Toy Wrangling

As we approach 2 years old, Mazen’s toys are getting out of control. I have had the mentality of “the more the better” in his toy baskets thinking that variety would keep him interested, but of course the opposite seems to be true. There is so much clutter that he just ignores most things.


We have multiple toy (and book) stations throughout the house:

-Living room toys (his main set)

-Bedroom books (overflowing in a box and a bin)

-Bedroom small toys (in another bin)

-Outdoor toys on porch

-Big toys downstairs under stairs

-Small downstairs toy basket

-Chest full of misc toys, puzzles, legos, etc.

-Train table toys

Of all of these, he probably only plays with about 10% of them on a regular basis.


So I took over on a big toy sorting project and weeded out the ones he never really liked that much. His reading nook is now a reading nook again!


I put all baby toys (rattles, plush animals, etc) in a bag in our attic for a future baby and donated a few randoms that were hand-me-downs that he never found that interesting. He’s also not really into stuffed animals, so I donated a few of those too (like the freebies that come with books and things). Some of his least favorite books were put back on the big shelf to be read at a later date. Maybe he’ll like those more when he’s older.


Now his toy baskets have space to breathe and he can find his favorites faster. I’m making a point to rotate toys in and out so they keep their coolness. So far so good! Mission accomplished.


Tell me your toy tips!!

The Lunchbox Surprise


Remember Jem!? My mom recently found my kindergarten lunchbox. It’s 26 (!) years old or so yet in great condition. I was debating giving it away when my mom suggested I use it to store some of Mazen’s smaller toys.

Mom is filled with good tips on parenting. She said she used to have a special basket of toys that I was only allowed to play with at naptime. It got her a good hour break for years – even after my naps were over and we had Quiet Time every afternoon. She would change out the toys and add new little trinkets to keep me excited about it.

We’ve been struggling a bit getting Mazen into his crib for naps. He’s obviously tired and once he’s down he’ll nap for 2+ hours, but it’s convincing him to settle down that’s the problem. Stories, singing, rocking – they all get him tired but he just wants to stay up for the fun when it’s time to get in.

Thus, the Lunchbox Surprise was born.


I’ve been filling the box with a mix of his smaller toys – Tegu blocks, big legos, wooden toys and new book. We’ve been at it for a week now, and so far it’s been a hit. When he sees it in his crib he gets excited to climb in, and I say goodnight and leave him playing. Within 10 minutes he’s sound asleep. The cutest part is that he packs everything back up before he finally goes to sleep! And now he asks for his “prize.”

Now before some of you go crazy for allowing him to have anything but a sheet in his crib, I wouldn’t do this if he were anywhere near the “putting everything in my mouth stage.” Mazen hasn’t put anything non-food in his mouth for about a year. So I feel comfortable. And I make sure the toys are big and sturdy. I also watch him like a hawk on the video monitor until he’s asleep since he’s getting to the age where he might try to climb out of the crib.

I’m sure this won’t last forever, but for now it’s been a fun and helpful change. And I’ve had fun planning the surprises!


Mazen Moments


Yesterday you reached up to me and said “Hand.” You wanted to hold hands while we walked, and I hope you want to for a long time.


We went to the park this week, and I followed you up the big play set to the really steep slide. I know you are brave enough to go down it because I have seen the video your dad made of you going “wheee!” but when you got to the top you hesitated, asked me to sit with you, and we went down together again and again and again.


You have learned the word “MINE!” and use it appropriately. You also like to point out what is “Mazen’s” and “Mommy’s.” I was drinking a glass of wine and you looked up and said “Mommy’s juice!” Yes my sweet boy, Mommy likes her juice!


You love to play with my hair. If I wear it in a bun you tug at it until a strand comes loose that you can twirl.


I was going through my repertoire of songs I sing at bedtime and started on “Happy Birthday.” You sang “Happy” with me each time I did. At the end of the song, I paused before I got to “You” and you finished the line for me with a laugh. Your first song!


