Connor: He has been wanting to ride his bike in the leaf pile oh-so-bad. Finally his dream came through. I think it was much harder than he thought and he kept quickly getting stuck. I think he actually had more fun making himself and his bike fall over in the leaf pile. 

Isla: I am in the process of changing Isla's room from a baby room to a kid room. I removed this red rocking chair that has been in there her whole life. It's one of her favorite places to fall asleep. She has also recently taken to changing out of her pjs after I put her down for bed...and on this particular night, she also chose to wear her "sparkly shoes". 

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

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A Morning of Parties

Both Connor and Isla had their school thanksgiving parties on Wednesday. Thankfully, the school timed them so all three of us parents with kids in both age groups could attend both parties. And Isla's teachers kept her and the other two girls in her class while us parents ran to the older kids party. I have to admit, it was really nice being able to focus on each kid individually. 

First up, Isla's party.  

I have never seen kids so excited to see their moms as when Isla's teachers pulled back the curtains revealing all us parents sitting there. Above was Isla, all excited to see me. And, in keeping with family tradition, Isla did NOT sing at all during the performance. She mostly started at the other kids singing and would do the hand motions from time to time. Of course, she has been singing the songs like crazy ever since! 

After the performance, we ate a light lunch. Isla was very proud of the turkey craft she made and kept talking about it being in a pumpkin. She also kept putting her hand up to her turkey hand print that was on her placemat craft. When it was time to go, one of Isla's teachers came and sat with her while I left.

On to Connor's class...this boy is such a ham. He was practicing the song hand motions and making funny faces before the performance even started. And in this above shot, he pointed right at me while "singing". He didn't actually sing during the performance, but he did do all the hand motions and that is a HUGE improvement from last year...when he would just stand around and try to distract the other kids that were actually singing.

Just like in Isla's class, Connor's class had a meal. Except Connor's class had a full on thanksgiving feast, complete with pumpkin pie! His class drew pictures of their families (below). I asked Connor who was who and he quickly explained to me that he is the big person eating the rest of us. Awesome. This guy certainly isn't lacking imagination or personality!

I had a lot of fun getting to do something special with each kid for their thanksgiving parties. It is fun watching them in the school setting and seeing how they respond to everyone and everything around them. And these two little buckets of energy are at the top of my list of thankfulness. I feel so blessed to have them and love them so much.

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Seeking Validation

I am not writing this post to engage in the whole working mom vs. stay at home mom debate. That has been done far too often. And, to be honest, I think every mom raising children is amazing, whether she brings in an income some way or not. But, what I would like to do, is offer one stay at home mom's perspective about the whole thing (
well, really only one teeny, tiny part of it)...mine. 

Recently I was involved in a "mom" debate that turned heated. One thing that struck me was a working mom saying "I don't understand why stay at home moms need to feel validated all the time." And that got me thinking...why do we?

When I worked, in the evenings, Ian and I would discuss our days...that was back before Facebook, so we couldn't update our statuses about our day all the time. I might talk of a presentation I nailed, or the badass spreadsheet I made, or how much my boss loved me...because how couldn't he?!? Staying at home, I have the same need to tell my day. AND, I have the same need to feel validated. Except, I don't have a boss to give me praise. I don't have pay raises and bonuses to show me a job well done. I do have smiles and cuddles, and those mean the world to me. But, that doesn't mean I don't want my husband, or even other people, to not verbalize that I am doing a kick ass job at raising my children...or at least commend me that I didn't loose it when my child was having a 45 minute long temper tantrum. Because, I am certain that the daycare worker taking care of someone else's temper tantrum throwing toddler got sympathy and understanding from others. And, how is it ok for someone with a job to talk of their job all the time (on Facebook/blogs/in person, etc) yet not ok for a stay at home mom to do the same? 

So the next time you want to complain about us stay at home moms bragging about cleaning the kitchen, making a pinterest worthy dinner and keeping the kids alive, just think about us listening to you go on and on about your promotion (or how much you hate your job), that work trip you just took, or that presentation you nailed. Because, truly, how hard is it for us to pat each other on the back from time to time and realize we are all going through life, trying the best we can (well, most of us anyway), and we all just want a little validation from time to time. 

Hats off to my amazing friends, amazing mothers, who go to work, then come home and make dinner, help kids with homework and clean the house. And, a job well done, to my stay at home mom friends who spend their day doing school runs, playing with kids, cleaning up, then making dinner, helping the kids with their nightly routine, before getting them in bed and cleaning the house....only to have it dirty again by 8am. 

