childhood milestones: miles's first haircut

Well, we made it more than 16 months, but after having nearly every stranger we've encountered for the last month think he was a she, I finally gave in and decided it was time for a trim. It was Josh who was initially hesitant for the cut when I wanted to do it around his first birthday, but I'll admit a pang of sadness overwhelmed me as I snipped away those sweet baby curls. What's next?! Kindergarten? College?!

Nap hair. Don't care.

Nap hair. Don't care.

Experienced in cutting Josh's hair, I decided to brave doing it myself. Admittedly, I was pretty nervous about how a toddler was going to cooperate as I wielded sharp metal instruments near his precious noggin and semi-essential features like his eyes and ears. Armed with snacks and Sesame Street with daddy in charge of keeping him cool in his highchair, I can honestly say it was not bad at all. Actually, it went more smoothly than I could have possibly hoped. 

My favorite. 

My favorite. 

There was only one injury, which was me snipping my finger, and though I had to move much quicker than I normally would, I think the haircut turned out pretty good. Just look at my big boy!

8 great easter basket ideas for babies and toddlers

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I can't believe it's almost the end of March already! Spring is here, and here in Germany, the storefronts are filled with Easter decorations galore. As a parent, one of the most fun things is getting to celebrate all these holidays with Miles and implement traditions that he'll hopefully cherish long into adulthood.

My sweet baby boy last Easter... where oh where did the time go?!

My sweet baby boy last Easter... where oh where did the time go?!

Leading up to Easter Sunday when I was a kid, we'd dye eggs in plastic cups using the kit from the grocery store, and I'd get a new dress and ruffled socks to wear with a fresh pair of white Mary Janes. We'd head up to my grandparents house for lunch and an Easter egg hunt with all my cousins, usually followed up with shooting some basketball in the driveway, playing on the swingset, or running down the huge grassy hill (after we'd exchanged our Sunday bests for shorts and tees, of course). Most of the Easter baskets I received as a child involved plastic eggs filled with candy, a chocolate bunny, and loads of plastic green grass that would end up everywhere. But, seeing as Miles is only a little over a year old, candy's not yet in the cards, so I've learned to get more creative with ideas to fill his basket. Here are some of my favorites this year...


A sweet pair of Easter jammies from Hanna Andersson is always number one on my list. I got a pair with a more babyish pattern (seen in the photo up top) for my sweet little four month old last year, but this go-round, I'm loving this Peanuts pair. If you've never bought a pair of Hanna Andersson's pajamas, you (and your little one) are missing out. They hold up well to multiple washings and fit for a good long time because most are footless.


Freeze Dried Fruit is a great (and healthy) substitute for candy for really little ones. Unlike regular dried fruit which can be a choking hazard, freeze dried fruit dissolves quickly and is easy to chew with few teeth. Miles sees these as such a treat, and you don't have to feel bad about rotting their teeth out.


Egg Shaped Crayons are easy for little guys and gals to hold on to and fit perfectly with the theme of the holiday. My little guy has recently gotten the hang of crayons (and stopped trying to eat them) and loves to draw on a nice big sheet of paper on the floor.


I am utterly obsessed with these magnetic, wooden Tegu blocks. We got a set at Christmas for Miles, and they provide loads of entertainment. For younger toddlers, they're amused just by the magnets and putting the blocks into and out of the pouch. Now, at 16 months, the little dude is starting to get interested in actually building things. There are lots of variations available, but a bonus to this set is that they're the perfect size for travel and fit easily into a diaper bag.


A classic children's book is never a bad idea, and I just love this board book format with the original illustrations. We're currently in a real paper ripping phase, so books that can withstand a toddler boy are a must. If this one's already on your shelf, here's a whole plethora of Easter themed books to choose from.


I am a little obsessed with the multicolor look of this sweet, soft little bunny from Jellycat. I have so many friends who are not into stuffed animals for their kids, but around our house, we love 'em. Miles hugs them and kisses them and tickles them and talks to them, and it's just the cutest thing ever. 


Everyone has the alphabet magnets for their fridge, but how cute are these wooden farm animal magnets?! And I love that they come in a milk carton!

Once you've got the goods, of course you need an adorable basket to put it all in. We bought one last year here in Germany, but I'm a little obsessed with this cutie from Land of Nod. I would even be tempted to keep it out as a nursery decoration.

