Life Lately: June & July

Summertime arrived in full swing. This year, Brian and I decided to go to San Diego again for our anniversary weekend, leaving Edison home with Grandma. He didn’t mind, especially when he got some special treats – donuts on his morning walks.
Brian and I started our trip off right – we were heading to the beach, so pirate cake pops seemed fitting.

When the Airbnb condo described itself as “steps away from the beach,” it wasn’t lying.

It was also a short walk from Belmont park, where we played mini-golf one night, and rode the rides, including the old wooden roller coaster, another. I almost lost my glasses on the roller coaster, we felt a little sick after eating a funnel cake, Brian got ice cream as big as his head, and the whole thing was wonderful.

I also discovered Acai bowls, and took dozens of foodies that I will spare you.

After searching with faulty directions last year, this year we found Balboa Park! We could have spent a couple days here, but we only had time for the art museum and the automotive museum, and the rose garden.

We briefly ventured into the historical area of San Diego for breakfast on our last day, and checking out some amazing architecture.

It seemed like no time at all, and then we were road-tripping again to California, this time to LA for the fourth of July weekend.

Edison is pretty chill on road trips.

A burger with gluten-free bread and dairy-free cheese – I thought I died and went to heaven.

Edison takes after me and loves the beach, but boy, was it a lot harder to take him to the beach than I expected. Just trying to keep the sand out of his mouth was pretty impossible, much less off the beach towel and out of the food. Next time, I’m going to search for all the Pinterest beach hacks. 

Besides our trips, we had some great down time and just fun moments.

Hat switch!

He had a great time playing on these, until some other kids came and he found out they could move. That did not end well!

How does this even happen???

I posted on Instagram that I was beginning to understand why parents of two-year-olds sigh deeply. He does the cutest, sweetest things, and then the next second melts into a raging monster I barely recognize. These days are hard.

The sanity-draining whining, the fits, problems resurfacing at daycare, behavior issues that I just don’t know if I’m dealing with it in the right way, and others I don’t know where to even begin dealing with … parenting is just hard!

Lots of ice cream (after he goes to bed) and a sense of humor are essential, I think.

But after a particularly bad day of fits, Edison got sick at daycare and so he had to stay home the day after. He helped me decorate his birthday cakes, which you can see in this post, by finishing off the frosting.

Since it was a sick day, we also got to watch lots of Thomas the Train. 

Edison also tried to be a train – scooting across the top of the back of the couch. Unfortunately, he kind of derailed…

I already posted about Edison’s birthday, but one of the presents Brian was especially excited about was getting Edison his first bike. He hasn’t quite figured out how to ride it yet, but he definitely loves it.

Some days it’s still hard to believe we’re parents of a two-year-old. Each day, he learns more words and makes more connections between ideas, and it’s really a joy to see. There’s still plenty of fit-throwing days, and I know there’s many more in our future, but someday we’ll turn around and he’ll be eighteen. My prayer is that we’re developing his character now, with that day in mind. And making great memories in the process!

Edison’s Taco Twos-Day Birthday Party

Welcome to Edison’s Taco Twos-day party! 
Edison turned two on the 21st, so last Saturday we had a little fiesta for him. My sister-in-law was able to come, and some good friends of ours. My idea was just to have a casual pool party, no stress and no work. But what fun is that? Somehow I ended up with a whole theme, decorations, and special cakes. Thanks Pinterest. 
Overall though, I was able to use a lot of things I already had, kept the purchases to a minimum with a few high impact decorations, and decorating and making those special cakes was super fun. 

In the entryway, I changed my letter board to reflect the theme, and added this very cute cactus light. Over the fireplace, I added this cactus banner. I expected it to be made out of paper, but it’s actually felt! I think it will stay up year-round somewhere in my house.

This giant #2 gold balloon made a big impact everywhere we put it. Apparently, there were several size options on Amazon that I missed, and I bought the 40″ one. Go big or go home!
Although he doesn’t look too excited about it when I made him hold it for photos, Edison calls it “Shiny” and talked to it the whole way home from the grocery store (where they filled it up for free!) and cried when we put it inside before we went to airport to pick up my sister-in-law. It’s still going strong after a week.