Moms, YOU ROCK!!!

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Connor: This boy certainly isn't lacking personality. He is comfortable in his own skin and loves being around his friends, who this week he has taken to calling "my people".  

Isla: It's almost shocking how quickly the princess craze has taken over our house. I scored a new-to-her princess dress at a toy exchange this week and she proceeded to wear it the entire day, only taking it off to bathe, then put it right back on over her pjs.  

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

^^ This just may be my current favorite picture of my kids together!

Is it me or is Christmas getting earlier and earlier every year? I used to decorate our house on Thanksgiving evening because I thought I was breaking some rule by decorating earlier. But, this year my neighbor put up their Christmas tree the week after halloween. That sparkly tree in their front window has brought my kids so much joy. On the second night, Connor even excitedly shouted, "It's still up mom, it's still up!" And santa is already out at the mall. So much for waiting for Thanksgiving to pass!

I'm not going to lie, I kind of love Christmas starting earlier and lasting longer. I know some people, shall we call them grinches?, hate it. But I have nothing but love. It is my favorite holiday, after all. I had a customer at Starbucks go crazy on me for us starting to play Christmas music at the beginning of December...of course, I couldn't understand his dismay because I was loving it!

With Christmas starting earlier, it gives me more time to dress my kids in cute holiday clothes. Should I mention that Isla has three holiday dresses this year?!? A little overkill, I know...but one was mine as a toddler, and the other two are adorable hand me downs...and they all MUST BE WORN! Speaking of Christmas clothes, these adorable personalized Christmas shirts from Bright Star Kids will definitely be worn a lot this holiday season...and I may have ordered a size up in hopes they can still wear them next year! I am in love with the fact that Isla's has little cap sleeves on it. And, since I always feel like I missed out on the whole matching clothes thing for my kids, after all they are a boy and girl, I like that I am able to find coordinating pieces for them.

Now to get on decorating for the holidays...I totally thought I would jump on the bandwagon and do it early this year, alas life has been busy and there hasn't been time yet. Soon, though. Soon.

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bloglovin // instagram // pinterest

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bright Star Kids. The opinions and text are all mine.

Second Annual Christmas Card Challenge

It's no secret that I love Christmas cards. I send them out every year, no matter what. There have been times I got them in the mail only a couple days before Christmas, but they still got out! Over the years I have noticed the amount of cards we receive is directly related to the amount I send out. I send out a lot. Thus, we get a lot. It is like a party in my mail box during the month of December and I love it.

Last year I decided to do a Christmas card challenge. I am doing it again this year, but upping the anti. This year a $20 Starbucks card is at stake. I decided to stick with the same categories I did last year:

  • First card to arrive
  • Best handwritten note
  • Best photo(s)
  • Best update
  • Best overall
Once I choose a winner from each category...actually the first to arrive category is all about how punctual someone is...I will draw a name from those five people and that will be the winner of the $20 Starbucks card. 

If you want to join in the fun, but don't have my address, feel free to email me at jgrimbleby(at)gmail.com and I will provide you with an address to send it to. And be sure to check out last years winners for some inspiration. 

And, just in case you doubted how into Christmas cards I am, I actually picked ours out in October. But, I wait to order them until Thanksgiving weekend because there are always insane card sales that weekend. I told you I am way into Christmas cards...maybe too much

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Connor {5 years}

Weight: 40lbs, 8oz
Height: 44.75 inches

I was thinking about how I would describe Connor to someone that had never met him. The kid is full of life. He has crazy amounts of energy. And, as my brother learned first hand last weekend, he literally doesn't stop moving until he falls asleep. Connor LOVES being around other kids. In fact, he is disappointed if we go somewhere and there aren't other kids for him to play with. He ie fiercely independent, yet when it is time for bed, he still wants someone to lay with him until he goes to sleep. 

Some of Connor's current favorites include egg nog (a boy after my own heart!), milk, icees, yogurt, mac & cheese and cinnamon apples. Connor would try to live off junk food alone if his mean mom would let him! Connor will still pick a minion shirt out every day, if I let him. Connor still really enjoys The Berenstain Bears books and still will calm down and let me read to him. In fact, he asks to be read to at bed time. Connor's current favorite tv show is Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Despicable Me 2 is his current favorite movie. It was The Lego Movie, then he switched back to Despicable Me 2.  

Connor has a very intricate and detail oriented mind. He always wants to know how things work. And he doesn't just want a simple answer. He wants the nitty gritty of exactly how the power moves through the power cords. Often times, I find myself having to tell him that I don't know the answer to the detailed question he is asking. Of course, then he wants to know why I don't know the answer! 

