Handmade Love

4.29.2014
Aren't these just the cutest plates you ever did see?! I want one of each! You can check them out (along with more cute designs over at Meu AdorĂ¡vel Iglu. xo, Lauren

Ramblings on Motherhood + Uncommonly Good Gifts for the Mothers in Your Life

4.24.2014

I vividly remember being overdue with Violet - I had planned to work up until my due date, (naively) never expecting that she wouldn't make her arrival by then. That day came and went - I handed over the reigns of my classroom to my former student teacher and went home to wait. I thought it would be nice to be off of my feet and to have a few days to rest up and nest around the house before she came, but the days went by oh so slowly. I was too uncomfortable to clean and too tired to wash baby clothes for the gazillionth time. I started to dwell on giving birth and for the first time began to feel really anxious and afraid. In all of that growing negativity, I tried to look at the positive - my baby was healthy inside of me, I was lucky to have been able to carry her to full term (and beyond), and thought that it might be fun if she was born on Mother's Day.

Well, Mother's Day came and with it, still no signs of labor. Kevin decided it would be best to get me out of the house (smart man), so we headed out to our local Mother's Day street fair. It was a very cold, blustery May day and I hadn't quite dressed for the cool temperatures, so we walked very quickly to keep warm. I remember thinking, I can't remember the last time I walked (waddled) this fast, and decided that I was going to walk the baby out. We walked until my legs practically felt like they were going to fall off before finally heading back home. That night I went into labor. Violet wasn't born on Mother's Day, but she was with us that day, walking the streets of our little town just waiting to make her arrival.

I remember that I was so excited to become a mother - to experience that one-of-a-kind love that you feel for your children - and it's true, there's nothing more amazing in all of the world. But one thing I didn't realize was how much all of that love can  make you feel an equal amount of fear and guilt and worry. I didn't know how difficult it would be to watch your kids go through those tough times of sickness or pain. When Violet was born she suffered meconium aspiration and had to be rushed off to the NICU. That was my first taste of the scary feelings that are equally a part of motherhood. Seeing her laying in the bassinet with all of those tubes and wires hooked up to her tiny body I never felt more helpless in all of my life.



I remember being sick as a child and my own mom saying to me that she wished that she could take all of my bad feelings away. That she wished she was the sick one instead. Now I know how she felt and that she really, truly meant what she said, because I feel the same way about my own little girls. This past week both of them have been very sick - Violet has an ear infection, a horrible cold, and a stomach bug, and Lucy has had a cold for the past week which has now turned into croup. I've spent a lot of sleepless nights with them lately and it's definitely taking its toll. But the worst part isn't even the lack of sleep - it's the constant worry.



It's really made me appreciate my own mom more than ever. She worked full time, then came home to us and was basically a single parent, as my dad worked second shift so that we didn't have to be in daycare. They didn't see each other much and I just now as an adult and a mother can really appreciate the sacrifices that they made. She was always there when we were sick, hurt, or worried to make us feel better. And now, here I am as a mother myself and she's still there for me. She took off of work yesterday to come and help me at home with the girls. There are other people that I could have called to help me out, but sometimes, even as an adult, you still just want your mom.

So to all of the moms and mothers-to-be out there, you truly have the most difficult job in the world - a job that is 24 hours a day, seven days a week full of the most powerful and wonderful and crazy emotions and feelings that you can imagine - here's to you. I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day full of love and laughter (and healthy children). And a big thank you to my mom - the strongest most selfless, hardest working person I know - thanks for always being there for me.

And while it feels like there's truly no gift big enough or expensive enough or meaningful enough that you can give to a mother to truly say thank you for everything that she does, I've rounded up a few lovely things that are sure to make the mother in your life feel a little extra special on Mother's Day.

For the new mom or mom-to-be in your life:
1. Milestone Baby Cards
2. Baby Book by Yasmeen Ismail
3. Twelve Wishes for Baby Book
4. Milk and Cookies Rattles
5. Wooden Fish Rattle
6. Custom My Quotable Kid Book
7. Lion Booties

And gifts for your own mother or grandmother (inspired by my mother and mother-in-law, who are both amazing cooks and show their love by feeding everyone mountains of delicious home-cooked food!):
1. Spice and Vegetables Windowsill Planters
2. Dessert and Baking Salts
3. Slate Cheese Boards with Soapstone Chalk
4. Seed Keeper Gardening Book
5. Hidden Animal Mugs
6. Slate Heart Server
7. Green Herbal Tea Kit

I'd love to hear about how you're planning to make the mom in your life feel extra special this Mother's Day! Are you getting a gift, taking her out to dinner, or perhaps just pampering her a little bit?