You were sick with a fever and woke up at 5:30 in the morning crying for me. I went in to pick you up and after telling me that you were NOT going back in your crib, I took you to my bed to see if you would sleep there. You have never wanted to co-sleep…there is too much fun to be had in a big bed! But this morning you snuggled into my arms and then rolled off of me and scooted your body into mine like a spoon. We slept like this for an hour. You don’t remember but you were flapping your hand in my face while you slept. You must have been dreaming about something funny.


This afternoon while we were reading stories before nap we both laid down together cheek to cheek and you turned your head toward me and said “Kiss!” A moment to remember!

Cooking With A Toddler


I look forward to the days when Mazen and I can cook together (and when he can cook for me! Ha!) In the meantime, we’ve started to get him a little more acquainted with the kitchen. There are whole sites out there dedicated to ideas for kids and kitchens. Here are simply four small moments I captured.

Moving cut potatoes from the board to the tray. He loved this “game” and the knife was far away.


Stirring the pancake batter…gently


Salad spinning GO GO GO! Then we eat the lettuce. And by eat I mean he tries it (a start!) and then spits out most of it.


And lately, watering the garden. His new favorite evening activity with Dada! He gets soaked just in time for bath : )


21 Months

If there’s a theme this month it’s “talk and play and play and talk!” Mazen has become quite the expert at both.


He wakes up in the morning and says “Pway outside?”

He gets down from his high chair and says “Pway bus!”

He truly understands that play time is the best time.

He is finally really able to mimic words we say too. If we say “Can you say Pumpkin?” He says “Pumpkin” back. (Although at this point it sounds like “Put-tin”!) I even got him to recite the entire alphabet after me!


Speaking of the ABCs, he’s picking up on those a little. He knows the letter A and can point it out. His alphabet puzzle he calls “the ABCs” and before naptime once he said “ABCs in crib!” He can say his friends’ names too, which is super cute.


We’ve also been working on counting and he understands that you move your finger from object to object to count. He knows 1, 2 and 3 but we haven’t really moved past those yet.

Mazen’s word for tissue is “nose” because so many times I grab a tissue and say “wipe your nose!” It’s very cute – he actually goes up to the tissues and says “nose” when he wants to wipe his, which is also something new – caring about hygiene!

He doesn’t like his nose to run AND for the first time he doesn’t like a wet or dirty diaper. When he wants a change he grabs his diaper and says “POOT!” Haha. We’re not really sure how he chose that word, but at least we know what it means. Diaper changes are SO MUCH BETTER than they used to be. I guess because he finally realizes they have a purpose!


We’re working on saying please and thank you as well. While he doesn’t use them all the time, he will say please unprompted if he really wants something. That’s a sign to me that he knows what it means! There’s nothing cuter than a baby saying “Pwease?”


M is absolutely obsessed with little trucks – his fire truck in particular this month. He and Matt make fire truck noises and helicopter noises all day long. M can hear a fire truck siren in the distance hours before I will ever notice it. He also knows when the train is going by our house despite the fact that it never “choo choos” and just chugs quietly in the background. He still loves his Pumpkin, Elmo and George dolls.


This past month I went on my first two-night trip away. Although he cries when I leave him with a babysitter, M was too cool when I left for Miami. He just looked at me and said “Byebye!” and kept playing with his friend Slyvia. When I got back from New Orleans a few months ago he stood up in his crib thrilled to see me with a big “MAMA!”, but this time he just glanced at me and gave me a look like “Oh hi mom. I’m reading now, but I’ll greet you in a minute.” Too cool, I say.

Then we spent the whole day together and I could tell he was really glad to have me home : )


He’s not too cool at bedtime. He still loves to snuggle and asks me to rock him and sing to him every night. He’s actually started singing himself, which is really cute and sweet. He still loves to play with me and on me. Mommy Bounce is one of his favorite games – that’s the one where he jumps on me! He’s 32 pounds and starting to hurt me more when he plays rough. If he steps on my foot with his shoe on it really hurts!

