Cleaning, Motherhood, toddlers

Tips for a Non-Cleaner

I am what I would consider a “non-cleaner”. I was not born (or raised) with the skilled ability to clean. I didn’t grow up scrubbing baseboards. These were not the chores I had. In fact, I’m not even sure our first house had baseboards. My childhood home was not the tidiest, and neither was my mom’s childhood home. It must be in our genes. But I don’t really remember those details when recalling early memories. I had the BEST childhood. I grew up outside, spending my time getting as tan as my shins were bruised. I ran around barefoot, playing at the pool, on the playground, in the woods. I didn’t have daily or weekly chores that ever ran on a schedule. I cleaned my room as well as any kid would, which is to say not really doing much cleaning but instead finding ANYTHING else to do instead. When I got older my chores included putting dishes away, irregular vacuuming, and my favorite…dusting. OH dusting, how I hate thee. We had a lot of intricately carved antique furniture with decorative glass and figurines, and in my teenage mind, that was the worst thing I could be expected to do. Please, ask me to do anything else. After years and years, I am realizing I am just not a very skilled cleaner. What does that even mean? Is my house in a constant state of disarray? Does FEMA need to provide some disaster relief? NO. But it means that I missed out on a very useful education that some of you had, and I work a little harder and stress a little more over cleaning-related things that I am not good at or consistent with. My (mostly) Type B personality doesn’t mind if something gets skipped, and while I have failed to make myself run on schedule, I do love organization and clean spaces. I think I am a Type B person with a Type A brain. I am always enthralled when people have their cleaning routine down to a science while I feel like I am always cleaning but never done. If you can relate, read on, and maybe this post will help a little!

One of my newer goals for myself is to always have my house what I would consider “houseguest ready.” Not perfect, but put together enough to where I feel comfortable having someone drop in at any moment. This may sound really silly to some, but it has always been a source of anxiety to me! I want my home to be welcoming and organized for so many reasons, and sometimes life (and my habits) just get in the way. I mean first off, two kids and two white dogs. Hello. Occasional piles of laundry to be folded on the couch, boxes to go out to recycling by the front door, last night’s dishes on the counter, etc. It’s not really how I would prefer my house to be on any given day. So here are some changes I have adopted that have made a big difference in the nightly and morning routines, as well as my overall peace of mind:

Clean a little throughout the day. Again, if you are “a cleaner”, this is probably the most obvious statement ever. But for those non-cleaners, let me explain. I once came across and article about things all neat & tidy people have in common, and the biggest one was that they cleaned throughout the day. It said, “you can’t expect to be a slob all day and then find time to clean everything up at once.” I realized that I very frequently made poor, lazy choices under the premise if “I’ll get to it later” because the kids were pulling me in one direction or another at the moment. I mean slob seems harsh, but yeah, maybe I was being a slob! For example, putting my plate on the counter instead of in the sink or dishwasher. Wiping toddler faces and putting the paper towel on the table instead of immediately in the trash. Folding laundry and leaving it in clean stacks on the floor to put away later. All of those little things have to be dealt with at some point. Maybe the end of the day, or maybe you’ll leave it for “tomorrow.” Mmm hmm. Just forcing myself not be lazy in those aspects has helped my nightly routine straightening up SO MUCH. Doing those things consistently have changed my habits which I have had for YEARS and make life more simple.

Daily laundry and dishes. For whatever reason, I always had “laundry days.” I separated out all of the laundry for all 4 of us and did load after load, then folded it all, and put it away. This was intense. I don’t know why that made sense to me, but I found another pearl of wisdom among some other cleaning article I got lost in and it mentioned the importance of daily laundry. Instead of 5 huge loads one day a week, I bought some Shout Color Catcher and at the end of each day I wash everyone’s things together. Towels, toddler clothes, work out clothes, etc. The color catchers work wonderfully at keeping colors and whites bright and the laundry loads are small and manageable. Folding and putting them away is easy! Same with dishes. Dirty dishes go immediately in the dishwasher and are washed each night, so every morning we put dishes away and start all over. Making my husband and toddler do the same is…a work in progress…but even if they don’t, it’s less mess for mama. Here’s my kitchen on a normal day now:

Have a “goodbye” spot. This is a place in your house where things can go before they are put out to pasture. Have it be tucked away, but not totally inconvenient or totally out of site. Mine is in a certain part of our garage. Having a designated place for things to be stored until you have enough to run to Goodwill, host a yardsale, etc. is great for lessening your household junk. It lets you think about whether you are ready to part with it, and it’s out of sight so it doesn’t bug you, but not hidden so you forget about it. Plus, in somewhere like the garage I can just load up the car and drop everything off when I’m ready. Easy peasy. If you find it hard to Marie Kondo things, try this method first. It’s like Marie Kondo with a safety net.

