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The Sweetest Toddler: Our Little Em at Two and Half Years Old

It’s been a minute since I last shared a baby update and somewhere along the way my baby morphed into a toddler without my ever slowing down to acknowledge that fact. Friends, this motherhood journey never fails to amaze me with how beautiful and hard it can be, all at the same time. Our little girl is now a little over two and half years old, and over the last six months she has grown and matured so much that it’s actually pretty emotional for me. I’m the mom who cries regularly (read: many times a week) over everything from how much I love my kid to how quickly she’s growing to how smart she is to how much of a pain in the ass she can be some days. (Let’s be honest with each other on that, ok?) At two and a half she still stays home with me full-time save for busy shoot or prep days when she’s generally with a sitter. This fall she’ll be starting pre-k (more on that later) so I am feeling really emotional now that we’re in the final stretch of this time where it’s just been Mommy and Bébé conquering the world. So here we are, at two and a half, full of spunk, melting down a few times a day and as obsessed as ever with her daddy, her big brothers and her puppy Harper.

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The Best Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

A few weeks ago marked Em’s inaugural plane flight when we flew to Florida to visit her baby cousin Marley. I was a little worried about the trip because our girl (who is now a few months over two years old) is a mover and a shaker. She’s not a big fan of sitting still for any real length of time and she’s known to be a little feisty. (I’m mean, there’s a reason why her nickname is Felicia. Yes, that’s a real thing.) I wasn’t so much worried about the flights themselves as I was about the down time in airports, but the flight time was obviously a concern, too. To prepare for our trip I sent out a blast on my personal Facebook page asking all of my toddler parent friends to serve me up their best tips for traveling with toddlers. Luckily, they delivered en masse. We put a bunch of their tips to the test and overall (despite some serious travel delays), we survived the trip relatively unscathed and feel mostly prepared for our next trip whenever it may be. When we knew we were having a baby, we adopted a “have baby, will travel” policy. Sure, it can be easier said than done, but it’s really important to us that our little sidekick join us on lots of adventures, near and far, so the timing now is perfect to get us all in the swing of things, especially since many of her cousins live out of state. Here are some of the best tips that were shared by friends and what worked for us, including links to some of the best toddler travel gear ever made! (A resounding endorsement if ever there was one.)

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The Sweetest Niece! Baby Marley + Her Pretty Tropical Nursery Tour

Writing this post today is one of those happy, emotional and surreal experiences that just make me love life. Friends, meet my sweet little niece, Marley Gray! Born on September 18th at 5:21pm, Emerson’s baby cousin and new BFF clocked in at 7lbs 9oz of seriously beautiful baby. For those of you keeping track, yes! Em and Marley share a middle name, which was derived from our maternal grandparents’ names (Gary + Kay) and I hope it always makes them feel close and special, like it’s them against the world. Today I am so excited to share a bunch of photos of Ash, Justin and Marley, along with all the details on her adorable little nursery, which Ash and I worked on together from 1400 miles apart. (Big ups to secret Pinterest boards!) From the beginning Ash was really drawn to mostly neutral nursery spaces with loads of texture and sweet little details. She definitely did not want anything that was pink or screamed girl, but she did want it to feel playful and fun which is where the touch of tropical comes into play. Scroll through for all the insanely beautiful photos from Jessica Bornder Photography, and you’ll find all the shopping links below. Welcome to the world, Marley! You are so so very loved.

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Our Favorite Baby + Toddler Toys

In a shocking turn of events, our sweet little Emerson turns two in just a few weeks. Two! It is so so true what they say. The days are long, but the years are short. It’s immensely bittersweet for me, which I’ll ruminate on at great length as her birthday approaches, but suffice it to say that I love watching her grow up, I just wish it were happening a little slower. (Classic Mom feels, I guess.) As I prepare her little wish lists for her birthday and Christmas for grandparents, aunts and uncles, I realized it was perfect timing to share some of our favorite toddler toys! I am really committed to the idea that fewer, higher quality toys (and things in general) is the way to go, both from the standpoint of not wanting to waste money on things that feel really disposable, but also because it helps keep clutter in check. I am someone who gets really stressed out by visual clutter, so choosing toys that look great, function even better, keep her happy and are easily tucked away at the end of the day keeps me feeling sane. Plus I love that idea that we try to mostly select toys that are really well made and could easily be passed down to her kids someday. I am all about that nostalgia life. Keeping reading for a bunch of our current favorites and please comment with links to your favorites so I can check them out!

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Real Talk with Real Moms: Finding Confidence as a Mom

Today my sister is 27 weeks pregnant with her first baby, a little girl who is already loved so very much. I was pregnant myself at this time two years ago (Emerson turned 18 months a couple weeks ago), so naturally we’re talking a lot about babies these days, and the things you need for babies and all the crazy large and small ways that babies change your life. One thing that has come up more than once is Ash saying, “I have no clue what I’m doing!” And that honestly just makes me laugh. Because no one knows what they’re doing when they have a baby, am I right? I sometimes still don’t feel like I know what I’m doing and my baby has quickly morphed into a tiny toddler girl with an abundance of spitfire and sass. So today I’m joining up with my fellow mom friends to dish on finding confidence as a mom.

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Emerson’s Modern Playroom Tour

To call this space a playroom per se is a little bit of a stretch, but when we embarked on our living room renovation, I knew I wanted to carve out a space at the end of the room just for Em. Since it’s right in the living room I was pretty passionate about wanting it to look as chic and well designed as possible, but at the same time I’m totally ok with our house showing evidence of children living here since this is their house, too.

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Real Talk with Real Moms: On Childcare

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my thoughts almost immediately turned to childcare and how on earth this little babe of ours would get fed and diapered during the day while we were working. Almost as quickly, I knew that at least for the first year I wanted to try really hard to make it work without any kind of full time childcare. Call me crazy, but knowing she would be my first and my last all at the same time, I wanted to have that time with her and I thought I’d regret shipping her right off to daycare. Also, I was really really worried about the finances behind paying for childcare, which is where the “real talk” part of this conversation is about to come into play.

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How I Keep Memories for Emerson

Back when I was still pregnant with Emerson, I started hunting in earnest for the perfect baby book. I wanted something that would be special for her as she grows older and wants to flip through the pages, but frankly, I know myself well enough to know that keeping detailed records, creating monthly scrapbook pages or in some other way extravagantly keeping memories in a physical way was never going to happen. I finally picked the Lucy Darling Little Artist Memory Book, which is easily among the best baby books out there.

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Real Talk with Real Moms: On Friendships

Guys, I am so excited to be joining up with an insanely talented group of moms for the Real Talk with Real Mom series spearheaded by my friend Jen of The Effortless Chic. Most of these ladies have been blogging together about motherhood for a year or more now, and I’m really looking forward to being part of the pack. I’ll be using this as an opportunity to talk more about about the various issues, large and small, surrounding motherhood (and how I try not to screw up my kid) on a monthly basis in a way that is hopefully an interesting read for you. My monthly posts will also link to each of the other participating moms so you can read their stories and perspectives, too. This month we’re all dishing on friendships and, quite honestly, this could not be a more timely topic for me.

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