet friend Alaina and her beau, Matt, are tying the knot in October, and I got to design her save the dates over the weekend. As always, it was such a treat to get all the lovely juices flowing. Congratulations Alaina and Matt! Thanks so much for letting me be a part of it.

The trick to avoiding a sore throat

You know how sometimes, right before bed, you get that tickle in your throat. That ominous, terrible tickle that whispers in your ear "You are gonna wake up in the morning with a soar throat, sucker." It's the worst. I used to fall victim to this every single time. Tickle - sleep - wake - soar throat. Ugh! But when I married Ty he introduced me to the handiest little trick. When that soar-throat tickle rears its ugly head, you throw on a scarf right before bed and sleep like that. Easy peasy.

It sounds a little silly, but truly it works. I was a skeptic but gave it a try when Ty tipped me off a few years ago, and it's now my go-to every time I think a soar throat is looming. Next time you feel you are at the mercy of impending sickness, give it a go. Sometimes it takes a few nights straight of wearing it, but it's heaven sent I tell you. I'd add a scarf to my sleep wardrobe any day to avoid a sore throat.

Momiform: stripes on stripes

I promise not to post momiforms back to back on the regular, but this dress is on sale right now! I didn't want you to miss it! It's just that good. 

I grabbed this little number at Old Navy yesterday and gave it a test run today down at the Provo birthday celebration. It passed with flying colors. I love this dress because it is stretchy, comfy, modest, AND nursing friendly to boot. The quadruple whammy. Plus, it's not too tight, if you know what I mean. It has that perfect little hug while still giving you enough bag that you don't have to have a supermodel body to feel comfortable in it.

Wrap: Solly Baby
Dress: Old Navy
Shoes: Birkenstock

Mama uniform

I wanted to call this series "Momiform" -- as in "mom uniform" smooshed into one word. But when I ran the idea by Ty, he said he would never, ever, in a million years, have put together that "momiform" was the words mom and uniform. So. Crash and burn. I settled on mama uniform instead.

Ever since Everett came along, I am much more selective about the clothes I put on my bod in the morning. Function takes the cake these days. Goodbye heels. See you later non-nursing-friendly tops. And so long anything that isn't drool and spit-up friendly. Dry-clean only? Don't be ridiculous. So I wanted to post mama-friendly outfits that consist of more than jammies, as I am sure there are a lot of mamas out there in my same shoes.

Everett is like a spit-up fountain lately, and eats every few hours, so I need to dress accordingly. My top in nice and flowy for easy nursing; plus, I got it for a quarter, so completely spit-up friendly. The jeans are already white, so no issue there. I got synthetic-upper Birks so they are wipe-wipe-wipeable. Thank goodness. And in an effort to catch as much spit-up as possible (and avoid as many wardrobe changes as possible), I stick a bibdana on Everett every chance I get.

Top: Thrifted - Liz Lange Maternity (similar)
Jeans: Old Target - Mossimo (similar)
Shoes: Birkenstocks
Baby bibdana: Milk Barn

No more rocking

And just like that, my baby boy no longer wants me to rock him to sleep.

We used to have this system; swaddle the baby, pick up the baby, put the pacifier in, and rock the baby to sleep. Boom. Worked like a charm. But a few days ago, mid sequence, Everett started arching his back like crazy. "Put me down!" he seemed to say. And so I did. Into the crib he went. And after a few minutes he was sound asleep. What the?! Babies do this? On their own? Babies just decide when they don't need you to rock them to sleep anymore? This is bananas.

All the books I read said things like "don't rock your baby to sleep / let your baby nurse to sleep / hold your baby until he is sound asleep because he will want to do it forever!" So I of course thought it was up to me. But no friends. No. I'm sure every baby is different. But this baby? This baby just weaned himself from rocking. And I'm not gonna lie, it makes my heart sink a little.

I remember I used to dream of this day. "One day he won't need me to go to sleep!" I thought. And it was such a liberating thought. But now that it's here, it's like "Wait...wait...you sure you don't want me to rock you to sleep? It's really nice...?" But he's sure. I've been trying it intermittently just to be sure sure he knows what he's doing, with no success.

So there we go. "Snuggle that baby while you can!" all the mamas told me. And I did. But it still feels too short. And I know he's only 5 months old. And I know I still have months of nursing and having him keen to hang out on my lap and want to be carried around by me. But it just made me realize. One at a time all of those things are going to disappear. Poof. So, lesson learned. I will snuggle that baby all I can while I can.

Next adventure? Getting rid of that swaddle. Wish me luck.

A wedding invite for Monday

I just finished designing a wedding invite for a sweet couple in California, and can I tell you it was SUCH a treat to design up something all lovely and wedding-y. It felt good to just put all the pretty out on some paper as I put together a bunch of options for the couple to choose from. Sadly, the one above didn't make the cut. But, it was definitely my favorite of the bunch. If Ty and I ever get married again, you can expect this invite in the mail.

For the record, this is the one the couple actually chose. I really liked this one too.

A bannister makeover

I seriously considered titling this post "When your dog chews the crap out of your banister and you don't want to shell out $100 for a new one" but thought it was too long. That is exactly what this is about though.

Hank has always been an amazing dog. Since we got him at 6 weeks old, he was a little angel. House trained super quickly. Never jumped on people. Rarely barked. And, to top it all off, never chewed on anything but his toys. Which was a miracle, since labs are voracious chewers. But then, one day. One terribly, sad, notorious day a couple years ago. Ty and I left for work and we had unknowingly shut all of Hanks toys in our bedroom. We got home to a destroyed bannister and a puppy who, for months, treated all the wood trim in our house as his personal noshing ground. THE WORST!

Long story short, a lot of painting and trim replacing later, Hank has finally seemed to cool it. Thank goodness. But rather than shelling out $100+ for a new bannister (cause there are SO many other things I would rather spend $100 on), I decided to just make-shift fix it this weekend.

I should say right up front that I am 100% NOT a perfectionist. Most of the time I go for good enough and call it a day, and this project definitely fits into that category. So if you have also had your bannister chewed to smithereens and need a not-perfect fix, this is the one for you.

The bannister was in SUPER rough shape. I started by removing it from our wall and dragging it into the garage.

Then I sanded it like crazy with this Black and Decker Mouse sander. There were hugely deep pock marks from Hank's teeth all up and down the length of the wood, along with severely disfigured areas where he chewed for what I am sure was hours.

Even after a good amount of sanding, it still had some pretty rough spots. I thought about whipping out the wood putty, but that seemed like WAY too much effort, so I just sanded the best I could, pretending that large chunks of the bannister weren't supposed to be there anyway / were supposed to be totally disfigured.

Once all the sanding was finished, I gave the whole thing a nice coat of one-coat-coverage black, glossy Valspar paint (inspired by this bannister), which made a huge difference. The dark color hid a lot of the lurking imperfections, as you can see in that before and after shot up there. (NOTE: I LOVE one-coat-coverage paint. If you're never used it, do it. It works like a dream.)

Then I brought it back inside, hung that bad boy up, and bam! Good as new. ish. If nothing else, it's about 1 million times better than it was before AND it only cost me $10 in paint. Plus I kind of love how the new color plays off the shelf and frame at the top of the stairs. Now, just promise me you won't look too closely if you ever come over and we'll call this a raving success.

The best ad seriously ever

It's so simple. It's so perfect. Every time I see it, I just think "YES!" And then I want to go out and run. Honestly, Nike. Honestly. 

On another note, when we are driving, or watching TV, or searching the internets, or looking at magazines, Ty and I often comment on the advertising we come across. Phrases like "Oh man -- that was so on point!" or "That was waaaaaayyyy off their target market." or "That would have been so much more powerful if...(xyz)." are common phrases in our conversations. And I kind of love that I have a non-designer, non-marketer husband who will still take interest and comment on the things I am passionate about. Babe attack.


The 4th annual Christmas tree bonfire

This entire event started 4 years ago simply because I found a pulled pork recipe (side note: make it. do it. it's delicious.) that I wanted to try out, and I needed people to serve it to. A more appropriate title for this post may be "4th annual pulled pork sandwich bonfire" since there were no actual trees at the 1st annual. But. You know. That sounds weird. So a little bit of time in the kitchen, and a small gathering of friends later, we had ourselves a tradition. Now, every year Ty and I drive around post Christmas collecting all the trees we can, then ceremonially burn them one winter's eve while eating the same delicious pulled pork sandwiches with friends and family.

We precariously piled 10 trees in the back of the truck this year, and made our way to the lake's edge last weekend to find an unseasonably sunny and beautiful evening waiting for us. It was one of those nights at the lake where you just keep thinking "Man, how did I forget Utah was so pretty? Utah is PRETTY!" the whole night. Over and over. Cause really, it IS.

The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. And there was not a snowflake to be seen or ice to be walked on. Besides a healthy amount of wind going on, it was kind of ideal as we sat and ate and burned the trees one by one, and subsequently ooo-ed and ahh-ed as they went up in flames. Then, as the evening wound down, the sun quietly inched its way behind the mountains in the distance and provided the loveliest of sunsets for our little party. The nicest.

So in short, it was a winner. Even if it was not Chinese New Year and we didn't have any surprise guests and lantern lighting. Looking forward to next year.

The mountains called and we answered

Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend we got invited to an amazing cabin high in the mountains, full of amazing people and amazing times and it was, as you can guess, totally amazing. The cabin is tucked into a spectacular valley in the Uinta mountains, accessible only by some sort of snow travel. We were lucky enough to get to take a snow cat in. Which, despite only traveling 10mph, was giddy-inducing fun. I'm pretty sure I exclaimed "This is so fun!" at least 5 times during the 50-minute drive.