Clear couches, comforters, & counters. CCC. One of my ultimate pet peeves is having things where I want to sit. My husband has this bad habit of emptying his pockets on the back of our couch, or spreading his things out on the couch beside him if he’s working on his laptop. If I come into a room with two couches and a chair and nowhere clear to sit down, I loose it. Keeping seating areas clear, as well as beds and tables, it a great goal to have. A clean kitchen counter is my happy place. This keeps your down time relaxing, and opens up space for starting new tasks.

Make it a game. Encouraging little kids to help is great on so many levels. Toddlers LOVE lifestyle play. That’s why Melissa & Doug toys are genius! Instead of getting something where they can only pretend to clean, let them help out a little! Wipe windows, unload the silverware from the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen. Lately my 3 year old LOVES folding laundry, and I taught her to fold shirts. She’s pretty good at it! Win-win! She’ll also take a mower ride whenever she can get it.

Phone a friend. There is no shame in not enjoying cleaning, or not being good at it. I know several moms who pay someone to clean weekly or deep clean monthly. If you can do that- go for it! But if you’d rather improve your cleaning skills and efficiency yourself, ask a friend what they do. I asked Kate this very thing, which led to the inspiration for this blog and the one to follow (so stay tuned!) Kate is a cleaner. She has a routine, which keeps her household running like clockwork. I asked her for her weekly schedule she sets for herself. Other friends have found genius Pinterest hacks which save time too, so don’t be afraid to ask how your friends clean!

Give yourself time. If you have a tendency to be messy, don’t expect to become a neat-freak overnight. You can’t change a lifetime of habits overnight. (And if you can, please write a blog!) Set achievable goals, take it one day at a time, and strive for consistency. Try to make each day better than the last. Slowly you will find yourself with less work to do each day, which means you can dive into another project or start organizing those drawers or closets you never find time to get to.

When Kate and I started this blog, one of our primary goals was to be honest, not shiny. We are not perfect and neither are our houses. Just like (almost) everyone else. So, I say all of that to say it is OKAY if your house is always always always a mess. It really is. Even the cleanest of people, I’m sure, wishes things were a little more clean and tidy. Just think, when your kids are grown and the opportunities to make memories with little people has come and gone, your house can be clean. I would rather my house be messy and my kids be happy. When I’m 90 years old and recalling my greatest memories, I can ASSURE YOU I will not be picturing my clean house. So find a balance between messy & clean, don’t stress over the opinions of people who don’t live there, and be happy.

Any quick cleaning tips or habits hat have made a difference for you? Please don’t keep them to yourself! Share below!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Easter Baskets for Babies & Toddlers

As parents we love getting our kids gifts, and Easter is no exception. Each year, as spring comes around, we all look forward to Easter egg hunts, dressing up, dyeing eggs, and filling Easter baskets with loads of goodies.

However, many parents don’t enjoy the stress of figuring out what to fill their child’s Easter basket with. It is easy to run out of ideas and to grab all the sugary candy you see all over the store. Of course, we want their baskets to be fun and enjoyable, but we don’t want to have our toddler on a sugar high. We try our best to find unique ideas that are practical and not a basket filled with sweets.

We tend to try to shy away from those basket “fillers”. You know, all the small pieces that will end up sprawled across the playroom floor in a matter of minutes. The kind that are waiting for your unsuspecting feet to step on in the middle of the night. The kind that end up in the giveaway pile only weeks after purchasing. Yeah, those basket fillers!  

We know you’d rather gift your kid with things that are fun and that gets plenty of use. So, we went on the hunt for the best Easter basket fillers that babies and toddlers would enjoy and that parents wouldn’t mind buying because they are super practical. We had to get creative and found five different categories to choose from to build your basket! We made it SUPER easy too, with the help of Amazon.

We’ve got what you need to make this year’s Easter basket for your baby and toddler the best one yet!

