Friday, June 24, 2011


I hope these photos make you want to sit back, relax, and enjoy a beautiful April day at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

That's what we did, and it was a beautiful day. . . in a windy, cold, and extremely muddy kind of way. ;) But hey, it didn't rain on us!

I just love photographing gorgeous flowers!

{Isn't that bright purple and white combo delicious? I could almost eat them!}

{Love the way the raindrops cling to these tulips, you can see it if you click the photo to make it full-screen!}

The whole family!

The girls had a great time running through the daffodil fields, and I had fun chasing after them, trying to capture good photos!

I could not keep Natalie away from all those muddy rain puddles! And it would have been impossible, since they were everywhere! She had a great time in them.

Some family shots. . . the best it was going to get in all the wind and mud!

The girls also loved exploring the flower gardens, which weren't quite as muddy.

We want to go again next year, on a less-crowded, sunny, warm weekday. {Yes, they DO exist in Seattle in April, I promise!}
It was worth it though! I think we got some really cute pictures and we all had so much fun!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Natalie is 2!!!

Wow, I just can't believe Natalie went from this little baby. . .

To a 1 year-old baby. . .

To a 2 year-old girl!!!

*Okay, sometimes I can believe it. Natalie definitely acts like a 2 year-old when she wants to! Meltdowns, tantrums, fits, yep we're in that territory now. Dangerous waters, I tell you!

There are so many things to love about Natalie! Here are a bunch of details about my 2 year-old Natapillar. . .

*In typical 2 year-old fashion, Natalie is fiercely independent and wants to do everything herself and everything her older sister does! She won't let you help her drink from a cup, she has to hold the cup herself and spill it all over. She doesn't want you to help her eat snacks so she won't scatter them. She has to hold them herself. You get the picture. . . she's 2 and she won't let you forget it!

*She is full of wonder for the world around her! She has a vocabulary that's growing every day and it's so funny to hear her try to say new words. She's starting to put a few words together into little sentences (nothing too complex. . . "Bye-bye, doggy" and "I want this", stuff like that), and one of her best new words is "Baby food." The word she probably says most often: "More!!!" She asks for more of everything, all the time.

*She loves to make all the animal noises and will say them on demand. Her default animal noise when she doesn't know the right one: "Rawr!!!"

*She's starting to sing a few words to songs, and it's hilarious! Her latest is "Baby Beluga" and she shouts, "Baby Abuga!" over and over and over.

*Natalie can hold her own on the playground! This girl is pretty fearless. She follows Kirsten around, climbs things with reckless abandon, and even climbs to the top of giant slides without being afraid. Sometimes it really makes me nervous! She loves slides and being pushed on the swings.

*Natalie needs to STOP growing! She is in the 99'th percentile for height. 99%! That is just crazy! And she's 31 pounds. So of course she grows out of everything way too fast. At barely 2 years old, she's already wearing 3T clothes. She wears size 7 shoes and size 4 diapers. Slow down, kid!!!

*Some of her favorite things include:
-Animals, especially kitties. She goes NUTS over kitties, and chases ours around, calling "Key-ah! Key-ah!" I love that she's an animal-lover like me!
-Swimming and anything to do with the water! Just like Kirsten, she would swim every day if she could and was VERY upset that she couldn't take swimming lessons when Kirsten did.
-Books! She loves to be read to, and as soon as I'm finished reading one she'll say "More, mommy!" and run and get another one.
-Dancing and singing
-Balloons, bubbles, and balls, just like Kirsten (are there any kids who don't love those things, I wonder?)

*Natalie loves food. She really just loves to eat, and is always asking for more. It's a big switch from Kirsten, who often doesn't want to eat. Natalie is much less picky and just attacks her meals. Some of her favorite foods: Fruit, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, popsicles, tacos, spaghetti, and cheese. She's not a big fan of bread or crackers, and usually eats the middle out of sandwiches and leaves the bread.

-Even though she's the middle child, Natalie makes sure she doesn't get lost in the shuffle. She is by FAR our loudest kid. When she cries at her full volume, people around the block can probably hear her. She was always loud as a baby, and she still is just LOUD. Kirsten was always very quiet, Brooke has a quiet cry, Natalie is loud. When she's unhappy, the whole world has to know about it.

