Mickey & Minnie Gift Roundup

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Our girl is infatuated with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Infatuated, I tell you. No lie, the first word I hear when I lift her out of the crib every morning is “Mickey?” And while playing with her toys she randomly breaks out in a sing-song voice exclaiming, “Oh toooodles!” This is a real situation, people. It’s as if they’ve cast a spell on her with their “Meeska-Mooska-Mickeeeey-Mouse!” chants. 

But who am I to keep a girl from her true love? So of course I’ve been searching for some cute (read: non-cheesy) Mickey and Minnie gifts for Christmas and her upcoming February birthday. And since I know a lot of you have little Mouse-lovers in your home too, I thought I would share my favorite finds with you.

o n e  //  Minnie Mouse Lights & Sounds Scooter
This is a touch too “grown” for my girl, but I love the three-wheel feature. Might be on the list for next Christmas.

t w o // Mickey Mouse Tee 
This is actually a boys tee but I bought it in Aven’s size because it was too adorable to pass up. 

t h r e e // Mickey Mouse Chevron Sheet Set 
Seriously love this pattern and how it isn’t overtly Mickey or cartoonish.

f o u r //  Delta Children Club Chair – Minnie Mouse 
We have one of these, and it’s as cute as it looks in the picture. It’s inflatable with a washable cover and is the perfect spot for Aven to hang out while she watches tv (can you guess her show of choice?), eats a snack, or reads books.  Sometimes I catch her turned around facing the back of the chair so she can “talk” to her friend Minnie or give her kisses. That alone is reason enough to own this chair. Just the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. 

f i v e // Girls Minnie Mouse Pullover Shirt
Although this sweater is a few sizes too big for Aven right now, with that cute Minnie face I almost want to snag it now and hold on to it for later! 

s i x // Minnie Mouse Toddler Ballet Flats 
If we owned these, I guarantee you my child would insist on wearing them every day. 

s e v e n // Minnie Shopping Cart 
Aven is getting the CUTEST vintage-style kitchen for Christmas, so she would flip out over this shopping cart to use with her kitchen. 

e i g h t // My First Library: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
For every day leading up to Christmas, I’m going to have a book for her to open. This is a set of 12 books, so that covers about half the days! I’m excited to see my tiny bookworm’s reaction to these. 

n i n e // Delta Children Mickey Mouse Easel (Double Sided)
We have an easel similar to this and it is one of her favorite things to play with, especially the chalkboard side since the cold weather is forcing us away from our beloved sidewalk chalk. 

As I wrap up this post, I am incredibly tempted to break out in the “Hot Dog” song and dance, but I will spare you. Just know that it’s on repeat in my head right now (and always, actually). I’m sure you can relate! 

I hereby grant you permission to give in to the Mouse obsession. Welcome to the clubhouse

*Disclaimer: We received the Delta Children Club Chair for review as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scout program. All opinions are my own!

2 1 m o n t h s { update }

Remember that time I wrote every day for 31 days straight and then took a two and a half week hiatus? Well, I’m back! Just needed some time to recoup. 

It has been a minute since I did an update on Aven. Well, it’s been three months and in the life of a toddler, that’s a chunk, so here we are talking about all things Aven. 

First, can I just say how much I love this age? She is totally my little sidekick. We go everywhere together and she’s becoming such a helper with whatever I’m up to. 

She’s also a talker, so we always have some kind of conversation going. When she talks she nods her head around like a teenager and it’s hysterical. I am also loving the fact that I can actually reason with her and talk through things, and she understands me. It helps us avoid at least some meltdowns and tantrums. 

She’s just becoming such a little person, and it’s so fun to watch. 

C l o t h i n g
Aven wears 24 month/2T clothing for the most part. We do have some 3T stuff that she can already fit into (WHAT IN THE WORLD). Shoes – size 7. Diapers – size 5.