So, here is our list of Easter basket ideas for babies and toddlers.

Something to read:

Books are usually where I start when getting gifts for any holiday! They are a great way to introduce new topics and get their imaginations going. So, don’t forget to grab some fun Easter or Spring themed books to put in your kiddos Easter basket. And then snuggle up together and read as a family.

  • Little Blue Truck Springtime I actually bought this for my son LAST Easter and it is still one of his favorites. All of the Little Blue Truck books are adorable, but I love the interactive flaps in this one. 
  • Llama Llama Easter Egg – The Llama Llama books are always so sweet, and this one is no exception. 
  • We Are the Gardeners-This is my topic pick for this Easter! It is written by Joanna Gaines and all about gardening. I cannot wait to read this one to both of my kiddos. 
  • Mouse’s First Spring My daughters current favorite book. We read this book at least three times a day. The cute sound effects and pictures captures her attention every time. 
  • If you Plant a Seed– We are BIG into planting this year, so this book is prefect for spring. 
  • And then it’s Spring- Another cute Spring book for both our toddler and baby. Teach them all about Spring with this cute book.

Something to eat:

While we don’t want to pack our child’s Easter basket with sugary treats, snacks are the way to their heart! So, grab some of their favorite and swap them out in place of all that candy.

  • Goldfish
  • Fruit Bars
  • Granola Bars
  • Puffs
  • Graham Crackers

Something to make:

Toddlers love to build and create! We have found some fun crafts and activities to get your kiddos imagination flowing.

  • Birdhouse kit-This cute kit allows your kiddo the creative pow to decorate their own bird house. Once the house is built, watch their excitement grow as a bird makes a home.
  • Bug Catching kit- What toddler doesn’t love catching a few bugs and observing them? This kit invites so much awesome science play. Work with your kiddo to safely grab bugs to watch before releasing them. I can’t wait to catch a few ants and worms with my toddler!
  • Tie Dye Kit –A little messy, but so much fun! Grab a white shirt, and let your little one design their own tie dye shirt! You can make one for each member of the family.

Something to wear:

With warm weather coming use their basket as an adorable way to get them spring time ready!

  • Rainboots and Rain coat
  • Sunhat
  • Cute Sunglasses
  • Bathing suit
  • Flipflops
  • Cute Easter Outfit

Something to use:

Practical gifts are the best kind of gift! Something that they can use time and time again over the spring and summer. Here are a few of our topic picks.

  • Bubble Machine– A classic and a favorite of both of my children. Bubbles and even a bubble machine is a fun way to get them to run around outdoors, as the warm weather begins.
  • Play-Doh -To refresh your supply and offer a simple activity whenever you might need it.
  • Chalk– A new warm season, a new set of chalk. It’s just how it has to be! Our chalk from last year is looking pretty tired and may have gone threw a few rain storms! This fresh set should get the creative outdoor juices flowing!
  • Coloring Paper & Crayons– We use plain paper, so our baby and toddler can use their imagination as they color and draw. These crayons are also great for little hands to grab and scribble. As a bonus, they are also fun to stack!
  • Outdoor Paint– Keep the mess outside with these waterproof outdoor paints. They come with brushes and hours of fun.
  • Dot Markers – I use dot markers for a variety of activities. From art projects to finding letters, they are a great addition to your art closet.

Don’t forget to add your our traditions to your Easter Basket.

I hope you are able to get a bit of inspiration from this list and are ready to get that basket together! What are some of the things you’ve put into your child’s Easter basket?

XOXO Kate & Elizabeth

Motherhood, sharing, siblings, toddlers

This Is How We Share

Children are selfish. They live their little lives like we would often like to. Do what you want, when you want, how you want. Something breaks? Oh well. Decide to quit halfway through? Cool, let’s leave that for mom to finish. Want something someone else has? Grab it and RUN. Literally, run. It is our job, as boring, rule-following adults, to teach our children to tone it down a notch, basically.

When my first daughter was 18-24 months old, she really struggled with independent play. She wanted us involved in any and every activity, which was really tiring to say the least. Her go-to “play” was just to hand us everything. EVERYTHING! We made a fair amount of headway before baby sister came along, and continued to learn to play on our own. But, now as baby sister is walking around, of course she wants to get her paws on anything and everything. However; what really took me by surprise was that my oldest now wants to takeover everything my youngest has! Shouldn’t it be the other way around?! My youngest will play on her own and find her own toys, and my oldest tramples in to “play with her” with the best intentions, but ends up taking over the activity. And thus began my curiosity on how others reinforce sharing.

