Things I Love Thursdays

July is very nearly here!  Summers really do fly.  And even though our routine is pretty much the same – I still work full time and my kids are in camp/school/daycare – somehow summer feels more magical than it ever has before. I love it.

A few favorites I’m getting around to sharing.  This time I’m sharing some of my clothing favs.

Alice + Ames

These dresses are just my favorite.  They do cost more than I’d usually spend but they are well made, the colors/patterns are beautiful, and the fabric has just enough stretch so that the dresses are super comfortable (according to Plum, at least).  The best part? THE TWIRL!

Twirl girl.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

 

Note: the selection online is currently pretty limited – I believe they are due to restock soon.  In the meantime, I’ve been eyeing this mustard dot Sunday dress…

mustarddot1

 

Keen “Bug Shoes”

Pistachio (almost 2 1/2) needed a second pair of closed-toed sneakers to wear at school so I got him some funky Keens with bugs on them.  He adores them! They have held up beautifully and they’re really cute, though they do look slightly clownish with their big green toes.  The only negative is that the tongues are thin canvas and need wrangling every time we put them on.

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Mini Boden Dinosaurs

A while back Mini Boden launched a line of clothes for girls that feature dinosaurs.  They are adorable – and I’m so happy when I can get Plum something that doesn’t feature a kitten, some sort of food product (so much ice cream and candy on girls’ clothes!) or Elsa.  She has the shirt, but I may look around and see if I can find a dress on sale somewhere (supplies at the Boden website seem limited).  RAWR!

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In other happy TILT news, the strawberry Vans I got for Plum a few months ago have become her favorite pair of shoes.  Though I need to give them some TLC since they are now brown.  I’m considering replacing them, or perhaps getting her a new pair in rose gold leather.  Because 1. leather doesn’t get quite as dirty, and 2. every gal should own at least one pair of gold shoes.

vans

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Happy 4th to all!

 

(PS – As always, links aren’t affiliate, they’re just there for your convenience.)

Mother’s Little Helpers

Though I do make an effort not to over complicate or over schedule our lives, life can still be pretty hectic sometimes.  There’s just a lot to remember and a lot to do to manage a household, parent, work, make it all work.  I’m certainly not the most organized, or the most motivated. Example: yesterday I ate some Oreo Thins and took a nap instead of prepping meals for the week and organizing the toy room (a task that desperately needs to be done – we’re drowning in Matchbox cars and Duplo blocks!).  But I have found some tools and things that help me get stuff done, so I thought I’d share them.

 

Stuff that makes my life easier/more fun/less complicated…

I’ll start with the most obvious: my husband.  He’s amazing.  I’m also very lucky to have supportive family nearby and a kind and moderately flexible employer.  I am so grateful for all of these.

My crew on the move.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

 

A shared calendar: My husband and I use a shared Google calendar.  We use an app called Tiny Calendar on our phones to access it there, too.  I could just use Google Calendar, but it didn’t work on our phones when we needed it 4 years ago, so we ended up with Tiny Calendar.  So I stuck with it.  I like it.  Admission: our calendar is color-coded, but only a little bit.

tc

A housekeeper:  For the cost of dinner out for 2 (with an adult beverage or two), I can get my house cleaned beautifully.  We hem and haw over this luxury.  Because it IS a luxury.  And it is not something we do all of the time. But it makes a huge difference in my stress level.  I love having my entire house clean at one time.  Someone once told me that when it comes to house upkeep and maintenance, you can pay with your time or you can pay with your money.  At this point in my life, though I am certainly capable and willing to clean my house (and I do!), my time is precious.  I’d rather spend three hours on Sunday with my children picking strawberries, or playing at the park.  So we occasionally pay to have the house cleaned by a professional.  I never feel like it is money wasted.

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Grocery list app:  There are several out there, but we use AnyList.  Mostly we use it for groceries (duh), since we share the shopping and cooking duties but you can make all sorts of lists.  Each week, my husband and I add items to the list from our phones and when one of us shops, we can use the list and cross things off with a touch.  We have a list of favorites that are easy to add to the weekly list, and updates are pretty much made in real time. Often I’m adding things to the list while he’s on the way to the store.  Very handy.  We also share a more general “to do” list using this app.  Very helpful when things get busy, or when we’ve got to pack to go away.

alist

Shutterfly app: This is a little glitch-y and imperfect in my experience but for the most part is a good way to make sure that the photos I take with my phone actually end up somewhere other than just on my phone.  The app is on my phone and my husband’s, and photos get uploaded to one account, so everything is in the same place.