Nope, she’s never been a small one, and that’s fine by me. 🙂

R o u t i n e 

Not much has changed in this arena since I last updated at 18 months. She’s up around 7a, eats breakfast pretty much right away, and the first thing out of her mouth every morning is “Mickey??” so we often start the day with an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

Lunch around 12 and not long after is heading for a nap. Naptime is usually 1.5-2 hours. I always lay down with her initially, and sometimes I linger and nap with her because I know these days will be ending soon. 

After waking up, she eats an afternoon snack and watches tv for a bit. Dinner is between 6-6:30p and then she heads into what we lovingly call “crack mode.” Basically she runs all over the house, using every last bit of energy stored up, and dances, sings, yells, throws her arms in the air and generally acts like a fool. It’s hilarious. 

7:30p is bathtime (her favorite) and she’s laying down by 8p. We just sing a few lullabies and then lay her down awake. She falls asleep almost immediately most nights. If she does cry, it’s short-lived, because girlfriend is tired.

F a v o r i t e s 
As mentioned, Mickey and Minnie Mouse are the center of her universe right now. She is truly obsessed. She sometimes yells out “Oh tooooodlessss!” in the middle of playing with toys, and has the funniest granny-style dance moves to the opening song. So of course, we had to represent when Halloween rolled around. She was the cutest Mickey you have ever seen, minus the ears because this kid tolerates nothing on her head. Instead she got little mouse/pigtails. 

Her other favorite tv show is Sesame Street because of “Eh-mo.”

Stuffed animals: Ella the Elephant, Blue the Doggie (she calls him “Bew”), Monk Monk, and Goat. Needs them all in her crib with her night. Not into baby dolls at all, but animals are apparently her jam.

Airplanes / Helicopters / Trains

Mickey Mouse.

Outdoors. If she’s outside, she’s happy. 

Pretend cell phones.

Yogurt dips. Puffs.

Bubbles / Balls / Books / Shoes / Coloring  

Did I mention Mickey Mouse? 

W o r d s  /  L e a r n i n g 
We are teaching her numbers, letters, colors, animal sounds, and shapes during playtime/bathtime/car rides.

Her vocabulary is really growing, and she’ll put together two- or three- word sentences now, like “Aven eat” or “Mommy go upstairs.”

She cannot say her L’s. Instead she replaces it with a “y” sound. Which makes so many words just so stinking adorable, like “yeh-yow (yellow) or “yight” (light). This is my favorite thing, maybe ever??

She can count to 10 with help. She can recognize her name when spelled out, and can recognize almost all letters. We are starting to teach her the alphabet using foam letters during bathtime.

New animal sounds, of the nontraditional variety, because those are more fun: Deer: “grunt grunt” / Turtle: “wah wah wah wah” / Crab: clicking sound while making “pincher” fingers / Hippo: “chomp chomp”. I have a video of some of these I’ll post on Instagram later 🙂

P e r s o n a l i t y 
Friendly. Social. Talkative. Demanding. Opinionated. Joyful. Girly. Sensitive. Dramatic. Sweet.

Q u i r k s 
Hates to have her feet touched  //  Every time she sneezes she yells “tissuuuue!”  // Waves at literally everything  //  “Sniffs” every flower she sees, even pictures of flowers.  //  “Fake” sleeps, complete with little snores and whistling sounds that I can only assume were learned from cartoons // Is OBSESSED with order and organization (she will put things back, shut drawers, and close doors behind me all.day.long.)  // Boo-boos require ice, but not for the boo-boo, just for her to munch on.

Crazy kid. 

F i r s t s 
Library trip
Day trip to the mountains
Kiddie train ride
Encounter with chickens, goats, pigs, and horses
Learned to give “thumbs up!”
Potty *attempts*

Oh, Aven Harper. You make my heart sing and my face smile. I’m so proud to be your mom.  

31 Days of Learning to Simplify: My Mothering

There are about one million ways I could think of to improve my parenting. One million ways I fail and mess up, and one million times when I’ve said or done the wrong thing. I’m sure the people around me would gladly dispense advice and there are books full of checklists to make sure I’m doing everything just right, all the time. 

