SNAPPY CASUAL

Family adventures + simple fashion + other lovely things

are we done having kids?

motherhoodkelsey williams27 Comments
photo credit: Shandy Mikkelsen

photo credit: Shandy Mikkelsen

Today I want to address a question we've been getting lately and something I think about often!

Are we going to have more kids?

The short answer: Probably not.

The long answer: Neither Eric nor I feel an overwhelming desire or calling to have more children. At the same time, I'm not feeling ready to shut the door completely. I'd like to wait at least another year to decide fully, knowing that even then we are in no rush.

As a mom, I'm always evaluating and thinking about what is right for our family on many levels, but definitely this issue. Should we have more kids? What is God's calling for our family? If I'm overwhelmed with two, does that mean we shouldn't have more? Why wouldn't I want to create another human life? Why do I still wonder what more kids would be like? The timing might not be right now, but how will I feel when Finch is 3? 4? 5?

Eric feels done for the most part (he's always wanted two kids), but he wants us to agree on it together. I think we both occasionally play around with the idea in our minds for a good 60 seconds before deciding...no thanks. I always thought I wanted four kids ... until I had one. (And it's not her fault at all! She was the best baby.) Now I'm really happy with two. Rooney doesn't really have a say in the decision, but she has asked for more siblings - even though she and Finch fight over my lap as it is.

I think another kid would make the highs higher and the lows lower. I really want to love the two I've got well, to always be there for them when they need me (in reality knowing that I can't and won't), and in my mind that means stopping, so I'm not too stretched. Two parents, two kids. I think the level of stress we feel on a daily basis is just barely manageable (sometimes too much), but it's hard to know how much weight to give that factor because we're still in the little kid years and things will keep changing (getting better/easier, maybe?). I heard once that it gets a lot easier when your youngest turns 3. Who knows. I know the point of life isn't to have it easy or to always be graceful, but the postpartum period is really difficult for me and I don't know that it's fair to put my family through that again. I want to be a steady source of peace and calm in our home, and I want to be a fun mom, not a crabby mom. :)

Finances are also something we think about. We want to take family vacations and provide experiences for our kids. So we're trying to be practical and remember our goals, too. Like Eric's career goals, my desire for equally shared parenting roles, and sleep. Lots and lots of sleep...

All in all, I think we're done. Even if Finch had been a girl, I still think we would be done. But it does sort of make me feel like less of a mom because I'll have "only" two kids. My mom, sister and lots of friends have 3+. I try to remind myself that there is no perfect number. I've got to keep my own abilities in mind and accept that some people can handle a lot of chaos and I might not be one of them. Keeping my sanity should be a priority, even if it seems selfish. I think my gut says "done," but for some reason I'm grieving the loss of having a big family and realizing we'll never be the Bravermans. :-) I also usually prefer to make decisions with my heart instead of my head, so I hate being so "practical" about it, even if it's the responsible thing to do.

So, all signs point to us being "done." We would/could make room for another, sure, but we are really content. So, we feel pretty confident our family is complete.

I would love to hear how other couples made the decision to be done or to have more children, and if other moms of two also struggle with feeling less than other moms with more kids.

Finch, 21 months

baby, Finchkelsey williams3 Comments

This fun and funny kid is 21 months old! I love him more every single day. He is such a hoot and brings joy to everyone he sees. You gotta meet him!

IMG_8397.JPG

GROWTH

  • Weight: 33 lbs
  • Clothing size: 18 months - 3T
  • Shoe size: 7-8
  • Diaper size: 4/5
  • Teeth: 16
IMG_8813.JPG

FAVORITE THINGS

Baths:

IMG_8946.JPG

Drinking fountains:

FullSizeRender.jpg

Chip dip:

IMG_8333.JPG

DISLIKES

High chairs and booster seats - he started boycotting them a couple weeks ago and absolutely refuses to sit in them. He's a big boy now!

IMG_7871.JPG

SLEEPING

  • Bedtime: 7:00 pm
  • Wake time: 6:00-7:00 am
  • Nap: 1-2 hours
IMG_8506.JPG

HEALTH

He had a cold (i.e., snot coming out his eyes) and respiratory congestion this month, but last year he was in the hospital with bronchiolitis so I'm counting my blessings. He also had a really bad diaper rash. He goes to the chiropractor once a month to get adjusted.

IMG_8744.JPG

NURSING

I have spent more than 95,000 minutes (1,500+ hours!) nursing this little man! I am not ready to be done, but I'm wondering if our trip to Chicago next month will be the end of it. I am planning to try and nurse him when I get back, but I don't know if I will have any supply left after four days away? We shall see. (And I appreciate any tips or thoughts you have!)

IMG_8509.JPG

NOTABLE

  • This kid is so social, he says "hi" to the faces on paper money
  • His hair is amazingly curly after a bath
  • His favorite book is Toes, Ears & Nose!
IMG_7816.JPG

    PARENTING UPS & DOWNS

    Eric's favorite thing about Finch right now is when he says "K" when we tell him things. It is fun that he understands what we are saying and can respond. The hardest part has been when he throws tantrums.

    IMG_8465.JPG

    My favorite thing about Finch right now is how he can communicate with us and has new words every day. The hardest part of the past month has been when he won't let me set him down or pass him off to anyone else.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Oh, and it's pretty darn cool watching your two kids become best friends. <3

    IMG_8597.JPG

    Rooney's big girl room

    Rooney, the rockstar ranchkelsey williams1 Comment
    IMG_8115.JPG
    IMG_8087.JPG

    Welcome to Rooney's room! This space has changed a lot over the years as we transitioned it from a nursery to a big girl room. Where there used to be a crib is now a school desk, and where there used to be a diaper changing station is now a twin-size bed. It really is crazy how time flies.

    Her room is probably my favorite room in our entire house. Of course, I love the bright white walls, and it's also got a lot of pops of color and personality. Finch loves it too - we often find him sneaking in here to jump on the bed or find markers he's not supposed to have.

    IMG_8078.JPG

    The wicker headboard was mine growing up that we spray-painted pink. I remember tracing my fingers on it while trying to fall asleep at night, and now I see Rooney doing the same thing as I tuck her into bed. Combine that with her "reading" Love You Forever to us before bed and I'm usually fighting back tears.

    IMG_8085.JPG

    Speaking of bedtime, we are still doing sticker charts with her (pictured above). She has one for morning and one for bedtime. I'm pleasantly surprised they have been working well for seven months and counting!

    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_8079.JPG

    The patches on the wall represent all of the states she has visited. (I stole this idea from Janette.) I'm excited to get more patches as souvenirs when we take family trips. I kind of stretched when I got the D.C. one - Rooney has only been there in my tummy. On that trip, Eric and I purchased 12 dresser knobs for her IKEA dresser. They certainly weighed down my luggage on the flight back, but they are still one of my favorite parts of her room!

    IMG_8158.JPG
    IMG_8094.JPG
    IMG_8111.JPG

    I have an R problem - I am fully aware. There are like 15 Rs in her room. I think it's a cool-looking letter and a fun, easy way to personalize her room even though she has a unique name. I've gotten these all over - Anthropologie, Hobby Lobby, Etsy, Urban Outfitters, Target, Pottery Barn Kids, and The Land of Nod. There are so many more that I want. How many is too many? Should I just go ahead and fill the whole wall???

    IMG_8101.JPG
    IMG_8107.JPG

    We use her light box to display fun messages and, most recently, for sight words. She is learning to read!

    IMG_8081.JPG

    Rooney is an artist - she loves to paint, cut, glue, draw, color, write, take photos, etc. At one point, she was really into making crowns that she would wear as she performed songs for us (each crown had a different song, it was very elaborate). We knew she needed her own space to get crafty that wasn't our kitchen table, so we got her this desk from our local Goodwill. She loves opening and closing the lid, of course! Hanging her own artwork on the walls using washi tape has been an easy way to decorate and also celebrate her artistry.

