Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Take a look

as seen on instagram and facebook, my favorite picture of the night. 11/2013
Let me begin by telling you all we had a fantastic weekend. It really was! Our colds are all finally just little annoying coughs here and there and despite Carl studying hard early in the morning and late into the night, we managed to have a huge birthday party on Saturday. I really wanted to throw a party for Carl as we both enjoy the company of good friends. There was a moment during the party that I was feeling doubtful of my decision to invite every young family I knew as 12 kids raced around our small quarters, weaving in between all the adults, but that moment faded as quickly as it came because this kind of chaos was good. Parties are supposed to be fun, loud, crazy. Everyone was fed and we all pigged out on a variety of cheeses, Spanish meats, cream puffs, Costco cake and vanilla ice cream. Good company, good food, what more could make a great party? It was a happy 31st birthday.

Thanksgiving is literally just a few days away. In all honesty, I am excited to have a low key holiday and staying at home. Carl only has a week or two left of class and they are of course filled with final exams and research papers. He's a stud. I don't think I could ever be a grad student. I'm not even sure I ever want to go back to school. HA. Between school and our busy month of December visiting family, a low-key Thanksgiving is just what we need. We are even considering starting a new tradition of seeing a movie in the theater the morning after Thanksgiving- Frost or Free Birds look like they could be really fun for the children.

- I'm considering using Prinstagram to print my instagram pics. Anyone use their service or similar?

- I am obsessed with old homes. I definitely have home-envy for Oh Happy Day's new home in San Francisco!

- This is kind of sweet, but also slightly creepy.. Not sure how I'd react to a grown man falling asleep on my shoulder.

- wow. an all-in-1 card! Very cool!

- tips for conversation starters or activities during Thanksgiving dinner if conversation is not your forte.

- Movember is coming to an end soon, here is the proper way to say goodbye to your mustache

- Ok, Rett&Link from youtube are hilarious. I am not a Breaking Bad fan (gasp!)- I watched the first 3 episodes and then read about the remaining seasons' plots on wikipedia- but this middle school musical version of the show cracked me up. Check out their other middle school musicals too!

As always, video overloads. Love them. Have a good week everyone and especially a wonderful Thanksgiving! We will be drinking lots of hot chocolate and watching movies together under fuzzy blankets here. We got a few inches of snow yesterday!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bucket List Series: #5

1. I want to have short, hot pink hair

2. I want to have a real deal white girl's african weave/braids

3. I want to speak Spanish fluently as a family

4. I want to live in an Airstream trailer

5. I want my family to live abroad.

By now, you've probably guessed that I have been bitten by quite the adventure bug (believe me, I have more goals for my hair...). Traveling is something that I have always wanted to do more of. It took a few years for me to realize after getting married and having a family that I would not be doing any major traveling for several years. It's just not the right time for us any more between school and gaining career experience. Some of you may scoff at me and say are you serious?? How many states have you lived in the past 5 years?? I know, I know, many. BUT in the past year or two, I have come across many families in the blogging world who have done exactly what I dream of: living in another country.

Ideally, I would love to live in Europe, such as Spain, for at least year. In that time, I would love for my family to gain experiences in different cultures and to tour surrounding countries. I love Joanna Goddard's Motherhood Around the World series from her blog A Cup of Jo. Here are my favorites:

11 surprising things about parenting in Northern Ireland

12 surprising things about parenting in Abu Dhabi

And some other inspirations:

Jordan from Oh Happy Day lived in Paris with her husband and two young children for a year

Gabrielle (one of my fave bloggers) from Design Mom lived in the countryside of France with her husband and family of SIX for 2+ years! Bonus: she's sisters with Jordan from the link above.

I think I could settle for yearly trips somewhere for several months at a time if that were an option- we really like the idea of doing medical service missions (providing primary care/immunizations to 3rd world countries), but at least once in this lifetime, I want to live somewhere with Carl and my children that is not part of North America for at least a year. What are some options we've considered to make this happen? Here are our top few:

- be amazing and come up with an sustainable online business that would provide the monthly income we need while not having to work in an office or in that country (unlikely at this time since i have no idea what this business would be. darn.)

- taking a year sabbatical leave after working for 10 years. But what other costs and investments will accrue at that time? Many. Still a possibility.

- pray that PAs will have more of an international role in the next 10 years. Nurses do I suppose, but the jobs are in high demand and there are many international laws that I would have to navigate through to be approved. This is why I like medical missions- all I need is an active license anywhere!

- join the military. I am actually serious about this one and it is an option that Carl and I have pondered and considered very much over the years. I promise to expound on this another day, but I will add that travel is truly one of the last reasons why Carl would join the military (Air Force as a #1 choice). My man has a bucket list of his own and I might just share this one as one of my goals :)

The hardest part of this bucket list item is that it tugs on my heart strings quite often. I feel joy and excitement as much as I feel conflict and concern. For a majority of my marriage and life with children, we have been away from family. School, work, school, life. We are comfortable in our circumstances and okay with the distance, but in these stages, I have almost always felt a bit temporary- as if we are always trying to head back west to our homes eventually. I love my families very much and it pains me to consider living so far away, not creating a situation where my children would be able to foster close relationships with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Nonetheless, I always have this special feeling that we will be happy no matter what we choose.