Another first this month was throwing up. Since I was a little girl who threw up a lot, I have been worried about what would happen when I became a mom with a child who threw up. The first time it happened he started to dribble out of his mouth a little. I wondered if he was throwing up and thought it wasn’t so bad. But this is one of those “You’ll know when you know” situations because suddenly there were gallons of vomit erupting from him onto the kitchen floor. It was like an adult amount! He was very scared and I felt horrible for him – horrible enough that I picked him up right after for a hug. The cleaning it up part was soooo gross. Luckily it was a twice-and-done sickness and he was at the playground by dinnertime.


On a more positive note, M loves buttons and things that go beep. Elevator rides are incredible adventures! He learned how to jump and say “Wheee” when it starts to move.

And guess who can say his own name? Cute.


Some stats:

Weight: 32 pounds and counting

Height: No idea

Clothes: 2T, some 18-24

Nap: at 1:30 for about 2 hours

Bedtime: Between 7:30 and 8

Waketime: Between 6:30 and 7

Likes: Playing outside, bread, swingy with dada, couch time with mommy, Kids Zone, Curious George, fire trucks, watering the garden, ice cream

Dislikes: Teeth brushing unless he does it all himself, nap time until he falls asleep, when trucks don’t fit inside other trucks

Toys From Hasbro

I received an email from Hasbro recently asking me if Mazen would like to test out some of their toys. I asked Mazen if he’d like to participate and he said an enthusiastic “JES!” Especially when he heard Elmo was involved.

The box included an assortment of both classic Playskool products and new items for Spring 2014. Here’s what we got:


Playskool Sesame Street Hugs Forever Friends

I’ll start with Mazen’s favorite – the Elmo! They had lots of fun playing slide all afternoon.



Elmo’s arms hook onto things like a slap bracelet which has been almost as fun for me as it has been for Mazen. I’ve hooked him on funny things like dinosaurs and Mazen’s bike!



Playskool Gloworm

In comparison, the Gloworm he was not into.


But luckily Elinor loved it!!!


I let her take it home and Alice said that she wouldn’t put it down for days.


Playskool Shapes ‘N Colors Turtle

I think Mazen was too much in a developmental black hole to enjoy this turtle. He isn’t focused enough to concentrate on the shapes and colors and is too old to be amused by the flashing lights.


But our friend Virginia loved it so we let her take it home!


Playskool Busy Ball Popper

This cute elephant shoots balls out of his trunk into the air and catches them with his ears. It’s quite exciting, but Mazen was a little scared of it. Once he figured it out he liked it but only for 5 minutes at a time. I keep it hidden and bring it out for a fun change on rainy days. I think it’s one of those toys that is best in small bursts – or for a group of kids to play with together.


Playskool Sesame Street Elmo Bath Adventure Steamboat

And finally, this cute Elmo steamboat has been a big hit in the bathtub. The Elmo squirts water and the back wheel comes off to suction to the side of the tub. M loves it!


Thanks for the fun times Hasbro!

Nursery Update: Big Boy Room

I have been itching to redecorate Mazen’s room for some time now. Probably as early as the moment I realized that my vision for his yellow + gray nursery never really turned out how I imagined.

As a reminder, here’s what we started with:


Here’s what his nursery looked like right before he arrived:


Here’s what it looked like one year later (and here’s the post about that!)


And here’s what it looks like today!


I’m in the process of slowly turning our house into a beach house. I’ve declared it my favorite style (bright, relaxed, comfortable). While the changes in the main house have been subtle, I decided to carry the nautical theme into Mazen’s room and give his décor a bit of an overhaul. I didn’t spend that much or change any of the big stuff, but the key pieces made a huge difference in the look and feel of the room.


The biggest change, of course, is the wall color. What was once a minty green is now bright modern white! And I love it.


I added new linens and curtains and moved around the artwork and furniture a bit. Here’s what it looks like from the doorway:


My favorite piece in the room is the ropey lamp that I found in Target’s Threshold line.


As a reminder, here’s the before! A red lamp I bought fresh out of college that had seen better days.