    IMG_8098.JPG
    IMG_8095.JPG

    I'm not sure what's next for her room. I have thought about painting it a light light light pink. I also think she'd love a wall calendar, as she is learning about different months and seasons. She is certainly getting her own ideas of what she wants her room to look like, so I want to try to step back and let her lead. More than anything, I want her to love being in this space. 

    IMG_8083.JPG
    IMG_8080.JPG
    IMG_8077.JPG

    Just for fun, I asked her a few questions about her room:

    What's your favorite thing about your room? My pictures that I made

    If you could paint the walls any color, what would you pick? Dark purple

    If you could paint the door any color, what color would you choose? Gold

    Is there anything about your room you don't like? I do not like when it's cold outside.

    Does your room get cold when it's cold outside? No, I just don't like it.

    So there you have it.

    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_8091.JPG
    IMG_8110.JPG

    SOURCES

    Nightstand: c/o The Land of Nod
    Book Display: c/o Kohl's
    Headboard/Bed: vintage
    Comforter: The Company Store
    Desk: Goodwill
    Chair: The Land of Nod
    Dresser: IKEA
    Dresser knobs: Anthropologie
    Rs: Anthropologie, Etsy, Target, Pottery Barn KidsThe Land of Nod
    Twig colored pencils: similar
    Alarm clock: Amazon
    Laundry basket: Tubtrugs
    Patches: Etsy
    Mirror: Target
    Girl face vase: Target
    Rooney sticker: Amazon
    Bedskirt: Target
    Light box: Typo (similar cheaper)
    Dresser organizer: Boon
    Wallflowers: Etsy (no longer available)

    a Valentine's Day giveaway!

    outfits, funkelsey williams1 Comment
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    What are you guys doing for Valentine's Day? We usually do something exciting like file our taxes and go to bed early (joke, but we actually really do enjoy TurboTaxing together!). Tonight we're gonna get takeout after the kids go to bed and watch a movie (our taxes are already done :) ). We usually don't spend much time or money on this holiday, but this year I felt like we could use a little spark and suggested to Eric that we do gifts. I got an Instax Mini camera that I've been wanting for a while! I can't wait to use it. Eric asked for a shoe care shine kit and a Stranger Things coffee mug. Haha, so romantic!

    And, I have a gift for you! I'm working with Mainstream Boutique to give away a $50 gift card to their store! Which is where I got the top and jeans I'm wearing in this post.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    shirt: POL c/o Mainstream Boutique ($49)
    jeans: Mac and Me c/o Mainstream Boutique ($68)
    cardigan: H&M
    necklace: Gap
    boots: Crown Vintage via DSW

    The jeans caught my eye when Michelle (boutique owner) posted them on the Waukee Mainstream Boutique - VIP Facebook group. I had been wanting to try the ripped knee trend that is coming back in style. I love that they are just simple knee slits, and they disappear when I stand up straight. Sometimes holey jeans can hit me in the wrong spot and basically just allow my leg chub to ooze out the holes (real attractive, huh?). But these are great. Sooooo stretchy in all directions, and I never have to pull them up. I even went bowling in these and had no issues whatsoever (did I ever tell you about the time I split my pants while bowling? It was a work event, too! So embarrassing!)

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    So I took some PTO one evening to go try them on. While in the store, this shirt caught my eye and it was instant love, especially after I felt how soft it is. Purple/mauve is my favorite color, and the exposed zippers on the sides add the perfect touch of edginess.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    I don't get to pop into Mainstream as often as I'd like (#kids), which is why I love being a part of the Facebook group. Michelle posts pictures of new arrivals and other style ideas, and you can even comment for them to hold your size for you or get in touch with her to place an order.

    Every time I'm able to visit the store, I'm so impressed with all the new stuff! I can never get in and out within an hour. It's too much fun trying everything on and dancing around in the dressing room (which you may have seen on my Instagram Stories...).

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Now for the giveaway! One of you will win a $50 gift card/store credit to Mainstream Boutique Waukee (they ship anywhere in the U.S., by the way)! Enter below!

    Finch, 20 months

    baby, Finchkelsey williamsComment
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    My little Finchy! He is leaving the baby stage and entering the toddler stage (hello, tantrums!), but he still likes to sit on my lap and snuggle, which is my absolute favorite and makes me temporarily forget all of the things he does that drive me crazy, like playing in the toilet, climbing onto the kitchen counter, and throwing food.

    GROWTH

    • Clothing size: 18 months - 3T
    • Shoe size: 7-8
    • Diaper size: 4/5
    • Teeth: 16

    He eats nonstop. I'm serious. He nurses when he wakes up in the morning, then eats eggs and sausage with everyone else, then eats a banana (or three), and then grabs a granola bar for the ride to daycare. It's crazy. Every morning I pick him up and I swear he weighs five pounds more than the day before.

    IMG_6584.JPG

    FIRSTS

    We went bowling as a family, which included a lot of chasing him up/down the stairs, keeping him off of other people's lanes, and praying he didn't drop a bowling ball on his toes. He's a strong little man! And seeing those little bowling shoes on his chubby feet made my entire day!

    IMG_7486.JPG
    IMG_7487.JPG
    IMG_7483.JPG
    IMG_7489.JPG
    IMG_7485.JPG

    SLEEPING

    • Bedtime: 7:00 pm
    • Wake time: 6:00-7:00 am
    • Nap: 1-2 hrs
    IMG_7007.JPG

    HEALTH

    • He had a stomach bug - and passed it along to the rest of us. Finch breezed through it, but I can't even describe how terrible it was for the rest of us.
    • He goes to the chiropractor once a month
    • He loves splashing in the bath 1-2 times a week
    IMG_7272.JPG

    NURSING

    We are still nursing! He nurses 1-4 times a day. I love it, if he will just lay there are nurse. The popping on/off drives me nuts, or when he wants to see if he can kick me in the face while latched. Every month I wonder how much longer we'll nurse, but it's still making sense. I really do enjoy that connection point with him every morning. Definitely want to get through the flu season before weaning.

    IMG_7232.JPG

    NOTABLE

    Finch continues to surprise us with his physical abilities. This month, he learned how to jump! Like two feet, off the ground. He's got a pretty good vertical!

    He may be the only baby in the world who enjoys having their nose sucked out. He will bring the aspirator to me with a Kleenex and say "nose." And then he laughs after I do it!

    He has new words every week. When he gets hurt, he says "bonk" and comes over and pats my leg, as if I was the one who got injured. He's such a sweetheart. He was dancing in circles the other night and said "dizzy" as he fell down. He says "thank you" all the time at appropriate times and it MELTS us. If I say "one," he says "two" and tries to hold up two fingers. Where does he learn this stuff?

    IMG_7068.JPG

    LOOKING FORWARD TO...

    • Him listening to his mom :) when does that start?????? haha
    • When he doesn't think it's funny to run into the street

    Oh, Finchy man. You baffle me in so many ways, yet completely win me over with your charm. This life with you is gonna be a ride, that's for sure...

    Finch's geometric modern nursery

    the rockstar ranchkelsey williams1 Comment
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Welcome to Finch's room! It's small and cozy, and I love it! You might remember when we painted the black accent wallpainted the crib and dresser, created the geometric accent wall, and created a DIY nursery art canvas.

    IMG_6878.JPG

    One reason I'm so fond of his room is because it reminds me of the bedroom I grew up in, which was about the same square footage. The room is only 10' x 10', so it's taken a bit of creativity & trial and error to find the best arrangement. Here's what it looks after he's been living in it for a whole year. I think I'm finally happy with it and done moving things around :-)

    IMG_6502.JPG
    IMG_6943.JPG

    One of my favorite things about his room is that he uses the same crib and dresser that I used as a baby. I think about it every time I change his diaper and put him to bed - it's very special for me to have them! We painted them black and they turned out great! Almost two years later, the paint has not chipped at all!