I promise you can visit and stay with us for free when we live somewhere in the world :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Take a look

glorious, glorious persimmon
No, that is not an orange tomato. It is a sweet and delicious persimmon! When I saw them at my favorite store, I willingly averted my eyes from the price tag and bought a case. No regrets as I've eaten about 2/3 of them. They are quite possibly my favorite fruit. They can be eaten a little soft or crunchy, similar to the way a good pear can taste amazing when it is crunchy or softer. Their taste- indescribable. Persimmons. Yum. Each time I bite into a freshly peeled one, I am reminded of my childhood- my mother would frequently peel a persimmon for me after school or as a post-dinner dessert. I have never eaten them any other way but fresh, so I'm not sure how I feel about jams and baked goods... go find a persimmon! (note: buy fuyu persimmons, not the pointy/diamond-like one- you will sorely regret eating the latter if it is not mushy and ripe!)

Aside from my persimmon love, I regret to inform you all that this household is still stricken with illness. Well, the children have improved significantly and only have a slight lingering cough. Carl still has a bothersome cough, but seems to be improving day by day, and I, well, I have bronchitis. BOO. hisssssss. My symptoms were all beginning to improve last wednesday and then I started to have nagging cough, then I worked and had a coughing spell and injured some rib muscles, which led me to go to an urgent care on Saturday to get a chest xray and pain relief, resulting in fresh prescriptions of albuterol, cherrytussin, prednisone, and zithromax and I am (hopefully) on my road to recovery. Thankfully, Carl was home to help this weekend and I did get to rest quite a bit. I will add that my cough sounds like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. *gollum*gollum*

Due to sickness, I have not been on the Internet much, so links are weak. Here are a few that I did come across and enjoy:

- trapped in ikea! funny prank :)

- too sweet- a toddler and his puppy sharing naps. can't wait to have a dog again someday!!

- dinosaurs come to life! Parents: WIN!

- curious about vaccinations for your children? This is good list with reliable resources regarding myths that haunt the parenting world. Community Immunity!

- fascinating picture series on fading secluded cultures/tribes around the world!

and finally with Thanksgiving around the corner,

- how to set up the kids table via DesignMom. We have an ongoing joke (but truth) in my family that my sister and I have never graduated from the kids table. Even my children join me at the kids table now.

Hoping everyone is healthy this week!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bucket List Series: #4

1. I want to have short, hot pink hair

2. I want to have a real deal white girl's african weave/braids

3. I want to speak Spanish fluently as a family

4. I want to live in an Airstream trailer

love. courtesy of http://o.homedsgn.com/

Carl and I would love to buy a large piece of property some day. We're talking several acres and then some. My hope is that we get to live in this camper (with our 2, maybe 3 kids by then) for a few years while we save up to build up our home. If we can't buy property, then I just want to live in it for a few years while we hunt for a home we want. I love the idea of small/simple living. We try to incorporate it in our home as much as we can, but it's hard when we started out with the love of lots of storage and places to hoard our memorabilia and tokens of our past and present. An Airstream trailer would be ultimate small living for me. Not familiar with small spaces? Check out this great video of a studio apartment in NYC.

Oh yes, I want this to be a project. I definitely don't want something moldy from the 70's:

Craigslist, you never fail at finding old and moldy.

Feeling inspired by these remodeled Airstream gems:

I'm not sure what draws me to an Airstream trailer specifically. Perhaps it reminds me of my love for vintage, perhaps the challenge of a good DIY project, I'm not sure, but I am fascinated by this little world of Airstream love and I want in! Plus, Carl's on board with my crazy ideas, so it'll be that much more fun :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Take a look

he ditched his gloves to touch the snow. 11/2013

We had our first snow of the season yesterday. The kids were pretty excited, we even had friends over visiting to share the excitement with! As soon as Vivienne laid down for her nap, Ezra and I snuck outside for a few minutes to play in the snow. Well, he mostly explored it and I watched guard over our apartment to make sure no crazies hacked their way into my home with a sleeping baby. Just kidding, it wasn't that intense. It was fun to see it snowing. The first snow of the season always feels like a visit from an old friend I haven't seen in ages- and then just like that, they over stay their welcome and I remember why they were an old friend after all. Here's to warm wishes all around and to enjoy the snow while we can!

- the BEST airlines safety video ever. Just makes me wanna dance!

- parents, car seat safety! Remove those puffy coats and place the chest buckle over the CHEST not the stomach! I am a little passionate about this subject...

- Eerie photographs of abandoned places that somehow turns out beautiful!

- portraits of mothers and their 1 day old babes. Makes me want another one!

- several artists realistically colorized photographs from pre-colored-photograph days and the results are breath-taking- as if the great depression or Hiroshima was just last week!

- The Invisible Helmet. I am proud of these WOMEN who created this and stood up for what they believed in!

- In honor of Veterans Day yesterday, check out this amazing transformation of a homeless veteran. Think of the possibilities and futures we can give to veterans!

- just in time for the holiday season, DIY gift paper!

