thirty, flirty, & thriving

Anyone else love that movie? (13 Going on 30). 

Three DECADES alive. As I was growing up, I remember always thinking thirty sounded so old.  Now I'm actually quite looking forward to it! You're in the more established phase of life; you're not as concerned with impressing other people; you can drive a minivan with pride because you (and other minivan driving moms) know how awesomely convenient it is to have a minivan.

My cousin, and one of my best friends, Jenn turns 30 this week! So we threw her a surprise party.

And the best part? She was genuinely surprised!!! No one let it slip. Her husband, Gordy, and I were texting a lot the month prior, so he had to be pretty sneaky with not leaving his phone laying around face up! Right after they left their kids at home with a sitter, I snuck over and met one of her neighbors and we started setting everything up. Instead of coming back to the house how she left it, she walked into a party!

It was a fun and tasty night! Happy birthday to one of the hottest and talented mama's I know! 
May your thirties be the best decade yet.


f is for first grade, fears, and fairies

We're back into the back-to-school swing of things over here! (And have been for almost a month...I'm just that great at blogging lately).

Jillian is officially in first grade! All-day school. The real deal. We're hustling homework and running carpool. Le-freakin'-git. She was really excited to start eating lunch at school this year (though by the looks of the lunch menu, she'll be getting home lunch more often than not *insert green sick face emoji). 

After experiencing kindergarten, I was bracing myself for the worst. Last year I had to walk her to her classroom every day for 3 months, and many days I had to pull her into the room while she dug her heels into the ground. 

Our family had a lot of changes this summer- a big move to a new neighborhood (which meant new friends and a new church), a new baby, and now a new school. Change is hard for her- new things and new people make her anxious. I think it's all worsened by her sensory processing struggles. The first week of drop-off was pretty rough. There was weeping and wailing and grabbing onto my clothes (while also trying to keep Olivia out of all the fun classroom things as I juggled Charlotte in the other hand). The stares given by the 20-some-odd other 6 year-olds were completely warranted. Fortunately, it didn't seem to phase her veteran teacher in the least. The second day she told me, "I'm okay if you leave her here like this if you are." So that's what we did. Bandaid approach.

After several days into the tears and dramatics, I thought of an idea that would maaaaybe ease things a little. We needed help. We needed a little magic. 

There are a few fairy houses in our neighborhood (hollowed out logs with little furniture inside). And if you write to a fairy, they write you back. One of these houses is in the front yard of one of Jillian's little friends. I texted her Mom about it and she was more than happy to oblige. Matter of fact, she said that their fairy, Tawanda Bell, would come camping at our house that very night. The next morning Jillian woke up to a tiny tent in our front yard, fashioned out of a cloth rice bag, complete with a sleeping bag, little campfire, and tiny dishes. Inside the tent was a note and a little Beanie Baby (Jillian is obsessed with those).  The note let her know that this was a special pet she could take with her to school to help her feel brave. And you better believe she's taken it every day since (her teacher was 100% on board). The fairy magic seems to be working. 
Hi, my name is Whitney.
And I believe in fairies.

There have still been some rough moments (like the day she had a substitute in the second week), but each week is getting better (and at a faster rate than it did in kindergarten- thank heavens). After being her Mom for 6 years now, I've learned that with her there is no rushing. She really has to feel things out and get comfortable in her own time on her terms, and it's my job to facilitate that. She feels big emotions that push me to my wit's end more often than not. I often find myself thinking, "why can't you just handle this like every other kid." But that's just it- she's not every other kid. Because of this though, once she conquers something, even if it's as small as walking into school, it's a big win for both of us and I'm so incredibly proud of her. It gives me the encouragement I need to gear up for the next inevitable tough thing. 

