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my christmas wish list - 2014.

in the tradition of year's past, i thought i would share some wish lists with you as we approach the holiday season. i love finding the perfect gift for someone & so in case you're shopping for a friend, or husband, or a little one in your life, i'll round up some of the things making the list at our house!

garden & gun -- this is probably my favorite magazine these days. i joke that i'm a converted southerner (with proud midwestern roots!) after spending most of my adult life in virginia and falling in love with things like pimento cheese & tomato sandwiches. this magazine feeds my soul -- it inspires me to travel and cook and appreciate a story well told.

emily mcdowell's mugs are getting a lot of buzz and with good reason -- they're hilarious!

one of the simple joys in my life is getting a little more time to take care of myself -- this hair mask is my new favorite thing.

just love the simple, bright design of these napkins!

i'm not shy about christmas music, so i've been listening to this album nonstop since it came out!

i've really narrowed my cookbooks down to a few i know well, but i have an itch to add another one for the new year and these two are on my wish list. any others you'd recommend?

one of my top five things in my closet this year was the ryan tank from everlane -- it took me all the way through this summer of pregnancy, is really well made, unbelievably comfortable and goes with everything. 

one of the ways i'm trying to slow down is to use my microwave a little less. it's not some big deal, i just realize there's nothing calming about pushing buttons and the frantic beeping when it's done. this is going to be a regular star in our kitchen -- for heating up a bit of soup or risotto or something for baking.

a gift certificate to artifact uprising -- i absolutely loved making our family album last year and am excited to spend some time in january with a newborn nestled next to me as i do this year's album. their products are so well made and the design tools are really great!

finally, i say own the whole mom thing -- this shirt made me laugh because it captures so many of days!

up next, a list for babies, little ones and the men in your life! you can see lots more ideas on past lists right here!


moving to her new room.

in the chronicles of parenthood, moving a kid from a crib to their bed is the stuff of folklore. there are absolutely hilarious stories (because it's not your own kid!) of the stunts they pull with their new found freedom. of all the things that matter to me with raising little ones, sleep is near the top of the list. i've been convinced through reading and my own experience, that there are few things more important to their growth and development than good, solid rest. it's one of the things i'm grateful about deployments -- for me, ellie sleeping was the only way to survive, but it also gave me the motivation to really learn about what that would look like.

so, while i was really excited to create her new room, i was nervous about moving her out of her crib where a lot of amazing sleep had happened! what follows is an absurd amount of detail that will probably only be mildly interesting to other parents as nuts as i am about sleep. nevertheless, i'm going to write it all down! i'm no expert on any of this, this is just what worked for us, with ellie.

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bedtime books just for dad.

it's hard to believe ryan has been home from deployment a full year (!!). while that chapter feels like a long time ago, i feel like i'm constantly learning so much about this way of life. one of the great provisions in the military is that you're not doing it alone -- there are those that have gone before you, those that are right there in the thick of it with you. kind souls who don't minimize or diminish the hard things, but also who inspire and hope and believe right along side you -- that this a good life, where the strengths outweigh the trials.

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fifth year of marriage.

when we found out i was pregnant (way back in march!), we knew our fifth wedding anniversary would be spent anticipating this little girl, our second daughter. i didn't think about it at the time, but that also meant i would be in a season of intense nesting. as someone who certainly doesn't need to be pregnant to nest on a regular basis, the end of pregnancy can get a tad absurd with the projects i create for myself. the best part is that because of all the time ellie has spent with me, that girl knows how to clean! we've done hilarious things like scrub the oven and clean the baseboards (you haven't lived til you've done those things with a two year old!). one morning, i applied an entire canister of saddle soap to an old leather chair -- it's now so slippery, ellie slides off every time she tries to climb up, which makes us laugh. ryan & i deep cleaned our shed. they've both been really wonderful and patient and helpful.

all this to say, the other day, i found myself looking at one of my favorite frames in our house. my dear friend kat gave it to us as our wedding present, it's an oversized matted silver frame. inside is a tiny square of the photograph above. i remember framing it thinking "i want to look at that exact moment from our wedding night every day." for the first time, i noticed how tarnished the frame had become. as i was applying some polish to it, i was thinking about these five years of marriage. i was thinking about how that frame showed not only the time that has passed but that tarnish itself was such a good reminder. how i wasn't polishing that frame to take away the time that has passed-- i'm deeply, deeply grateful for it. our work over the past five years makes our marriage mean more than it ever could have on that beautiful, november night we made our vows. it was so important for me to realize the reason i was polishing the frame was because i wanted it to last, not to try to make it prettier or have it appear new and shiny. that i want to be looking at it in another forty years and know i've taken care of it, that it has stood the test of time and all that time carried with it.