I am still recovering from last week's illness that struck our home. It has been an awful cough that has lasted far longer than I anticipated. Yesterday was the first day I felt good finally. Not completely recovered, but I'm getting there. Hoping everyone has a good week!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bucket List Series: #3

I know you've been eager to see what other crazy things I want to do

1. I want to have short, hot pink hair

2. I want to have a real deal white girl's african weave/braids

3. I want to speak Spanish fluently as a family

Ok, this definitely isn't that crazy. I am so eager to learn more languages! I used to want to speak French fluently (and someday I will), but when I met Carl, the Spanish language was suddenly so much more romantic and meaningful to me. As many of you know, Carl lived in Spain for two years serving a mission for our church and speaks Spanish fluently (and the best sounding Spanish comes from Spain, might I add ;)

Fortunately, I've picked up enough Spanish to be about where I was at French. Huzzah! Unfortunately, it actually isn't very much. Bummer. BUT I am confident that we will all communicate in Spanish someday! One of the ways I'm hoping to encourage us all to practice more is to enroll Ezra into the Spanish-immersion school here when he starts K-4 in Fall 2014 (yikes, school already?? more on that in another post...). Side note: for those of you unfamiliar with K-4, as I was when I moved to Milwaukee, it is essentially pre-kindergarten/pre-school for four year olds. It is part of the public school systems, though many private schools have also included it in their schools as well.

Other ways I am practicing is using my Duolingo app on my iPhone. It is simple and frankly, quite awesome. If you don't have any Latin-based foreign language background, it may be a tad more challenging, but it is such a great review for me! I also try to talk to Carl using basic Spanish, such as que hora es? (what time is it) and Cómo se dice "[object]" en español? He tries to challenge me often and some days I respond well communicating as much as I can and other days I just say "I don't know what you're saying!! Yarg!!" Yes, yarg included.

Do you have any languages you are determined to learn? I must say, on top of Spanish, I want to learn Mandarin, French, and Sign. But baby steps and Spanish is priority :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Take a look

I love reading Wikipedia. I can sift through one page, click on another link on that page, and then another, and learn in about 30 minutes how Frida Kahlo became such a popular artist and had many affairs . True story. I did that Sunday night. Carl has had to drag me away from the computer or take my phone away from me before when I get too caught up reading. Especially the tragic stuff. Oh the tragic stuff. I can get caught up reading about little obscure wars I never heard of growing up for 1-2 hours. However, most of the time, I only spend 10 minutes or so "educating" myself. Yesterday, Google highlighted Shakuntala Devi, who was also known as the "human calculator." She was quite a phenomenal human and I cannot believe I never heard of her! I highly recommend this quick Wiki-read if you are interested in learning about a fascinating woman.

- One more Halloween recap: healthy candy. "I threw up" "You threw up, ok." SO FUNNY!

- I love this photo-illustration series

- Easy DIY polka-dot tights. Seriously, too easy- why have I never thought of this??

- a chart on winter. Ha! This is for Toronto, but for me, it applies to Milwaukee and Rexburg :)

- Heard of the facial growing frenzy this month, but don't know the difference between Movember and No-Shave November (there is a difference!)? Well this post clarifies fairly well! Carl is getting a little furry this month :)

- mystery flavored dum-dums REVEALED!!!

The awful cold seems to be finally leaving the Leder home. It just makes me want to stay indoors and ward off any visitors with garlic and crosses. Just kidding. We love company and the poor kids have been dying to interact with their friends. Here's to hoping for a healthy winter!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Belated Halloween Recap

I love how Vivienne is covered in chocolate. We weren't even at the party for more than 10 minutes yet.

That's right, we all had mullets. Awesome.

Thanks Robbins family for the great family picture!
Our family costume for our ward "carnival" came to me earlier in October as I was scouring Amazon for random things (I love amazon, ok?). Mullet wigs popped up on one of my "You may like these also:" links and I thought to myself, why yes, yes I do like that mullet. So I worked on getting mullets for all of us. Vivienne actually has a clip on hair piece in the back though you can't see it. So fun.

my little lion and bunny
As seen on Instagram, I did take the kids trick or treating. I didn't really want to explain mullets to strangers or perhaps they would assume my children just have crazy hair.. but either way, I threw together a quick simple costume with stuff we already had. Since it is so cold already (ok, 45 degrees is cold enough for kids at least), I only had to make sure they had something on their heads. We had to go to a neighboring city to trick or treat on the 31st, but it was fun and worth it to me. They loved saying trick or treat and ringing doorbells. I was impressed with the amount of candy they scored in just the 6-7 houses I took them to! We don't really keep candy in the house, so they basically inhaled as many suckers, kit kats, and crunch bars as they could. It was a holiday, right?! I personally scrubbed their teeth before bedtime :)

Is it ok that I'm too lazy to upload any more pictures off my camera? Ok thanks.

Halloween aside, Carl, Vivi, and I all have gross chest colds with accompanying hacking coughs. Yeah, gross. I am so ready to be done with this cold and it has only been a day! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy November!

Too bad we are all sick today! Except Ezra. I think he is enjoying the rest of us being miserable and letting him rule the home today. Toy time and movies. All day long.

