Toy Minamalism: Find out what happened when we took all of our children's toys away, 5 reasons why your children need fewer toys, and 7 steps on how to purge the toys in your household.
As we head into the end of December, we are prepping for our first expat Christmas here in New Zealand! After searching and finally finding a home (I will be sharing some "before" sneak peeks of our space next week), spending the past two weeks attempting to settle in and furnish this house of ours, and preparing for the arrival of our baby in less than a month, Christmas has honestly been the last thing on my mind. That is until I realized that Christmas was basically a week away and we still had yet to buy a tree, put up lights, or buy a single present! After completely missing Halloween, Holden's favorite holiday, because of traveling at the time, I knew that we couldn't do the same for Christmas (nor would I want to!). I've found a Kiwi Christmas to be quite different from Christmas as we know it from the States and thought I'd share a few differences between an American Christmas and a New Zealand Christmas...
- Just the fact that it's the middle of summer here in New Zealand means it just doesn't feel like Christmas. Although we lived in Southern California where it's a steady 75 degrees (24 degree celsius) year-round and we don't experience a cold, snowy Christmas, there is something in the air that makes it feel like the winter season. So it feels quite odd to be heading into summer and the Christmas season at the same time. Christmas in New Zealand means bbq-ing at the beach or spending the day in the backyard with friends and family, not the "typical" American Christmas day.
- Christmas is truly everywhere in the States from the end of October (I remember seeing Christmas decor in the shops before Halloween last year) leading right up until Christmas. People have Christmas lights on their homes, Christmas trees in the windows, Christmas music playing on all of the radio stations, and you are inundated with Christmas decor in almost every, single shop that you step into. It is now a week away from Christmas and I have only seen one house in our neighborhood that has lights on it, I have only spotted a house or two with a Christmas tree in the window, I have yet to find a radio station that plays Christmas music, and I could only find one aisle of Christmas decor in our local shop and it was completely sold out. It seems there isn't the same sort of consumerism around Christmas that we as Americans experience during the holiday seasons and it's honestly been quite refreshing.
- With our move, we were incredibly late to the game in getting our Christmas tree so imagine our surprise when we went to the Christmas tree lot to cut down our tree and found an entire field of trees that had been pre-sold in October and were still waiting for their owners to come and claim them with only a week and a half left before Christmas. When I questioned the owner of the tree farm, he didn't seem phased in the least and just replied that it wasn't that late.
- Driving around to see Christmas lights is harder to do here as it's light until 9 PM at night. The boys are generally in bed before it is dark (remember, summertime!) so taking them to see the lights in the city has proven to be an adventure that we haven't undertaken yet.
I honestly wasn't expecting the holiday season to feel different than what we are used to, but with the laidback, less is more approach that New Zealanders seem to take towards Christmas, I find that I am focusing less on the whole consumer aspect of Christmas and more on what this holiday season is truly about.
***Thank you Hanna Andersson for partnering on this post.
TINY TRAVELS : LA JOLLA
La Jolla is beach town on the Pacific Ocean. It is a hilly seaside community occupying 7 miles of curving coastline. I love finding spots that you can park the car, pack up what you need in the stroller, and set out for a day of adventuring, and La Jolla is perfect for that. Not only is the town of La Jolla brimming with shops and restaurants, but Coast Boulevard offers so many different activities from building sand castles and swimming to flying kites and observing animals.
LA JOLLA ITINERARY
- Juice Crafters
- Tide Pools
- Cuvier Park
- The Children's Pool
- The Cave Store
- Sunny Jim's Cave
LA JOLLA TRAVEL TIPS
Parking can be tough in the afternoons and on the weekends so we suggest finding a spot to park and then exploring on foot.
PLACES TO EAT
Cuvier Park and Ellen Browning Scripps are great picnic spots along the ocean. If you want to grab a bite to eat in town, we recommend Burger Lounge or Puesta.
ALONG THE WAY, DON'T FORGET TO...
Fly at kite at Ellen Browning Scripps park
Bark at the Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove
Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art
See the rest of the Tiny Travels : La Jolla series below:
Last week we celebrated my favorite one year old's birthday. We didn't have any elaborate party planned, but we wanted to make it a special day. He woke up to balloons in his crib and an intimate brunch at our home with close family. We sang "Happy Birthday" about 100 times that morning, opened a dozen presents, played with all of his new toys, and then ended up at the Doctor's office in the afternoon because I had a sneaking suspicion that the little man had a bad ear infection and I didn't want to put off getting it checked out. I didn't pull out the real camera for some reason, but here are some of my favorite iphone shots from the day.