Oh, and now she's all about the fairies.
(Just ask her friends in the fairy club at school. Yep. There's a club.) 


trip to bear lake

Several weeks ago James and I came to the conclusion we needed to take a little vacation this summer- it's just what you do in the summer time! Some of my favorite childhood memories are from summer family vacations. With Charlotte's arrival at the end of May, we really didn't plan anything for this year (on purpose), but a few weeks ago we were both feeling the need for a little getaway (which also may or may not have been triggered from seeing everyone else's vacation pictures- haha!). After an extensive internet search we were able to score a condo at Bear Lake for a few days (which usually fills up quite quickly over the summer)!

The drive there took a solid hour longer than it should have, thanks to the frequent stops we had to make for bathroom and nursing breaks. Jillian asked "Are we there yet?" more times than I can count and Charlotte screamed her head off for a decent portion of the ride up...traveling with kids is never dull. 
(And if it IS uneventful for you and your crew...just how much Benadryl are you giving them?...I need to know for...reference...)

When we (finally) got there, our first stop was for fresh raspberry shakes! Bear Lake is famous for them because of how many raspberries are harvested nearby. We ended up getting one from a different place every day we were there. I mean, we needed to enough data to determine just which shake was the best. ;-) 
(My favorite ended up being the raspberry brownie shake from Jake's Place in Garden City...like I'd drive all the way back just for one of those suckers). 

The next day, the girls were so excited to play in the sand! The evening before we went to the shore, I was texting a friend about the best places to go and she finally said, "You know it's nothing like a Florida beach, right?" Hah!
I mean...is anything? ;-) 
 Although the sand was a lot different and there wasn't a palm tree in sight, it still met my need for sand, sun, and water! Plus the water was so incredibly BLUE! No wonder everyone calls it "The Caribbean of the Rockies."

Charlotte didn't nap as well as we thought she would (I mean...beach naps are some of the best on Earth- or should be), but she was still a champ! I'm not sure if she's just all around a pretty good baby (minus being in the car), or if maybe I'm just a little more chill of a parent seeing as it ain't my first rodeo...but either way, I'll take it!

Trying out paddle boarding for the first time was an adventure. And also way harder than everyone makes it look. Most of the time we paddled around while sitting on our knees. The one time I tried standing up it lasted about 30 seconds because my balance was so terrible. I couldn't help but think of how ridiculous I would look in one of those paddle board yoga classes (but I also still secretly want to try one). 

When I was out with Olivia at one point (Jillian was too scared to try it), I kept trying to sing songs from Moana but she didn't think that was very cool of me. 
And no one knooooows, how far I'll goooooo.

The next day we went to the Raspberry Days festival. We scored some delicious raspberry syrup and salsa! But I was a little bugged that the one vendor selling fresh raspberries was sold out in just a couple of hours! 
 (Like, why weren't there 10 booths selling these...at the raspberry festival...I don't know. We made up for it in shakes).

It was the perfect little getaway! The girls went swimming at the pool and lake so much while we were there it actually ended up being really easy to get them to sleep (in the same bed even) because they were just so worn out by the end of the day.  We're already planning our trip for next summer!

And now, it's time to get "back to reality". The reality that is school starting (next week for me and in three weeks for Jillian). Part of me craves the consistency of a routine and schedule, and the other part of me (the larger part probably) just counts down the days until the next first day of summer. The only thing that makes it a little more bearable is that fall is my second favorite season.


jillian's barbie beach party

Over the weekend we celebrated Jillian's 6th birthday! Somehow that happened...six years went by in what feels like two blinks. She wanted to celebrate with her friends via Barbie beach party! She just recently started getting into Barbies since her friend next door and her sister have them. And now I think they've created a monster...dressed in pink...wearing heels...

Normally (as in when I don't have a newborn), I like to spend weeks planning and prepping for a party, getting all of the details just right. But this one was thrown together in about two days...so while things weren't quite as I wanted them, I know Jillian loved every bit of it regardless, which is of course ultimately what matters, right? (Mostly. Yes. ;-) )

Side bar: I didn't realize my camera was on the wrong setting when I was quickly snapping pictures and not looking at them, so only a few even remotely turned out! Ah well! 