This post was kindly sponsored by Uncommon Goods. They currently have a lovely Mother's Day Collection with beautiful gifts for the special mother in your life. The content and opinions shared in this post are my own.

Giveaway: bObles Chicken!

4.18.2014
[This giveaway is closed]

I have a sweet little giveaway for all of you just in the nick of time for Easter! We received this cute little bObles toy in the mail from the lovely folks over at Modernmini and the girls just love it. It's a really versatile toy that can be used in a ton of different ways. When we got it I put it out on the floor for the girls and they had a ton of fun experimenting with it:


The chicken bOble comes in a variety of cute, bright colors, and there are a bunch of other animals in the bObles family as well - from elephants to crocodiles.


To enter to win your own chicken Boble, please visit modernmini.com and leave a comment below with your favorite items. (I'm personally kind of obsessed with the Seed stroller and Minimii dollhouse!) You can also receive 20% off in the shop by using the code "ALOVELYLARK". Good luck and have a lovely weekend!

(You can enter through this Sunday at 11:59PM EST - Sorry this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only)

[This giveaway is closed]

Feeling Sweet

4.16.2014

There are a lot of nursery designs out there, but the tweens and teens often get the short end of the stick. I’ve found that for this age group, a mix of adult and kids’ decor is a must to bridge the gap between the two worlds. And while bright, fun colors are still a go, mixing in metallics and a few touches of a more sophisticated color like black can make all the difference in keeping the space from feeling too childish. I was recently inspired by my friend’s tween daughter who has a major sweet tooth, and here are some fun finds for a girl’s room that won’t make the space feel too saccharine. You can check out the sources over on my post for Houzz.com!

Conversations on Tigger

4.08.2014

Violet decided that she wanted to draw Tigger the other day. I have no idea what prompted Tigger to be her subject of choice, as she isn't super into Winnie the Pooh and hadn't read any of the books or watched the movie recently, but she regardless she knew that she wanted to draw Tigger and wanted some help in doing so. So we sat down and started to talk it out. Here's a little snippet of how our conversation went (spoiler: I got schooled):

V: What should I dwaw first?
Me: Well, Tigger has an oval-shaped body, why don't you start with that?
V: What's an oval-shaped?
Me: An oval is kind of like a circle but longer.
Nice job! He has a circle head and circle ears.
V: Continues to draw Tigger's head and face.
Me: Those are nice eyes!
V: No, those aren’t EYES! Those are his cheeks like when he loves someone!
Me: Who does he love?
V: I don’t know, can you sink? (think)
Me: Maybe he met a girl tigger?
V: No, a boy tigger to fall in love with!
Me: Oh, is Tigger a girl or is he a boy who loves another boy?
V: He’s a boy who loves another boy.
Me: Okay, next draw four legs.
V: No, Mommy, he walks like a people! He only has TWO legs you silly!
Me: Oh, right!
V: Draw High Heels, because everyone has high heels, wight?
Me: Draws high heels
V: No not high heels like a lady! High heels like a MAYUN!
Me: Okay, how about black stripes?

V: He has ORANGE stripes too! 
Me: True, true. 
V: And these are his loooong looong toes. There! Perwfect.

I'm excited for when Lucy starts talking and I can get a little peek into the inner workings of her little mind as well. You never know what you'll find :) xo, Lauren


DIY Easter Bunny Surprise Balls

4.07.2014
I found the cutest Easter bunny surprise balls last year online, and really wanted to buy them for Violet's Easter basket this year. Unfortunately, they were no longer for sale :/ So I decided they looked easy enough - why not make my own? And I think he turned out pretty cute!

Here's how I did it:

1. Fill an Easter egg with goodies of your choice (these are a couple of Violet's favorite flower hair ties from Lorie Marie's Pretty Little Things shop):


2. Take some streamers and start wrapping them around the egg (if you want a more "perfect" ball shape, cut your streamers in half or thirds so that the width is thinner. I kept mine the standard size so that it would be easier to unwrap for Violet):



3. Keep wrapping until you get a ball shape, then tape the end and kind of shape the ball gently with your hands:



4. Cut a circle and two bunny ear shapes out of card stock. Use markers to fill in the ears and draw a nose and mouth onto the circle. Bend the bottom of each ear back and glue everything onto the surprise ball. Draw the eyes directly onto the streamers:


Voila! Violet saw me making it, so I'm not sure what she'll think about something Mom made being in her Easter basket (you know, because the Easter bunny is supposed to bring that kind of stuff), but maybe she won't give it a second thought? I guess we'll have to wait and see! xo, Lauren

P.S. 8 of the Cutest, Cuddliest Easter Bunnies + 25 Sweet (but Sugar-Free) Gifts for Kids

9 Cute Gardening Kits for Kids

4.04.2014
Kevin started a little vegetable garden on the side of our house a few years ago, and Violet loves to dig in the dirt alongside of him as he works and help him to pick the vegetables as they ripen. This year Kev decided that he wants Violet to have her very own little garden patch, so I've been thinking of getting her a cute gardening kit for Easter. Here are nine of my favorites that I've rounded up so far:
1. How Does Your Garden Grow? Gift Set
2. The Secret Garden Kit
3. Garden in a Bag - Tomato, Sunflower, and Strawberries
4. Rootvue Farm Garden Laboratory 
5. Stone Soup Garden Kit
6. Growing Wishes Kits - Flowers & Herbs
7. Moulin Roty Gardening Kit
8. Fairytale Garden Kits
9. Growing Gardens by Kiwi Crate

I have yet to search Etsy and I may even look into making my own little "kit" depending on how much time I can cobble together between now and Easter! If you have any gardening tips or advice for kids I'd love to hear! xo, Lauren

Favorite Parenting Links Lately

4.01.2014


1. Violet's always been kind of anti-hugs and kisses, especially when it comes to hello's and goodbye's, and we've always tried to encourage her when it comes to close family members, but after reading this I'm definitely taking a much different approach to the whole situation.

2. Life is messy and layered...and that's okay! Love Abbey and her down-to-earth writing style.

3. I've seen plenty of posts from blogging moms who are anti-"Pinterest" party, but I love this mom's to-each-her-own approach. I personally love throwing a big decorated party for my kids, maybe because my mom always did that for us (pre-Pinterest, imagine that!) She'd spend hours painstakingly decorating cakes and making paper crowns for all of us to wear. It always made me feel really special and I want that for my own kids, but sometimes I feel weirdly judged for it.

4. Em Henderson on mom guilt and the balancing act that is the life of a working-outside-of-the-home mom. As a mom who has both worked outside of the home and stayed at home, I can say that both are equally difficult and that the guilt doesn't go away in either situation - the reasons for it just shift. Before I felt guilty for spending 8 or 9 hours a day away from my kid. Now I feel guilty because I have to some spend time cleaning the house AKA not playing princesses, or because want a little time to myself to just read a book or pee alone for goodness sake! But it's nice to feel like other moms are right there with me, so thanks Ms. Henderson! :)

5. The overprotected kid...there's so so much I could say about this. I think all moms try to walk that thing tightrope between giving your kids freedom and keeping them safe. It always seems to me like it's best to err on the side of safety, but maybe we do go too far? I have been trying to think of the ways in which I let Violet experience the "danger" that they talk about in the article. We let her cook with us - she stirs pots of hot food, we let her use scissors, and play near fires both in our fireplace and in the fire pit outside, she loves to wrestle and play-fight, and she loves to jump off of the furniture into a big pile of pillows.

We've just started letting her explore on her own more this winter, mostly thanks to the polar vortex shooting out ice and snow and general frozenness for months on end. I wasn't able to take Violet outside as much as I'd like because even if she didn't mind the cold so much, Lucy was sooo not into it. And walking around outside with a screaming writhing freezing baby while trying to play with your preschooler is just not a good time.

So sometimes Violet would ask to go outside herself (which is a majorly big, HUGE deal considering that she often doesn't even want me to walk into a different room because she'll be alone.) And even though the tiny anxious-mom voice in my head would scream, "Child predators! Stray dogs! Kidnappers! Fast-moving vehicles!" I would force myself to be rational and realize that we live in a very safe neighborhood and that she would be okay in our yard on her own for half an hour for Pete's sake, and I would let the poor kid go out and play already.

And guess what? She didn't die. Or even get hurt. In fact, whenever I'd peek out the window at her she'd be romping around, happy as a clam poking things with a big stick and peeking under rocks and peering through the arbividis looking for a "secwet garden".

We may not have THE Land, but we do have our own little piece of land and I'm now excitedly thinking of ways to make it more adventurous for her.

Are you naturally more on the overprotective side like me or do you let your kids have a little more "danger" in their lives? I'd love to come up with some new ways to give her a little bit more independence.

 

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