The Importance Of Date Nights

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Photo Credit: Paperfish Studios

This past weekend I found myself sitting in a dimly lit restaurant at a table for two with my husband. No kids, no distractions, just us. We enjoyed a meal that didn’t involve sticky hands, children climbing out of their chair, or racing to see if we could break our record in speed eating. We were able to sit, eat at our own pace and talk. Neil and I are lucky that talking is one of the strengths in our relationship but it isn’t until you sit down alone without the chance of distractions that you realize just how much more you have to talk about and sometimes the serious things you don’t get to talk about when your sweet littles are around. And that right there is one of the biggest reasons I think date nights are important. It’s important to be able to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly because that is what helps to make a relationship strong.

I’m not saying date nights are meant for serious convos only, it’s one of the components. The other is to have fun and remember why you got together in the first place. Taking time to nurture your relationship is important not just for the two of you but also for your little(s) because you are setting the example. If you show love and compassion and connection that only helps to teach your children those attributes.

Honestly, most weeks you can find Neil and I on the couch with our laptops, phones or tablets. We’ll check-in with each other but most of our focus is on other things or on a show that we are watching. For a while we tried to do at home date nights and we still do on occasion but the issue there is that kids often need tending to, our laptops are just a reach away and there are only so many things you can do before it starts to get repetitive and you stop having regular date nights at home or they turn into eating dinner on the couch and watching a movie which you probably would have done without the title of “datenight“.

So, now it’s time to get off the couch, get a sitter and get out for a date night. It actually took us until this Fall to really adopt this practice. Even then it was just once  per month until we realized that we needed at least two date nights a month. I honestly wish we could do one most weeks but when family lives across the country and a sitter costs $15/hour it ends up being a bit out of the budget to do more than two dates a month. Considering we only had a total of maybe 10-12 date nights and one night away from August 2012-August 2015 having two date nights a month is amazing

So, all this being said, I want you to dedicate yourself to finding a sitter and getting out at least twice a month for a special date with your partner. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner it could simply be coffee and a walk through your town/city. Do something that is just for you two that gives you an opportunity to connect, to talk and to re-kindle that love for each other.

 

joy, tears, heartache and a whole lot of love. | life after a misscarriage

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The past few weeks around our house have been filled with joy, tears, heartache and a whole lot of love. Two weeks ago we were in a car accident that while only inflicted minor physical damage resulted in minor injury and discomfort for the littles and myself. After the accident both littles experienced a few nights of terrible sleep, misalignment, discomfort and a whole lot more mama and dada snuggles. Luckily we are all on the up swing and the kids love their new carseats.

While the accident was a terrible event, little did we know that it wouldn’t be the end of hardships for us this month. I guess I should rewind a bit to a few days before the accident. We found out that we were expecting baby number three. A very exciting development that we were so looking forward to sharing but as life goes not everything works out. At least not at first. On the 23rd of December I started spotting and while I had no cramping or other signs of miscarriage I just knew. By the evening of the 24th I was bleeding more heavily and my midwife (who was heading out of town for the holiday) suggested that I go to the ER to get checked out. We were fortunate that our amazing friends were able to take Edith and Alder at the very last minute and Neil and I headed to the ER to inevitably find out exactly what we already knew.

After several hours spent in the ER it was confirmed that I indeed did miscarry at six and a half weeks. As we know all too well, nothing could have prevented this miscarriage. It was likely a chemical pregnancy and therefore the accident wouldn’t have been the cause. Nonetheless, it was still shocking and saddening.

So as you might already assume these last few weeks have been challenging for all of us. There is little time to grieve when you have two beautiful babes longing for your attention. There is also a part of Neil and I who are ready to just move on and try again. Because, as you might be wondering, this third baby is one we planned. One we want so badly to add to our little family and one that we hope will join us in the next year or so. So while there have been lots of tears and heartache this month we are looking forward to the start of the new year and the exciting adventures in expanding our family.

[Travel Oregon] Christmas In The Garden at Oregon Garden Resort

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We recently had the opportunity to stay at the Oregon Garden Resort and to visit their Christmas In The Garden. We had attended the Christmas In The Garden last year but we didn’t get to really visit the garden or the resort so we we were thrilled to have the opportunity to do both. Luckily this year besides being a bit chilly we lucked out and had no rain.