At first I just stuck with what I knew. We take turns. That makes sense and is fair, right? But while it seems simple to us, it really isn’t to the toddler mindset. They are giving up something that they don’t want to, not knowing when they will get it back. And in some cases sharing means not getting something back at all. When I tell my oldest to share her snack, she does so very reluctantly, understanding that this means she gets less snack (and therefore she usually starts eating much, much faster.) This seemed okay for awhile, but as my youngest grew more mobile it became less effective. How do you explain taking turns and asking for a toy when the littlest member of the family yanks a toy and runs with no intention of returning it? How do you make a 3 year old share her goldfish crackers and not expect your 1 year old to do the same? This technique left me struggling to explain “it’s because she’s a baby” and led to some confused and hurt expressions from my oldest (even though she always took it like a champ!)

Then we toured my daughter’s preschool, a cute little Montessori school a town over. I was introduced to a new ideology on sharing, and loved how simple it was. When another child is playing with a toy or activity, it is theirs for as long as they want it. Once they put the toy back it’s up for grabs again! What?! This blew my mind a little bit. I was always raised with same-time sharing in mind. Share or no one plays with it. My favorite results from this Montessori method are that they A) allow a child to fully play with an activity without having to pause their imagination and B) they learn patience. Waiting is hard, even for adults! Understanding early on that waiting is kind and a valuable life skill is amazing. This is also easier to enforce with smaller children, because they don’t have to understand when they can and can’t take a toy from another child and you don’t have to wrestle it back from them and try to explain they are sharing. No positive associations with that word right there!

My only hesitation with this method was, how do they learn to play together? If they are always waiting on a toy, WILL they play together? The answer is yes. I think that in the “waiting” and watching, the child playing with the toy first is allowed to shine and lead the playing. They create the rules for this short-term play and the second child adapts. In my experience at home, they always end up playing together, and if things start to go south the best method is distraction. Lead the other one to a new activity. My girls rarely battle over toys these days, so I think it’s a successful sharing practice! But as in most things in life, I always try to be open minded to trying new things. There is no black and white over here, we bend and stretch the rules to learn what works best for us.

So here are some tips for getting kids (age 1-3, because that’s the experience we have!) to share:

  • Watch their interactions first. Every child is different. Some will be content with the dynamic struck, even if one child is doing the majority of the playing. Let them try to work it out themselves. Aka, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! If you notice a power struggle, step in and try a few of these tips.
  • Lead by example. Share your food with them. Share the TV. Share books or magazines with your spouse. Sit on the floor and play with a toy, then share it with them. Let them know you are sharing and they are doing a good job sharing with you. When they can associate good feelings of being played with to the word “share” they are more likely to want to do it on their own. They now understand this is a good action.
  • Encourage clean up. Not only does this save the adults in the house a ton of time, but it’s an important life skill to learn to be organized and see things through. It also is a clear cut signal that they are done with that toy or activity and it is now available again. No more abandoned toys in the middle of the floor and screaming, “I was still playing with that!”
  • Decide which toys are NOT to be shared. Whenever we have playdates we put our favorite bear and baby doll in our room. We know that those are special toys that we have decided that we do not need to share with others. Setting those aside also lets my toddler know that all other toys ARE to be shared. Between siblings, my oldest knows that toys in the living room can be shared and if she doesn’t want her sister to play with her favorite bear or baby doll then they should be left on her bed when she’s not playing with them. Personally, I believe that letting children have a special toy or two that they don’t have to share is important.
  • If a battle ensues, distract. Don’t try to over-explain sharing to them. They likely will be so focused on what they want to do in that moment that you might as well be speaking Chinese. Just allow the child to continue playing with their activity, and take the other one over to a new activity.

If you have any tips for us, please share! Especially for older kids as we are swimming in new waters every single day! What’s the saying? Once you get used to it, it changes? YEP!