    IMG_6492.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_6726.JPG

    The Sharpie Paint Marker statement wall was a fun DIY project - I know it's not for everybody, but I hope Finch will like it. If not, we can just paint over it!

    IMG_6821.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_6497.JPG

    I still love the piece of art we made using shoe polish. It was super quick & easy, too! It says:

    I am Finch Christianson Williams, the son of a King who is not moved by the world, for my God is with me + goes before me, I do not fear for I am his.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    The dresser is pretty small, so we created additional storage in the closet to hold extra sheets, clothes and shoes. All of the hanging clothes are for him to grow into, and everything that fits him now is in the dresser. I love shopping for him, can you tell? Most of it is second-hand, which is my favorite way to snag a good deal!

    IMG_6495.JPG
    IMG_6513.JPG
    IMG_6721.JPG
    IMG_6491.JPG
    IMG_6516.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    You've probably noticed his room is very black and white! This color scheme just seemed to be the easiest, but I have enjoyed bringing in pops of color through artwork and toy baskets.

    IMG_7576.JPG
    IMG_7752.JPG
    IMG_6722.JPG

    I wanted to make sure to have a few toys and books accessible. Finch is really into books right now - he loves grabbing one out of the basket and then climbing up onto the rocking chair to "read" it. It makes my heart very happy!

    IMG_6730.JPG
    IMG_6729.JPG
    IMG_6731.JPG
    IMG_6508.JPG

    I tried to link everything below, but let me know if you have a question about anything!

    Sources:

    black F: c/o The Land of Nod  |  hanging wire baskets: c/o The Land of Nod  |  toy baskets: c/o The Land of Nod (bigsmall)  |  diaper pail: c/o Munchkin  |  door silencer: c/o Finch Designs  |  rocking chair: IKEA  |  sleep sack: Baby Deedee  |  crib sheet: Target  |  name pennant: Roxy Marj  |  video monitor: Motorola  |  closet storage system: Lowe's (similar)  |  gray felt baskets: West Elm (similar)  |  black storage cubes: Target  |  word art canvas: DIY  |  Finch blanket: Etsy (gift)  |  Finch name straw: Krazystraws  |  laundry basket: Tubtrubs  |  garbage can: IKEA (similar)  |  wipe warmer: Target (gift)  |  crib: vintage (similar, similar)  |  dresser: vintage  |  silver F: Anthropologie  |  antlers: Target  |  light switch cover: Hobby Lobby  |  venn diagram print: Minted  |  bar cart: IKEA

    "i feel Jesus"

    motherhood, Rooney, kidskelsey williams7 Comments
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    The other morning on our drive to work, while we were stopped at a stoplight, I looked in my rear-view mirror and noticed that Rooney was looking out the window with a huge smile on her face. Now, I've seen this girl smile a lot, but this time in particular really made me pause because she just looked...different. So happy. Glowing. Bright. I can't really describe it. I didn't say anything, just watched her in the mirror. Not long after, she turned and looked at me and said, "I feel Jesus!" It was seriously amazing. We talked about how awesome that feeling is and how we can feel & hear him if we look & listen for him.

    For us as parents, there is nothing better than knowing our baby girl feels Jesus. She prays regularly and considers him one of her best friends. Here is what her bedtime prayer has been for the past several weeks (I recorded a video to keep forever):

    "Dear Lord Jesus, this is Rooney. Can you make sure all of the angels watch over all of the people in the whole wide world until it's time for everybody in the whole wide world to wake up? Kids and daughters and sons and babies and adults. Can you make sure all of Rooney's doors stay locked? Can you make sure no robbers come in anybody's house? Can you make sure everybody in the whole wide world is safe? Can you make sure Rooney's not dreaming about there's a spider in her house? Can you make sure Rooney's not dreaming about that somebody's gonna cut her whole body? Can you make sure Rooney's not dreaming about that there's an alligator under her bed? Make sure Rooney's not dreaming about that there's a truck or skid loader or car gonna drive on her. Dear Lord in your name Amen. Dear Lord Jesus this is Rooney again. I have a lot of owies all over my body, can you please heal them up very quickly? Dear Lord in your name Amen."

    She always does it in two parts like that and I can tell she finds comfort in praying to God and believes that he will protect her & her bedtime dreams. I credit a lot of this to the fact that she goes to a Christian daycare & preschool that incorporates prayer, but of course at home we pray a lot for big and little things, and we make church & Sunday school a priority. I pray that her faith is always this strong and that she is a light to others like she is to me!

    a Wednesday in the life

    motherhoodkelsey williamsComment

    When Rooney was 7 months old, I switched jobs and was able to go from working 40 hours down to 32 hours. This was a huge life change and made a big impact on me feeling like the time I was spending with my family versus at work was a good balance. More than four years later, I'm still loving it! It's so nice to work two days, have one day off, work two more days, and then have the weekend. Just that one day makes the entire week feel completely different (in a very good way). I love my job, but I don't feel like I spend too much time working. Here's a look at a typical Wednesday at home (kids currently aged 1.5 and 4.5).

    6:45 am

    I usually hear Finch talking through the monitor a little before 7:00, and I will lay in bed reading my Bible until 7:00, which is when we let the kids come out of their rooms.

    IMG_7596.JPG

    We have a lazy morning of eating breakfast, watching TV and staying in our jammies. I'll sit and cuddle with them for a while and then gather up the laundry and start a load. We'll all slowly get ready for the day. Rooney and Finch have started to play together more and more, which allows me to get a few things done without someone at my feet.

    IMG_5927.JPG

    9:30 AM

    We are usually heading out of the house by mid-morning to run errands, get to a doctor / dentist / chiropractor appointment, or just to get out of the house. When the weather is nice, we like to walk to the park. If we don't leave the house, we'll at least head down to the basement for a change in scenery. Right now Rooney is taking swimming lessons at the YMCA, so we have to be out the door just after 9:00 am.

    IMG_7266.JPG

    Since Finch was born I have sort of played it safe and usually just stick to Target, the grocery store, etc. This summer I hope to get braver and take the kids on fun outings like a splash park, the zoo (our local zoo has a baby giraffe and rhino!), Science Center, play dates, etc. Maybe the library. We used to do all that sort of stuff when it was just me and Roo. I am definitely looking forward to the weather getting warm!

    IMG_3449.JPG

    11:30 AM

    Lunchtime! We just eat something quick and easy at home.

    12:10 pm

    Time to head out the door for preschool drop-off. Rooney goes to Pre-K four afternoons a week, including Wednesdays. Thank goodness for the drop-off line! Finch cries when she gets out of the van, every time! I'm so thankful they love each other so much :-)

    12:40 pm

    Finch and I get home, and he goes down for his nap. He usually sleeps for an hour, sometimes longer.

    I grab lunch for myself and head to my bedroom for some peace and quiet. I will listen to podcasts, write blog posts and/or check my email.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    When Finch gets up, I nurse him and change him, and then by 2:40 we have to be back in the van to go pick up Rooney from preschool.

    3:00 pm

    Rooney's back in our possession. We usually head to the mall while she tells us all about preschool. We play at the play area and then go to Pretzelmaker for a snack, and maybe stop into Barnes & Noble to play with the train table. I'll also pop into a store quick if they are cooperating. If we don't go to the mall, we will go get donuts, visit daddy at work or go to a park.

    IMG_4592.PNG

    5:00 pm

    Our 5 o'clock hero (Eric) gets home just in time for supper. Sometimes Wednesdays feel like an entire weekend and I feel the need to duck into our bedroom for a little alone time to recharge. :-)


    It is really nice to have a day "off" in the middle of the week to catch up on chores, spend slow time with the kids, and have a set day for scheduling appointments. I am so thankful I was able to find such a great job that allows this schedule, and a husband who supports me in many ways to make this possible!

    This fall, when Rooney goes to kindergarten, I will likely cut back my work hours even more so I can still have #WednesdayswithFinch and also be home early when Rooney gets off the bus.