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Now Christmas In The Garden is a yearly event that happens at the Oregon Gardens. It features a traditional German Christmas Market and has a beautiful display of lights through the forest. This year they even had an ice skating rink that we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit but it looked really fun. 2015_11_29_OregonGarden-26

We arrived in the afternoon, checked into our room and had a snack before heading down to Christmas in The Garden. It was so nice to be able to just head straight from our room and walk over through the garden. Such a beautiful spot and I imagine even more beautiful in the Spring when everything is in bloom.
2015_11_29_OregonGarden-21These guys got right into the spirit and jumped into the sleigh to pretend they were off on a ride through the snow.

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Throughout the forest there are these little spots to stop and sit by the fire. Its so pretty and such a nice spot to warm up unless you have little ones who find the fire amazing and want to try and touch it. Maybe another year we will be able to enjoy these fun little spots.

2015_11_29_OregonGarden-3For my fellow Elf lovers you’ll love this light display as well. One of my favorite scenes in the movie.

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We were visiting on a Sunday so things seemed a little bit quite. I remember that last year their was live music and the garden was bustling and there were also a few more children’s activities such as face painting which we were sadly informed doesn’t happen on Sundays. Anyways we walked around checking out all the light displays, stopped for some chocolate, popcorn and a beer before taking our two exhausted little ones back to our room where we turned on the fire place, enjoyed some snacks and watched a Christmas movie.

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Overall we had a nice visit to the Oregon Garden Resort and Christmas in The Garden. The kids loved all the lights and walking through the forest at night. The accommodations at the resort were very nice and I loved that we had a little balcony off the back of our room that over looked the garden. We didn’t get to take advantage of the hot tub or the spa but I’m sure they are nice. The only thing I would suggest if you do plan to visit the resort is that you look at the suggestions for places to eat in the area or take advantage of the mini-fridge and microwave in your room. 2015_11_29_oregongarden-bed

We want to thank the Oregon Garden Resort for allowing us to stay with them and to visit the Christmas in The Garden this year. We look forward to visiting again in the Spring to see all of the beautiful greenery and flowers in bloom.

 

Christmas in the Garden will take place through Jan. 3 (excluding Dec. 24 and Dec. 25). Event hours and activities vary by date; for a complete breakdown, visit www.oregongarden.org/events/christmas-in-the-garden.

The Oregon Garden Resort is also hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31 with live music in its Fireside Lounge. If you’re interested they have a family package includes admission to the outdoor ice-skating rink and Christmas in The Garden, a s’mores kits to enjoy by fire pits, a bottle of sparkling cider and party favors.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Preschooler | Wear, Want, Read, Create

I’ll start of this post by saying that this post is in no way sponsored. I have not teamed up with any of these brands they are simply ones that I really like and want to share with you. Most these items are ones that have ended up on a wishlist for my kids are one time or another or are items they have or will be getting this holiday season. I also wanted to keep costs low so all of these items are $30 or less. Enjoy!

WEAR

Kids Backpack. | Dolly Wrap. |  Reindeer Shirt.

Doctor Costume. | Pom Hat.

gift ideas
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7 Tips to Survive Solo Parenting

Neil was recently out of town for four entire days which meant four days on my own with two littles. That’s 4 full days including 4 bedtimes and by the end of day 4 I was exhausted. I have come to realize 3 nights is my max before I start to go a little batty. I also learned the following ways to make 4 days of solo parenting work.

1. Get out of the house. It’s so easy to stay cooped up inside but the reality is just get out it will make all of you feel better.

2. Dance. When all else fails have a dance party or simply lay on the floor and let your kids crawl on you because that seems to entertain them just as much.

3. Take advantage of take out. give yourself a break and order some takeout, eat out of the cartons and make sure they bring plastic cutlery so you aren’t left doing any extra dishes.*

4. Delivery. in addition to taking advantage of takeout have someone else deliver your groceries. **

5. Bathtime. If your littles are cranky give them a bath – baths seem to make everyone happy.

6. Outsource. Skype the grandparents or parent who is out of town. that’s easily 20-40 minutes of entertainment and if it’s the grandparents you can do something else while your kids throw coconut chips as confetti.