Outside on the porch, I brought out all of my blue metal kitchen chairs, and bought a folding table from Target. The aqua plastic tablecloth I already had, leftover from a bridal shower I threw a year ago. I decorated the table with some of my little succulents on tiny cake stands, which I already had also.

I bought an outdoor rug, something I’d wanted for awhile, and this seemed like the perfect occasion for it. I also bought the “Papel Picado” Mexican tissue paper banner and Fiesta fans, and mixed in some of the honeycomb balls from the bridal shower. I used a Mexican blanket for a table cloth on the food table.

The menu: 

  • Walking Tacos. Apparently, this is a Midwesterner thing, because no one in Arizona had heard of this. You take individual bags of Doritos or Fritos, open them, and put a scoop of taco meat and all your usual fixings inside the bag, mix it up, and eat it from the bag. These are the original Doritos Tacos – but deconstructed. I cooked the taco meat in the crock pot to make life even easier. 
  • Guacamole, sour cream, cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa – all purchased and packaged, again, making life easy.
  • Fruit from a handy fruit tray.
  • Peanuts and M&Ms – Conley family tradition. 
  • Fanta, lemonade, and lime La Croix as well as bottled water. I wanted brightly colored, kid-friendly beverages. Although the La Croix was really all for us non-soda drinking adults.
  • Taco Cakes!!! I’m still so thrilled with how these turned out. I made two round cakes, cut them in half, and stacked them to make the taco shape. Then I frosted and decorated them to look like a taco with fillings. Here’s a tutorial that I based my cake on, but instead of using crushed Oreos, I used the star shaped decorating tip and chocolate frosting for the taco meat. I didn’t create the tomatoes and cheese from separate frosting either, I just used the small round tip to pipe them on.

 Decor:

Other Items: 
We did it! High-five!

Life Lately: Spring to Summer

For Mother’s Day, we tried a new restaurant in Downtown Mesa that’s become a new favorite – Worth Takeaway. It’s going to be a new favorite brunch and lunch spot! 

My Mother’s Day present from Brian and Edison was new plants! So far, they’re all still alive a month later, so this is good. 
Not pictured above is my fiddle leaf fig, which we named Newt. Short for Fig Newton, and also, Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That gives him basically pet status, and keeps the Harry Potter pet name theme going. Newt is the only plant I’m concerned about – some of his leaves have started turning brown and many have brown spots. I’ve done a lot of googling on the subject, but it seems like it could be over-watering, under-watering, a bacteria, too much light, too little light … it seems that no one really knows what causes fiddle leaf figs distress. Any tips would be great, if someone out there has experience with them!

Poor Edison. He LOVES helping us get ready for work or church in the morning by bringing us our shoes – unfortunately in this case, Brian really didn’t need his shoes while he was in the shower, which Edison could not understand. It’s also heartbreaking when he wants me to wear my tennis shoes with my dresses and skirts to work, and just doesn’t understand why I pick other shoes. I have once worn the tennis shoes to the grocery store, just to make him happy!

One evening, I’d decided to take Edison on a quick walk, more for me than for him, to clear my head a bit in hopes of not tossing and turning all night. He was fascinated by the water flowing through the gutter, and I picked up a few pebbles and tossed them in. He was delighted, and I realized I’d made a terrible mistake – now we were going to be here all night, and we’d barely walked a few feet from the house! As I was trying to hurry him along without success, a lady came jogging past. “I miss those days when they were so small and so content to play with rocks!” She said.

I took a deep breath. The days are long, but the years are short.

I planned a Memorial Day Stay-cation exploring our city of Mesa, specifically, downtown. First up, we discovered a coffee shop that has lavender syrup! I’ve only ever had a lavender latte in Cannon Beach, Oregon, several years ago, so I was beyond excited to discover this a few miles away from my house, all this time! Second stop was a “Sculpture Tour,” a loosely structured scavenger hunt of the 38 some statues downtown.
Also, cool murals. 
We closed out the weekend with swimming, some shopping, and taking Edison to a splash pad. He was quite content to watch the other kids, the water, and throw rocks in the puddles. 
I see so much of myself in him in social situations like this. While the other kids are running around screaming, making fast friends, I relate so much to his desire to just watch the unfamiliar people from the sideline, observe, talk to the kids that come by and initiate conversation, but for the most part, just do his own thing. 