    You can see many of our past #WednesdayswithRooneyandFinch adventures on Instagram (and back when it was just #WednesdayswithRooney).

    january random thoughts

    lifestyle, outfitskelsey williams5 Comments
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    I'd like to start a new series where I just casually discuss what's going on in my life lately (like I did a few months ago here). These are the things that I text/email my close friends about so I thought it'd be fun to write them down in one place. Selfishly, these posts are also so much fun for me to look back on as time goes on. So here are the very random thoughts going on in my brain, for a snapshot of what my life is like right now...

    COLLECTING:

    Paperwork for Rooney's kindergarten registration. Class of 2030 has a cool ring to it, doesn't it? I am excited for her, but it's also surreal to think we'll have a kid in school. I feel like it's the next level of parenting. I'm also nervous about her riding the bus! :-/

    ANTICIPATING:

    The Daddy Daughter Dance this Friday! It's always a fun night for Eric and Roo. We've got her dress, tights and shoes all picked out!

    PRESENTING:

    Rooney with a few options for her first "friend" birthday party. She turns 5 in March and has been telling me about the five friends she wants to invite. We'll see if she can make up her mind on where to have the party!

    DECIDING:

    What we'll wear for our family photos with Haverlee next month. She asked if she could come to our home and photograph us for practice. Um, YES!

    WANTING:

    I would love a pair of black jogger pants that can be styled up for work. Any leads?

    SERVING:

    A jury duty term. I was summoned last summer but was able to defer it til now because of breastfeeding. I'm nervous - what do I need to know?

    BUYING:

    My last purchase was a blanket scarf from Mainstream Boutique (this one is very similar).

    HOPING:

    Our vehicles hang on for a few more years. They are both fairly old (2006 & 1998). Eric still drives the two-door car I drove in high school! The door makes a popping sound when you open it, the floor sometimes gets wet when it rains, it has a salvaged title, you have to use a different key to open the door than you do to start the car, and don't even ask what you have to do to get the key out of the ignition. So many quirks! But we drive used vehicles because they are depreciating assets and it makes our other financial goals possible. (You can read more about our financial journey here.) Still, there's a need for reliability...here's to hoping I can drive that awesome rusty mini van a few more years!

    PLANNING:

    A trip to Chicago in April! I need your recommendations, please! We'll be there for four nights, and Eric has a work conference so I'll basically be by myself in the city for two and a half days. What do I need to eat/see/do? Most important: where are the best donuts and crepes? :-)

    LISTENING:

    To the Owl City station on Pandora.

    MAKING:

    This steak recipe a lot lately. Our kids love it! If you have ever been to Northwestern Steakhouse in Mason City, Iowa, it tastes very similar! Using fresh Parmesan takes it up a notch, too!

    PLAYING:

    Peek-a-boo with Finch.

    WISHING:

    It was spring. But it was 45 degrees today! (Yes, that is "warm"!)

    WANDERLUSTING:

    Charleston, South Carolina. We've been there twice and absolutely love it. I want to go back to see our friends and take our kids to the beach. It will happen! Just not exactly sure when :-)

    WATCHING:

    This Is Us. I love that show! Please tell me you're watching. The writing and acting are so, so good.

    We also enjoyed The Crown on Netflix and The Age of Adaline on Amazon Prime. I keep hearing good things about The Man in the High Castle. What are you watching?

    ENJOYING:

    The ages of our kids. 1.5 and almost 5 = REAL GOOD.

    WORKING:

    On a blog redesign with my designer, Joa. She's amazing if you need any website or blog work done! I don't want a magazine-type site that some blogs are moving to, but would love to get more posts displaying on the home page for better accessibility. Stay tuned!

    WONDERING:

    If I should ombre my hair again. I kind of miss it, but Eric's not a fan...

    LOVING:

    This Pikibu large rear-view mirror so I can see both kids when I'm driving.

    WEARING:

    cardigan: Madewell / shirt: Anthropologie / jeans: Level 99 / shoes: DSW

    cardigan: Madewell / shirt: Anthropologie / jeans: Level 99 / shoes: DSW

    hat: Madewell / jacket: Madewell (similar) / sweater: H&M / leggings: M.Rena via Mainstream Boutique / shoes: J.Crew

    hat: Madewell / jacket: Madewell (similar) / sweater: H&M / leggings: M.Rena via Mainstream Boutique / shoes: J.Crew

    That's all for now! Let me know if you have any questions you want me to answer next month!

    PTO (Parent Time Off)

    family, motherhood, lifestylekelsey williams9 Comments
    IMG_7419.JPG

    At one point last year, I felt like all my time was spent being either a mom or an employee (I work 32 hours as an editor at our church). I would drop the kids off at daycare, work eight hours, and then pick them up without a real break in my day. As soon as we got home, it was time for supper, laundry, a little playtime and before we knew it, it was bedtime. I remember back when Finch would cluster feed for HOURS in the evenings, and when he finally went to sleep, I was exhausted and just wanted to go to bed, too (plus he was still getting up 2-3 times a night). I didn't have much extra time for myself or our marriage (turns out being someone's main food source/comforter can be really stressful!). I'm glad things aren't exactly like this anymore, but the balance was still feeling off. We're in the trenches, you know?

    Eric felt the same way. He would work all day, then come home to make dinner, wash the dishes, play with the kids and then do bedtime. We stick to a very strict bedtime schedule. Nothing about this is bad...for the most part we have a good daily routine, but after several months of the same thing, it can get mundane. Eric didn't have much downtime to himself except for his 10-minute drive to work and back. I know this comes with the territory of having two young kids, but we want to thrive during these years instead of just survive. Eric expressed that he wanted to make more time for connections with friends. I know he needs this, but when he would schedule a Fantasy Football draft or bike ride with a friend, I would get resentful because I didn't feel like I had the same opportunity since I always had to be home to breastfeed.

    But in the past few months, with Finch getting more and more independent, and after some intentional conversations with Eric, we've made some really good changes. We know it's good to take time away, but for some reason we still felt selfish or guilty that we'd be having fun while the other person was juggling the kids.

    So, we are trying something called PTO, which stands for Parent Time Off. If something comes up that we want to attend, or if we just feel like we need a night "off," we make sure it works with the other person's schedule and then we're good to go. No problem. No guilt. Go and have so much fun!

    I've used my time off for things like:

    • A massage
    • Pedicure
    • Prayer and worship night
    • Shopping
    • Dinner with friends
    • Watching DWTS in silence
    • Sleeping in on the weekend
    • Blogging

    Eric and I each get six hours of PTO a month (on average I use about 4.5). Yes, we have a spreadsheet where we track it. It might sound rigid or too formal of an arrangement to you, but it's been very freeing for us to know that we are allowed one night every other week or so to do something that fills us up. If anything, seeing how many hours I have banked is sort of like checking the thermometer on how well I'm doing at self care. Having a lot of hours leftover is not something to brag about, it's a reminder to get something scheduled before I have a meltdown. (We only take PTO when the other parent is watching both kids during their waking hours of 7:00 am - 7:30 pm. If we get a babysitter and go on a date, it does not count as PTO.) It's kind of funny - I just realized that Eric uses his PTO to connect with others, and while I do that some, mostly I just use it for the alone time that I so desperately crave.

    It has been a wonderful change for both of us in feeling more like ourselves. We don't have to feel guilty for taking time away, because we know the other person will get the same chance to do something they enjoy. I think it's important for our kids to realize we have hobbies and interests, too. We come home recharged to be the best mom or dad possible. I know our family dynamic will continue to change, so I don't think this is something we'll have to keep track of forever, but it's been a great way for us to establish the habit of taking time away.

    What do you think? Does this sound super crazy? Do you do something similar that works for your family?

    my favorite art prints

    the rockstar ranchkelsey williams6 Comments
    Photo Jan 23, 8 33 43 PM.jpg

    I've had my eye on these birthstone prints for two years, and now we proudly display them in our basement living room. Aren't they amazing?