7. Playdates. Let your kid(s) enjoy some friend time and you enjoy some adult conversation.

Does your significant other travel? What do you do to make it more manageable? 

* [I used Postmates Delivery – get a $10 delivery credit on your first order with code: 3kih]

**[I used Instacart – get $10 off your first order with code: LINGALLS21]

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Toddler | Wear, Want, Read, Create

I’ll start of this post by saying that this post is in no way sponsored. I have not teamed up with any of these brands they are simply ones that I really like and want to share with you. Most these items are ones that have ended up on a wishlist for my kids are one time or another or are items they have or will be getting this holiday season. I also wanted to keep costs low so all of these items are under $30 and most $20 or less. Enjoy!

WEAR

Mittens. I recently found these at one of our local kids boutiques and I thought they were great for little hands. They have a velcro clasp around the wrist that helps to keep them on little hands.
Beanie. This beanie is so cute and it apparently can work for anyone in the family. I was just thinking how cute this would look on Alder and maybe a matching one for Neil.
PJs. These are essential because these little ones of ours seem to always be growing out of pajamas. Plus they are cute and relatively inexpensive.
Bike Tee. NewDuds is a Vermont based Etsy shop who makes amazing shirts, prints, scarves and more. We have a full stock of Burlington Vermont shirts from them and when I was perusing their shop the other day I came across this bike tee and fell in love. If you follow our Instagram you know how much Alder loves bikes so this was the perfect gift for his “wear” item.
Zara Leggings. I love Zara clothes for kids. I especially love their little boy leggings because they just fit so well. I just purchased these cute mountain leggings in my last Zara haul and they are so cute on. Just one thing to note Zara runs a bit on the big side. Alder just grew out of this 6-9 month pants and the 12-18m I purchased him are a little on the very big side.

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 Stacking cupsWe have at least 3 sets of stacking cups in various shapes and sizes because they are one of the most played with toys that we own. You little can do so much with them from stacking, using in the sand or in the bath, pretending they are cups or bowls or filling with various things.
Rainbow nesting bowls.  Okay so these are similar to the stacking ups but I feel like they are just a bit cooler and that they will really grow with your little one. As a tot they will use them to stack and fill with things and as they grow they turn into bowls for a play restaurant.
Toy Camera. I don’t know why but we seem to collect play cameras. We have ones that have little images in the view finder, another where the view finder is a prisim and just a plain ol’play camera. Anyway you look at it the kids love them.
Shape Sorter. These are so much fun and are a toy that is also a great learning tool. It teaches your child to match shapes, problem solve and because these ones are filled with little balls they also can be used as shakers!
Rocket Puzzle. Okay I picked this one because I want it. How cool is this little rocket? It’s also a puzzle- how fun is that?
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Giraffes Can’t Dance. This is one of our favorite books because it has a good message, is fun to read and is filled with animals.
Trucks Go. Steve Light has so many great books about various things that go. This is perfect for little ones who like things that go and it’s perfect for short attention spans.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? We have the board book version and the full size book. We love it because it’s so interactive.
Time For Bed. This book is new to our reading rotation but we have already fallen in love. It is such a sweet story about going to bed. It features all kinds of animals going to bed and at the end a little one going to bed as well. Very relaxing.
My Friends. We have been reading this to Edith since she was about a year old and she still loves it. These days she reads it from memory because we have read it so much. It’s a sweet story that connects people with all of their animal friends.
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Paints. I know paints are messy but take a deep breath, strip your little one down to their diaper and let them get messy. These paints are also these paints are all natural and non-toxic so no worries if you little one still likes to test things out in their mouth.
Jumbo Crayons. I reluctantly add these two the list because Alder likes to draw on everything. I can’t avoid it though with an art obsessed three year old and a little brother who wants to do everything she is doing.
Paint With Water. These are great for those looking for a fun art activity with little mess. All you need is a paint brush and water.
Art Kit. I can’t speak personally to this art kit but it gets good reviews and it looks like it would be really fun.
Musical Instruments. I know that the banging and chiming of things isn’t every parents dream but they are so much a wonderful way for littles to create music and have fun.