Fortunately I was hardly sick this weekend. We went down to the 'burbs of Chicago to go to the temple and I also got a new tooth. Did I mention my aunt is a dentist? We also had to of course stop by Ikea to at least check out their "as-is" section. We scored some kiddy sheets for only $3 each! Sweet deal. We almost bought a display bunk bed for $99 but decided there would be too many dangerous situations at this time- Daredevil Vivienne climbs to the top, gets into position, and- oooohhhh...

It was a nice weekend, but now it's time to recover. It seems like Daylight Savings is every parents' worst nightmare. We seem to be the lucky ones because I think our kids have always slept in an "extra hour" waking up at their normal time. Last night, Carl and I even slept almost 12 hours! Unheard of! We were exhausted.

Anyway, here is a fun video:

And promise to update on halloween:

first, Ezra's face. second, this was not their costumes, but they look pretty cute with their sprecher bird hats!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bucket List Series: #2

continuing from last's week list, I present the number two:

1. I want to have short, hot pink hair

2. I want to have a real deal white girl's african weave/braids

I enjoyed this gal's guide to white girl braids
What is it with hair? I don't know. I suppose since I'll never have permanent tattoos or crazy ear piercings, I'll change the one thing that will always (hopefully) grow back: my hair. I had a gym teacher when I was in jr. high who had braids and they were cool. That point on, forever engraved in my brain, I needed to have braided hair some day.

Why haven't I done it? It's actually really expensive! And honestly, I have never been brave enough to walk into a salon that says "WE DO AFRICAN BRAIDING" because I don't want to be turned down and awkwardly walk away and cry that I can't cross this off my bucket list. Fortunately, this may be the Year of the Braid because I found a lovely lady in church who may be willing to put up with my crazy ideas.

Of course I had to come up with something for you to see what I would look like:

thanks to pixlr.com for their free online almost-photoshop program
Bet you didn't see that coming! I was even a little surprised at how well I was able to blend my white skin to african skin tones.

May this be the Year of the Braid!

and so that you can laugh your butt off, here's what the picture looked like before all the blending:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Take a look

anyone else dreaming of warm weather with the dropping temperatures? moab 10/2010

Working night shift was really rough when I worked 3-4 days a week. I could never really get out of my zombie mode when it was my day off and as soon as I caught up on half of my sleep, I was right back at it again. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have right now to be in a pool position where I only work two days a month on the weekend. It has been great. I miss the excitement and adrenaline rush of working in the ER regularly, but I feel like I have gotten to know my children more than I have before. For instance, I can now predict responses from both children, especially Ezra, about 99% of the time.

me "Do you want the rest of your cereal or keep playing with your toys?"

ezra "Keep playing."

me "ok."

-- wait for it... ("No! I want the rest of my cereal!") --

ezra "No! I want the rest of my cereal!"

me "it's still there."

every time.

I worked this past weekend and missed my mother-less family very much. Granted, Carl didn't really do anything exciting without me, but I still feel like I missed out. I also felt a little gypped while at work because I didn't get to do a single IV. Silly or disturbing? I do enjoy putting a sharp needle and sliding a catheter into someone's vein (mwahahaha). There just really wasn't any sick patients this weekend. Which is a good thing for the patients. Bonus: I am no longer a zombie regularly.

As usual, I came across many interesting things over the past week, here are some highlights:

- Not new for me, but probably my favorite DIY blog. John and Sherry are full-time DIYers/bloggers/parents. And they're funny! My creepy personality states that Sherry and I could be friends.

- #batdad!!! Ok, Bat Dad is actually on Vine, but here is his youtube page. He is hilarious. Carl and I get a good laugh at all of his little 8 second videos. Where was Vine when I lived near Kim and Steph?!

- who knew popcorn was not a popular idea when movie theaters started rising?!

- DIY cement candle holders! Not as challenging as it sounds.

- SO interesting to watch! Strangers posed and photographed together

- some day, I will have a bright, airy nursery. or just rooms.

- ahhh I remember wanting a Che Guevara shirt so bad in high school! Halloween inspiration?

- janae from Bring Joy imparts her wisdom from the 5th pregnancy. Seriously what I needed to read when I felt whelmed with the thought of ever having more than two kids. Guys, I'm a weenie when it comes to motherhood.

Have a wonderful rest of your week! Personally, I'm excited for you to learn about my next item on the bucket list :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review It! Honest 4 in 1 Laundry Pods

Have you heard of Honest.com? It is a green company started by celebrity Jessica Alba all about safe products for the home and for baby! I love many of their products and I hope to highlight several of them over the next few months. For starters, I signed up to be an Honest Ambassador and they sent me a package of their laundry soap to review! 
picture courtesy of honest.com

I like the 4 in 1 pods because

1) no measuring, just throw a pod in the washer and walk away (after fixing the rest of your laundry settings of course)
2) HE safe
3) Free & Clear- safe on sensitive skin AND I can use this with my cloth diaper laundry! 