I took a few photos and a video of Edison in the tub, being entertained by his Aunt Andrea playing peekaboo around the doorway. His giggle is just the best.

And now we’re halfway through June! Brian and I will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary this month with a weekend trip to San Diego – can you believe we’ve been married seven years? And Edison’s second birthday is just around the corner! 
I hope, friends, that you’re making summer bucket lists and finding fun ways to relax and enjoy the days. The days are long, especially in summer, but the years are short! 

Life Lately: Our Spring

When I text Brian, “Can we just run away?” And he texts back, “Yes,” it’s time to take a vacation. In March, we didn’t really have time to take an actual vacation, but we did squeeze in a day trip to Payson, AZ. That day, it happened to be 90 degrees in Phoenix and a balmy 78 in Payson, so we picked the perfect time for our mini spring break!

After a visit to the Rim County Museum (not recommended for toddlers, but if you do go, FYI there’s a bunch of toys UPSTAIRS. Just go up there first, instead of at the end!) We found the perfect place for lunch. We were still on our Whole 30 Challenge for the month of March, and we found great options at the Mongollon Moose!

We stopped at a bike shop (as always) and Edison was quite taken with the rocks he found outside. Then we took a short drive up to a lake, and did a little “hiking”… aka, walking in the woods, ate some snacks, and taught Edison how to throw rocks in the water. 

We had just enough time to stop at an Antique shop before it closed – Granny’s Attic Antiques. They gave Edison the baby, and then when I found the carved candlelabra and vintage Mickey Mouse book, they were close to closing, so they gave those to me for free also. That’s the best kind of antiquing! Note to self: take a cute kid with you to get good deals.

Very last minute, Brian and I decided to do the Walk for Life. It’s a short walk – 2.5 miles – and it doesn’t cost anything to participate, but you can raise funds by having people sponsor you, and the funding goes to our local crisis pregnancy centers. In one week, we were able to raise $375!

As part of the 2.5 mile walk, we got to tour the Tempe center. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I was so impressed by the facility and the staff. The ultrasound and exam rooms were comfortable, welcoming, peaceful, and professional. The center’s licensed medical and volunteer staff provides free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, abortion information and risks counseling, low-cost STD testing and treatment, childbirth and parenting classes, men’s mentoring, post-abortive recovery groups, and abuse recovery groups. All without ANY government funding – it’s completely funded through donations.

At the end of March, we renewed our Zoo membership, which reminded us that this is the perfect time of year to take advantage of it!

We’ve gone almost every weekend – and it’s so fun to see Edison picking up the animal names. The mammal (camel) and monkeys are favorites.

This is how I did my Lent Bible study on weekends – with the company of a little cuddler.

My sister-in-law Andrea visited us for a weekend on her spring break from teaching! Of course that would be the weekend Edison had major allergy issues, which made playing outside a little challenging. All the more cuddles for her, though! Edison missed her when she left – he asked about where “Anya” went.
A few other great #toddlerlife moments: 
When mama doesn’t want to wear the shoes you picked out for her to church.

When you ask for a banana, then get so mad when mama peels it before giving it to you that you throw it on the floor, and then immediately regret that decision.

We try to keep a sense of humor about the toddler meltdowns! Overall, this stage has been really fun. Watching him sleep stretched out in his crib, he seems so big, and yet still so small. He’s so quickly becoming a boy and not a baby anymore.

This weekend, the temps are supposed to climb to 100 degrees, meaning it’s the end of our spring and the start of summer. I’ll miss having the doors and windows open all day, and letting the cool breeze fill the house. But I’m happy to say goodbye to spring allergies, and hello to pool time! 
Just like each season brings it’s own joys and challenges, I’m learning that parenting really goes in seasons too. Nothing stays the same for long, and just when you think you’ve got things figured out, there’s new growth and change. But the new joys and discoveries make up for the things we leave behind. 
What season of the year is your favorite? Do you have a favorite parenting season as well? Let me know in the comments below. 