It’s so much pressure. 

But God doesn’t put pressure on me to be a more perfect mom. His approach is much different, gentler. He picks my tired self up off the hot seat, and then he doesn’t just leave the seat empty for me to find my way back again. He sits in my place.

He sees me in the monotony of my days, at my best and my worst, and he’s pleased. He tells me I’m a good mom (sometimes more than once, when I really need convincing). 

That’s because the Lord looks past my mom “failures” and “wins” and peers deep into my mama heart. 

He knows the soaring love I have for this baby of mine, because he sees with the eyes of a Father. A kind Father. A good Father. 

When I feel all caught up in my constant striving to do better and more, I need to remember who he says I am. That is, already enough

Right where I am – I’m enough. You’re enough. 

I’m my best mama-self when I see myself how he sees me. When I parent out of that place, I’m not relying on techniques or methods, I’m just relying on the One who made me a mom in the first place. And He’s enough. 

I am nearing the end of my Write 31 Days Challenge! If you want to read through some of the other posts in this series, click here

31 Days of Learning to Simplify: Friendships

Some of us are one-person people. Some of us are part of a bigger tribe. Neither one is wrong, or better than the other.  Just, different.

I am the type of person who has several “best friends.” These are girls I have known at least since middle school and we have managed to sustain our friendships through high school, college, and early adulthood. No one knows me better than these people. Then I have a little bit wider of a circle that I would call “close friends.” This is a diverse bunch. It includes friends from my current work, old jobs, church, and friends of friends. I am so grateful for what these people contribute to my life. Then of course, we all have an outer circle who we don’t see or talk to often, but still, we consider them a friend.

When I talk about simplifying relationships, I am not talking about cutting people out of your friend circle. Instead, I’m pushing myself and you to think about the quality of these friendships – how can you invest more into them? How can you nurture and strengthen the bond? What do we let get in the way? 

I think we complicate relationships so unnecessarily and it’s time to DECLUTTER. 

Let’s take friendship back to the basics. LOVE. GRACE. TRUTH. 

Here is what I want for my friendships: honest communication, realistic expectations, and to always, always, always believe the best of each other. I want to be all in

And here is what I’m no longer allowing to divide me from the people I love: hurt feelings, busyness, assumptions, carelessness, idealistic expectations, deception, manipulation, passive aggressive tendencies, score-keeping, bitterness, spoken words, or unspoken words. 

If you’re like me, you’ve picked your friend circle carefully. At nearly 30 years old, I have moved on from any “toxic” or unhealthy relationships. Let’s be the friend we want to have. When I’m feeling hurt or left out or forgotten, all I need to remember is the TRUTH: these women love me and would never intentionally hurt me, or I them. 

Something that I’ve learned over recent years is that friendships flux. They are so dynamic, never standing still or static. At times you couldn’t be more in sync, and other times you just keep missing each other. Friendships change based on seasons of life – obviously. There are times when one person can pour into it and maintain it while the other person has very little to give, like in times of significant change or hardship. This can easily strain a relationship, but it doesn’t have to. I’ve been on both sides of this, and honestly I think it takes just as much grace to be either person in that scenario. If we are the one giving, also give abundant grace and without expectation or tallying. One day, the seasons will shift and it will be you who is unable to contribute. Give yourself grace then too, because it’s only temporary and you’re doing the best you can. 

Let’s value these people we share our lives and our hearts with. Let’s show them how much we value them. Anything less than that causes us to miss out on all the blessings of true relationship. 

As with all facets of your beautiful and unique life, let’s let love and grace and truth reign. 

31 Days of Learning to Simplify: Gift Giving

Prelude. So I started this post for Day 13 last night, but I got sucked into Dancing with Stars despite my efforts to resist it. Then, we rushed to the hospital to see my father-in-law who had complications after surgery. (Pray for him?) Now I am catching up on my #write31days challenge. Today I am discussing gift-giving and how this has changed for me over the years. I have simplified my process, and in doing that it actually creates less stress  and brings me MORE joy. 