*She always behaved well on car rides as a baby, and for the most part she still does! She loves to look out the windows, listen to music, and she's generally very well-behaved and quiet in the car. She has opinions about music now too! After certain songs she'll say "More!" and wants to hear them again. She seems to love upbeat music like 80's pop, Kesha, and the Warblers from Glee.

*She does really silly things, and loves to make us all laugh! Climbing into the bathtub with her diaper on, saying "My Daddy!" and pointing to people who clearly aren't her Daddy, stealing things and laughing while running away. . . I could go on and on. She's a little imp, for sure.

*She's also a major antagonist. She does things to get a reaction all the time, so she's constantly bugging Kirsten, taking things and hiding them, just doing troublemaker stuff like that. She thinks it's hilarious to run away from me, get into things she shouldn't, make messes, steal something and run away with it at full speed. Grrrrrrr, that girl!

*Natalie is a very sweet sister! She has always been very good to Brooke, and even though they're only 18 months apart has never acted jealous of her. She's so loving and sweet, and is a little nurturer who loves to carry her dolls around and put them in the baby swing or the stroller.

*She has a great laugh and a big smile, but it can be tough to get her to smile for pictures.

*She has never once in her whole life said the word "No." She only says "Uh-uh" for no and "Mmm-hmm" for yes. It's pretty funny, I don't know where she picked that up!

*Natalie is definitely in the "Mine" stage. She thinks everything is hers!
An airplane flying in the sky. . . "My airplane!" (with heavy emphasis on the word "My")
A boat on the lake. . . "My boat!" (I sure wish it was your boat, Natalie!)
"My Daddy!" She has some fun little arguments with Kirsten over that one. . . "My Daddy!" Kirsten: "He's both of our Daddies!" Natalie: "MY Daddy!" and on and on it goes. . .

*She loves to create things with Play-doh and experiment with paints and colors. She had a blast with the bath paints I created one day out of shampoo and food coloring!

*She is MESSY. Dirt and messes just don't bother her one bit. She smears food everywhere and gets dirty when she plays outside. I'm trying to get her interested in cleaning, with no luck so far!

*Natalie has beautiful blue eyes, soft blonde hair, cute rosy cheeks, and is looking more and more like Kirsten. I get told often how much they look alike, even though they didn't at ALL as babies.

*Before she was even 2 years old, Kirsten taught her to climb out of her crib. (Sigh). So she doesn't nap every day, and sometimes spends her whole naptime playing in her room instead. If she does nap, it's usually around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and doesn't last too long. She falls asleep in the car if it's around that time, and takes a VERY long time falling asleep at night, especially since she shares a room with Kirsten. Unless she skipped a nap, she's usually awake until 9 or 10, making noise and messes in their room.

*Both girls fall asleep to music now, and I created the "Night-night CD" that they both love. Natalie loves the first song on the CD, "If I Could Visit the Moon" sung by Ernie.

*She's never been as interested in the TV or movies as Kirsten, and she still isn't, but she does love Sesame Street. She can name most of the characters, and her favorites are Elmo and Ernie. She also likes dance-themed movies or ones with lots of songs that she can dance around to.

*She has a total thing for shoes! Already loves them!

*She's interested in the potty, and has gone in it a few times! I think she'll be potty trained much earlier than Kirsten was, and that makes me happy. It's interesting to compare the two, because she's much more physically adept than Kirsten was at 2, much more fearless, but also talks a lot less. Kirsten does most of the talking for her, I guess.

*She loves playing the piano! Anything that makes noise, really, Natalie likes.

We love our Natalie! She has such a big, notice-me personality and refuses to be ignored, and I guess that's what she needs to have to survive life in the middle of 3 girls! She's a lot of fun, funny, and also a cuddly sweetheart with a big heart. She still loves to sit on laps more than almost anything, and she'll plant herself down on your lap and not even move unless you make her. So sweet!

Fabulous Finds. . . Uncommon Goods Review and Giveaway!