Thank you for reading & keep us posted on what works for you!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Uncategorized

The Magic of a Normal Day

This month I started a gratitude journal, part of our Mindful March journey to focus on self-care, and I thought about all the things I am grateful for: my kids, my husband, my health, their health, my house, my van that can cart us around, etc….and as that list got longer and less obvious, adding things like, “Learning that my daughter loves when the wind blows her hair when we play outside,” I realized what I am most grateful for is normal days.

It’s really easy to get caught up in things you wish for. And by no means am I saying you shouldn’t dream big. I often think about trips I’d like to take, a future career I’d like to have, or what alternate-universe me would be doing right now, like fighting crime as the world’s most elusive spy. Not possible in this universe, since I can’t cross a room without knocking something over, but you know, maybe in another one! And sometimes, as all mothers surely do, I long for the days before children where I had seemingly endless hours of the day. After navigating life with two kids for about 9 months or so, my husband asked me, “What did you do with your day before kids when we moved here?” because I left my full-time job to follow his. My honest answer, after a LONG pause…”I don’t even know!” Dreaming big and daydreaming are healthy. But what isn’t healthy is comparing yourself to others. Your marriage, your kids, your wardrobe. Comparison is absolutely the thief of joy, because it often robs our confidence in the lives we have built.

Last night I was looking back at my old photos, as I often do, and I realized what an eventful year we have had. We brought a baby into this world a few days before the New Year, so everything in 2018 was her first. We celebrated career achievements, we bought a camper, we traveled to the Outer Banks (a bucket list item for this North Carolina-native who had never been), we took our girls to see mountains for the first time and saw the sun rise on the highest peak east of the Mississippi, we had ALL the holidays together. We had quite the eventful year. Now in 2019, we will see another deployment, we have zero family trips booked, and I am looking wistfully at those past photos filled with adventure.  I see friends decorating nurseries, having babies, running marathons, laying in a hammock on a tropical island, and it’s really easy to let that thief sneak in.  But here’s were I remind myself how very much I LOVE NORMAL DAYS.

On a normal day, no one is sick.  Everyone is mostly happy.  A few tears are shed over sharing a toy or the dog eating our animal cracker.  We have dance parties.  We laugh over a movie.  We walk outside and pick flowers and talk about birds.  We get up on our tippy toes to check the mail.  We eat meals together.  We argue about when to get out of the bath.  We kiss goodnight and read stories.  We may not dip our toes in crystal blue waters or hug Mickey Mouse while watching fireworks, but you know what?  The adventures we grow nostalgic for have shaped who we are today, and the moments we wish for just give us more of an excuse to dream big and make them happen.  But today, normal is amazing.  On days when we end up in the ER, we wish for normal.  The first day of deployment when we wake up and realize we have many more months of waking up alone before he comes back, we wish for normal.  When we hear someone we love has departed this Earth, we wish for normal.   Because normal is comfortingly beautiful.  Normal is under-appreciated.  Normal is spectacular in disguise.  I am extremely, ecstatically thankful for normal days.

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Uncategorized

7 Simple Activities for Rainy Days!

There’s no where my kiddos would rather be than outside; running, screaming, and exploring. They would spend the entire day outside if they could, and sometimes we do! However, there are days when we just can’t do outside. It’s too hot, it’s raining, or maybe it’s too cold, which doesn’t happen often here in North Carolina.

Regardless of the reason, all of their bottled up energy needs somewhere to go, and I’d prefer it not be them jumping from couch to couch. Of course, on these rainy days their old toys no longer interest them and they are all over the place. Thankfully there are plenty of fun, easy, and quick to put together activities to keep your little ones busy right inside your home.

1. Sensory Bins:

Sensory bins are a great way to let your little ones explore different textures, colors, and concepts. Everything is contained in a big plastic tub, or so it’s supposed to be, which makes for easy clean up! Find a plastic tub you have laying around the house and fill it with whatever interests your child. We currently LOVE construction of any kind. So, off I went to the garage, got some soil and rocks and ta-da! A sensory bin was created!

Some other fun themes are: holidays, individual colors, and seasons.

2. DIY Dry Erase Board:

Have a glass door or window? I’m sure you do! Well guess what, you also have a dry erase board. Grab some dry erase markers and let your little one draw a picture. Make sure you remind them markers are ONLY for the door or window, otherwise you may end up with a lovely Picasso-esque mural adorning your walls. When drawing their own picture loses your littles interest, draw shapes on the door, then begin naming the shapes, while having them erase or circle the shape you named. You can do this with anything: letters, numbers, shapes, sight words, etc you name it!