Connor really seems to be having a thirst for learning to read. He now knows that you read from left to right...and I think this has also helped him stay sharp on his rights and lefts ;) He always wants me to tell him what things say and he likes me to sound out the words for him as he points to them. 

Connor still sneaks into our bed every night and cuddles up close against me. Given that I did this for yeeeaaars, I don't expect it to stop anytime soon. Most mornings he wakes before me and goes and finds Ian to give him breakfast. Then, as soon as Ian needs to leave for work, he pounces on top of me and tells me to get up...like I said, he is full of energy.  

I don't know what I have a harder time wrapping my head around, the fact that Connor is five or the fact that I have been a mom for five years! So much of this parenting gig seems like it just happened yesterday, yet so many of the details are already fuzzy. I'm thankful for this boy of mine. Thankful for the noise, joy and laughter he brings to our home. 

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Fashion on the Fifteenth

I know, it's the seventeenth, but you know...LIFE...so the seventeenth it is. I am so happy that it is finally fall-ish weather around here. Really, that just means I can get away with wearing jeans/pants every day and not regretting the decision by the middle of the day. But, I will take what I can get!

Every time the season changes, I get excited to change my wardrobe as well. I was getting so tired of wearing the same ole shorts over and over. And I know, come spring, I will be so ready to get those shorts on again! But, at the moment, I am happy for our fall-ish temps and being able to change up the wardrobe a bit.

Top: Old Navy (thrifted)
Jeans: Gap
Boots: Old Navy

Besides getting to change up what I have have been wearing...because it feels like I have been wearing summer clothes for the past two years...my friends and I found this amazing thrift store that carries amazing women's clothes. I scored some great pieces for this fall and winter, the top I am wearing being one of them. Since I love a great deal, there is something exhilarating about finding clothes I love at really cheap prices...plus, then I don't have to feel as bad when my kids rub their spaghetti sauce hands on my shirt, because why would they use a napkin when they can use their ole mom's clothes?!?

So there you have it. Yea for fall and fall clothing. What are your favorite fall clothing pieces?

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Connor: Sometimes it's fun to take off your shirt, run around the backyard, squirt your sister with the hose and make funny faces.  

 Isla: These kids are kind of obsessed with my glasses. If only they knew that it's nicer to not have good eyes and not to wear glasses. But at least they still think I am cool, glasses and all ;)

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

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Connor is Five

At exactly 4:18 this morning, the boy who will always have the privilege of saying he made me a mom turned five. He makes life feel like it is passing far too quickly for my liking. Yet, at the same time, he makes me feel like a kid again...having tickle fights, chasing each other around the house and building legos. This boy of mine has an intricate mind that wants to know exactly how everything works. He would survive on a diet of junk food and milk if I let him. And, being the social guy that he is, he would spend all his waking hours with his friends playing bad guys...but, you know, this mama needs her mama cuddles still too.

Connor, I can't imagine my life, our family, without you. You bring such joy and adventure to my life. Keep on being you. And enjoy us loving and celebrating YOU today.

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The San Francisco Zoo

Three friends and I took our TEN kids, all five and under, to the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday. Yeah, not all ten are in that above picture...which, notice Connor totally checking out the bear's nose. We managed to squish into two vehicles and hit the road. 

I asked the kids ahead of time what they wanted to see. Connor wanted to see the penguins and Isla wanted to see the giraffes. Thankfully, both kids got their wishes. Connor has been talking ever since about how these penguins "like the sun. They aren't snow penguins." I'm glad that he was so into them and that he enjoyed seeing them. Isla, in all honesty, was pretty into the map. At one point, she lost it and totally started bawling. Thankfully another mom handed over her map and all was right with the world again. The other big highlight for the kids was the petting zoo. I really didn't think Connor would be as into it as he was. He wanted to pet the animals over and over and would talk to them. It was really quite cute. As for Isla, I was just super concerned she was going to end up in the duck pond because she wanted to pet a duck. She didn't end up in the water and she never did get to pet a duck. 

It was a fun day at the zoo...because everything really is better with friends.

^^ I told you Isla really liked her map! 

^^ Connor watching his beloved penguins 

^^ You know, just chilling with a goat (is that what that thing is?)

The way home was a different story...filled with traffic, vomit and a car break down. But, we all survived, so you know. And one of the mom's ended up fixing the car...when a random guy that tried to help couldn't. Talk about #mompower!  

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