What is on your tots wish list? 

Busy Mom Snacks Featuring LARABAR

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This post is sponsored LARABAR.

Playdates, nature walks, gymnastics class, swimming lessons the list can go on and on. What can I say being a parent of two little ones keeps me busy. Often I find myself “forgetting to eat” and trying to fit in bites of a meal when I can and sometimes the only really substantial meal I get in the day is when we all sit down to eat dinner together. But, mama needs her fuel. So, to keep me going during the day I rely on quick and healthy snacks to provide me with the boost of energy I need.

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Instead of turning to crackers, cookies and other less than healthy snacks I try to eat as clean as possible. I prefer my foods vegan and I avoid foods with artificial ingredients, added sugars and colorings. For me the easiest snacks are fresh fruit, pre-cut veggies, nuts and seeds and my favorite snack – LARABARs. LARABARs taste great, are an easy and healthy vegan option and I love that they are free of added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. LARABARs are also gluten-free and kosher and are non-GMO!

LARABARs are easy to throw in my purse or diaper bag and I also keep them in a basket on our snack shelf. They are a super easy and delicious snack I can just grab and eat while I wrangle children or snack on when we are out having fun together. I even enjoy them for breakfast on the go sometimes with a cup of coffee and a banana.

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I have been eating LARABARs since long before I had kids because kids or no kids LARABARs are great for those on the go. They taste great, are an easy and healthy vegan option and I love that they are free of added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. I remember the days when they only had apple pie, cherry pie and lemon bar. Now with such a wide selection of flavors, my gotos are cashew cookie and pecan pie. Although, lately I have been stocking up on the seasonal snickerdoodle flavor. I’m sad it’s only seasonal. I’m also looking forward to trying the seasonal gingerbread LARABAR because that sounds like perfect fit for holiday snacks and our littles ones’ stockings

What are your favorite healthy portable snacks? Do you or your kids have a favorite LARABAR flavor? We love to grab a few LARABARs, a few bananas or tangerines and a chia squeeze packet whenever we head out for a playdate, nature walk or class.

LARABAR_logo[1]At LARABAR®, we believe that the foundation of a sound mind, body and spirit is derived from what you eat – and what you eat is most delicious and satisfying when it’s in a whole, natural state.

Yes, Stranger. I Do Have My Hands Full

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I don’t know what is is about pregnancy and parenthood that makes people feel like they need to constantly make unsolicited comments. Unless you have something nice and positive to say don’t say anything at all. I don’t want to hear it and honestly I probably already have.

I swear to you, every single time I go out I hear “You Sure Have Your Hands Full”. This started when I was pregnant with Alder and has continued ever since. I’m just tired of it. While I know that some people don’t mean anything by it, I still don’t want to hear it just the same. To me, it’s an obvious statement and  it’s a judgement on my parenting and my kids. While this may sound overly sensitive I am not going to apologize for how I feel. Anyway you look at it I find the statement to be a less than a positive one.

That being said here are some wonderful alternatives that you can (or do) say instead of making that cliched statement ….

You’re doing great. This is a much more welcomed comment and sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder that I am doing my best and that’s good enough even if it is from a random stranger.

A Thumbs Up. Again, this is a nice gesture of acknowledgement and gives you those warm fuzzy feelings. Especially appreciated when you have one kid that you’re desperately trying to calm while trying to keep an eye on the other.

A Smile. This is my favorite one. I mean really, you can never go wrong with a simple and warm smile.

A Helping Hand. Rather than pointing out that I have my hands full stop and actually help. Open a door, pick something up that I or one of my littles has dropped, move something out of the way for me so I can pass by more easily or whatever else might seem to be helpful at that moment in time.

Don’t say anything at all. I think people forget they don’t have to say anything at all.

Rather than pointing out the obvious do or say something that spreads a more positive vibe.

Oh and for those of you who, like me, don’t love the “You Sure Have Your Hands Full” comment you could always try these responses because they are all so true, regardless of the cheese factor.

….and so is my heart. 
….and so is my life. 
Thank You. (maybe they really are meaning it as a compliment and if not they’ll be so thrown off by the thank you that maybe they’ll think twice about saying it to the next person they see)