3. Alphabet & Number Games:

We have been focusing on our numbers, letters, and shapes for a while. Over time we have narrowed down some of our favorite games. Do you have an old cookie sheet you no longer use, alphabet or number magnets, and a sharpie? If you do, you have a new game at your fingertips. Take a sharpie, write down the alphabet (or numbers) and have your kiddo match them up! How easy is that?! If you don’t have magnets, grab a piece of paper and some paint! Write the alphabet or numbers down and have your kiddo trace them with paint. Both activities are simple to put together and will keep your little ones busy.

4. Cook together!

Cooking together doesn’t have to be elaborate! Have them help you make breakfast, or lunch. Measuring, dumping, and stirring help build fine motor skills, it also builds memories together. Bonus, my toddler also seems to eat more of the food when he helps!

5. Painters Tape Race Track!

Cranes, trains, and automobiles are just a few of our favorite things. With that being said, we have a TON of vehicles throughout our house. These vehicles sometimes need to place to go (other than under my feet!). So, we grabbed some painters tape and created a race track! But, what’s a race track without some tunnels and bridges?! Thank you solo cups! The tracks don’t have to stay on the ground. Up the walls, over the couches, and down the kitchen drawers are all fun places for their cars to travel.

6. Bring Nature Indoors!

Not literally.  But when all your littles want to do is venture outside, you can still let them scope it out from the sidelines.  Talk about the weather, look for wildlife with a pair of binoculars, grab a bird book and identify birds at the feeder, watch and learn about the types of clouds.  If you live in a larger city or busy neighborhood, people watch!  These little window-watching conversations will introduce new fun, and even new vocabulary.

7. A timeless classic…Build a Fort!

What kid doesn’t love a fort?  They are ripping your house apart anyway, might as well do it intentionally!  Gather all the pillows, blankets, cushions and get to work. Have flashlights or lanterns?  Great!  Stuffed animal role players? Awesome!  Forts aren’t an everyday occurrence over here, so making a rainy day extra special with this family activity is always a blast. Leave them up all day, eat lunch in there, watch a movie by lantern-light. It only takes a slight departure from “normal” for kids to think something is magical.

Now it’s your turn!

Choose one or a few of these rainy day activities for your little one and go have fun!

Uncategorized

Staying Sane? There’s an App for That

PBS Kids, making us feel better about screen time one Daniel Tiger song at a time.

Every single time the power goes out, I try to use something that requires power. It never fails. After a short (but not short enough) mental delay, I am left feeling like a first world idiot. Last summer we had a huge line of storms come through, of course right as it was time to cook dinner. Pretty normal for summers on the Carolina coast. The heat and humidity just build and build and explodes into pop-up thunder clouds right before the sun goes down. So here I am, chicken in the oven, almost done, and a huge flash…uh oh…thunder…then the power blinks, struggles a bit, and goes out for good. Immediately I think, “Great. Ok. No big deal, it was almost done I can throw it in the microwave!” But no. “Ugh. OK lets turn the light on and just think this through.” But no. It always throws me for a loop!

Nowadays we also feel like this when, for whatever reason, we don’t have our phones. It’s unbelievable how much I have come to rely on that tiny little rectangle in the past seven or so years. This past fall my phone decided to utterly fall apart when I removed the case, and I was without my phone for a week. It was, in a way, a great experience and made me strive to be unplugged more, but it also made me realize just how useful (and sometimes essential) it can be in the mom world. For one, I had to research ways to contact 911 if my kids had an emergency! To save you the trouble, I learned that any old cell phone is required to be able to call 911, even if it’s not connected to a service. Same goes for a plugged-in house phone. Supposedly, not sure how you test that out! Luckily I didn’t have to.