Life Lately: Spring Is In The Air

It’s beginning to look a lot like springtime – the weather has fluctuated from the upper 80’s back down to 60’s, and back up again. We’ve had storms and rain, which means puddles!

Edison is practically a little fish – the bath tub is his happy place! He amazes us each week with the new words he tackles and just how much he understands!

My grandparents drove across the country for a visit! We sent them home with several bags of our oranges.

Grandma came to visit! We celebrated Brian’s birthday, cheered on Brian and my sister-in-law when they ran a half-marathon, and Brian and I got to go on TWO child-free dates in one week! Edison and Sirius loved walks to the park every day.
Lent started on March 1st, and with it, we began our second Whole 30 challenge. 
I’m doing a Lent Bible study also, and as part of it, I’m supposed to practice the “Sabbath,” or day of rest, once a week.  This is harder for me than giving up added sugar, grains, dairy, etc. and also giving up sleeping with my phone – all challenges I’ve undertaken. I don’t even know where to start with “resting.” There’s just so much to do! Being “still” feels impossible. 
But when I took that photo of the (clean side of the) kitchen, complete with Edison’s art on the chalkboard, it invokes “still” to me – trusting the Holy Spirit to work in me, as I go about everyday life, and wait for him. 
Coming down with a sinus and ear infection is definitely enforcing the “rest” aspect now –  but I’m hopeful that I don’t have to make myself sick every time before I learn to rest. Maybe this Lent study will help me grow in this area. 
Easter is coming! 🙂 What does your life look like lately?

How to Make Baby Joggers From a Tee Shirt

It finally got too cold for shorts here in Phoenix, so joggers were a natural progression. I love that they’re stretchy and allow for plenty of running, crawling, and climbing.
Edison’s hoodie in the photos above, if you’re curious, is from A Quiver Full. Use the code “JESUS” for 20% off!
This project has been sitting on my Pinterest board for ages, and I finally did it! If my photos and directions below don’t make sense, check out the original tutorial I followed here. These really do take half an hour, or less! I made two pairs during one nap-time.

You will need: 

  • An adult tee shirt. I used an old shirt from Loft. 
  • 1/2 wide elastic for the waistband.
  • Paper for your pattern. 
  • A sewing machine and thread, scissors, etc.

Step 1: Make your pattern. On a large piece of paper, mark the waistband of the pants, and then the crotch, and then the ends of the legs on your paper, and fill in the sides. Add an inch to the top, because this will be folded over to make your waistband. Add a half inch around the edge, for your seam. Your patter should look a little more square than the pair of pants you’re tracing.

Step Two: Cut out your pieces.  Place your tee shirt on a flat surface, making sure the hem lines up. Then pin your pattern to the tee, lining up the legs with the bottom of the shirt (I didn’t get the left leg lined up perfectly, but ideally, they should both line up). Then cut through both layers of the tee.

Step Three: Turn the pieces so the right sides are together. Then, sew a quarter inch seam around the pant legs.

Step 4: Fold over your waistband, and sew down the edge, leaving a gap of a couple inches for putting in the elastic.

Step Five: Going off of the existing pair of pants you used for your pattern, measure your elastic and cut it to that size. Push a safety pin through one end, and then feed it through the hole you left in the waistband, and pull all the way through. 

Once you have the elastic all the way through, you’ll need to sew the ends of the elastic together. fold them over each other, and sew a few lines up and down to tack them together. Above, I’ve done it on a second pair of pants. Getting the elastic under the sewing machine is probably the most tricky part of this whole thing.


Step Six: Once the elastic is back inside, sew the gap closed, and turn right side out. 
Tada! Happy Christmas crafting! And enjoy some more photos of Edison modeling 🙂

Life Lately: Simple Christmas

Friday, I left work a little early to try to do some cleaning at home before Brian got off work and picked up Edison from daycare. I turned up the Christmas worship music, and starting from the living room, began mopping my way to the other end of the house. It was slow work, since we haven’t mopped for, oh, a few months? It’s bad when you can’t remember the last time you mopped.