    Photo Jan 23, 8 33 27 PM.jpg

    When Minted reached out to see if I wanted to try their art, I knew exactly what I wanted. These gorgeous prints were created by artist and photographer Naomi Ernest, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., with her husband and five kids. I love that Minted features work from several independent artists and lets you learn more about them and how their art is created. Naomi was actually inspired to create these after watching her 4-year-old paint gemstones. I think that is so cool! The prints are Limited Edition, meaning only 350 were created in each size and colorway, and they will not be re-released once sold out.

    Our prints are 11"x11" but ended up 12"x12" once framed. We had them framed by Minted and chose the Light Gray Wood Frames that are handcrafted in Italy. The color is just enough different from the wall color to make them stand out, but soft enough to not take away from the lovely watercolors. The gemstones are able to shine and, gosh, I love them so much. Is it weird to love a piece of art this much?

    Photo Jan 23, 8 32 37 PM.jpg

    I love how beautiful they are and interesting to look at individually, and also really meaningful to our family. Eric and Rooney were both born in March, so we've got two Aquamarine prints. I'm a September birthday (Sapphire), and Finch was born in June (his birthstone is Pearl). We listed them in order of age...yes, I'm five months older than Eric! :-) I do think they would look even cooler if we had all been born in different months, but what can you do? If everyone in your family was born in the same month, I think it'd be fun to get a huge one for that very special month. They would also look amazing as a set of 12 to display all the months. (Were you born in July? That one is my favorite!) 

    Hanging them was an interesting task - we only needed four holes, but of course we ended up with seven. Isn't that always how it goes? Pro tip: If you need help on placement, hang your wall art 57" from the floor to the center of the art. (We actually break that rule often, though, because we are both tall and it usually looks too low to us...) One of our other favorite professional designer tricks is to secure the frame's bottom corners with putty after they've been leveled so they stay put.

    Above is a pulled out shot of our basement living room that I haven't photographed much, as there is still MUCH to do. But I wanted to show you how perfectly the prints are in this space - they each pull out different colors of our rug! They might look a little small, but we're not done yet. (Also, wouldn't that office door look awesome painted black to match the black wall?) Above the black wall is another Sharpie Paint Marker wall I've been working on (the lines are gold). Lots of fun projects happening lately! :-)

    Back to Minted: There are more than 5,000 pieces of art to choose from, which can be quite overwhelming, so I like to search for words that mean something to us ("Finch," "Santa Monica," "Iowa," etc.) to see what comes up. Here are my other favorite prints:

    I think any of these would make a sweet Valentine's gift for a loved one! Minted also has lots of cute classroom valentines. I can't believe we're already talking about Valentine's Day, but the ordering deadline is coming up! Be sure to order by next Wednesday, Feb. 1, to get your order by Feb. 13.

    P.S. If you're not already a Minted customer, you can sign up with my referral link to get $25 off your first Minted purchase of $100 or more! Happy shopping!

    our home office!

    the rockstar ranchkelsey williams7 Comments

    This post is sponsored by Kohl's. I received furniture in exchange for my honest review.

    IMG_5662.JPG

    Hi friends! We've made some progress on our home office, and I wanted to share it today. You may remember this room from two years ago when we put up faux brick panels and installed the laminate flooring (I can't get over how little Rooney is in those old posts!). The room looks a lot different now. This is what it looks like when you first walk in...

    IMG_5668.JPG
    IMG_5687.JPG

    Light, bright and airy! Our office is located in our basement but there are two windows and it probably gets the best light of any room in our house, especially in the morning. We try to keep it uncluttered, which I love and helps keep me inspired when I'm working.

    Eric and I share this office, but we rarely use it at the same time. He comes down here in the morning (before I'm even awake) to study for his financial exams (he recently passed the Series 65!!! woohoo!!!), sketch in his bullet journal, and write blog posts.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    I use the office mostly as a photo studio. This is where I take outfit photos as well as take photos of clothing to sell online. Rooney loves to sneak in here and draw with Eric's fancy markers, or help me weigh, package and ship clothing.

    IMG_5631.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_5655.JPG

    One of my favorites parts is the reading nook in the corner. The gray armchair is our most recent addition and is such a cozy little spot to sit to nurse or to read my Bible. Kohl's graciously offered to send us an accent chair, and I knew immediatley this would be the perfect spot for it. There are so many choices and Eric's only request was that it be comfy and NOT white. He knows me too well ;) I don't know what it is about white, but I just am always drawn to it! We also thought a high-back chair would be nice since we are both tall. We went with the Madison Park Leda Accent Chair. I especially love the gray color, the texture and the curved back. It's so nice to have extra seating, especially a comfy chair that won't roll away!

    IMG_5645.JPG
    IMG_5647.JPG
    IMG_5646.JPG

    My other favorite parts of the office are the little unique touches: the wood beam, the glass door, the brick wall, and the window by my desk. When we designed the office, I knew I wanted a way to see out into the playroom if our kids were playing in there. I love how it turned out - the only downside is that you can't just shut the door to hide the mess...guests can look right in! I'd also still like to put a glass pane in there so I can see the kids but not necessarily hear them :-)

    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_5625.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_5630.JPG

    If you've ever shopped at Kohl's, you know how good the sales are. I honestly didn't even know they had furniture! But they do, and this week is the Kohl's home sale! Starting Friday, Jan. 27, use code HOME10 to get $10 off your $50 home purchase (ends Feb. 5). Kohl's charge holders will receive 15% from Jan. 29 - Feb. 1. And, starting Feb. 2, get 20% off $75 purchase or 15% off all purchases (ends Feb. 5).

    IMG_5651.JPG

    Even though the office is functional, the to-do list is still long:

    • Install baseboard
    • Paint the door (black)
    • New desk chair for me (that blue guy is from college!)
    • Cabinets/bookshelves for storage
    • Art ledge behind my desk
    • Window blind
    • Ceiling beam treatment

    Sources:
    desks // pink/white basket // "Should I wash my hair today?" flowchart (c/o) // pen holder (similar) // small succulent // blanket

    These affiliate links are not associated with Kohl's.

    My blog contains links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites, so I encourage you to read their privacy policies.

    our 10th anniversary trip to Omaha!

    love, adventurekelsey williams5 Comments
    IMG_1490.JPG

    This is the last overdue travel post from 2016 that I want to share. Hopefully this year I will stay on top of these better!

    As our 10th wedding anniversary approached, we knew we wanted to celebrate with a trip! But I got cold feet several times while trying to plan it because I was still nursing Finch 5-7 times a day and I didn't want the trip to be the reason we stopped nursing (not to mention the fact that I don't pump and wasn't sure how long I could comfortably be away). I knew it would be our first time away from Finch overnight and no one except me had ever put him to bed, so I was nervous! We thought maybe Eric's mom would have to come along with us to watch the kids and we would just meet up with them when needed. But the week before our trip, Finch seemed ready to start cutting down to 2-3 feeds, and we tested out having Eric put Finch to bed. He did so well - it really took away the stress of leaving.

    When choosing a location for our trip, we threw out a bunch of options: Mexico; Santa Monica (where we honeymooned); Bahamas (my dream trip); Galena, Ill.; and Decorah, Iowa. Nothing quite felt right until we talked about Omaha. We'd been there once together & we loved it. It made me feel comfortable that we'd only be 2 hours away from the kids. Plus, there was a Needtobreathe concert near there a few weeks before our actual anniversary - they are our favorite band, so it seemed like a perfect getaway with our favorite things: food, shopping and live music. Honestly, I was mostly just excited to sleep in for two days straight! And not have to keep any little humans on a schedule or put anyone to bed. Glorious!

    FRIDAY

    We left on a Friday morning and since we rarely get to go shopping, let alone without kids, we drove straight to the Nebraska Crossing Outlets.

    First stop: Voodoo Taco.

    One word: YUM.

    Their queso is the best queso I've ever had, and that's saying a lot, because it's my favorite food!