Gift giving is something I have always loved, but I’ve gotten really excited about it over the past couple of years. I love that it’s now less of a stressor and more of a blessing, all because of the way I approach it. 

All year long, I keep a list of potential gift ideas for family and friends. If I come across a really great product or idea that I love I’ll jot it in my Notebook for later reference. If I’m able, I go ahead and purchase it so I’m prepared when the right occasion rolls around. 

In my extra bedroom I keep two large bins. One is just a regular storage bin for gifts I’ve collected, and the other is a large 3-drawer bin where I keep all my wrapping supplies:

Bin #1 { Supplies }
I keep recycled bags, of course. Duh. Who doesn’t. But every so often I also swing through the party aisle in…where else….Target and look for clearance gift supplies. I try to avoid “themed” bags and go with neutral ones instead so I have a more versatile collection to grab from. Another good idea is to keep an eye out for cheap boxes and baskets that may not necessarily be labeled for “gift giving.” I’ve found some great ones at Kirklands and Hobby Lobby. Just remember to keep this supply stash simple and don’t go overboard. You do not need to hoard gift wrapping supplies. 

Bin #2  { Gifts }
Have you ever been really proud of yourself for buying a gift in advance, until you can’t find where you stashed it? Super annoying, right? That’s why I started keeping everything in one place. I also plan to create an ongoing list for the bin so I’ll know what’s I have without having to rummage through it. 
I’ve found that buying as I go is far less stressful than waiting until right before someone’s birthday, or spending hours and hours shopping leading up to Christmastime.

Here’s how to be a thoughtful and prepared gift giver:
– When you buy something for yourself or your home that would make a great gift, go ahead and pick up extras to save for later. 
– If you see something that immediately brings a certain friend or family member to mind, go ahead and buy it to store away for later.  A good rule of thumb is to shop for the person rather than the occasion, that way you’re always keeping an eye out. 
– Shop clearance racks. I always check out the clearance sections in three specific stores: Target, Anthropologie, and Babies R Us. You never know what you might come across that would be a great housewarming or baby shower gift.
– Shop online! When you first receive a party invite, jump online and head to Amazon. They have everything and shipping is quick. 
– Sign up for a subscription box. You’ll receive several different items monthly that you can put away for gifting later. A great option for this is Fair Trade Friday or their Earring of the Month Club

I know sometimes we just get stumped on WHAT to give. We all have that one person who is hard to shop for, but I think it’s much simpler than we make it: pay attention and get creative. (Also, stalk their Pinterest boards! All kinds of clues on their current favorite things.)

My favorite kind of gifts to give:
– Books! Books! Books! There is a book for everyone on your gift list. Home design, recipes, memoirs, how to’s, coloring books, educational books, inspirational books. 
– Coffee + and coffee related items. I don’t think you can have too much/too many.
– Fair trade items – jewelry, shirts, bags. Check out Noonday or 31 Bits.
– Cozy blankets.
– A hand written letter of your favorite memories with that person.
– A small daily calendar with notes written in it. I did this years ago for my grandmother and she still has it. I wrote notes on significant days and then just randomly throughout for her to find as the year went on. 
– Tickets to an Experience (i.e., a photography or cooking class, concert tickets, a zoo pass, plays, comedy shows).
– Kitchen items: stackable mugs, a nice serving bowl, Anthropologie latte bowls, or really pretty hand towels. 
– A magazine subscription because they have them for every interest under the sun. 
– A favorite things gift (basket filled with their favorite snack, drink, and restaurant gift card, along with a promise to babysit if applicable)
– A special gift certificate to create a custom item, like to Better Life Bags

Challenge: create your own favorite gift list, as well as a place to store items you buy in advance. I promise you will be amazed at how much simpler and more enjoyable the gift-giving process can be. Also, if you have any go-to gifts, please let me know in the comments!