Just as a personal preference, I would totally not include ALL of these items in one Easter basket. Personally, I find it a little nuts how much folks spend on these things - sometimes literally hundreds of dollars! That's not our style (especially since anything we accumulate now will have to be moved back to the U.S. with us in just a few months), but if you're into that sort of thing, go for it!

What will you be including in your kids' Easter baskets? Do you have any fun traditions for the holiday? I'm always eager for new ideas!

books of the month: reading for dreamers and kids-at-heart

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Can I just say how wonderful the convenience of a Kindle is? I mean, I've had them for years, but I don't think I've ever appreciated digital books as much as I do living overseas. Not only is it easier than acquiring the hard copy, but I read three of the books on this list for free because of my Amazon Prime membership. This was a short month, but I still managed to pack it full of reading - in fact, even more than last month! I really loved most of what I read, which was a mix of inspiration, solid business advice, and parenting insight, with a little young adult fiction thrown in to lighten the mood...


You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jin Sincero

Josh bought this book for me, as he had heard it recommended by several people and thought I would like it. I guess if you have low self-esteem and/or are new to this whole following your passion thing, you *might* like this book. For me, it was just too much and too little. I found the author's voice to be annoying, and the book repetitive and shallow. She seems to assume that the reader was incredibly self-deprecating, which is just not my thing. I'm guessing in an effort to be amusing or clever, she continuously flip-flopped on her choice of terms for certain things throughout the book (for example, The Universe, God, Source Energy, and Higher Power all used to refer to one spiritual guidance), which just seemed insincere and left me feeling disconnected. Since he hasn't read it himself, I guess I won't hold it against the hubby that this one was a bust... it's the thought that counts right?


Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This has literally been on my reading list basically since I started my photography business over six years ago... how does that even happen that it takes a person that long to get around to reading something? There's a reason that nearly every entrepreneur you talk to will tell you they've read this book. It's a treasure trove of sound business advice - basically defining the "secret sauce" of every successful person in history. What's even more amazing is that it was published in 1937 and is still relevant over 80 years later. I'll admit that it's a bit of an exhausting read due to the intensity, but I highly recommend it to any fellow entrepreneur out there. Here's one of my favorite takeaways...

"Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the 'time to be right' to start doing something worthwhile. Do not wait. The time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."

Good. Stuff.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I realize that I'm about 15+ years late to the party on this one, but after all that nonfiction and the intensity of the previous book, I needed some easy reading that I could get lost in. Since the Harry Potter books are free to read with my Amazon Prime membership, I thought I'd give 'em a go. I'm not exactly certain why I never got into them as a teen... I'm guessing it had something to do with the period from about 14 to 21 where I only read what was required of me in school. Even at 30 and having seen at least half the movies, these books are completely worthy of the hype. 


A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman

Because she's also from the Triad area of North Carolina and because the synopsis caught my interest, I bought this one and dove in. Long story short, it's about embracing your art and gifting the world your talent - whether that is painting or writing or teaching or cooking or mothering or building. You get the point - your "art" doesn't necessarily have to be art, as long as it makes you come alive. I've read sooo many of these types of books (and she frequently references one of my favorites, The War of Art), but I still thought this one was great. Her voice is unique, and the message inspiring. She also has a great blog, if you're into that. This... this spoke to my soul, y'all...

"You are the beloved. So be the loved. Receive your belovedness and then hand it out, receive grace and be gracious to others, remember you image-bearing identity and move into the world with a job to do. Show up as you are with what you've been given. And don't allow the voice of doubt and discouragement to hold you back."


The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl

After having checked out the French philosophy on parenting, I decided to move on to the Danes. Much like Bringing Up Bebe, it's written from the perspective of an American who finds herself suddenly submerged in this new culture. This was a really quick and simple read (a must for busy parents), and I found it interesting that we already seem to follow many of the Danish parenting "philosophies." It was a good reminder of the positive effects of teaching kids an overall "glass half full" way of thinking, while being realistic, open, and honest with them. I'm still not sure I subscribe to the full-on "hygge" culture of long, dedicated periods of time of extreme togetherness (as I think many Americans would agree), but overall, I think I can get on board with the happiest people on earth.

So, that's it! What about you? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think? What are you reading now? I've almost finished everything that I've already got on my Kindle, and I'm looking for something new!