    Our shopping goal was to find Eric a pair of jeans. PSA: If you want your guy to wear skinny jeans but they think they're too "restricting," take them to American Eagle and hand them the Extreme Flex jeans and watch them be amazed. They're like jeggings for guys. Eric thinks they feel like sweatpants. His are actually Slim (not Skinny), but I still love them, and so does he.

    IMG_6947.JPG

    After finding two new pairs of jeans, we drove to downtown Omaha and checked into our hotel - Hotel Deco XV - which we loved! It was our first time staying at a boutique hotel. It was very stylish, and the shower had body sprays!

    IMG_1358.JPG

    For supper, we walked a few blocks to Block 16, which was our best meal of the entire trip. It's a cute little farm-to-table place and the menu is small, but the food tasted so, so fresh. I really can't recommend this place enough. We got there a few minutes before they opened, which I would recommend for quick service.

    IMG_6948.JPG
    IMG_1424.JPG
    IMG_1586.JPG
    IMG_6946.JPG

    Then it was time for the concert! We took our hotel's shuttle to Stir Cove at Harrah's Casino. We didn't realize until we got there that it was an outdoor concert...oops! We would have brought some lawn chairs had we known! Luckily, it was a gorgeous night, and we bumped into an old college friend who let us sit on his blanket! Phew! We've seen Needtobreathe perform many times, and to be honest, this wasn't my favorite show. But Mat Kearney was really incredible!

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    SATURDAY

    After 9 hours of glorious sleep, we walked to the Old Market for breakfast. We chose WheatFields because nothing beats crepes on the patio!

    IMG_6953.JPG
    IMG_6949.JPG

    Afterward, we walked to the farmers' market (it's sweet but much smaller than Des Moines') and checked out some local shops. I love the cobblestone streets, covered sidewalks and street performers. Hollywood Candy is the BEST candy shop. We also love walking the Gene Leahy Mall and checking out the waterfalls and playground slides.

    IMG_6961.JPG
    IMG_6950.JPG
    IMG_6956.JPG

    For lunch, we dined at Trini's Mexican Restaurant, a hidden treasure located in the passageway of the Old Market. You walk into an unassuming door and are greeted with a secret alleyway with brick walls and beautiful greenery. Not to mention, the puffy beef is one of the best tacos I've ever had.

    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_6958.JPG

    In the afternoon, I was itching to go shopping. I was so excited to learn that Omaha has an H&M in one of the malls! I got a new sweater, a cardigan and a dress for Rooney. We also went to Urban Outfitters.

    IMG_1584.JPG

    Then we drove to eCreamery, but our experience was sub-par. It was really nothing special. Don't waste your time!

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    For dinner, we went to Upstream Brewing Company in the Old Market. Eric enjoys trying craft beers and this was one of the stops on the Omaha Brewery Tour (if you request the Explorer's Journal, you get nine free coupons). Our waiter was excellent. We enjoyed it!

    IMG_6965.JPG
    IMG_1555.JPG

    After dinner, we took a carriage ride through the Old Market and Heartland Park. I had really wanted to do this, as I thought it would be really peaceful and romantic! Sadly, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Honestly, I felt bad for the horse the whole time!

    IMG_6960.JPG

    Before turning in for the night, we went to check out Wicked Rabbit, a speakeasy located in our hotel, because we had gotten many recommendations for it. You actually walk into the Looking Glass Cigars and Spirits shop and there is a hidden door to get into the bar. Honestly, we didn't have the best experience. We felt a little out of place! Plus, the waitress told us that our hotel was haunted, and I could have done without that information!

    SUNDAY

    We ate breakfast at The Diner before heading home to see the kids! It was yummy! I could eat pancakes every day.

    IMG_6968.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    When we got home, Rooney hugged my legs for several minutes saying "Mommy! I love you!" over and over, and Finch stared at me for a couple seconds before realizing he did, in fact, remember me. Huge thank you to Grandma Diane for keeping our kids safe and happy while we were gone! Finch actually spiked a fever just as we were getting back, and I was so thankful he wasn't sick while we were gone! I was definitely ready to nurse him when we got back - physically and emotionally!

    IMG_6974.JPG

    We would love to go back to Omaha in the next few years with our kids! I've heard the zoo is amazing. Any other recommendations on places to go or eat?

    the grotto of the redemption

    adventurekelsey williams2 Comments
    IMG_6753.JPG

    On our way to Okoboji last summer, we took a spontaneous detour to West Bend, Iowa, to visit the Grotto of the Redemption. I really had no idea what it was, but once we got there, I was AMAZED.

    IMG_6760.JPG
    IMG_6759.JPG
    IMG_0819.JPG
    IMG_6754.JPG

    The Grotto was created by Father Paul Matthias Dobberstein, who was born in Germany and later immigrated to the United States. He was very artistic. While he was in seminary in Milwaukee, he became ill with pneumonia. He prayed to Mary (the mother of Jesus) to intercede for him, and promised to build a shrine to her if he lived. Well, he did live, and moved to West Bend, Iowa, to be a priest. He gathered rocks and stones for over a decade from all around the world, and began building the shrine in 1912 with one co-worker. They worked on the grotto for 42 years - right until the day he died at age 82. It's very fascinating! You can read the full story here.

    IMG_6758.JPG
    IMG_6764.JPG
    IMG_6770.JPG

    It was definitely a welcomed break in our drive. Rooney and Finch appreciated being able to get out of the van and run around, although Finch didn't understand that you weren't supposed to touch the stones. I was stunned by the beauty in the individual stones and the creativity in the design. There are little rooms and stairs and balconies and all sorts of creative walkways.

    IMG_6763.JPG
    IMG_6762.JPG
    IMG_6765.JPG
    IMG_6756.JPG

    The Grotto of the Redemption is the largest man-made grotto in the world. To some, it is considered the Eighth Wonder of the World and a "miracle in stone." There are actually nine separate grottos, each portraying a scene in the life of Christ. It attracts 100,000 visitors each year. I definitely want to go back!

    IMG_6771.JPG
    IMG_6755.JPG
    IMG_6757.JPG
    IMG_6772.JPG

    a mini trip to Minneapolis

    family, adventurekelsey williams4 Comments
    IMG_5414.JPG

    I was going through my Camera Roll recently trying to delete some of my 5,000 photos (face palm emoji) and came across our trip to Minneapolis last summer, and I wanted to share them because we had SUCH a great time! So if you don't mind pretending like it's August instead of January, then come away with us to one of our favorite cities...

    I think this was our first ever family trip with just the four of us and was definitely a very fun bonding experience. Eric had a work conference in Minneapolis so the rest of us went along for a couple days because 1) we love it up there and 2) it was a good excuse to go visit my friend Joa and meet her new baby, Rex! We seriously had the best time. Eric and I decided a couple days before we left that we would have way more fun if we threw out our rigid sleep schedule for a few days and just roll with it (Finch was going to bed at 5:00 back then, and we knew we did not want to be stuck in a hotel room all evening!). The kids did great with it, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions we made.

    Des Moines to Minneapolis is 3.5 hours via car. We drove up on a Wednesday, and Rooney didn't ask even once if we were "there yet," thanks to the VBS videos we had just put on her iPad. We drove straight to the Mall of America - which is the largest mall in America, and just so happens to have the largest indoor theme park in the United States, Nickelodeon Universe, right in the middle of it.

    IMG_3196.JPG

    We were on our way to buy ONE amusement park ticket for Rooney when a young gal walked up and handed us a pass loaded with 96 points (that's a $75+ value). What a HUGE blessing! It definitely made Rooney's day to go on several rides (we actually all went on a few).

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Eric hung out with Rooney in the amusement park while Finch and I snuck off to some stores. The mall has 520 stores (crazy!) and somehow it's still enjoyable to walk around. We walked around most of the mall, but if I'm in a hurry, my hot spots are H&M, Madewell and Urban Outfitters (UO has a photo booth!). Zara has opened since we were there, too!