I absolutely LOVE finding unique, fun items for my home, my kids, or to use as gifts. And for a long time now, one of my favorite places to find awesome, funky, hard-to-find stuff like this has been Uncommon Goods. "Find anything but ordinary". Completely cool gifts, seriously, just browsing this store is so much fun! It can be really difficult to find gift ideas for men that they'll actually like, but this shop has a whole bunch!

Naturally, since I love the shop I was thrilled to be able to review some of their products. This could be a VERY long post if I talked about all the awesome things found on their website, they have such an amazing variety of products. So I'll just focus on the things I was able to review. I was 100% impressed by everything I received!

I've had my eye on these since I first saw them in a magazine. . . Paper pots! Such a stylish and mod-looking way to house your tissues, SO much better than the ordinary little cardboard box. These babies are made of plastic (they seriously look like glass, but my kids can't break it, hooray!), and come in a bunch of fun, glossy colors as well as white and matte black. I put mine in my front entryway bathroom and it completely updated that little room! I love it!

Okay, I didn't review this one, but I thought it was just too cool. . . the Salsabol, with unique grooved sides to help you control how much salsa or guac you want on your chips. I want one of these! Just an example of a cool and useful product you'll find in this shop!

Besides items for your kitchen and home, Uncommon Goods has a really adorable kids and babies section. I picked out Lucy's Socks by Trumpette for my baby Brooke and they are the cutest baby socks I've seen yet! I want to get these as a baby gift for every baby girl I know, they are sooooo precious! And they stay on her feet, so they get extra bonus points!

I can think of a lot of girls who'd die to have these in their kitchen. . . Russian Doll Measuring Cups! Yep, measuring cups that nest inside each other and are actually cute enough to sit out on your counter or shelf. At only $13 and oh so adorable, these would make a perfect gift!

And I've got some great news. . . Uncommon Goods has offered to give one of my readers a Paper Pot, in any color of your choice!!! You will love it just as much as I do!
Here's how to enter to win the Paper Pot from Uncommon Goods:
*Become a follower of my blog! Or let me know if you already follow me. Either way, leave me a comment and tell me you're a follower! (Just click 'Google Friends Connect' on my sidebar!)

Get extra entries (up to 11!) when you:
1. Like me on Facebook! Just click the button on my sidebar to become a Facebook fan!
2. Browse the Uncommon Goods website, and tell me some products that you would love to have!
3. "Like" Uncommon Goods on Facebook here.
4. Follow Uncommon Goods on Twitter.
5. Subscribe to their "This Just In" RSS feed here.
6. Sign up to be on the Uncommon Goods email list.
7. Mention this giveaway on your Facebook status, and be sure to link to this post!
8. Tweet about this giveaway and link to me.
9. Mention this giveaway on your blog and link to me!
10. Grab my button off my sidebar and display it somewhere on your blog.
11. Leave a new comment on any of my other recent blog posts (doesn't matter which one, I just love to read your comments!), and let me know you did.

*Please leave a separate comment for EACH entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner! This giveaway will close on July 6'th. Good luck!!!

My Disclaimer: I received some products free of charge from Uncommon Goods in exchange for writing an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My 6 Month Old Sweetheart!

Brooke is actually 7 months old now! And I just want to stop her from growing, freeze her at this sweet and adorable age forever!!! No more getting bigger, Brooke! Stop!

Here are some things I always want to remember about my little 6 and 7 month-old Brooke:

*Brooke is the best baby in the world. . . uncontested, no doubt about it. She has SUCH a happy, content, sweet and patient personality. Everyone just loves her to death, and she never gives anybody the slightest bit of trouble. You'd never think the baby would be the easy one, but she is our easiest child by a long shot. We're always saying, "thank goodness we have Brooke!"

*Seeing her bright, big, joyful smile is the best part of my day, every day!

*Her six-month stats:
-17 pounds- 58%
-90% for length (yikes, she's tall now like my other girls! At every doctor's checkup she just climbs the height scales more and more. Here I was thinking she wouldn't grow out of clothing as fast as her sisters have. Guess I was wrong!)