^^^My Mother-In-Law has made every single one of Holden's birthday cakes and we are lucky enough to continue the tradition with Gray. We try not to let our children eat sugar (or at least not very much of it). It's on a rare occasion that they get sweets and we weren't so sure that we wanted to introduce Gray to sugar yet or at least not an entire cake load of it. So just as she did for Holden's first birthday, my MIL made a sugar-free cake (banana and applesauce) covered with an apple juice and cream cheese icing.
^^^As you can see, Gray loved it!
^^^And so did his big brother ;)
Happy Monday, everybody! I am so excited to announce that today I have teamed up with Brickyard Buffalo as a Guest Editor where I have selected some of my favorite products and shops for myself and the boys to be sold at a special deal just for you guys! I seriously love being introduced to new things and hearing where other mama's find their "must-have" or just fun items, so I hope you find something new that you love. I'm sharing a few of the items below, but you can check out my other picks over on the Brickyard Buffalo site where you can get them all at a discount.
The boys and I spend A LOT of time at the beach and I'm always looking for cute suits that are (most importantly) flattering, make me feel comfortable, and allow me to chase the boys around the sand. This Raising Wild suit is my absolute favorite swimsuit and I am so happy that I stumbled across them on Instagram. It just seems to fit in all the right places and I love that it is a one-piece that doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing a "mom suit."
I love the idea of greenery and plants in my home, but unfortunately, it seems I have more of a brown thumb than a green one and plants generally don't make it past a couple of weeks in our home. Pigment is one of my favorite stores in San Diego, they truly carry the cutest, most unique, products in there. They sent me home with this Pretty Planting Starter Kit and guess what, these guys are still thriving after a few months! Succelents are beautiful, but more importantly easy to take care of, and the kit comes with the exact directions you need to care for these babies (which is easy..1 syringe (which is provided) of water every week). It's also a great way to brighten your home during the winter months for those that don't live in Southern California.
I am a boy mama and have actually always wanted to be one. Even when I was a lot younger, I would dream about my future life and I always envisioned having a household full of boys. So it's no wonder that one of my favorite shops is Wild+Bear. They make these Boy Mama shirts which I love (for obvious reasons) and then these Long Live Boyhood tees as well for the boys.
Lastly, I wanted to share Fin & Vince. I think that the clothing they create is very unique and I adore the sayings that they put on their t-shirts. This sup romper is one of my favorite pieces and I love that it's unisex.
I hope that I've introduced you to some new things in this post that you love just as much as I do or just some pieces you already loved but love even more now because you can get it at a discount. Don't forget to head over to Brickyard Buffalo to see what else I have picked out.
When Holden was a baby, I didn't make his baby food. Which seems so strange to me now.
Of course, initially I tried. For the first week of us introducing solids, I used the food processor we had received as a wedding gift (I think it was the first time I actually used it) to blend various fruits and vegetables and quickly found that Holden couldn't stand the texture of my homemade foods. It might have had something to do with the fact that I forgot to actually steam the carrots before blending them that one time and was basically feeding him gravel, but let's forget about that. Holden loved Earth's Best jars and it was the easiest and most convenient thing for me.
A lot of my friends made all of their children's baby food from scratch. They all had the Baby Brezza and raved about it. But if I'm being 100% honest with you, I did not understand why they had spent money on that machine. I kept telling my husband, "We have a steamer. We have a food processor. Why would we need a machine that just combined them? What a waste of money". Well guys, now I know. Now I know. The Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Maker is amazing!
We are doing our best these days to not eat processed foods. We aim to make our meals revolve mainly around vegetables and fruits that we buy from local farms. So when it came time for Gray to start eating solids, I wanted to attempt making his food.
This time around, I went with the Baby Brezza and what a game changer. When Holden was a baby, making baby food seemed like such an undertaking and so complicated. I didn't get how other moms could do it and be so nonchalant about it. Wide eyed and incredulous, I would ask "you make his food?!" And now that I own the Baby Brezza, I don't understand how people can not make their own baby food. It's so easy and simple.
When you have kids, it's really all about the convenience factor. Do you know how long it takes to get out two different appliances, wait for one to finish (which means you have to keep checking on it) before you can use the other one, and then clean both of them (the cleaning of a food processor might just be my most dreaded task). No one has that sort of time...well not moms that are frantically trying to get food into their hungry babies mouth.
And the Baby Brezza actually purees the food into a that "normal" baby food texture that my child likes. Because it steams in the same container, you often don't even need to add water after blending.
Gray is eating less purees now that he is 9 months, but we still offer them to him along with whole food since he seems to put most of his food on the floor or his face versus actually consuming it and purees are a good way to get food in him so he isn't hungry. But before we retire our Baby Brezza, I wanted to share it with you because sometimes it takes the arrival of another child to realize what baby products you were missing with the first :)
P.S. Baby Brezza just came out with a new and improved version that has a lead-free glass bowl to minimize food contact with plastic and it is a larger bowl! You can check it out here.