But the kids (all 16 of them) started by decorating sand castles! Aka gingerbread houses but with ice cream cones. I think this was a favorite for many since they had unlimited access to a tube of frosting. 

Her cake was from Cravings in Pleasant Grove. I had them make the cake and frost it plain, then I added the crushed graham cracker and other easy decorations! I didn't realize how enormous it would be when I ordered it over the phone, so we were pretty surprised when we picked it up and realized it was about a foot tall and probably 20 lbs (no joke). We sent several people home with big chunks and still ended up with a huge amount! Next time I should probably ask about serving sizes before just ordering away! 

^You can sort of see the pink "trail mix" we had as a snack- pink goldfish, yogurt pretzels and pink jelly beans. Why they don't sell the pink goldfish in a giant carton like the cheese ones is beyond me...because buying and opening 6 little bags of them was annoying. I mean, you know you'd give into your kids and buy a giant carton of pink goldfish over the orange ones. Well, I would anyway.

^Jack's face in this picture...hah!

^I love that look of birthday magic on her face! I think I have a picture from every year where she has this same expression. 

We ended the party with swimming! Fortunately our neighborhood pool isn't very deep and just about every kid had a puddle jumper on- other wise that would have been incredibly stressful! But James was still on lifeguard duty. :-p

And now she is the proud owner of 7 new Barbies, a Barbie house, car, and gymnastics set. She's named them things like, "Pinkalicious" and "Wishes", with a few standard "Stacy's" and "Kelly's" in there. This phase of life, which is really almost a rite of passage in the world of little girls, should be titled "pink, plastic, and why-do-they-make-their-little-tiny-shoes-removable-and-the-easiest-things-to-lose-EVER."

Happy Birthday Jillian! We love you!


mudroom and laundry inspiration

I get excited about pretty mud and laundry rooms! Like, giddy excited.
This is me guys. 
I'm a super fun person. 
The mudroom (and by extension laundry room) is the first project on the list in our new house! And I couldn't be more excited. A mudroom was on the "must have" list when we were house shopping- we need a drop zone! Right now we just have a little bench and I threw some temporary Command hooks up on the wall to be able to hang things. In a few weeks we're building out some locker style built-ins and I'm stoked! Then we'll get into the laundry room, which is getting a fun face lift. 

So right now I'm swooning over all of these pretty spaces! 
Six design elements I'm loving right now:

1. Natural wood doors with glass! I'm digging neutral wood tones right now- especially paired with dark hardware. I already have the door we're going to use for our laundry room and can't wait to get it all fixed up and in there! I also want to go with a seeded glass for some added visual interest. 

2. All the storage! What good is a mudroom without maximizing your storage space? I love the use of different baskets, drawers, and hooks this mudroom uses. Not to mention the shiplap and butcher block counters...okay...just everything. 

3. Classic textures! Subway tile is super hot right now- but in a classic way, not a fad kind of way, and I'm so glad! I love that the tile covers most of the wall in this room and is paired up with shiplap. There will definitely be some subway tile in our laundry room!

4. Not-white paint. I love the classic, crisp lines of a white mudroom- but from a practicality standpoint, I just don't know how to keep that clean for more than like 10 seconds with kids dropping shoes, backpacks, winter gear...so using a darker paint can help mask some of those scuffs! Plus I think it adds some nice contrast! I'm still on the lookout for what color I plan to paint my built-ins...more on that later.
Image: Elle Decor

5. Open shelving in the laundry room. Not much else makes my organizing-loving heart pitter patter like organized open shelving! Our laundry room has upper cabinets right now and I plan to keep them, but also add a few open shelves between them! 

6. Lighting. It's ahhhhmazing the difference light fixtures can make! I especially like these goose neck sconces on what would otherwise be an empty wall space. While we don't have the room for one in our mudroom, I might be able to squeeze one in the laundry room (above that open shelving!). 

I'm itching to get started!!