*She's pretty much right on track with clothing sizes. She fits into the 6-12 month size, and she wears size 2 Pampers Swaddlers diapers.

*She doesn't sit up yet without support. We practice it every day, and she can sit for a few seconds by herself but always falls over. But we're working on it!

*She still loves her infant seat. She sleeps pretty well in there (although usually wakes up when we move it), and she's often very content to sit in it and smile or play with toys.

*She rolls over once in awhile, but isn't really a big fan of it. She usually rolls onto her tummy and then starts crying after a few minutes because she forgets that she knows how to roll back over, and thinks she's stuck. She does it in her bed at night too. This girl will lay happily on her back for a long time playing with dangling toys, and likes to sleep on her side. But she sure doesn't like being on her tummy!

*She's such a flexible and adaptable baby, and really goes with the flow! Which is awesome, since we're always running around going places. She usually takes one nap while we're out and about.

*Brooke has a good sleep schedule! She usually goes to bed around 7:30 and wakes up close to 6 or 7 in the morning to eat and then often goes right back to sleep. She takes two naps a day, unless one is very short and then sometimes she will squeeze in an extra one. My favorite is her long afternoon nap.

*She gets baths every other day in her Rainforest baby bathtub (that she's outgrowing, sniff!), and she is a BIG splasher. She kicks hard and sometimes soaks me and the whole bathroom floor! She also loves sucking on wet washcloths in the tub, and that's one of the few things that can distract her from splashing.

*She hardly ever cries, and has a sad little whimpery cry when she does. Not loud at all like Natalie is!

(Baby soup!!!)

*She has crazy bed-head hair that often sticks up in all kinds of directions, especially since she still spends so much time laying down. Her hair is long and soft! The times she cries the hardest are when we have to comb the tangles out of the very back after her baths. It's the saddest sound!

*Goes to sleep by herself in the crib, and has been falling asleep on her own since she was four months old, earlier than any other baby we've had!

*Her sisters both ADORE her, and they sometimes fight over who gets to play with her. Kirsten loves to hold her, and she makes funny faces for her and gets right up in her face. Brooke thinks Kirsten is hilarious. Kirsten and Natalie both like trying to jump on Brooke, so we constantly have to be on the watch and reminding them to be gentle. The funny thing is, Brooke loves it and laughs hard when people are jumping around her and acting like they're going to squish her.

(Love this picture of the two sisters together!)

*Brooke started eating solid foods right at 6 months!
Here she is in her high chair, ready for some grub. . .

*We had lots of feeding helpers the first time she had food!

*She liked her first food. . . carrots!

*Brooke still eats baby food once every day, usually around dinnertime. Soon I'll probably give her food in the morning as well. She drinks four 6-oz. bottles each day.

*So far she really likes carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, all the fruits, and only hates one type of food (the same food her sisters hated as babies). . . peas. She was spitting them out and wanted nothing to do with them! What is it with peas???

*Brooke can hold things and switch them back and forth between two hands. She likes to sit in her swing and watch the mobile spin, and she still likes batting at toys that hang down from her jungle play mat. She loves peek-a-boo, and loves to be played with and smiled at.

*She looks a whole lot like Kirsten did at this age, with her big blue eyes, round face, and long dark hair. Brooke's hair is getting much lighter already though! And the differences in personality are huge. Kirsten was extremely sensitive, cried a lot, and was scared of a lot of things. Brooke is happy, patient, and goes with the flow!

*This Easter picture was taken when she was exactly six months, and you can see how bad her excema was. Her face and skin all over her body were constantly red, and she would scratch herself at night and make it even worse, sometimes even making herself bleed. It was so sad! Her skin has finally cleared up and gotten SO much better over the past few weeks, thank goodness! But we still cover her hands at night so she can't scratch herself.

*Doesn't she make the most adorable bunny anyway? I love this picture!

It just kills me to think there will ever be a day when I won't have a baby Brooke to smile at me. She's such a sweet and special baby, and our family is incredibly blessed to have her in it. I will be forever grateful for Brooke, and consider myself so lucky to be her mommy.