Like other free and clear laundry detergent, there is no scent, so if you are expecting your laundry to smell of fresh flowers or a tropical paradise, you will smell... nothing. I do wish the soap had a little scent to it, but then it wouldn't be free and clear :)

I think the pods do an excellent job with my cloth diapers. All I do is throw one in the washer, and set my washer to do a pre-wash (warm/cold), and then a extra hot wash with an extra rinse in the end. The end result is a bunch of diapers smelling like nothing, which is what you want with cloth diapers! I've also used this with my load of whites and it does fairly well cleaning them. It does seem that if you have an extra large load, using two pods instead of one may be necessary. Overall, I am satisfied!

If you are interested in trying out other Honest products, I highly recommend the samples kits. You can sample diapers, wipes, the "essentials" which includes soaps and lotions, and I think you can even get a vitamin sample too! All you have to pay for is one shipping cost ($6-7) for all of these items! It's a great way to introduce to these sweet eco/baby friendly products. Click on the link below to begin your trial!
(if you want to, use me as a referral! traceyleder{at}gmail{dot}com!)

One more great thing about Honest Company is that there are no commitments! You just sign up for your bundles and if you don't want them, just postpone them until you do. Plus, if you are signed up for bundles that would cost $50 a month, you get free shipping even if you aren't buying $50 worth that month. Sweet deal!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bucket List Series: #1

I've always had a list (aka bucket list) of things I wanted to do through out my short life- some of these things have been on the list since I was a young teenager, others have developed as I've matured (HA! matured. riiiight.), but nonetheless, I have had an ever-growing list of things I want to do, so I thought it would be fun to do a weekly series where my list will grow each week as you learn more about me. The list is in no particular order, just ideas and plans I've collected. If you thought I was boring, well, I'm pretty sure this list will prove you wrong. If you have always thought I was adventurous, then I'm quite sure this list will prove me to be crazy. Enjoy!


1. I want to have short, hot pink hair 

Oh yes, it is true. This has been on the list since I watched one of those TLC makeover shows and the hair stylist had a blue pixie cut. I loved it when I was 14 and I still love it at 25. But in pink. Hot pink.

images found on google images:

It's not that I haven't been brave enough to do it, I just haven't found the right timing to have pink hair. I'm pretty sure my folks would have been quite upset if I did it in high school, I couldn't while attending college due to our school's policy, and I've always had assignments in my church where I am around younger children, such as now- I teach young girls churchy lessons. I certainly don't think it would be a bad example to have pink hair, but I also don't want to be the one imposing on other's parenting rules. 

How does it look? Windows Paint, you have never failed me in the last 15 years:


I'm not a particularly outspoken, wild person when you first meet me nor do I ever go full out cray-cray on many, but Carl will testify to you that my desire for pink hair is fitting. Excited to do this one day when I cut my hair short again!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Take a look

I don't know about you, but we have been increasing our consumption of cinnamon, apples, and pumpkin lately. It's awesome. I love this time of year for many reasons, but the treats are at the top of the list. Hope you all had a great weekend and start to your week!

- just in time for halloween, how to draw the best monsters!

- I love poetry slams. This one was particularly impressive because it is by a jewish teenager standing up against the world!

- speaking of poetry, this video came across my facebook newsfeed a few months ago and I LOVED it. Go breastfeeding support!

- I know I am overloading you with videos, but if you can only choose one right now, choose this one about breast cancer awareness. So beautiful, brave, and frightening all at once. FYI, October is breast cancer awareness month!

- There is science behind why Doritos Nacho Cheese chips are so addicting! And now I want some.

- Motivation to include yourself more often in your everyday photographs and family pictures!

- one more video. flash mobs that do beautiful musical performances always choke me up for some reason!

- You're a good mom. Do you tell other mom's that? I feel like I do, but obviously since I'm not confident in my answer, this post motivates me more to compliment other parents.

I have plans! plans! plans! (said very fast in a excited-Tracey manner) for upcoming blog posts! I love sharing little bits of our life with you all. Have good rest of your day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vivienne's 1st year book

I tried to embed Vivienne's baby book directly from Shutterfly, and it was acting wonky.. so hopefully it works! I made one for Ezra when he was 3 months old- it's taken awhile to get around to Vivienne's... but on the upside, I had a LOT more pictures to choose from! I love Shutterfly and all their freebie promos! Thanks to my mother who sent me a code for a free 8x8 photo book!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Boy

my two favorite pictures: 6 days old and just a few months under 3 years old

Ezra Wallace.

He is 3 years and 3 months old.

My boy.

It baffles me to think that it has only been a little over 3 years ago when Ezra came screaming into the world (click here for my recollection of his birth. It was pretty intense at the time and still scares me some days recalling those memories...). He was so tiny and adorable. And very chubby eventually. He was such a good-tempered, calm baby.
he's our little water dog. We need to visit our Florida family soon because this poor kid has been begging to go to the beach!
And then he grew and he grew, and developed the best personality ever. I love his imagination and creativity. And his memory! The other day, I was watching this awesome video of The Piano Guys (piano and cello duo) playing their amazing music on the Great Wall of China (please let me go there someday, please, please, please!) and without mentioning it to Ezra, he looked up at me and asked if I was watching Kung Fu Panda, which was what they were playing! It has been months since we watched that and I'm pretty sure I've watched it more than he has and could not recognize that song right off.

