happy thanksgiving!

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i’d been putting off washing all of the baby’s clothes, partly because i tend to do everything last minute, but also because it just felt like the biggest task in all the land (i know it’s not, but when you’re 38 weeks pregnant, everything feels this way).  we don’t have a washer and dryer and a lot of it needed to be hand washed and air dried, so that’s maybe why it felt even bigger a task than normal. yesterday, i got the littles situated with some snacks and toys in their nursery and then went to work on the clothing in my bathtub trying to find a comfortable sitting position where i could actually wash the clothing and not keep banging my stomach into the tub ledge.

i had only washed maybe 3 or 4 little onesies before eleanor and samson had found their way into the bathroom and asked me what i was doing. “i’m washing the baby’s clothes,” i said. i feel like i hadn’t even finished my sentence before they were both rolling up their sleeves, climbing into the tub and asking to help (but i mean, they look for any excuse to get into the bathtub so i’m not sure where their motives were truly coming from.)  but within 30 seconds, i had two very excited toddlers with rolled up sleeves and rolled up pants inside my bathtub kneading the tiny clothes in a big metal bowl filled with baby detergent and water and having the greatest time doing so. “this is so much fun, mama!” they kept saying. i swear their excitement could have been compared to opening a christmas present!  it took me only a few more seconds to see the situation as a positive one.  grateful to own tiny baby clothes to wash in the first place, grateful to have two little ones already so eager to help and participate as we prep for the new baby, and just so very grateful to have a new baby who has stayed put in my tummy, and is healthy and doing well, and will be here in a few weeks (or days?) time!

i’m a true believer that life is all about perspective.  i can focus on my blessings, or i can focus on the ones i don’t have. there have been times in my life when i’ve only focused on what i hadn’t yet reached, or didn’t have, always feeling like i’d be happy or grateful once i reached a certain point or a certain something happened, etc etc. but as i’ve gone through some bigger personal trials and obstacles in my life, i’ve realized the energy it takes to just be down about them all day long is too overwhelming and exhausting for me to take.  sometimes it’s easier to let things go and trust in God and make a choice every day to be happy. i don’t have this sort of mentality down 100%, but when i work towards it, i’m aware of how much easier it is to get through my day to day, and i think i’m a little bit more pleasant to be around, too. ;)

i’m thankful for my life, my beautiful growing family, and the chance to live in my favorite city. i’m thankful to be pregnant, for good food, for music and the holidays, for donuts even if i eat too many of them…i’m thankful for smaller sillier things like dry shampoo and maternity jeans and christmas lights and good smelling candles. i’m thankful for the working subway elevators, the express trains, the few but so good and so loyal friends of mine who are always there and always have my back.  i’m thankful to be a daughter of God, to be a woman, to be a mother. i’m thankful for this season, and thanksgiving in particular, because it’s always a nice time to take into account what a beautiful world this one really is, even with all its ups and downs, and how much we have to be thankful for.

i hope you have a wonderful, happy thanksgiving, friends!

traveling during the holidays, with tips from tim and kesh coulson

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the holidays tend to be a big time for travel as many take off to visit loved ones and home this time of year.  since we’re expecting a baby within a few weeks, our families are traveling to us this year. (score!) although in general, our little family tends to stay more put during the holiday season (and usually visit our families in the early spring.)
i’ve blogged a bit about airplane travel with little ones HERE and traveling internationally with them HERE, but thought this might be a great time to hear from our australian friends tim and kesh coulson, who have spent the majority of this past year traveling the world together with their little boy, roo.  i don’t know anyone else that makes it looks as effortless, inspiring or beautiful than the two of them.  below they share a few thoughts on travel that might come in handy if anyone is looking for a few good suggestions for traveling this season.
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 kesh says:
“My husband and our two year old little boy sold our home earlier this year to travel the world. Our son Roo has been on more than 150 flights! Most of the time it’s the best thing ever. Here are some things we’ve learnt along the way, that might be especially helpful with your travels this holiday season.”
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1. Take time everyday to do something for your kiddies. Especially when travelling, it can be hard as schedules and routines are out the window. Right now is such a busy time of year. Everyday fun can be replaced with trips to the store, hours in transit, phone calls, party organization, gift buying, meal preparing etc. Try to have time everyday to do something that is just for your kids, go to the park, look at the Christmas lights, visit Santa, go for a walk, play in the snow/ go to the beach! Pick something they really love to do and get outdoors.

2. Enlist the help of family! If family is nearby on your travels, let someone your child loves watch them for a couple of hours so you can get things done – go for it. It will be better for you and your kids. Timmy and I were travelling in Morocco earlier this year and met my parents there. My Mum and Dad loved to have some time alone with Roo while Tim and I went for walks around the Medina and took an hour out of the day to trip plan in a cafè. Roo absolutely loved the time playing with them too.

3. As we travel a lot! I do all my gift buying online once Roo is in bed at night. I don’t mind a bit of online shopping :) this way we can avoid long lines and cranky toddlers.
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4. We stay in apartments over hotels 90% of the time. Especially around the holiday period it is really nice to be in someone’s home over a hotel room. We have had great experiences using apartment rental and sharing sites over the last few years.

5. Try and not get too caught up on sleep and schedules – kids are much more adjustable then we give them credit for. Chances are there will be some late nights and early mornings, naps cut short or maybe no naps at all. The snow ball fight or family dinner might not have to end early for sleep every time. Take comfort in knowing once things have settled down after the holiday season schedules and sleep will slip back to normal all too quickly. Some of the best memories are made when things don’t go as planned.”
thank you again, tim and kesh, for sharing! all photos courtesy of the couple as well.

saturday afternoon at the holiday market…

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sat892343we spent a good portion of our day down at union square on saturday. our excuse was to check out the holiday market, but since there is a joe’s pizza and a dough donuts in the area now, we really look for any excuse to head that way and eat some of our favorite terrible-for-you-foods (it was the weekend after all), so the holiday market sounded like the perfect excuse.

i love all the little holiday markets that pop up around the city this time of year because every booth is just so festive, and the people are friendly and there is apple cider and hot chocolate every few booths or so and you honestly forget about the cold for like, a few minutes every now and then, it’s that good.

the photo above is after eleanor asked her papa to ride on one shoulder. “no hands, papa!” and here are a few more photos from the day below…

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^^^such color! i can never get over how beautiful spices are. and how walking past shops filled with them makes me wish i knew what most of them were and cooked enough to need to purchase them.^^^

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^^^37 weeks!!!! i had forgotten how during that last month of pregnancy you wake up each day to an even bigger baby belly. it’s part fascinating part terrifying.  i won’t be surprised if this baby is 10 pounds when he or she is born. really hoping for my sake that is not the case, but i mean, just look at it! ^^^

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^^^this puzzle of the new yorker was so tempting for me. and i don’t even have the patience for puzzles. maybe someday…^^^

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^^^speaking of puzzles… haha! while samson napped in the stroller, eleanor picked out a christmas gift to give him from her this year…^^^

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 ^^^she chose this pretty wooden block puzzle that allows you to put together several pictures, shapes and colors together.  i think both of them will end up having a lot of fun with it! it was sweet watching her try to decide what he would like the most! (the vendor was called kubiya games.)^^^

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^^^when this sweet boy woke up!^^^

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^^^eleanor spotted these puppets from across the market, and just had to go by and check them out.  i kept thinking, oh gosh no way. those things are weird. but then i watched my little girl fall in complete love with a pirate puppet and i wasn’t sure they were that weird anymore.  “ahoy matey!”^^^

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^^^E tried to convince samson he was a nice pirate, but samson wasn’t too big of a fan of the whole puppet thing. after E kept hugging the pirate, we decided this just might be the perfect christmas gift for eleanor, and asked samson if he wanted to get one for her and  if he was up for choosing one.  we made eleanor close her eyes while samson picked out a puppet for her. she was so good at keeping those eyes shut, i promise i won’t look! not until christmas! she said while she clapped her hands with a permanent grin on her face. for samson, it was a toss up between picking out the pirate or the fireman puppet, but he ended up choosing the pirate for E. i have a feeling that puppet is going to be a cherished toy for eleanor for the next few years. who knows, samson may warm up to him over time, too!^^^

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^^^trying to find gifts for nana and granddad and grandma and grandpa.  we decided to make our own gifts for them and draw our own cards though.^^^

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^^^don’t tell my doctor, ok? and welcome to manhattan, dough donuts!!!!!!!^^^

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hope you had a wonderful weekend! happy thanksgiving week!!!

christmas tree decorating! + a video!

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i’m probably the happiest lady in all of new york city this week because we pulled out all our christmas decorations and got that tree up (well, two trees… we’ve been keeping up with tradition having the littles decorate their own smaller tree in their nursery).  we went the artificial tree route this year since we put them up earlier than we normally do (probably the best perk to having a baby due in a few weeks!) and even though i know i’ll miss that fresh pine smell from a real tree, there is no way i can complain about anything right now.

whenever you begin decorating for the holidays, we wish you a wonderful time decorating! we filmed a few snippets of our time putting up our trees this week below if you’d like to watch. the kids faces hanging all those ornaments can’t be topped. lots of clapping and jumping up and down. don’t have a clue where they get it from. ;)

happy tree decorating, friends!

ps. our christmas tree last year here and this old video from josh’s and my first christmas together is fun, too. we were so young!

toddler eats: sweet potato pumpkin rolls!

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i’m so excited about this recipe kelsey nixon is sharing today and just in time for thanksgiving next week! any kind of homemade roll is a major must on my thanksgiving plate and bonus points if it has pumpkin! i also love how this recipe incorporates a little gratitude scroll craft as well! very cute. we’re looking forward to making these next week with the kiddos.  and i’m especially looking forward to eating a big plate of these rolls all by myself, too!  ;)
kelsey says:
With Thanksgiving just a week away, it’s a great time to start planning out your menu and ways in which you can incorporate your littles into the big feast. Making an effort to include your kids in your Thanksgiving celebrations will help to create traditions and lasting memories for your family. So whether you step into the kitchen with your kids or enlist their help for crafts or table decorations, think of something that they can look forward to when it comes to contributing to the big day.
My Oliver is on a cooking kick these days and loves to be in the kitchen “helping me” cook (which most often results in an epic mess!). I love that we both enjoy being in the kitchen together and wanted to include him in a little bit of meal prep this year. Inspired by his favorite color (orange) and the cute way in which he says”punkin” I decided to come up with a Sweet Potato Pumpkin Roll that we can make together to serve to family and friends on Thanksgiving. To make the most of being thankful this time of year I also wanted to throw in a gratitude element that would really make these rolls special. This recipe doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, has a fairly simple process, and is nearly foolproof. Even if you’ve never made bread before, you can handle this recipe.
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The first step is to bloom or activate the yeast with a little bit of sugar and warm water. Make sure to be patient and give the mixture 5 minutes to kick into gear- it should look a little bubbly. Then you’ll simply add the rest of your wet ingredients including the rest of the sugar, eggs, melted butter, salt, and sweet potato puree. The sweet potatoes in these rolls make them so tender. The easiest way to get this secret ingredient into your rolls is to use a sweet potato baby food puree – I do this all the time! If you’re more of a purist, you can absolutely cook, drain, and blend fresh sweet potatoes to get 1/2 cup puree. Oliver got a kick out of emptying the jars into the dough and you’d never guess that baby food of all things was included in this recipe! Finally, mix in the flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of your mixing bowl. Trust your gut here and add a little more flour (slowly) if your dough seems too wet. I usually end up adding between 4 and 4 1/2 cups.
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Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and bounces back when you indent your finger into the surface. Transfer the dough to a greased mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow your dough to rise until doubled in size – I usually give it about 45 minutes to an hour. Just enough time to clean up the mess I’ve already made in the kitchen and pull everything else together to finish the rolls.
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Punch the dough down and let it rest for about 2 minutes before portioning it into 16-20 balls. Make sure to keep the dough covered with a kitchen towel at all times to prevent it from drying out. I love using a bench scraper for portioning – it’s one of my favorite tools in the kitchen for a variety of reasons! Roll each piece of dough into an even ball and transfer to a greased baking sheet.
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Using a paring knife, cut 4-6 slits around the dough ball to resemble a pumpkin. Using your pinky or another slender circular object (I used my digital thermometer casing), pierce a small hole in the center of the dough balls. Cover with the kitchen towel again and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. While the oven preheats your rolls will rise again. A double rise will ensure a tender roll that isn’t dense. I usually give the second rise about 20 minutes or so.
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An extra step that we took is to write what we’re thankful for this year on strips of parchment paper with these markers  Then we rolled them up and stuck them in the center of the pumpkin rolls before baking. At the dinner table it’s a blast to tear open your roll and try and guess who’s gratitude scroll you got! It’s so fun to see your kids get excited about what they’re grateful for. It’s not a necessary step to the recipe, but it really makes these rolls special for Thanksgiving!
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Once your rolls are shaped (and stuffed if you’re doing the gratitude scrolls), brush them with an egg wash before placing them in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Once out of the oven, allow the rolls to cool slightly then finishing by sticking a small pecan slice into the top of each roll to resemble a stem.
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We love these rolls so much we’re planning to make them a tradition at our Thanksgiving table for years to come. Do you have any recipes that you make with your kids each Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear them!
Sweet Potato Pumpkin Rolls
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen rolls
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree*
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour
  • Chopped pecans, for stems
Dissolve yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and warm water in a mixing bowl. Allow yeast to bloom for 5 minutes until activated.
Add the remaining sugar, eggs, butter, sweet potato puree, and salt. Mix to combine. Mix in flour slowly, adding just enough for the dough to begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl and no longer stick.
Transfer to countertop dusted with flour and knew for a 3-4 minutes just until smooth and the dough bounces back after indenting your finger into the dough. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour (or longer).
Punch dough down and let dough rest for 2 minutes before portioning into 16-20 dough piece. Roll into balls and transfer to greased baking sheet. Using a paring knife, cut 4-6 slits on the edges of each ball, keeping the center in tact. Using your pinky or a small slender circular object, pierce a hole in the center of each dough ball to resemble shape of a pumpkin. (Place gratitude scrolls in hole, if using)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover shaped rolls and allow to rise again for at least 20 minutes. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Finish by placing pecan pieces in each hole to resemble stem.
*I like to use organic sweet potato puree baby food. This is my favorite brand
thank you kelsey for sharing this fun recipe with us! see kelsey’s post with clever ideas for toddler lunches HERE and all about cooking with apples HERE.
all photos by kylie whiting.