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Chatbooks: I really love this app.  It links to my Instagram account.  Once I’ve reached 60 new photos, Chatbooks prints them into lovely 6×6 inch books ($8 and free shipping!). My favorite part is that you can set up subscriptions – so the lovely little books ship out automatically to grandparents and special people in your life. There is NO extra work on my behalf.   Win!  I also love that the books are customizable – the photo of my kids painting the walls of the shower au naturale isn’t really Instagram-appropriate, but it IS adorable, and I can add it to my Chatbook before my book goes to print.  I order the slightly more expensive hard cover edition as a keepsake for myself, and let my kids enjoy the soft cover ones.  Use my code to get your first book free: CYKKMXVK.

cbooks

Amazon Subscribe & Save: This is useful with small kids and saves on trips to Target (which always cost at least $75 more than planned).  I set up to send diapers and wipes on a monthly basis and there are some other household goods we get less frequently.  It is a time saver for me.  Prices typically end up being comparable to my local Sam’s Club.  I suspect I’d love the Dash Button too, but I’m reluctant to commit. Plus, I’m a little concerned that my kids would find the buttons and we’d end up with 45 packages of paper towels.

subs

 

Stuff I’m working on…

Who has advice on the best way to deal with all of their iPhone videos?  I do back up to the Cloud, my computer and an external drive, but I’d love to put them in a format for my family to enjoy. Advice?

I’m going to try to devise a way to keep in better touch with people who are important to me beyond Facebook.  I’ll let you know how I do!

 

PS – No affiliate links, they are just provided for your convenience.

Just a Tiny Bit Magic

He thumps quickly into the bedroom, breathless and scared.

“Mom, I had a scary dream,” he says, voice shaky.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.  What was your dream about?”

“There was a bad man with white eyes who made me go to jail,” he says, crawling up into my bed and into my arms.

“That sounds very scary.  But you’re safe.  No one is going to take you to jail. You’re safe,” I repeat.

He sighs, his body relaxes, but his heart still pounds.  We snuggle in the pre-dawn light. I can just hear the birds starting to sing.  After a quiet few moments I ask, “Are you ready to go back in your bed?”  He nods.

“Will you carry me?” he asks, voice low.  It is a rare request.

“Of course,” I say as I pick him up and he wraps his thin, strong, spidery limbs around me.

I place him in bed, pull the covers over him, kiss his head and return to my bed.

Three minutes later I hear his footsteps again.

“Mom, I can’t get the pictures out of my head, can you erase them?”

I nod.

He climbs into my bed, and I reach up to rub the back of his head.  I brush his hair from his eyes, and massage his scalp, mumbling as I go, “Yes… got it… right there… this should work.”  This is the nightmare erasing ritual I created a few years ago, based on an improvisational parenting moment (aren’t they all?), based on an idea I had given my little sister post-nightmare, 25 years ago.  It is perhaps a bit dishonest, in the same vein as kissing away the hurt.  But it is a version of the mother/child pact that has probably existed as long as there have been mothers and children.  Moms make things better.

Someday, he will understand that I don’t have the power to erase anything.  That I can’t really fix very much, that I’m not even “just a tiny bit magic” like he thinks I am now.  He will realize that the world can be big, and mean and complicated.  Perhaps he’s started to figure this out already.

But tonight, in the dark, I am his mom, and I have the ability to fix it.  I can heal, I can help, I can calm.  And I can make the bad dreams go away.  I do not take that loving trust lightly.

“That’s better,” he whispers.  And this time, we hold hands as I walk him back to his room and warm bed.

Comparing our eyes.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

Magical Moments

I am cuddled in the wing chair with my littlest, he is winding down for bed, begging for just one more book.  We are snuggled in, chatting about our day.  He is 2 and he has a lot to say.  I tell him how much I love him, how proud I am of him, I tickle him a little to hear his gravely little laugh.  He reaches up and touches my nose gently.  “Mama?” he whispers.  “Yes, Pistachio?” I coo back at him, in love with him and the tender moment we are sharing.  “Poopy butt,” he whispers – not because he has one, just because he is 2,  those are funny words and he knows how to say them.  I laugh.

Long weekend snuggles.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

After a long weekend of fun, activities and probably too much sugar, my oldest is weary.  We have brushed, flossed, chatted, read books, and he has had the 4 million after dinner “snacks” he requires.  (Seriously, the nicer and more complete the dinner, the more they feel the need to gorge late night on the contents of the fridge.) “Tomorrow is a school day,” I say, peeling back the duvet on my bed, to lead him to his.  He groans loudly, overtired and forever complaining about the 20 foot walk from my cozy bed to his.  “Let’s go, Sweetie, it is late,” I say, leading the way.  I’m surprised when I feel his thin arms encircle me from the back.  He hugs me – hip level – and sighs “Mama, I love you.”   And the unexpected, nontraditional hug from my grumbling little guy makes my Mother’s Day the best one yet.