31 Days of Learning to Simplify: A Cohesive Home

My home decor style has come a long way since I was clicking away with the scanner in Bed, Bath, and Beyond when Brandon and I set up our wedding registry. I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

I was going from my parent’s home directly to my newlywed apartment, and I knew nothing about decorating a home. Like, zero. Each room was decorated individually with no thought about the rest of the house. 

Several years ago when I began reading blogs, I really gravitated towards home design blogs. My mom introduced me to Young House Love and I finally started to understand how to build a space from a design perspective. John and Sherry of YHL are not trained interior design professionals, so it helped me realize anyone can create a beautiful, unique space that tells the story of their family. I don’t claim to have a perfectly styled home (nowhere near), but it IS cohesive and (in the process of being) simplified. Each room “talks” to the other. I can easily move pillows, lamps, tables, blankets, mirrors, and other accent pieces from room to room and they would work well in another space. 

The element I use the most to create cohesion is color. I learned that I am drawn to happy colors balanced by neutrals. Specifically, I love a cooler palette, reminiscent of the sea: aqua, teal, mint green, sage green, and blue-grey. My favorite neutrals are light and dark grey, and the combo of black and white used sparingly. I also add in small pops of coral, peach, and yellow. Most of these colors show up in my accent pieces while my furniture basics are neutral. 

In a nutshell, here’s how having a cohesive home helps me simplify:
1) Shopping. I don’t ever have to wonder if something will work in my home – either it fits in the template or it doesn’t. I also buy less “filler” stuff – only things that really contribute to the overall feeling and style of my home. 
2) Rearranging. Like I mentioned earlier, I can move accent pieces throughout my home and they work well in all spaces. Myquillyn of the Nesting Place blog calls this “shopping your home” which helps me do less “shopping in Target” 🙂
3) Less stuff / Greater impact. I really want the common thread of my entire home to be simple and well thought-out. When you have less going on, each piece becomes very intentional. The Nester also talks about “quieting a space” before beginning to decorate a room. This is just taking a room down to the essentials so you can see what you already have and what you need to finish the space. By approaching the process this way, you tend to decorate with less items that make a bigger impact. (P.S., I really love her Cozy Minimalist e-course where she walks you through designing a space from beginning to end.)

Think about some ways you can begin to create common threads throughout your home. Can you “shop your home” in it’s current state? Or would the pieces from one room clash with another? Start with just one room and think about each element in the space. Decide which pieces are just fillers and which ones contribute to the room. 

I would love to hear how you are simplifying your home in the comments! I may even steal an idea or two because I am still learning in this area. 🙂

beloved weekly shares {39/52}

For the past couple of months, I’ve been sharing my weekly links on Sundays (for the most part.) If you’re quick, you’ll notice that a) it’s not Sunday, and b) the title for these has changed. Nonetheless, here are some favorite reads and posts from this past week! I especially love the very last one from Sarah Bessey. I just keep thinking about it, so definitely don’t skip that one. 

{ the small things blog }
I love this makeup look. Fresh, clean, simple. Also, how stunning is Kate Bryan? Love her. 

{ under the sycamore }
Are you a hummingbird or a buzzard? I know that sounds like a strange question, but just go with it. 

{ emily p freeman }
I just started this book, Simply Tuesday, by Emily Freeman. It’s an invitation to slow down and see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Really liking it so far.

{ one little momma }
Who knew clogs could be this cute? Are clogs back? Is this a thing? So many questions. 

{ sarah bessey }
How many of our stories do we censor so we don’t make others uncomfortable, or to make ourselves feel better? This is my top read for the week – don’t miss it!

As always, thanks for reading. I hope this week is on track to be a great one for you!

Also, I have to include a picture of Aven. If not I will receive a snarky text from my mom, and since she reads everything I write, I figure I owe her. Here ya go, mom. 🙂

This is Aven’s first hole-in-one. Little cheater.