When we started dreaming up this blog, we both agreed that our driving focus was to share tips for staying sane. We wanted to share things that helped us, commiserate with other mothers, and keep our creative sides occupied- all of which contribute to our overall sanity. So we have compiled a small list of our favorite apps. A tiny nod to the technology that has made our lives easier. The ones that come to our aid the most:

  • Amazon– Nothing here that will throw you off your rocker, but we are all about apps that save time and money. Amazon Prime & Amazon Pantry are bonafide lifesavers. We order diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, dog food, laundry detergent, and other monthly essentials, on top of birthday gifts, party decor, books, etc! Also good to know- several stores, including Target, price match Amazon if there is something you want that you just can’t way 2 days for.
  • Walmart Grocery– Another popular app and overall no-brainer. But this was a game changer for me when it came to mindful purchasing and monthly budgeting. I often forget things at the store, and with this system you can continue to add to your order until the night before pick-up. Our local Walmart also started offering delivery, which was well worth the $10 fee when we were all sick a couple weeks ago!
  • InkCards & TouchNote– Both of these apps serve the same purpose. Kate uses one, Elizabeth the other, so we included both! These are a cheap and easy way to send cards to loved ones for any occasion. Custom cards with your own photos, cheaper than Hallmark, and you don’t need a stamp or a trip to the mailbox. They do everything for you. When my friends need a little pick-me-up, this is where I go!
The sweetest response ever from one of Elizabeth’s friends!
  • Lightroom CC– Photoshop and Lightroom are photo editing programs that are not generally free, but the Lightroom CC app for phones is free and is pretty amazing for editing photos on-the-go! Take your Instagram game up a notch by getting this app and playing around. There is even an autocorrect image feature if you don’t feel very photo savvy!
  • Robot Vaccum– If you have a Robot Vacuum, this app is awesome for scheduling cleanings and even finding the dang thing. It just makes things that much easier!
  • TimeHop– If you don’t have this app, GET IT NOW! It takes all of your photos from various photo sharing services (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Photos) and gives you a daily update of what you shared a year ago, 5 years ago, 9 years ago. It really does make my day to see pictures of my newborn baby from a year ago (insert tears the day THOSE photos started showing up because she turned one) or a sweet picture of me and my husband from our college days. I feel like I am reminded of so many photos and memories I otherwise may have forgotten about.
Newborn baby memories! As if first birthdays weren’t hard enough!
  • DT Parents– That DT is for Daniel Tiger, folks. Ever heard of him? Well our kids LOVE that delightful little PBS show, and while it can wear on the nerves, it really does contain meaningful messages for kids. The DT Parents app organizes the songs from episodes into common issues or feelings your child may experience, like sharing or being sad, so that you can have Daniel Tiger sing them a song about it. It may sound silly, but when your toddler is in a mood, who better to talk to them about it? YOU or an orange tiger cub? Yep, I agree.
  • ToneitUP– I think every mom desires a simple, cheap workout app that is actually practical, when so many promise to be. I can barely use the bathroom alone, how in the world am I supposed to find 30 minutes to myself to complete a workout?? This is a tried and true app by Kate. If you are looking for something to tone up a little for summer, start here!
  • Hatch Baby– This is specifically for newborns and infants. It is a wonderful app for tracking diaper changes, feedings, weight, pumping, etc. There is a stopwatch feature for nursing (and it records which side) so in those early days when you can’t even remember your middle name, you know when you last fed your little one and for how long. Your partner can also have the app on his or her phone with the same login so you can both add in baby-specific details, like logging that middle-of-the-night blowout that dad was lucky enough to change.
  • Chatbooks– Y’all, I cannot say enough good things about Chatbooks. Chatbooks was originally started to make photo series books from your Instagram account, but now allows you to make custom books and pull photos from Facebook and your photo library too. You can keep captions as they were posted or go in and edit. I currently have them printed for my kids from 0-6, 6-12, and 12-18 months. While these treasured books are for me right now, I cannot wait to gift them to my kids when they get older and show them all of the memories they are too young to remember for themselves. Almost a photo a day, with a caption from mom. I may never be able to part with them!
Elizabeth’s Chatbooks collection. So far she has printed 0-6mo, 6-12mo, and 12-18mo for her oldest and 0-6mo for her youngest. She plans to keep it up throughout their preschool years. The greatest memories they may not remember.
  • Baby Coloring– This is what I call my “doctor’s office app.” It’s the perfect calm “game” to keep kids busy without being glued to a show. It’s extremely simple and both of my kids (13 months and almost 3 years) can use it. You pick a coloring tool and use your finger to color a picture, the end. Sounds boring but I swear my husband will color with my kids for an hour if you let him!
  • The Wonder Weeks– Wonder Weeks has been a lifesaver! Every time one of the kiddos is having a hard couple of days, I check this app to see if they are currently in a leap of development. The apps shows what their brains are focusing on during their current stage and what new skills they may be developing in the near future.
  • Dino Puzzle-This app is great for quiet places, like appointments, meetings, or even car rides. Dino puzzles are just that, digital puzzles for your child to do. Our toddlers currently love Dinosaurs, so its a huge hit for them!
  • White Noise & Sleep Pillow– Until I had a 2nd baby, the iPad was our noise machine and Sleep Pillow the weapon of choice. When we had two babies we decided we might want an ACTUAL sound machine, especially since the iPad got taken over with Baby Coloring and PBS Kids! Having these apps are great for playing in the car, staying in a hotel, or even placing in the stroller on a nap time walk.
  • Pandora– Ending with another no-brainer. Pandora has been around for over a decade, I remember logging onto it in college from my computer. But if you aren’t using it to play children’s songs, make workout stations, or have a dance party in you’re living room, you’re doing it wrong!
Dance party in progress. When she asks for a dress and her shoes, she means business!