The new bedspread from Land of Nod has whales on the underside!


On top I had this pillow cover made through Etsy to fit the insert we already had. I love the pop of red – it is small but it really brightens up the room



Check out that octopus – also from Target! The burlap bins I bought a while ago, but they were Homegoods finds that work so well in the open space of the nightstand.


I used to store toys in this box in the basement, but it works so much better as a book cart in here.



If you look closely, you’ll see the Young House Love octopus hook on the shelves! I was going to hang it, but I actually like it as a decorative item even more. The paper mache M was made by blog reader Heather!


We use the bed as a changing table (which works perfectly) so most of the time you’ll find the matching changing pad on top.


But when I tidy up, it rests back on top of the dresser.


These curtains were sitting right under my nose for the longest time. I was searching for grommet curtains (the easiest to open and close) that were blackout but also over half white/light with some navy. I had already checked Pottery Barn Kids and overlooked these, and when I saw them on Pinterest I thought they had to be custom made. When I clicked through to the blog that featured them, she had a source guide and I found them on Pottery Barn! Grommets, blackout AND nautical – SOLD! They even tie in the burlap color on the bins and anchor print!


Here’s a reminder of what the old curtains were like – blah!

I splurged on a crib sheet that I really didn’t need but just wanted. I used to think $24 or so for a sheet was a lot (and it is when you have to buy 1,000 baby things!), but now that I know how much use they get and how happy these whales make the room feel I say go with the sheet you want most in the long run.


We moved Mazen’s crib 90 degrees and the room now seems to be so much more spacious. The rocking chair looks so much better over there than squeezed in by the door where it used to be. We also swapped rugs around in the house – Mazen’s stained chevron rug is now in the basement, the cushy basement rug is in the living room and this kitchen living room rug is now in here. I think it fits so much better.


I love it. Mazen likes the whales. We are all happy with the updates!

Where’s That From?

See some of my inspiration on my Baby Pinterest board!

Stripe + whale quilt

Whale crib sheet

Blue dot changing pad cover

Burlap wall anchor

Octopus wood wall art

Rugby stripe curtains

Anchor pillow cover

Ropey lamp

White pin tuck sham

Rocking chair

Wooden book crate

Paper mache M

Young House Love octopus hook

Thoughts On Baby #2


We have always known we’ve wanted two kids (if nature allows us). Maaaaaaybe three but probably just two. Matt and I were each one of two and we were 4 and 3 years apart in age from our siblings.

When Mazen was born I always said we’d get to his second birthday and then start thinking about #2 so that they would be at least 2.75+ years apart. Even though I got pregnant pretty quickly last time (3 months, 2 if you don’t count the first short one), you never know how long it will take. 

I want to be able to have full conversations with Mazen before I have a newborn in my arms:

“Mazen, can you please hand mommy that water?”

“Mazen, what do you think about this or that?”

Of course, I know having two kids is never easy but I think the more communication we get down, the better off we’ll be. I have several friends with 2 under 2, and they are truly super moms!


Despite all of this being pretty well though out, I still have worries that I’m falling behind. I tend to think of the moms with kids Mazen’s age as being the girls from my “class.” Like in school – your peers went through the same things you did at the same time. Well, many of the women in my senior class are already pregnant again – or have newborns! And those in “grades younger” than me too.


There are definite pros to having kids back to back, but I think I’m one who would do better mentally with them farther apart. I relate kid spacing to going to grad school right after college. I knew I couldn’t have gone straight to grad school or I wouldn’t have enjoyed the process. I needed a break to get a job and reset my buttons. When I did go back to school, I appreciated it so much more because of that time off.

For me, babies are similar – I want a long break. I will know it’s time when I get excited about doing it all over again. I’m already excited because there was so many wonderful parts to it, but I’m also hesitant to dive in just yet because I remember how hard it was.

I have my hands very full with my one toddler and feel that we’re in a really good groove right now. I need to trust my gut that waiting a few more years is what is best for our family.

20 Months


The 2s!!! We’re almost there – 20 months feels so much bigger than 19 and so close to 24.


As expected, talking has taken off. I lost track of new words! I’m sure he’s over 100 words by now, and he knows several sentences: “Mommy eats crackers” is our favorite. I watched this video about 100 times!

Notable new words this month include play, bacon, bunny, glasses, cake, leaf, bike, soup, surprise, nice, cracker, fall, dinosaur, raisin and happy. After Grammie and Pea left I asked him: “Mazen do you miss Grammie and Pea?” And he said: “Yes.” I think he really understood!


We had a rough month sickness-wise. M had his first ear infection when I noticed his ear was draining (ew). He did a round of amoxicillin. I have to say I was excited to see the prescription – my first whiff of that stuff brought brought back tons of memories of childhood! What flavor is in there that makes it so marshmallowy good?

The day after he finished his last drop he woke up with a fever at 5:30 in the morning. I took him to the doctor and she saw more ear infection. We weren’t sure if it was a new one or the old one not yet healed, so we had round of antibiotics part 2 – a stronger one this time. The next morning Mazen woke up with a coupe cough, so we went back to the doctor and came home with steroids. I hated him being on all that medicine, but I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible and get well soon.

The steroids were awful – M had a really weird couple of days. His cough was long better, but the medicine made him really cranky and fussy. He’s normally a pretty happy guy, so it was hard to see him so mad. As soon as he was done with the 3 days, he was back to normal. Hope we don’t have to go through that again.

Mazen used to be great at taking medicine from a syringe, but after the gross tasting steroids he started refusing it. I’m patting myself on the back for thinking of the idea to let him sip it from the little medicine cup. He LOVED being allowed to take it that way and luckily the medicine was going down easily again.


In more exciting news, M got his third haircut. Matt cut it at home, and it didn’t go so well despite all kinds of treats. But once we found the first combination of cookie and Sesame Street, he sat relatively still for the last little bit. We don’t want to take him to a real barber until we know he won’t scream his way through! I love his little haircuts though – so cute!


I know some of you think M is a great eater, but other than select healthy foods, he’s gotten really picky (as is to be expected).

Loves: PIZZA, all breakfast foods, apples/bananas/pears/strawberries/watermelon/oranges, bread of all kinds, yogurt, milk, ice cream, sweet potatoes, sunflower butter, noodles, mac and cheese, broccoli, green beans, juice, ketchup, tomato sauce, smoothies (green ones too), cheddar bunnies, pretzels, any kind of squeeze pouch.

Used to love but now hates: Cheese (sad), most fish (although he ate sardines and smoked trout randomly recently), lots of meats.

Won’t touch: everything else.

I find myself automatically defaulting to his favorites because I know he likes them instead of continuing to come up with creative ideas. I do offer him new foods from our Cook Smarts dinners almost every day, but I feel so defeated when 9 times out of 10 he rejects them immediately. I’m going to try harder this month to figure out creative ways to get him to eat well. And just like with us adults, the key is being organized and prepared with healthy food ready to go.


A big change that happened this month is that Mazen has started to tell us when his diaper is dirty. This is the first time he’s shown any awareness that he is even wearing a diaper! I’m sure some would say that this is also the first step to potty training, but we are really in no rush for that. Plus he tells us after, not before, he goes.

I did buy the two potty books and he is fascinated with them, but when I suggest he sit on the potty he refuses, so I’m not pushing it.

For a few weeks diaper changes FINALLY got calmer, but then a little diaper rash turned the tables again and he fights every change. I’m talking thrashing and trying as hard as he can to get away. Ugh – this is such an issue right now. I have changed him standing up (which we are quite good at now) and on all fours but he hates it every which way.


Also to note on the hygiene front, M has started to want to wipe his nose when it runs. He often tries to use his shirt, which is thoughtful but gross, so I’ve tried showing him where the tissues are. Half the time he goes for one! He has also wiped his mouth after eating a few times. I’m so impressed by this awareness!


Mazen tends to nap in waves – for a few weeks he’ll wake up after only an hour and a half or so. But suddenly he does a week of 2+ hour naps. It’s totally unpredictable and I can’t think of anything that correlates with this other than what goes on in his little brain.

One really cute thing he has been doing is backing up into my lap. When it’s time to put on shoes or socks or read a book he sticks his little bum out and backs up – beep beep beeeeep – until he falls in. The cutest! Matt also taught him to walk backwards. And speaking of beep beep beeeeps, he loves anything that beeps, including the dishwasher, alarm clocks, phones and more. If he hears one beep he responds with a BEEP himself!


We’ve been doing a ton of playing outside and running around. M running is just the cutest thing – he runs with his arms flopping in the wind. He loves the new slide I bought at Target and has grown really attached to his Elmo and George dolls, which he carries everywhere.

At bedtime Mazen often whispers “ni-night” to his friends unprompted: “Ni-night Saya, ni-night El-nor, ni-night outside.” He also loves it when I sing, and if I stop humming he lifts his head up and says “MO!” I think that’s the first anyone has every requested that ; )

He loves making silly faces and any kind of excitement – if a room of people clap he lights up with joy and claps too!


Xoxo to my little pumpkin! He’s such a mama’s boy and I love him so much!


New Favorite Books!

We read a ton of books – before every nap and bedtime. Our collection is a combination of gifts, hand-me-downs and books my mom knows from her writing circles and sends to us. Here are some of our very favorites!


How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

Every book in this series is awesome! My mom actually knows the author! Mazen loves dinosaurs and so these are some of his favorite books. My mom just got us How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? and it’s hilarious! We also have the small board book version of Clean Their Room? and Play with Their Friends? All fabulous!



Mom also sent this one because of my dad’s name of Pea and because we didn’t have a good alphabet book. The peas inside are doing all kinds of activities and they are so cute! Mazen loves to point out the peas.

Orla Kiely Numbers

I bought this book when I was pregnant because it’s Orla and obviously beautiful. It has been great for introducing counting because the objects (elephants, pears, houses) are really clear and neatly organized on the page, so it’s obvious what I am pointing to when I count them. Mazen knows how to count by pointing to each thing on the page, but we’re not counting up to 10 yet : )


Llama Llama Hoppity Hop

We love all of the Llama Llama books, but this one is Mazen’s favorite. He likes to go through the motions we invented with us, especially the biiiiig huuuug at the end!



Mazen has started to show some signs of being ready for potty training, so I figured we should get a potty book. I bought two – the above and this one. Potty is hilarious and Mazen is fascinated with it!! As soon as I finish the last page he says “Mo! Mo!” {more} The Potty Book for Boys, however, he could care less about. Go figure!


The Complete Adventures of Curious George

Mimi and Papa got Mazen this book and he LOVES it. He loves all things Curious George in general, and this book is story after story of George’s adventures. Mazen listens right along.


Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

This book is craaaaazy fun! There are a million and one kinds of truck inside and we stare at them for hours. I don’t even have to read the words (which are small) – we just stare at the pages and point out funny things on wheels.


Goodnight Moon

And of course the classic! M loves the moon so this book is one of his favorites. He loves the details (the giraffe and elephant on the shelf) and I think he likes how soothing the words are.


My Big Dinosaur Book

More dinosaurs! This one is packed with big photos of dinos in all their glory. Maze loves to read this one.


Diary of a Wombat

My cousin Caroline lives in Tazmania and she sent us this book. It is hilarious!!!! It follows the life of a wombat as told by the wombat herself. “Morning: Slept. Afternoon: Slept. Evening: Found something to scratch again.” SO cute!


Red Truck

Man oh man have I read this book 100 times this year! PULL Red Truck with all your might, PULLLL! M points out red trucks and school busses around town now.


Little Gorilla

One of our all-time favs, Mazen still loves it. On the page where the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles are mentioned someone (likely my mom) must have pointed out all of our family members because there are certain gorillas that Mazen knows by name –


What are your favs?