    IMG_5416.JPG

    Shake Shack had just recently opened; I can never resist their burgers and shakes! YUM. We ended up eating there two days in a row :-) I super loved the Mall of America Concrete.

    IMG_5448.JPG
    IMG_5424.JPG

    The next day - Thursday - Eric had his conference. My friend Joa - the one who designed this blog - lives in Minneapolis and I don't get to see her enough, so I was so excited to get to spend time with her. She welcomed us into her home, served us warm banana bread, didn't care that my kids made huge messes, cooked us lunch, gave us homemade popsicles, and let us hold her very chubby new baby boy. We had wanted to go to Lake Calhoun but it rained all day so we just cozied in, nursed our babies and enjoyed each other's company. She's such a good friend. One of the very very BEST. Our boys are almost exactly one year apart!

    IMG_5421.JPG
    IMG_5419.JPG
    IMG_5417.JPG
    IMG_9278.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Joa gave us the awesome recommendation to check out Hi-Lo Diner the next day for breakfast. A 1957 dining car was driven from Pennsylvania to Minneapolis and it's now open for business! We got seated right away, and it was really yummy! Definitely would recommend.

    IMG_5418.JPG
    IMG_5440.JPG
    IMG_5437.JPG
    IMG_5441.JPG

    THE GLAZED DONUT. TAKE ME BACK.

    IMG_5446.JPG

    Eric made a quick pitstop at the Surly Brewing Co. to get some glassware (hopefully we can spend more time there on our next adults-only trip), and then we headed to Como Zoo for a couple hours! The weather was perfect and we got there right as they opened so it wasn't too busy yet. I remember going there when I was younger, so it was fun to bring my family. It's a really good zoo, especially for being FREE! I was so excited to see the polar bears because our local zoo doesn't have them. They also have zebras!

    FullSizeRender.jpg
    IMG_9334.JPG
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    Then it was time to say goodbye. Minneapolis, we love you. We can never stay away for too long. I already have a list of things I want to do next time! If you live in Minneapolis or St. Paul, I would love any recommendations you have!

    IMG_5423.JPG

    P.S. This trip went so well that we even discussed driving to South Carolina next year to visit our friends. Eek! Not sure we are ready for a 17-hour road trip, but I'm SURE it would be memorable :-)

    Finch, 19 months

    Finchkelsey williams2 Comments
    IMG_6221.JPG

    GROWTH

    • Height: 33.2" (71%)
    • Weight: 29 lbs 4 oz (95%)
    • Head: 18.3" (24%)
    • Clothing size: 18 months - 2T
    • Shoe size: 6-7
    • Diaper size: 4/5
    • Teeth: 16

    FIRSTS

    IMG_5087.JPG

    LOVES

    IMG_5257.JPG

    SLEEPING

    • Bedtime: 6:30-7:00 pm
    • Wake time: 6:30-7:00 am
    • Nap: 1-1.5 hrs

    We have been wanting to move his bedtime to 7:00 pm for months, and he was finally able to make the shift (he doesn't get overtired and will sleep in til 7:00 am). I love that he and Rooney are on a more similar schedule now (don't get me wrong, there was also a time when I loved his early bedtime, but we're in a really good spot right now). Eric puts him to bed most nights, because he cries less for him (usually no crying at all).

    He can also happily be awake during the day until 1:20ish before he needs a nap, which has been nice.

    A rare car nap!

    A rare car nap!

    HEALTH

    • He goes to the chiropractor once a month to get adjusted
    • Had diarrhea, vomiting and terrible diaper rash
    • Had his 18-month well child checkup
    • Has eczema
    • Was diagnosed with reflux (he will occasionally spit up/throw up after meals)
    • Grew 4 new teeth!
    IMG_4960.JPG

    NURSING

    We are still nursing! He calls it "mama." I gladly nurse him in the morning (I love that peaceful time of connection with him), but then I find myself trying to avoid it the rest of the day. Mostly because during daytime feeds he will try to do gymnastics while latched, and I know it will be more sustainable for me to nurse longer if I don't get burnt out. He usually does fine with redirection, but sometimes he needs it throughout they day, so then we do it. Some days we nurse for three minutes total and some days it's more than an hour. He still very much prefers the left side. Sometimes he will nurse for one minute on the right and then say "Uh oh, mama" and switch to the left.

    NOTABLE

    • He has taken an interest in the TV. Mother Goose Club is a bunch of songs and rhymes, and he is captivated by it and it's fun to see him watching as he learns (if he sees a horse, he can say "neigh," etc.)
    • Can walk backwards
    • Uses his left hand quite often while eating

    WORDS

    • Baby
    • Boo
    • Tree
    • Banana
    • Granola bar
    • Nana
    • Elmo
    • Cheese
    • Santa
    • K (OK)
    • Garbage
    • Cracker
    • Show (doe)
    • Teeth
    • Hat
    • Snow
    • Snowing
    • Kaysie
    • Whoa
    • Ball
    • Yeah
    • My my (his cousin Myah)
    • Duba duba duba (this means applesauce...it's hilarious)
    • Mama (mommy, grandma or nursing)
    • Dada
    • Sissy
    • Mine
    • Nooooo (it's still cute; I forget when that ends?)
    • Bite
    • Uh oh
    • Eye
    • Cracker
    • Mouth 
    • Nigh nigh
    • Hi
    • Dog
    • Book
    • Bubble
    • Bye
    • Dink (drink)
    • More
    • Bath
    • Cookie
    • Spoon
    • Bright
    • Ba-bye
    • Apple

    He's very verbal! He can say (or will try to say) 45+ words. It's so fun being able to communicate with him.

    shirt / socks

    LOOKING FORWARD TO...

    • When he can play with Rooney even more (although this month was a huge step in that direction)
    • Honestly, our kids are both at awesome ages and I am loving being a parent now more than ever <3
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    FullSizeRender.jpg
    The many faces of Finch.

    The many faces of Finch.

    Finch, you brighten our days so much. You are absolutely fearless, walking off couches and climbing up on tables. You are incredibly sweet, giving kisses and arms-tucked-in hugs. You are funny, smart, kind and handsome. You are so curious to learn how things work - I wonder if you'll be a mechanic or an engineer? Your favorite spot is sitting (or standing) on my lap. I love giving you horsey rides on my back. I would do anything for that giggle!

    xoxo, Mama

    P.S. Your soft little chubby feet are my absolute favorite thing.

    snappy new year!

    blogging, holidayskelsey williamsComment
    IMG_6147.JPG

    Happy new year! Can you believe it's almost 2017? I still feel like I just graduated high school, but my 15-year reunion is coming up this summer. (Whoa.)

    During our annual family meeting, Eric and I were able to review our past year. 2016 was hard, but good. (Is that true for you, too?) I really think it's remarkable to look back at all that was accomplished in a year, so here we go!

    TOP 10 BLOG POSTS:

    1. Fall family photos
    2. 2016 style goals
    3. The best jeans you've never heard of
    4. Going from 1 to 2 kids
    5. Our first trip to the ER
    6. On sleep training
    7. 2017 family meeting
    8. 3 is...
    9. Remember me?
    10. Planning a donut birthday party

    HIGHS:

    • 4 day dates (Eric and I try to do these every quarter and they are our FAVORITE)
    • 3 summer trips to Okoboji
    • 56 blog posts published! This is my happy place, and I appreciate every single person who reads. It was super fun to collaborate with Copper Pearl, Minted (2x), Boon, Hy-Vee, Mainstream Boutique and Whole Foods this year!
    • Finch sleeping through the night!
    • Family trip to Minneapolis (blog post to come)
    • 10th wedding anniversary & weekend trip to Omaha (blog post to come)
    • Surprising Eric with Garth Brooks tickets
    • A day at the Iowa State Fair
    • Visiting the Grotto of the Redemption (blog post to come)
    • Making progress on our basement project (update coming soon)
    • Discovering our love for pancake breakfasts
    • Rooney's bedtime routine making huge improvement
    • Finch turning 1 & becoming more independent
    • Eric and I giving each other "time off" from parenting (I hope to write a separate post about this soon)
    • Eric passing the Series 65 exam!