Each week I have to clear photos on my phone, but I tend to do screen shots so I won't forget my goofy boy's faces
He had a word explosion right before he turned 3. Suddenly he went from a few short sentences and a few handfuls of words to complex question and LOTS of opinions. It is so fun to talk to him. He will talk your ear off if you let him, but he will mostly be happy if you pretend to go on jungle adventures with him or play hide and go seek (which he is terrible at because he always says "I'm here!!" when I say "hmm, where could Ezra be?" Ha. love it!).

I thought my most trying time as parent was tackling potty training. You must think I'm silly, but it was awful for me. I started trying when he turned 2 and then kept postponing every few weeks because he just wasn't "getting" it. If there's one thing I learned from this whole experience, it's that what "they" say is true: "if they're not ready, they are not ready." There is no magical age when each child is ready to be potty trained, but for Ezra, turning 3 and waiting 2 months seemed to do the trick. He's great at telling me when he needs to go now and we "run! run! run!" as quickly as we can no matter where we are at to make it to the potty. I'm so proud of him and SO glad that the accidents are rare these days. In just a few weeks, it'll be Vivienne's turn because she loves the potty!
big fan of the birds- tattoos, outfit (courtesy of Shnooks) and of course an angry bird birthday cake. The things we do for love :)

At this very moment, Ezra's favorites are:
- shows: Go, Diego, Go! and Dora the Explorer

- food: apples, bananas, grapes, dried apricots, pizza, and gummies. Though I must add that he is no longer the picky eater he once was. He'll eat just about anything if we tell him he needs to finish it (which makes meal time so much easier these days). He has to at least take one bite of a new food.

- activities: building block towers and "crashing" them, playing hide and go seek, exploring outside and collecting sticks and jumping in puddles, stealing dad's iPad to "crash" the angry birds or catch the bad guys (clash of the clans. nerrrrrd), pretending to be a robot, Diego, or a monster, and adding "Bobby" to the end of everyone's name (Ex. mommy-bobby, daddy-bobby, grandpa-bobby, etc.) Cracks me up every time!

love me some toddler selfies, especially the kissy-kissy lips!

He says the sweetest things.

me "I love you, Ezra"
ezra "I love you mooooore, Mommy."

and lately,

"I love my body! I love my body! I love your body too, mom. You too, Vivi"

"I really like your hair, mommy" (usually this is when it's a curly hot mess)

so sweet with his pancake; not so sweet dumping green food coloring all over himself and the couch.

Some days it can be the great battle of Mommy vs. Ezra, but I love him to pieces and love how much he's grown. Despite me missing his baby stage, I am thoroughly enjoying having him grow up. I look forward to the years to come and to see his already huge and inviting personality to just shine. I love thinking about the relationship he and Carl have and how much he will learn and absorb from Carl- fixing cars, building our home, learning about electricity and why the heart beats the way it does. I love that he and Vivienne play together so well and that he's learning to protect her and take her hand when necessary. He is such a good brother.

Ezra, you mean the world to us and we love you to the moon and back and more!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Take a look

from fall 2012. Loving the color change wisconsin receives each year. love.

You guys, I have been loving the time I've taken to blog lately. It has been an outlet for me, a stress-reliever really. I have always enjoyed writing. I love blogging for the opportunity to turn conversations into posts. My posts run through my mind like a river of words and feelings I feel each day. Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope it makes you feel more connected to my family and I as we are out here alone and away from our closest friends and immediate family. We are so grateful for the new friends and family who have adopted us and extended their friendships to us.

You may have noticed that I have been writing a "take a look" post almost weekly. Yes, it's my plan. Almost every week, I come across something funny, weird, intriguing, and/or gives-me-the-warm-fuzzies. I tend to just bookmark them "for later" and forget I ever saw them. So I hope to share my finds every Tuesday.

- ah I can waste so much time on Buzzfeed some days, but this is a quick laugh about how weird it'd be if guys did girl things

- Apartment Therapy always has the best tours like this cute Scandinavian-inspired nursery

- I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this astronaut mama!

- I'm in love with this wire art

- In the spirit of Fall, here are some non-Halloween ideas for decorating with pumpkins

- Angela from Oh She Glows never fails with her vegan recipes- this pumpkin butter is no exception! We've eaten in on bread and waffles so far. And licked our knives and spoons clean each time.

- How easy and adorable are these finger print pillows?? Adding to my already-ginormous project list!

- I always love a good satire post. To clear the air, I support taking care of your babies to the best of your abilities!

- I get a lot of questions about cloth diapering. I have some old posts here and here that will give you a general intro into costs and my reasons for trying to cloth diaper primarily.

Have a wonderful day :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fruit fly death trap

Morbid, I know. But the title says it all.

Ever bring home a box of ripe apples, peaches, mangoes, pears, oh wait- any fruit- and then only to have a swarm of fruit flies floating around your kitchen for days and days and days until all your fruit is gone? Yes, we have all been there and it is disgusting. And really quite annoying to be clapping every few minutes while near the kitchen.