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link love.

well, this little girl (can you believe how old she looks in this photograph?!) & i are waiting for this baby to arrive and thought we'd share some links with you:

such beautiful advent calendars you can make found here & here!

just finished this book, which is the best i've read all year. add it to every holiday gift list you have!

this video made me laugh so hard!

just my kind of fall appetizer!

i just love this blog & this post especially.

happy wednesday!


books we just adore.

one of the greatest joys for me in motherhood has been getting back into children's literature. i absolutely loved being read to and then reading on my own growing up -- there are books in my parent's house that i have that feeling of wanting to clutch when i see them, like old, true friends. they are well told stories that made such a lasting impression upon me.

what's so great about this time around is some of those same books are now in our house, added to ones that have been written since i was little, that are finding their own way into my heart, and hopefully the hearts of these little girl(s!) i'm reading to.

i have some friends who feel much the same way about books, and as we've prepared for this baby, they have added some really incredible ones to our library, most of which are new-to-me! ellie and i accidentally fell in this little tradition of going in the nursery a few times a week to read them, to talk about the baby who will be joining our family, and how excited we are to read with her. it calms me in ways that are hard to put into words.

i just had to share these, each of which i now can't imagine not having in our little library! you can find more of my kid's book recommendations here and here!

extra yarn my dear friend mallory showed me this book when we were in charlottesville for a girl's getaway. i had bought ellie a book at my favorite little store there the august i was pregnant with her, and wanted to do the same for this baby. the thing was, i immediately knew with ellie which book i wanted, and this time i was in the store an hour, still uncertain about what book might be significant to this daughter. mallory asked if i'd looked at this one yet and as i began to read it, i knew this was it. the story of a little girl who discovers something she can use that becomes priceless to her -- it is a beautiful, simple, powerful story.

bear has a story to tell i really love the illustrations, and the pace of this book; it is a simple story with animals and a really beautiful sense of friendship.

amelia bedelia oh it's been so much fun to rediscover amelia bedelia! -- and perfect timing as you realize how literal things can sound when you spend your days with a two almost three year old! this book makes me laugh. & ellie insists she wants to wear amelia's "beautiful outfit!" 

rosie revere engineer for anyone trying to raise a brave & kind little girl, hurry to add this book to your library. since some sweet friends gave it to us (& it's already been read 100+ times!) i've given it to four other little girls. it is a WONDERFUL story -- and was a really good way to teach ellie about my halloween costume (rosie the riveter!) we've added the other book my this author, iggy peck architect to our christmas wish list!

the relatives came this is one of the most vivid books for me from my own childhood -- there's something about the illustrations, the deep sense of family and love that i have never forgotten. my favorite page by far is "and then it was hugging time. talk about hugging!" i want my kids to know this feeling of being loved, how special it can be to visit family (in the broadest sense of that word) and have them visit us.

i had a favorite dress a great story for any little girl who has lots of opinions about her own clothing and yours (oh ellie) -- because it also plants the seed of how you can roll with things in life, make something new, problem solve. i love the illustrations and how the story flows, it's fun to read!

at the same moment around the world this book lays a really neat for how big and diverse our world is, and yet how we're all connected by the simplest of ties. i can see how this book will grow with us, as our girls, and their understanding of this world expands. it's also a great book if you have loved ones around the world who you talk about often! we often say, "aunt kaitlin is there!" or "that's close to where ian and asher are!" -- it makes them feel all the nearer.

i LOVE hearing about favorite books -- have any to share with me? i'm going to be sharing some books i've been loving for myself soon too! i think there's something about fall that always inspires me to read more -- the inner nerd to me still responds to the back to school feeling in the air and the colder weather makes me want to find a really good book and hunker down for a while -- trying to create space in my life to do just that.