    We also felt like we did a good job with date nights this year, although I can only count a handful of them on my calendar. But that is definitely still better than we've done in the past few years!

    LOWS:

    • Finch's ER visit & two-day hospital stay (and the fact that we are still paying the bill...)
    • The unexpected cost of our washer going out (although I love our new one!)
    • My grandparents' declining health

    GOALS FOR 2017:

    • Publish 60 blog posts
    • Continue reading one chapter of the Bible every morning (at this rate I won't finish the Bible until next year, though!)
    • Have adventures and make lots of family memories. YOLO!

    our 2017 family meeting!

    lifestylekelsey williams9 Comments
    image.jpg

    Today was one of my favorite days of the entire year! We had our 2017 family meeting where we plan out family vacations and adventures, goals, big events, expenses, etc. for the next year. We usually go to a coffee shop for breakfast as we present new ideas, listen to each other with an open mind and make decisions together without any kids interrupting us! A lot of good ideas come out of it, and then we make an action plan to make sure we follow through on what we discussed.

    We've found that two hours of intentional planning can make a world of difference in having a unified vision for our family in the coming year. If it sounds like something you'd like to do but don't know where to start, Eric put together a workbook called The Family Playbook that we've used for the past five years, which you can download here for $7.99 (you can reuse it year after year).

    The workbook goes over:

    • Reviewing the previous year (likes, dislikes, celebrations, changes you want to make)
    • Goals
    • Financial forecasting worksheet
    • Major upcoming events/vacations worksheet
    • Major upcoming purchases worksheet
    • Family rules and traditions
    • Growth and development
    • Action checklist

    This year, Rooney is starting kindergarten, so we discussed how our work schedules may change and costs that come along with going to school. We talked about our kids' birthday parties. We talked about vacations and adventures we want to have, and how we will be financially prepared for those things. The past two years have been TIGHT financially, so it was a relief to see the end of the tunnel hopefully coming in 2017.

    Afterward, we went on a date to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We loved it! J.K. Rowling is a genius.

    Does anyone else do a sort of family meeting? I would love to hear about it!

    what I want to remember from Christmas 2016

    lifestylekelsey williamsComment
    IMG_4658.JPG

    I can't believe it's Christmas Eve! I absolutely loved Christmas as a little girl...I have very fond memories of going to church on Christmas Eve and then falling asleep with butterflies in my stomach! And as wonderful as that was, somehow, this year has been my favorite Christmas ever. It is just so darn fun when you have little kids who "get" it, isn't it?

    We visited Santa (which Finch did NOT enjoy)...

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    ...and his reindeer...

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    ...wrote Santa a letter... 

    "Dear Santa: I would love to have a Little Pony watch and I want it to be a kid watch. Sincerely: Rooney" I'm so thankful we are still in the stage where a $10 watch is the #1 gift!

    "Dear Santa: I would love to have a Little Pony watch and I want it to be a kid watch. Sincerely: Rooney" I'm so thankful we are still in the stage where a $10 watch is the #1 gift!

    ...put up our Christmas tree (which Rooney decorated all by herself and I haven't moved any of the ornaments, even though there are a few branches who are carrying most of the weight)...

    IMG_5969.JPG

    ...went to a crazy fun Christmas party with friends...

    IMG_5179.JPG

    ...wore Christmas jammies...

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    ...made our first gingerbread house...

    IMG_5168.JPG

    ...Rooney had not one...

    (second row down, fourth from the right)

    (second row down, fourth from the right)

    ...not two...

    (the giant in the front row)

    (the giant in the front row)

    ...but THREE Christmas programs (for preschool, church and daycare, respectively)...

    (fourth from the left)

    (fourth from the left)

    ...and Finch had his first ever Christmas program!

    IMG_5946.JPG

    He knows how to play those jingle bells! Rooney absolutely loves being on stage and wishes she could perform again!

    IMG_5947.JPG

    We wrapped presents together, watched the snow fall outside our window, listened to our favorite Christmas playlist, and counted down the days until Christmas Eve Eve, when we went to church (we travel on Christmas Eve to see family). It has been such a wonderful month of fun! I hope you have a merry Christmas wherever you are!

    IMG_5964.JPG

    (all "fancy" DSLR photos by Shandy Mikkelsen)

    Finch, 18 months

    Finchkelsey williams8 Comments
    FullSizeRender.jpg

    I can't believe he's a year and a half! He's getting so big. Learning to talk. Throwing tantrums. Forward facing in the car. I love this age so much!

    The scariest thing happened this month...Finch somehow got our baby gate open and fell down 13 stairs to our basement. Luckily they are softly carpeted and he only had a small scrape on his forehead...but it was a very scary moment for all of us!

    IMG_4571.JPG

    He keeps me on my toes! It seems like he's constantly unraveling rolls of toilet paper, playing with the plunger, climbing up on the table, pulling things off the counter, dumping legos onto the floor, crawling out of dressing rooms, etc. But gosh, he really is such a good, sweet boy. When I see him and Rooney holding hands in the car, or when he grabs my face in his hands and kisses me on the lips, I completely melt from his sweetness.

    IMG_4427.JPG

    GROWTH

    • Clothing size: 18 months - 2T
    • Shoe size: 6
    • Diaper size: 4/5
    • Teeth: 11

    FIRSTS

    • Forward facing in the car
    IMG_4700.JPG

    LOVES

    • Stairs
    • Mama
    • Nursing
    • Teething tablets (which sadly are now discontinued in the United States!)
    • Having his nose sucked out (...seriously!)
    • Breakfast
    • Turning on our Christmas tree lights
    • Slamming doors
    • Climbing
    IMG_4031.JPG

    DISLIKES

    • Daylight Saving Time...ugh
    • Santa's lap
    • Long car rides

    NURSING

    We are still nursing! I don't have much to say about it. I didn't ever dream we would make it this long and at times it feels demanding, but I know it is completely normal (and good for him)!

    IMG_4072.JPG

    BIG BOY THINGS

    • He will get an applesauce out of the fridge and then go to the spoon drawer to try to get a spoon (even though he's not tall enough yet)
    • If he needs more water, he will give me his cup and lead me to the fridge dispenser
    • He knows the facial body parts: eyes, ears, nose, mouth
    • He can open doors if the handle is a lever
    • Actively tries to make us laugh
    IMG_4809.JPG

    SLEEPING

    He is sleeping at least 12 hours a night! He goes to bed around 6:00 pm and gets up around 6:00-7:00 am. He takes one nap a day for about 1-1.5 hours. I am very thankful that he has turned into a good sleeper!

    HEALTH

    • He goes to the chiropractor once a month
    • Had really bad diaper rash
    • Threw up four times, every other day for a week. Very strange! Thinking it was a bug, but also keeping food allergies in mind...
    • Several falls and scrapes, including down 13 stairs
    IMG_4924.JPG

    WORDS

    He tries to say a lot of the words we say, and even has combined words a couple times ("Hi Dada" and "Boo Dada").

    • Mama
    • Dada
    • Sss (sister)
    • Mine
    • No
    • Bite
    • Uh oh
    • Eye
    • Cracker
    • Mouth 
    • Nigh nigh
    • Hi
    • Dog
    • Book
    • Bubble
    • Bye
    • Duh (water)
    • More
    • Bath
    • Cookie
    • Spoon
    • Bra
    • Boo
    • Tree
    IMG_4570.JPG

    SIGNS

    • Please
    • More
    • Love you (blows kiss)

    LOOKING FORWARD TO...

    • Christmas! He loves our trees. We have several decorations that play music - they are his favorite. He occasionally tries to take ornaments off the tree or turn the tree lights off, but overall he has done well. Not sure what he will do if we put wrapped presents out...
    IMG_4579.JPG