"Hey! How's it *clap* going? Sorry, there's just a *clap* million fruit flies everywhere. *clap*clap* Wait, I think I got him! Oh, no, there he goes."

Fortunately, there is a semi-cure to all your fruit fly woes. It's nothing special or new and yet I find myself telling people this trick all the time. Here it is, The Death Trap:

have a sweet drink, my little flies...
***I changed the amount of apple cider/water ratio- more apple cider makes a more potent drink***

1. Squeeze a little dish soap in a jar

2. Turn on the water and quickly fill the jar halfway 1/3 full so that you get a nice frothy bubbly top

3. Fill the jar with equal 2/3 parts of apple cider vinegar. It must be apple cider vinegar (I've tried other vinegars and they are a no-go)

4. Leave the jar near your largest fruit fly population and cackle softly as they accumulate. 

This is good for about a day and then you should change out the concoction. 

Washing your fruit when you bring it home will definitely reduce fruit fly issues, but here's your go-to for when you forget (who has time to wash 10 lbs of fruit a few times a week?! Ok, maybe I'm just lazy).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Girl.

always so full of curiosity. 9/2013

I have been wanting to take the time to highlight my children. This blog, after all, is mostly for my dear family and friends to stay connected to us while we are living a few time zones apart.

Vivienne Chan is the most beautiful, adorable, loving, sassiest, and fearless little girl you will ever meet. She surprises us daily and is such a comedian.

At 18 months, she has an unbelievable vocabulary. She will repeat everything- our little parrot as we call her. As of her 18 month appointment a few weeks ago, she astonished us and the pediatrician when we counted 50+ words she uses daily. Vivi (her nickname) will acknowledge what you say by saying things like "hmm?" or "mm-hmm." I think it makes her seem more advanced than she really is since you could say "do you like it when it rains pistachio pudding?" and she'll reply with her brows raised "mm-hmm." But it's still adorable, nonetheless.

She loves her brother more than us I think. She loves to follow Ezra, bring him his toys and shoes, and is always looking for him if he's not next to her. Of course, like any sibling (and toddler) she enjoys picking on him and biting his arm or back when she doesn't get her way. Ouch. Sassy. Ezra says "Vivvvv" in an exasperated tone frequently when she picks off his plate or dumps her bowl raisins on the ground. It is hilarious. I can picture him saying it through the years, especially as a tween.

Vivienne has been growing steadily and is in the 30th percentile in weight and 20 something percentile in height. She does have an umbilical hernia since her birth and at her last appointment, the pediatrician identified a heart murmur. Nothing of concern yet, just keeping an eye on both until her 2 year appointment. I'm always happy to hear my children are overall healthy.

She has been getting cute little curls in her hair like Ezra did at her age. Love those sweet little curls. I'm loving the fact that she will wear little colored rubber bands or clips in her hair now too! She also still has that darling dimple on her left cheek. I love that dimple. I love seeing her develop from infancy to toddlerhood. She has always had this sneaky little smile since she was 6 or 7 months old where she scrunched her nose when she giggled and laughed. She still does it now and will also glare when angry or pucker her lips like I do when we feel slightly disappointed or unsure of a situation.

I love my little mini-me!

taking a drink, 9/2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Traveling with Toddlers

some of you may have seen my exhaustion on instagram the day I traveled. 9/2013
Ok, I admit, that is a little dramatic. It was hard. As noted in my previous post, Carl is in school so I was left to lead the crew on a 10 day escapade to the golden land of California. Ezra was a little over 3 and Vivienne was 17 months. My flight was direct from Milwaukee to San Francisco (4 hours) and due to schedule circumstances, I was at the airport for 3 hours before boarding.

MKE play area. Another independent mother there quoted it as a "God-send." Ditto. 
We are fairly seasoned travelers for a family of four, though I've never traveled alone with two toddlers. There were moments where I felt triumphant, "I am woman, hear me roar"-esque and moments where I looked at strangers pleadingly with a twitching eye, silently begging for a hand, but in the end, we all survived. Here are my thoughts and "advice:"

1) check in everything except a back pack for yourself, which will hold necessities for the day- snacks, diapers, change of clothes, liquids in ziplock quart bag, etc and of course keep your stroller to check in at the gate! I used a double stroller, but Ezra would walk part of the time. I recommend a stroller that is easy to maneuver and fold and unfold quickly. I like using a back pack because it won't fall off your shoulders when snatching up your children as they run away quickly. It was nice to only have my backpack and a reusable grocery bag (kept in the stroller basket) which would hold Ezra's backpack when he was tired of carrying it, jackets, and a few toys. I could easily hold Vivienne at the gate or on the plane and I've taught Ezra to hold my shirt or bag when needed to stay close.