But when I made it to Edison’s room, as I flipped on the light, I felt that the light switch was all sticky. And I couldn’t help but smile.

Sticky light switches make me think of our nightly bedtime routine. After Edison has his pajamas on and his teeth brushed, while I hold him up, he switches off the bathroom light, then the hallway light, and then his bedroom light last of all.

I never would have thought there’d be a day that sticky light switches made me happy. Or the puppies, trucks, books, and blocks I see scattered all over the living room floor from where I sit typing.

But when I see toys all over the floor, or touch a sticky light switch, I’m struck by that feeling. The one all mothers know, the feelings of overwhelming love, joy in this moment, fear that life is going by too fast, sadness of knowing how fleeting it is, sheer happiness in the present. All mingled and combined into the emotion that is motherhood.

So, I’m trying to take each day slowly. My house isn’t decorated as much or as well as I’d like, like the photos I can’t stop pinning on Pinterest, but Edison loves the Christmas tree (and especially the switch that turns the lights on and off) just as it is.

We haven’t made any cute Christmas crafts. I probably won’t have time to put together clever gifts for his teachers at daycare. I forgot to get the mailman anything. I’ve fallen behind on my Advent calendar and devotional, but the scripture and lessons for the days I have done has been a blessing. I might not get all the gifts for all the people I’d like, or send enough Christmas cards, or bake anything at all.

After all, people, I’ve just mopped my floor for the first time in … a very long while, so that should tell you where to set your expectations.

We probably won’t go do all the fun Christmas activities, or fit in all of the Christmas movies, or see all the people we’d like to see while we’re in Iowa for Christmas. But I don’t want this Christmas to go by wishing I’d done more, or seen more, or had more. I just want to be truly present in each moment.

I think that’s the best gift I can give.

#FridayFinds: Skillshare, Kid’s Cardigans, and Freshly

An Online Skillshare Class by Brit + Co

1. Skillshare Classes: There’s thousands of classes to choose from, for everything from art classes to email marketing to WordPress, and there’s hundreds of free classes too! The next class I’m going to take is “DSLR Photography for Bloggers” by Brit + Co.

2. Kid 2 Kid: As far as I can tell, this is local to the Phoenix valley, but I’m sure this model exists elsewhere too. Kid 2 Kid is a consignment store for kids clothes, toys, and baby equipment. It’s and affordable and ethical way of getting some awesome clothes. Some of my favorite clothes and shoes for Edison have come from here, including his navy blue moccasins. I’ve snagged Baby Gap sweaters for $5! Here’s my latest haul, in preparation for a trip up north:

Boots: $6.99
Winter coat from Zara: $14.99
Baby Gap jacket: $5.99
Blue and green striped sweater: $4.99
Alpine sweater: $3.50
H&M gray cardigan: $4.99
White softsole shoes: $9.99
Converse: $4.50

I think I’m also going to try selling some of Edison’s old or unworn stuff here, so I can get store credit!

3. Love, Lincoln: Another mama-made shop, they sell everyday clothes for babies, kids, and women. If you’re not lucky enough to find a cute cardigan at your local consignement store, check out the cardigans they sell, in 48 colors!

4. Freshly: First of all, Blue Apron didn’t work out for us. We were paying $60 for three meals a week, and there were no leftovers. But the biggest reason it wasn’t working for us was the time it took to make the meals – each one took at least an hour, minimum, even though the time estimate was 30-40 minutes. The food was also kind of unusual. So, the main goal of saving time wasn’t happening. After I cancelled, Brian sent me a link for Freshly. Not only does the food arrive in a box at your door, but it’s already cooked. It just has to be warmed up in two minutes! It costs less for more meals. It sounds a little too good to be true. Anyone else have any experience with it? Let me know!

Life Lately: Boats to Pumpkins

After a jam packed September, we’re savoring the slower days of October. 
Three of the four weekends in September, we were traveling or Brian was racing. He started with a open water swimming race in Canyon Lake. I dreaded waking up before the sunrise, but as it turned out, the little monkey decided to wake up at 3 am and not go back to sleep, so we were already up! The views were worth the early morning.