Comparing our eyes.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

I’m perpetually exhausted, but oh what fun it is being mom to these amazing people.  It is tiny moments like these that make my heart pop.

One of my favorite views. And the reason we probably need a king sized bed.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

To Plum at Four

(Late again on this birthday update – time and tax season are to blame.  But now, here we are, just around the corner from Pickle’s 6th, so Plum certainly deserves a small ode to her 4th.)

Twirl girl.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

To Plum at Four

And just like that, you turned the corner from toddler to kid.  Little to big.

 

My hysterical A.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

My sweet Plum with the “golden” hair and silly hula moves.

Discovering the joys of black raspberry.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

You are the brightest star.  I finally understand what it means when they say someone is “beaming” because your huge smile IS sunshine.  Actual sunshine.

The cutest witch.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

You love to play and be heard.  You love your own space.  Your hugs are always lovely surprises.

Fall + swings = happy

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

You are brave.  You love to run.  You love to help (until you don’t).  You love Elsie cat so much we worry slightly for her safety.  You are good at being part of a team.

Small person. Large rock.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

You are silly and smart, fun and funny.  You are confident.  You work hard.  And more than anyone I know, the camera catches the essence of you.  Perhaps because you don’t hold back, or perhaps because you just can’t help but let your light shine through.

Yep, she's mine.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

You are my middle, and perhaps – unsure when to lead and when to follow – you just decided to do it your own dang way in your own sweet time.   And I love you for it.

I have no words. ❤️

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

Happy birthday Plum.  Four is awesome, and so are you.

Happy 4th

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

Things I Love Thursdays

Happy Friday!  A few more things I love on this lovely Spring day.  Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Orlando Owl by Jellycat – I’m pretty sure Orlando is my spirit animal.

Who?

Better Life Bags – Beautiful, custom bags made by women in Detroit. A business with a great mission and a great product.  I’m thinking I might need to order a special new bag for Mother’s Day.

nicolebag

Strawberry Slip-Ons by Vans – These are definitely Plum’s very favorite shoes.  I love them because they are adorable, apparently comfy, and require no assistance from me to put them on.  Do these come in adult sizes? Yes. Yes they do.

vans

Longer days, things are getting greener, bugs aren’t really biting yet – hooray for May!

(Just an FYI – there are no affiliate links here, they are just for your convenience.)

Summer Lovin’

Yes, there was snow a week ago. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about sunshine and the longer days that are just around the corner.

Admission: I am on the receiving end of some ribbing for my love of planning.  It is possible that my mother actually gifted me with a framed a greeting card that said something like, “All spontaneous fun must be planned in advance!” or something like that.

I just like to know what the plan is.  And I’m kind of bossy.

But I’m not making any apologies for my summer to do list this year!  Summer around here is short, and there is much to do before the arrival of fall (and Pickle starting 1st grade. WHAT?!)

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Summer Fun To Do List 2016

  • Pick up subs and have an afternoon/evening picnic/swim at a local lake
  • Attend a Minor League Baseball game
  • Strawberry picking
  • Ice-Cream-for-Dinner Night
  • Weekly trips to our favorite local spot with ice cream, farm animals and an amazing sand pile (aka kid heaven)
  • Surprise the kids with a day off from school to go to the beach and have fun
  • At least 2 weekend trips up to Maine to stay with family
  • Go visit my sister and the new baby for a long weekend (probably with at least one of my kiddos tagging along)!
  • Trip to the Zoo
  • Solo trip to the Coast for some outlet shopping and a great lobster roll (okay, maybe I’ll bring a friend, or my husband)
  • Mini golf
  • As many al fresco dinners on the deck as the weather and mosquitoes will allow
  • Bring the big kids to two of the great “for kids” shows at our local professional theater
  • Make ice cream with the kids
  • A few evenings hosting friends for cookouts and play time in the yard
  • An evening with cookies, bug spray, and a picnic blanket at a local bandstand concert.

I was going to add “backyard camping” to the list, but I think my husband would kill me (and make ME be the one to sleep in the buggy tent).

A few of last year’s photos from our favorite ice cream spot/farm/giant sand pile/kid heaven:

Hauling the brother load.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

Discovering the joys of black raspberry.

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

Kids and kids. #beechhillfarm

A photo posted by Cate Simms (@sarkytartlet) on

 

Happy Spring to all!  Summer is on the way – what is on your list?