Everett got his first taste of snow shoeing, which he loved so much he slept through the whole thing :) And there were 5 other kids there (along with 27 adults) so Ev got plenty of social time and Ty and I got to hang with the other parents in between adventuring out of doors. Ty even took a turn watching, I'm pretty sure, ALL of the kids while everyone else (me included) went skiing and cross country skiing and snow shoeing, respectively. Seriously, he's a champion.

It was honestly the perfect weekend. Sunday graced us with a light, little snow storm. And we all gazed out the picture windows in the cabin living room onto the strong, stoic pines and the meandering, quiet stream in the valley as the snow fell. I tell you what, I may have been born a beach girl, but I have slowly but surely become a mountain girl. They just do my soul so much good. That and all the wonderful people I get to share them with. After having so much time to myself lately, it was such a welcomed treat to spend three whole days with some of my most favorite people, with absolutely no agenda other than relaxing and having fun. Must do item on the life list: Own a cabin in the mountains.

In other news, I'm going to start a weekly mama adventure group in Provo. If you want in, say the word and we will go have outdoor fun together with our littles no less than once a week. Puppies welcome too. Ready....go!

Also also, I just realized I have zero photos of both Ty and I at the cabin. The lamest.

The most effortless hair

It floors me to think about all the time I had before Everett came on the scene. SO MUCH TIME! ALL THE TIME! What the heck did I do with all the time? Point being, with that cute little booger entering the scene, my get-ready time in the morning has been significantly downsized / obliterated / told to take a hike.

And so the ingenuity /  justifications have begun: "I don't have to shower every day, right? Because science. And, I mean, it's not like I smell. And washing your hair more than once a week is bad for it anyway! And I'm not actually going to see anyone today so..." And so on and so forth. But while I might be quite convincing, I still find myself in the shower every day (cause gross). And to save time on hair-washing days I have come up with a new easy peezy hair solution: Cut the blow dryer, enter the Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray.

Once I'm out of the shower, I simply douse my hair with that lovely stuff and let nature take its course. I don't even brush it (every second counts people), and this is how it turns out. And I kind of love it. Maybe not the best date / job interview hair. But for an everyday, tousled, I-don't-really-have-anyone-to-super-impress-besides-a-cute-baby day? Super perfect. Plus, the volume! My natural hair is fine and limp, so this surf spray does it some zesting-up good. And the no blow drying does seem to be doing some good for my sad brittle ends. Win, win, win.

Working on being snoozers over here

When he's not working or in class, Ty has been spending every waking moment studying for his first actuarial exam. Sidenote: crossing of fingers and sending of good vibes and praying for a pass totally welcome. Which leaves me a lot of time to myself. So, I have been working on getting Everett on a good eating schedule and sleeping-through-the-night pattern as of late. Both of which will come in mighty handy as today is my first day back to work (yay for working part time from home!) He has yet to sleep longer than 7 hours continuous, and that only happened once -- we are usually about 4-5 hour stints at night. But I just read a couple books that I found SUPER helpful, and they have been making a big difference over here. Everett has even gone down for naps without fussing, crying, or needing to be soothed multiple times recently (WHAT?!), and overall I feel way more competent when it comes to helping that guy get the sleep he needs. If you feel you'd like a little enlightening too, here are the goods.

The 90-minute baby sleep program - This was a nice eye opener as to sleep patterns in babies and how to maximize on them. It gives a good little guide into sleep timing and patterns in sleep development that can be expected in the first year of life. This was my fav, and it was a SUPER quick read.

Heathly Sleep Habits, Happy Child - Although it's a bit redundant and hard to re-find information (not the best-written book ever), this book's content was super insightful into sleep timing as well. It also gives good ideas on routines and soothing and has extra information on sleep training for multiples and colicky babies. As added content, it gives insight into baby behavior patterns (aka -- normal fussy behavior for all babies vs. hard-to-sooth babies).

Neither of these really fits the Babywise pattern well, but we have found they have really been good for us.

As an afterthought, I have a friend who had a lot of success with this one, but us...not so much. Could work for you though.

A movie for date night

Ty and I watched Labor Day for our date night last night. It started off a little weird but turned into quite the enjoyable movie. By far the saddest film I have seen in a good long while.* To quote Ty, "The amount of happy is not enough for the amount of sad in this movie." Agreed. We both cried. But it was good. Even Ty thought so. So if you need a good date-night movie (or even just a watch-by-yourself movie), and you don't mind some tears, totally go for it. It's on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

*Volcano was definitely the last saddest movie I watched - MUCH sadder than Labor Day. SO SAD. It was showing on our plane ride back from Iceland. Go ahead and watch it if you feel like bawling your eyes out over and over again for 1 hour and 43 minutes. I exaggerate not. SO MUCH SADNESS. But really, it's actually an incredible movie worth a watch (even if it is incredibly sad).