The weekend after that, Brian swam/biked/ran an Olympic distance triathalon!

 I shopped at the Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market that weekend, thanks to my sister-in-law’s help keeping Edison occupied.

Then we took off for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brian had a business trip there, and since his parents were in the area, we took the whole family and make a weekend of it. We went to the art museum, boated around the lake and the river, and visited the public market. Edison loved the boat … once he got over having to wear the life jacket.

We loved the city’s mix of historic and new. The architecture was incredible. If you visit, I recommend a day at the Historic 3rd Ward, including a visit to the Public Market, a trip to the art museum, and breakfast at Collectivo.
And a boat. I highly recommend you make friends with someone who owns one, or marry into a family that has one. If it comes with in-laws who watch your baby for you for the night so you and your husband can spend the night on the boat all by yourselves, count yourself extremely fortunate! But I might have taken the only ones that fit that description 🙂

We agreed that even with the added challenge of flying with a toddler, it was one of the most fun family trips we’ve ever taken!
This month, we’ve just had little adventures, and lovely slow Saturdays.
One of our little adventures was getting a little pumpkin spice crazed, and shopping at Trader Joe’s for the sole purpose of buying everything pumpkin flavored. We came home with pumpkin cereal, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin tea, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin butter, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin spiced chai loaf. And some apple cider and frozen orange chicken for good measure. 
Because, Trader Joe’s.

On our trip to Milwaukee, Edison learned the function of his backpack, and now he loves playing with it. I’m having visions of sending him off to school, and I’m so not ready for that yet! I’m glad I have a few more years!
And that brings us up to this weekend! Brian volunteered at the Half-Iron Man race, and we were a little glad that he wasn’t doing it this year. We went to a pumpkin patch, and even though it was annoyingly hot, we had a great time walking through the corn maze, looking at the animals (especially the chickens, still Edison’s favorite. How is he my son?) and picking out some pumpkins to take home. After that, we had dinner with friends we hadn’t seen in forever and got to catch up a bit.
Here’s the story of Edison’s first meeting with a tractor. He sees the tractor…
Love at first sight. 
Yes, he waved good-bye to the tractor as it drove away. Our Iowa pride was at an all time high.
This week, Edison will turn 15 months! He’s such a little chatterbox now, in the last couple months he added to “Mama” and “Dada” “Uh oh,” “bye-bye,” “Hi,” “light,” “dog,” “all done,” “up,” “thank you,” and most recently, “walk,” since we started going on walks in the evenings.
He’s also started holding our phones (or the TV remote) up to his ear and saying “Hewwooo?” and trying to carry on conversations with the TV. He loves waving to everyone, including passing cars on our walks, and of course, tractors.

And that’s life lately! Thanks for following along on our little adventures!

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#FridayFinds: Little Man’s Closet in Black, Red, and Plaid

Little Man's Closet: Black and Red

Band hat / Charcoal grey t shirt / Striped jersey / Black with Red Bottoms Baby Moccasins Tinybabysoles Baby Moccasins,… / Jesus Grace & Pumpkin Spice – A Quiver Full / Plaid / Brave Tee – A Quiver Full / I Make Mama’s Heart full tees Tink Key / Plaid Husky Bow/ Bow Tie – A Quiver Full

Shop small this fall, y’all!

All the items above are made and sold by creative mamas. A few to note:

Edison owns a “Worth” tee from Camplight apparel, and it’s one of my favorites, since it’s so soft. Every purchase from Camplight Apparel helps feed malnourished children.

The “Jesus, Grace, and PSL” sweatshirt is for those of us mamas who love to cozy up in a sweatshirt with a pumpkin spice latte.

The “Brave” tee has a slingshot on it, as a reminder of the story of David and Goliath.

The plaid bow can also be worn as a bow tie, so I couldn’t resist getting one for Edison.

The PSL sweatshirt, Brave tee, plaid bow and scarf below are all from A Quiver Full, and 15% of proceeds go to fund adoptions.

Edison is a brand rep for them, so you can get 20% off your purchase with the code FF20. Just add “Scribbles From Emily” in the comments section when checking out, so they know we sent you!

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