Adventuring, Photography, Toddler Fashion

Spring colors galore.

img_8026If there’s one thing that the deep dark Chicagoland winters bring, it’s gorgeous spring colors.  Penny and I ventured out to Cantigny Park on a bright spring day to try and capture some of the amazing blooms that appear almost overnight this time of year.  The entire place smelled of spring and made both of us want to prance around.  Ok, maybe just Penny.  I followed from afar and snapped the prancing.

She has taken to galloping around lately rather than walking.  I’m not sure if she’s pretending to be a horse or some other animal, but she is in full on imagination mode.

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And when we can find tree branches that are low enough for her to climb and pretend to be like her brothers, the more the better!  Adventure is a high priority for us.  We have too many days filled with the “have to’s” and “ought to’s” that we all have to make time for prancing and meandering and exploring and climbing and adventuring.  Life is the best on those days.  Full of free spirits and sunshine.

And Penny loves to bring her friends.  Elsa is a special friend and her presence almost always results in spontaneous “Let it Go” serenades in the tiny little toddler voice with only maybe a quarter of the words actually present.  But a lot of dramatic arm movements, to be sure.

The other thing we never leave the house without it our Twist Shake Baby cups.  They never leak or spill and are big enough to keep this thirsty babe hydrated on all of our adventures.  The sippies are especially great because I add frozen fruit to keep it cool and give the water some flavor and the fruit mixer keeps the fruit on the bottom instead of clogging the spout.

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In these photos, Penny is wearing a bow from Erinn and Lou, a romper from Rhett Tucker One of a Kind, moccasins from Amuse Leather Co.

Her Elsa doll is from Dandelion Attic.

Parenting, Reading, Toddler Fashion

Meet Mardi.

When you get a new book in the mail, what’s the first thing you do?  Wait, that’s a stupid question.

The obvious choice is to rip that box open and tear in right away!  Especially when it’s a book about a puppy.  Meet Mardi, by Linda Dembo, is a sweet story about how a puppy comes to meet her family, taking some adventures along the way.  Penny adores puppies in all shapes and sizes and she was absolutely enthralled with this story!  You can see it in her expressions as she flips through the pages.  Whenever she’s into something these days, she taps at the picture a bunch of times as she says the name of the person or thing.  Mawwwwww-di has been heard a LOT in this house lately!

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Giving Mardi kisses.

I also love that the story ends with a “life lesson” that Mardi has learned.  At this point, Penny is a smidge young to be internalizing the moral of the story, but that’s the beautiful thing about story.   Toddlers love reading the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over….but with all that repetition the story and its morals sink in deep over time.  And this one is great.  Sometimes life is uncomfortable and change can be no fun, but then great things can come of it!  Part of raising strong kids is sprinkling these truths into their lives on a regular basis.  Exposure to hard lessons through books makes the lessons a little easier to stomach when they present themselves in “real” life.

Find out how to get your own copy of Meet Mardi here.  And while you’re at the website check out some of the fun games they have for Mardi fans!

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In these images, Penny is wearing a bow by Huxen and Co. [ use PENNY15 to save ], a top by Little Harts and Arrows, and shorts by Freckled and Co.

Parenting

Kid dates.

Dating your kid.  I don’t remember this ever being a concept when I was younger.  Occasionally, either my mom or my dad would take me out somewhere without my sister.  We’d go shopping maybe, or to grab a bite to eat between errands or after a sports event, but rarely with the intention of just being or talking together.

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In our current parenting culture, intentionality is a buzzword.  Every word we speak to our kids, every activity we plan, every book we read to them, every game we play, the rules we set, all pre-planned and thought through to make the most of the moment.  That can be very, very good.  Intentionality does breed purpose, productivity,  consistency, and a predictable household where the child knows what is expected.  That expectation is really important because children build their internal “rules” about life as they develop from what they experience.  If affection is giving broadly, consistently, and without contingency, kids are going to grow up knowing they are loved despite the occasionally necessary punishment.  That’s where kid dates come in.

Leaving things to chance often results in misspent time, hurt feelings, and lack of communication.  Being intentional in reality does mean planning and forethought, but it doesn’t have to be hard.  Plan to have dates with your kid, one on one, somewhere that they want to go.

That means actually writing it down in your calendar beforehand.

I just started bullet journaling, which is a whole other story, but I write down (and add it to my phone calendar) when I’m going to take my kids out.  With my oldest, who is 8, we often go to the library and work together.  Starbucks is a necessary stop on the way there.  We find a quiet corner, sometimes working, sometimes chatting, sometimes reading together.  The middle kid, who is 7, loves to go shopping with me.  It doesn’t matter what we’re buying or who we’re buying it for.  Target, Costco, the mall, the grocery store, whatever.  We catch up on which kid has the coolest nerf weapons and what he did at soccer practice the day before and why he thinks he needs yet another pair of shoes (it doesn’t take much convincing on my end). The baby girl pretty much loves any time she gets to spend with me and since she’s too young at this point for full conversations, we usually trek out with the camera to find fabulous new spots, like this coffee shop in our neighborhood that serves purple sweet potato donuts covered in chopped coconut.  Dream.

I try to take each of them out at least once a month.  Sometimes life is busy and it’s a 20 minute date.  Sometimes we are way more flexible and can swing an hour or more out together on a Sunday afternoon.  The point is not in the amount of time.  The point is making my kids individually feel important, heard, looked at, and considered.

I love this concept because my love language is quality time.  I never feel more special than when my husband plans a date for me and tells me to mark the time off in my calendar to be spent just with him.  I think my kids feel the same way.  They may not have the same love language, but I know that all kids love getting one on one time with mom (and dad).  And when kids feel loved, they’re so much more receptive to all the other “intentionality” that you want to throw at them (for me that’s those little lectures that get sprinkled in about why we have certain values, why we treat people certain ways, why it’s important to do homework, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.).

 

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It’s hard to start a new habit.  But can I encourage you?  I promise it’s easier than it sounds.  And if you start small it’s extra easy.  Plus…donuts can be involved.  And that’s never a bad thing.

 

In these photos, Penny is wearing… a leotard from Leotudes (use code PENNYSTUDE to save),  suspender bloomers from Peace Love Snugs (use code PENNY15 to save), socks from Ten Wittle Piggies, shoes from Duchess and Fox, and our Anna doll is from Dandelion Attic (use code PENNY15 to save).