If you have any other mom-tastic apps that you can share with us, please do!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Uncategorized

The Meet Cute

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

-C.S. Lewis

We danced around the idea of a blog for a couple months before finally deciding to take advantage of a kid-free Sunday morning and meet for coffee.  On said day, it was pouring.  Usually this would be a plan-canceler for us, a reason to stay in.  A footnote in our friendship agreement of sorts.  But today we braved the weather (because KID FREE) and showed up to Starbucks wearing almost identical outfits….jeans, white sweater, boots.  We then ordered lattes and proceeded to talk about everything but our future blog for over an hour.

It’s very cool how people meet.  Kind of a weird statement, I know, but it all comes back to that, right?  When you met your husband, when you first saw your child, when you became best friends.  It’s nostalgic.  It’s epic.  It’s the origin story.  Maybe it’s a classic meet cute or maybe it was a bit rocky, but it’s memorable nonetheless.  I once read that the average person meets 10,000 people in their lifetime.  As stay at home moms, I feel like that number could be a lot less.  Maybe that is why we are all about community events, playgroups, coffee dates, etc.  Especially as military families when the worthwhile friends we do manage to meet are often renting a moving truck far before we are ready to see them go.  That’s why it feels like winning the lottery when you not only find a friend, but one who gets you so well.

We met at a park on an unexceptional late-spring day, where we both separately decided to grab coffee with our husbands and take our 1 year olds out to burn some energy.  As I remember it, both of our children gravitated away from the playground equipment and towards the forbidden body of water that ran surreptitiously alongside the small park in coastal North Carolina.  We giggled over this common toddler obsession, made a Moana joke (duh), and struck up easy conversation.  It wasn’t until a few conversations later that we realized we had both driven 15 minutes away from our homes on a weekend morning to go to Dunkin Donuts of all places, both passing other coffee shops along the way, and then taking our toddlers to a park none of us have ever been to before that’s in the town we live in.  Plus our kids had basically the same due date.  So there, that’s our meet cute.

Awkward toddler hugs!

Over a year later, we both welcomed new baby girls who are also close in age and commiserate daily on the whoas of motherhood.  Our toddlers even celebrated their 2nd birthdays together. While I feel like we are SO alike, we are also very different.  We are both military spouses and SAHMs. Kate is organized, talented at DIY, and has a flare for interior design.  She has a knack for giving her kids amazing educational opportunities and making their days so unique and special. She likes to say that her son’s social calendar is more happening than hers!  Elizabeth has an eye for photography and an affinity for nature and adventure.  She and her husband love to take their two littles on road trips and camping trips that may seem a bit overzealous with two young kids, but oftentimes the best memories come from the chaos. That’s us in a nutshell. I have a feeling you’ll learn a lot more about us later!

So why start a blog together?  I guess it’s because we both impress each other as moms.  We always love what the other is up to and it’s so easy to bounce ideas off each other.  When one feels like they are lacking in a certain area, the other has a great suggestion (or at the very least, an empathetic ear.) I have found that sometimes as a mother you just need to know that what you are doing is okay.  Sometimes you need a reminder that it does, in fact, take a village.  And sometimes that “village” can simply be the words of like-minded moms in a blog about staying sane and taking motherhood one sip at a time. So we hope you will join us on our journey. We welcome comments, inspiration, suggestions, & support from our village at anytime!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate