December 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes

I was going to write these last night but when I sat down on the couch with my bouncy laptop, a little man about 2-years-old crawled onto my lap instead and said, "Mama, you my best buddy."

Screw blogging. Last night was all about wrestling cuddling with that little boy and watching The Grinch with the rest of the brood. See, that's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

OK, onto quick takes. AKA: random crap that fits nicely together on a Friday.

1. Last Friday we made Gingerbread houses. I'M NOT CRAFTY so I had to wing it. I built the houses out of canned frosting and gluten free graham crackers. Out of all 4 (yes, I made one too) only mine fell apart which was good enough because I didn't want to make kids cry. Especially since I had been bribing/hanging this activity over their heads for a whole week leading up to it. It was so much fun decorating these bad boys and just hanging with the kids. The pictures show family bliss but in reality, Levi is sitting in his own poop, the boys went back to fighting about 5 seconds after they glued the last jelly bean, and as a result Levi bit Max. HARD. On the knee. Marks and blood. A few days later we come to find out he accidentally turned on Walking Dead on the TV and apparently he was acting out some sort of Zombie Apocalypse. Hashtag Parenting Fail.

This was daddy's contribution.

2. Everyday during our break I'm trying to do something fun WITH the kids. Yes, I'm with them when we do school but I don't really play with them a lot. So I'm making a point to play games, hang out, watch movies, just be their mom. Our current shenanigans are Pass the Pigs and Story Cubes. UM, Story Cubes is awesome! Max is making up the best stories and I'm totally going to keep this game up for pre-writing skillz.

3. On Tuesday I decided last minute to take them to a movie. We saw Big Hero 6 and it was SO GOOD. One of the best kid's movies I've seen. Such a beautiful story line of self-sacrificial love. Lola alternated between watching and sleeping and we all had a jolly good popcorn-soda-induced time.

4. Lola is now eating. Food. Peas and Sweet Potatoes and she loves them. I tried to wait until she was 6 months but she would freak anytime I ate in front of her so I said what the heck and pulled the trigger. But now I have ONE MORE MOUTH TO FEED. Hashtag Lord help me.

5. Dinner from the other night. I'm trying to get better at not being boring (but boring is simple and simple is good) and I had some random stuff I needed to use up before it all got bad. This is a cranberry-apple-butternut squash roasted thing, with leftover (gluten/dairy free) mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving, with some chicken that I rubbed with the juice from an orange, rosemary, thyme, sea salt and pepper. You can find the squash recipe here. The kids ate it because afterwards they got to eat some of their gingerbread house.

6. OH and I made meatballs over spaghetti squash. Levi = in love.

7. Avila is a bon-bon (under the skirt girl) in the Nutcracker this year. We had an entourage of 18 come to her first performance last weekend and SHE ROCKED IT. Such a light up on that stage! And that smile! Levi stayed home to nap, Lola danced along (and slept), and Max alternated between being bored and excited.

What does one wear when they need to kind of dress up but will be wrestling with/nursing a baby? This awesome jumpsuit (that opens in the front to feed a kid) and a snuggly leather jacket. 

Jacket - All Saints

Shoes - Jeffrey Campbell 
(last year clearance find - just search "cage sandals" at Nordstrom online and they have a ton on sale right now)

December 18, 2014

Embracing Minimalism: The Playroom

OK, I might get punched for this but y'all are gonna have to wait (just a week…maybe two) for the poop post. Because I've been advised by council that, well, it just has to wait. Things are a movin' and a shakin' around these parts and good things come to those who wait.

In the meantime, let's talk playroom. Or, in Levi's word, the bay-uuun. It is a heaven and a hell for parents. It's a safe place for all their crap stupid toys and play things - a place we can perhaps close off and not look at but really it's always in the back of our heads as a sore spot. (Actually that would be where Levi hit me with a car.) And if you don't have a playroom you are (lucky and) cursed because then you can't close the door and you have to find a place for all that shiz amidst real people stuff. Making sense?


You see, in our old house we had a humongous playroom. Actually it was a playroom that opened up into another playroom (with a reading cave and a hideout and built in toy storage…aka: benefits of remodeling a basement). But what I found in all that space was that it would just get filled with toys. There was a place for a kitchen set and dress up bin and desk for coloring and on and on but really, by the end of the day, it all got dumped out everywhere and it took a mad mom and a grumpy dad and unwilling kids to get it aaaallll cleaned up. Forget I had labels and it all organized: it didn't matter. There was just too. much. stuff. for their little heads and hands to deal with.

So, what did I do? I started getting rid of it.

Fast forward two years and a move later and our playroom is about 1/3 the size of our old joint. This room needed to house toys, a sitting/TV area, school stuff, books, and still have enough room to, um, actually play. 

So, what did I do? I got rid of more of it.

The solution to the battles and the non-picking up was simply to have less. I cut it down to the basics (these might look different for your family) but I kept some of the creative play stuff and the rest went. Blocks, kitchen toys/doctor/construction stuff, a bin for Lola's squeaky things, a few stuffed animals, some blankets, the dress up clothes, Legos, and puzzles (art/coloring things are in a different area of our home).

And I enacted a rule: if the playroom can't get cleaned up (by the kids) in 10 minutes, then I get to get rid of more stuff. Because they know that if they can't take care of what they already have then, well, it must be too much. All it took was some good labeling, some good teaching about where stuff goes, and the gonads to follow through if they complained or couldn't deal with what they had. Nothing like tears when loading the Goodwill bag into the back of the rig to show that mama's serious. And you betcha that playroom got picked up in not 10 minutes, but 5.

Having less will naturally mean that kids might become more bored. Boredom = goodness. When they're bored I go tell them to make up something fun: a game, a project, do some art, color on a cardboard box, go read a book. All the creative peeps of this world invented things when they were bored. Plus I say that if they're bored with all they have why the heck would I want to get them more?!

Speaking of getting more, I pretty much put a stop to the buying of toys. Not that we did that a lot, but a thing here and a present there adds up. Even birthday gifts are becoming more experience based than material based. Which totally makes the material presents (when they do get them) all the more special.

OK, now for what you really want: Pictures. Here is what our playroom looks like now - along with a shot of the kids' rooms. My goal in all these rooms was to combine function with aesthetic design (ooooo, big word, big word). In other words, I wanted to maximize every square inch while making it look good. 'Cause I'm at home 80% of my life and I want my environment to be a place I love and that works well for our family. Alright, done talking.


Closet right and left. Right is cars, legos and puzzles (up top). Left is school crap (some of it needs to be filed AND I'm still purging).

View from the door at the sitting area. The couch is from Target, ottoman from I can't remember. Blankets are stored between the couch and the wall and pillows in the ottoman. Gotta have lots of fort building materials.

View from the sitting area. Bookshelves are from Costco. Bins are labeled with the type of toys that go in them. Even Levi (2 1/2) knows where stuff goes.

Here are the toys we chose to keep, going left to right: baby toys, cars, plastic duplo blocks, magna-tiles, music toys (but I'm close to getting rid of these), DR/Construction bin, balls, people (random animals/little people), stuffed animals, kitchen toys. And the far right is their cash register. But that might go soon, too.

Lego table - chairs and two separate tables from IKEA. Basket of dress up clothes, from Target. Boxing gloves for the boys, Costco baby. Eventually I'm going to do something with the wall. I'm thinking a cool rope/wire thing with clothespins to hang art work OR I might put up their maps. Not sure yet. I am, however, going to put up the IKEA spice racks under the light switch to house books facing out. For now, Go Hawks.


This room will eventually house "all the girls." Bunk bed is from Bunk Bed King. Dollhouse, an auction item. Nightstand and lamp from Target. Bedding, West Elm.

Dollhouse people/things are in the small plastic bin. Barbie stuff is in the ottoman.

American Girl clothes are in the white thing. Baby dolls/clothes are in the blue ottoman. Dress up clothes on the wall (with an extra bin of those in her closet). AND THAT PICTURE IS CROOKED, baaaaaa. Going to fix that now, lol. Hashtag OCD.


I bought the bunk beds from the previous owner (shoutout Rachel!). I actually bought a couch and some barstools from her, too. Bedding is from Amazon. Rug, nightstand, and lamp from Target. Under the bed we keep some play stuff: mostly a tube thing they can crawl through. But I might get rid of that soon because they don't listen to me when they play with it....

Behind the door: Football stuff. But a fireman coat got in there somehow. And a picture from my own nursery that I've had in my room/house ever since.

Laundry bin for all the kids. Trunk to hold blankets (which I bought off my college roommate for $5 when she sold all her stuff. Shout out Amelia!). In the closet is a dresser and some blocks/Lincoln Logs they can play with (if they ask).

The upstairs hallway. Lola's napping in that room behind the wall so piano is being played with headphones.

Alright, there you have it. I'll post the rest of the house as I get to it. For now, just grab a bag and get rid of stuff. There, my PSA for the day.

December 17, 2014

Um, OK...and a guest post!

Whoa. I should've predicted that when talking about *how* to get your kids to poop I would've had like major interest or something. So, I will attempt to explain (perhaps getting big sister to take a video or something) about all that soon but in the meantime...

I'm guest posting today over at my good friend's site, Tales of a Mountain Mama. Amelia lives with her husband and three young children in Yellowstone National Park. As a family, they believe that life is precious, short and should be lived to the fullest. That includes introducing a life of adventures for their boys in the form of skiing, hiking, biking, running, camping and lots of outdoor playing. Amelia writes at Tales of a Mountain Mama in an attempt to inspire others to get outside daily too with tips and tricks, stories and lots of gear reviews. You need to check her out!

Anyway, you can check out my post over there where I talk about how to be adventurous when you (and your children) love routines and schedules. And then stay tuned for the *teaching how to poop* tutorial. OMGeee, I can't believe I just wrote that.

December 16, 2014


Bouncy laptop on the lap part three. But no me importa because LOLA WENT TO BED AT 7 EFFING PM. That was 45 minutes ago. 7pm. 7 o'clock. Boom chica boom boom. Except now I'm sitting and I don't let myself sit at night because if I did (like right now) I wouldn't get up. So it looks like I'm screwed and will be here until midnight. So I might as well blog.

Aaaanywaaay, the boys are whining because they have a billion Legos to pick up and Avila is sad because they put away the awesome Lego house she was building (and Michael is mad because I'm on the computer and not helping but for the record I'm done when Lola's done which used to be 10pm but NOW IT'S 7:00 SO THERE).

But, after all that let's cut to the chase: Lola is 5 months old!


Sorry for the caps. I'm shouting if you couldn't tell. Shouting for freaking joy.

There is just something that happens to babies when they hit 5 months. Don't believe me? I have 4 kids so there. And with every single one of them magical things happened when they turned 5 months old: grumpiness goes away. They become freakishly happy and exiting and they can sit up and roll over and, if they were sleeping crappy before, that usually goes away too. (And if it doesn't I sleep train to make the crappy sleep go away...more on that later 'cause I like opening cans of worms.)

And little Lourdes is no different (except for the sleep training part. Didn't have to do that this time around, yessss). She is so much fun. Babbling, laughing (like real belly laughing), being super feminine (dainty coughs people), rolling around my closet as I continue to clean that baby out (the closet, not the baby), starting to eat food (sweet potatoes are her favorite) and surprising her brothers and sisters with all her cool new tricks - like blowing bubbles. Although her nursing deal is annoying because 1) she wants to flirt the whole time which means I have to keep a blanket over her head so she doesn't see me and 2) she eats in like 5 minutes now which means all my iPhone Facebook checking has been reduced from my usual 30 minute rest. You win some you lose some.

I'm gearing up, man. Gearing up for the next awesome chunks of months of baby awesomeness until she turns into toddler trouble. I figure we've got a 15 month countdown and until then I will soak in every moment of babbling baby bliss. The time when the baby becomes my bestie and we have this little bond that she doesn't have with anyone else - not yet at least. Just me and her, her and me until I'm ready to give her wings and send her to time-out. But serisously, can you even picture this face in time-out? Yeah, I said the same thing about baby Levi but he spends half his days there.......

Oh, and I forgot to mention. I taught her how to poop on command. Yup. Babies are like puppies: you can teach them anything. (I taught Max and Levi to do this too. With Avila I had no idea what I was doing...) She's been doing this since she was 3 months old and it's kind of an easy trick. If you really want to know how it's done just message me or comment or something because I'm sure the rest of the blog world doesn't need a detailed account of bowel stories.

PS: Sorry I posted a picture of you pooping, Lola.

December 13, 2014


So, I haven't quite pin-pointed it yet but I'm inching closer to nailing down my personal style. The biggest thing I'm realizing through this process is that I can't copy anyone else - it's up to me to be me. There are things I will always love and always hate to wear. There are things that do and DO NOT look good on me no matter how hard I try. Pinterest is my current friend (I'm noticing that everything I pin is comfy, neutral, and minimalist, with a pop of something unexpected and WEIRD) and GUESS WHAT?!! Apparently Nordstrom stylists (if they're flipping awesome) will come to your house and help you organize/create a wardrobe. Life changed. (Shout out to Brittany from Tacoma Nordstrom TBD!! She's coming in 2 weeks and our kids will have a playdate while we get rid of stuff and see what I'm lacking.) 

Here's a little peek of my OOTW (again, Instagram Hashtag if you live in the North Pole but I'm pretty sure they have Instagram there too. OK, this reference is for my dad then: it means Outfits of the Week) and what I'm digging/not digging about each. And speaking of Instagram, I link better outfit deets on there so check that out at xokristinenicole. Or not. I don't get hung up on followers - I'm only hung up on the fact that I missed watching most of the episodes of last season's Project Runway and now I can't stream them. Cry me a fabric river.

Last Friday Night - XMAS Party #1
What I love about this: it's SO SIMPLE and the cool things are found in the details. Black flowy tank (super post-partum pooch hiding. I wore it when I was 6 months pregnant with Lola so it's apparently maternity friendly too), faux leather pants (that I get a ton of use out of believe it or not), simple jewelry (can't quite see the layered necklaces or rings), statement shoes, a warm shrug, and a husband. The trick is to not go overboard. I like to err on less than more because I used to err on more and I would have WAY too much going on. Again keep it simple. Unless going overboard is your thing then ROCK IT.

Top - Lush camisole tank. Similar here 

Pants - Zara faux leather. Similar here 

Jewelry - Stella and Dot

Shoes - Jeffrey Campbell Foxtrot. Similar here

Saturday - Pizza Night at my Sister's
Name of the game: COZY. I threw the hat and lipstick on last minute and it totally made the outfit. Throw on a pair of neutral flat ankle boots and I would rock this out, too. But flip flops (in the rain) are awesome, right?

Top - Old Target find. 

Pants - Target

Flip-flops - Haviannas from COSTCO baby

Hat - Nordstrom. Similar here

Sunday - Church
This may be my new favorite outfit. Inspired by a picture from Pinterest that I have always loved. Simple, chic, totally kid friendly (yes, even the off-white. No, I wouldn't wear this while making spaghetti sauce). Again, the details make the outfit. Watch was a Black Friday score I'd had my eye on for a loooong time. It pays to hold out baby - tick tock tick tock. And bottom right is what I change into like the second I get home. Old sweats not pictured. Because Sunday is for football and sweatshirts and your husband's old football sweatshirt. WITH his name and number on the back. Swoon, I'm in college again.

Sweater - Old Ann Taylor Loft find. Similar here

Pants - 7 for all Mankind mid ride in Navy. Similar here

Shoes - DV by Dolce Vita. Similar here

Bracelets - Stella and Dot and an old thrift find

Baby - made by me (and my husband XO)

Monday - Church again. And normal stuff.
Totally wore this two days in a row. Just switched out the shoes. 

Shoes - Aldo

Tuesday - home.
These are the shoes I'd throw on if we went out. Unless it was raining then I would go to my trusty Sorel's I can't stop wearing (because it's been effing raining all effing week. AND STOP AUTOCORRECTING ME EFFING COMPUTER. You should know me by now.) Top is a consignment find from Thred-UP ($10 baby) but I CANNOT decide about this sweater. It's not super great material (GAP clearance find) but it's soft enough. I just can't decide if it's me. Something about it seems off. (A little too girly? I'd totally swap for a leather jacket instead.) So the question begs, do I keep it or does it go in the donate pile??

Top - Free People thrift find

Pants - 7 for all Mankind. Similar here 
*I had them hemmed to my ankles then rolled them up*

Sweater - old GAP find

Wednesday -
Wore this to the kids' school they have on Wednesdays. The pants are low rise (which are death) and the belt is a current necessity, but I LOVE these jeans so much (I got mine on sale and the cost per wear is like $.05) and I can't part with them. Yet. But I'm going minimalist so I probably will.

Top - Topshop. Similar here 

Scarf - Leith 

Denim - BlankNYC

Jacket - All Saints  (on 60% markdown last year!) Similar here

Watch - Auction find. Same one here

Bracelet - old Target find

Alright mamas and papas. Go enjoy the weekend. Peace out.


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