2) put your phone away and watch those kids! No time for texting or social media, make sure they are always in sight! While waiting for our flight, MKE fortunately has a play area that covered 2 hours of our time until a kid sat on Ezra and he wanted to leave. I don't blame him. We then waited for our flight next to our gate after checking in the stroller. I think this was the hardest part of the trip. The kids had a huge terminal to explore and their favorite things to do were go opposite directions, behind the chairs and on the ledge near windows. I really did not enjoy running behind other passengers and I really did not enjoy apologizing to the passengers whose heads were rubbed by my kids. Toddlers are not built to sit in one place for a long time- which brings me to my next point:

3) bring tasty distractions, a LOT of them, especially if they are your toddlers' favorites. I brought a huge bag of tricks- basically, I went to the dollar store and spent $10 on coloring books, dry erase boards, little toys and some jelly beans. Turns out the only thing my kids wanted were the jelly beans. Fortunately for my kids, I also brought a huge amount of snacks: applesauce packets (lifesavers, plus they are omitted in the less-than-4-oz rule since it's "baby food"), bags of grapes, raisins, goldfish, veggie straws and two empty sippy cups to be filled with 50/50 apple juice/water on board.

4) in regards to toys, I let my son bring two race cars and my daughter her baby doll. I also had my "bag of tricks" that I surprised them with at the airport. I had my phone which I loaded a movie and some TV shows on there before leaving the house. Tough item for the kids to share, but I basically let Ezra watch an unlimited amount of shows until he was bored with it. If I could have one extremely distracted toddler, it would make it much easier to watch the younger, not-so-easily distracted one. I just cycled through the toys and activities I brought until we would eat or arrive at our destination.

5) expect tantrums. They are toddlers! Ezra had 1-2 tantrums when Vivienne tried to take the toys he was playing with and Vivienne, well, Vivienne had many, many tantrums for many, many different reasons. I prefer my kids to be a little sleep-deprived on the plane ride so that they usually take a nap each, but that has its consequences- every parent knows tired children are a recipe for disaster(s). I just held my chin up and ignored the many stares I got when either of my kids freaked- whatever, we were all children at one point, right?

It's hard, but it doesn't have to be terrible. I had to get used to not having my man around to share the load- no time to read my book, play a game on my phone, browse the on-flight catalog of junk to buy, or even talk to other passengers. It was straight business (of the parent variety), but it was survivable and you know what? I'd do it again. Parents, have you found the golden "thing" that eases your travel worries? I'd love to hear anyone else's experiences!

passed out coming home to WI

FYI, my travel outfit:

chambray shirt, black leggings, strappy sandals easy to take on and off through security

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Take a look

nature never fails to amaze me with her beauty that surrounds me everyday. Fremont, California 9/2013
I had a wonderful weekend, full of inspiration, time well spent with my family, and even a few organizing and crafting projects! My favorite stumble-upon's from the previous week:

- ever had a creepy bug catch you by surprise while driving?

- speaking of bugs, I just about died laughing watching this frog. Thanks, Calvin and Brenda, for the share on Facebook!

- we took off the doors of two of our closets when we moved to our new apartment and have been trying to decide how to utilize a curtain to cover up the closet. I like this lady's closet upgrade.

- thank you, The Blog Guidebook, for the cute social media buttons on the top right corner!

- wonder how I edit my pictures? well, we're not at the point of investing in Adobe, but for now, Fotor is doing a fairly decent job.

- my go-to for homemade laundry detergent. I just made a second batch this last weekend- the first one lasted 9 months for our family of 4!

- lastly, did you catch the LDS Church's Conference this past weekend? I highly recommend listening to a talk. Not sure where to begin? Try Dieter F. Uchtdorf's from Saturday morning's session. INSPIRED.

My post regarding traveling with the children is in the works and will be posted this week! Until then, check out this cool app for refreshing your foreign language skills! Or learn a new language!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Westward Ho! Again.

I have been loving this weekend! The LDS Church holds two conferences every six months and this is THE weekend. If you have the chance and would like to listen/watch some uplifting talks, well, check it out!

Back to the original post,

Two weeks after leaving Oregon, the children and I came to California for 10 days. You may be wondering why Carl did not accompany me on this trek. Well, it was not by choice, but since he is an over-time student (get it? he eats, breaths, lives in PA school thus making him greater than full-time), he was unable to join. I will save the traveling-with-toddlers for my next post as it was an interesting experience...

I came to California was because it was Grandpa Lockwood's 90th birthday! Grandpa is a wonderful man. He grew up during the Great Depression, is a WWII veteran, has an amazing memory, and I always loved hearing him tell me about his life. While he tells a story about his life, it is so simply stated and yet so full of detail. It was so wonderful to come celebrate in person for this huge milestone! I also loved visiting with my dear one and only sister, my brother in law, my parents of course, and my sister from anotha' mister, Steph. Good times, everyone, good times.

visiting a nearby park
down, down, down
top: grandpa (dad) trying to show ezra some tricks. Good effort! bottom: father and son

bonding with grandchildren
chaotically trying to take a picture of grandpa and the great grand babies. note: my dad's furry arm. also note: shnooks, I'm sorry your eye has a weird shadow over it.
Somehow I managed to take more pictures of Vivienne. Oh well, it evens out the previous 2 years before Vivi was born ;)

And now for some eye candy:
the new bay bridge, SF

capturing the beauty of my mom's exotic garden she takes such good care of

And how could I resist snapping a picture of dumb things teenagers vandalize and say?

California, you will always have my heart.