Friday, August 22, 2014

Oh Hey Friday Favorites!

TGIF!! can you believe that its Friday already?
We got a sneak peek of what Fall weather has for us this! morning, it was crisp cold (I needed sweats and a blanket!) and then its heating up for the afternoon!!

I thought I would share a few things that I am really loving right now!

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have you seen these books?  The Pigeon series is adorable and I can't wait to get them for Ellie!

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the Morning Bun from Starbucks! it has just a touch of sweetness and its great to share with my little Ellie!!

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I just recently got these jars from World Market and they have quickly become my favorite way to enjoy any type of drink!

these beauties growing in my vegetable garden.  All of the sunflowers are volunteers from the ones I planted 3 years ago.  I am thinking that I need to purposely plant some in my flower beds because they are so beautiful! A sure sign of fall!

this necklace from DolceAve that I won in a giveaway.  Let me tell you that the craftsmanship that Megan does is great and she is so much fun!!  Lots of goodies in her shop right now so go check it out!!

Life on the Parsons Farm

and lastly I am so loving my Toddler Tuesday series!! I am looking for some more guest bloggers to post about anything and everything about life with a toddler.  If you are interested in collaborating with me just shoot me an email or leave a comment and I will get you scheduled!!

linking up with

Hope y'all have a great weekend!!

♥ Ashley

Thursday, August 21, 2014

{monthdate} fifteen months

Wow. Is it really true that another month has gone by already!?

This has been my favorite month so far! Ellie has quite the little personality and is pretty smart too!  Every day she amazes me with yet another new skill or talent. She is so much fun and just the biggest little love!

Eats: Ellie is definitely letting us know what she does and does not like to eat. We are officially off the bottle and she drinks around 20ounces of milk plus water every day. We introduced food pouches and so far we haven't found one she dislikes! Favorites right now are bread, pasta, Cheerios, peas, beans, blueberries, fishy crackers, string cheese, yogurt, and corn.  She is not a fan of meat or mushrooms. Ellie eats most if not all of her meals in her high chair and I love having her go out to dinner with us every week!

Goes: we have been crossing activities off our Summer Bucket List like crazy!  We have gone to NW Trek (a wildlife preserve), the childrens museum, the splash pad, parks, sprinklers and pony rides!! Ellie also got to go to her third wedding this month but this time she got to walk around and "dance"! 

Does: can now self soothe herself to sleep for both naps and nighttime sleep, we no longer need to rock her to sleep! It was rough in the beginning but now have a fairly good routine down and even have a sleep schedule! She walks all around the house and can play with her toys, she even know what some of them are called and will go get or play with them if we tell her! She is quite adventurous and dangerous at times trying to climb on everything!! Pretty good at self play and will go into her room all by herself to play with room toys and books for at least 15 minutes!

Loves: sticks and rocks. She loves her teepee, anywhere chair, a shopping bag toy, and just fell in love with all her stuffed animals carrying one all around the house and then grabbing another! So cute. She also loves books and shoes! Outside is a favorite and she cries if one of us goes outside without her! She loves to help with the farm chores riding around in her wagon or chasing after the goats!

Baby Gear Love: ergo, Solly Baby Wrap, FP moccs, Britax Boulevard car seat, and baby monitor!

We have had lots of adventures and I can't wait to see what happens in the next month!  I just adore watching her walk around and explore and listen to her baby babble!! 

Sweet Ellie Faith oh how I love you so!

- Ashley

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Days

At the beginning of our summer break I created a bucket list of activities (and home improvements) that I wanted to check off before the end of summer. I have to say that we have done a pretty darn good job, too. 

Fabric leaf pit

Last week we went to our local childrens museum.  One thing I love about it is that it is by donation admission. It's a great way to include everyone in any situation to be able to offer children a great experience (especially since most of our other attractions - zoos, wildlife reserve, etc. are nearly $20 a person!). 

she really is happy in this photo I promise!

It was super fun and Ellie had a blast. She basically got to go just about anywhere she wanted (and touch whatever she wanted) which is not something she gets to do on a normal basis. Since she is still a little wobbly and can't navigate stairs very well I was a bit of a helicopter mom. Following her everywhere and helping her with certain things. The best part was watching her independence though. She also loved watching the older kids trying to figure out what they were doing and just letting it all sink in!

Girlfriend loves her some water!!

We are excited to return again in the future - when Ellie is a little more sturdy to really be able to enjoy all the museum has to offer. 

What sort of fun things have you done this summer?


Toddler Tuesday - with Mande

I am so excited to have Mande here today!! she blogs over at Sweet Home Alabama and has one of the sweetest blogs ever! She has so many great ideas on how to incorporate early learning - she has a masters in early learning. 

Life on the Parsons Farm

Hi y'all, I'm Mande from Sweet Home Alabama. I am a "retired" elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mamma to sweet Parker Campbell, 17 months. As a former educator with a Masters Degree in Early Education, I give a lot of thought to Parker's cognitive development. Today I'll be sharing about our experience with baby sign language, one of the ways that we foster this growth.

Husby and I first learned about baby sign language in our birthing class, long before Parker's arrival. We both really took to the rationale behind it - the idea that, while babies and toddlers lack the verbal skills to communicate their needs and wants orally, they can do so via signs. It made perfect sense to us, and giving our future baby the tools to communicate by sign was something we both were motivated to do. I picked up the exact book that was shared with us in class and read more about the benefits of signing (including reducing frustration related tantrums during the terrible twos, and aiding the potty training process later on).

The book also has a picture dictionary of signs in the back. For me, the book was awesome because I love being able to pick it up and physically flip through it to look up signs (one of my mommy friends, however, google searches for signs and prefers to watch video clips to learn them and that works for her).

We introduced signs for the first time to Parker right around when we introduced solid foods and the idea of meal time. It seemed logical to start with signs related to food and eating since these would be more meaningful to Parker. We started with more, milk, and the signs for foods he was eating like carrot, apple, and banana. From there we continued with objects that Parker seemed interested in. He's always loved looking at and pointing to airplanes and fans, so those were the next signs we started doing. For each sign that we did, we always accompanied it with the verbal word. This is to ensure that, once baby's speech production catches up to his cognitive ability, he will be ready already knowing the sign and the spoken word for the object. 

It seemed like we signed to Parker forever without ever getting reciprocation. Seriously, months here people. Then, at about 14 months, Parker started attempting signing on his own! As of now, he communicates when he is thirsty (which is so helpful) and of course when he is hungry and wants more. It's also amazing to see him communicate when he sees something he recognizes. We recently went to the beach and he was so delighted to see the sea gulls that he made the bird sign over and over. Parker being able to sign has also opened my eyes to how much of our verbal conversation he's picking up on. Just a couple days ago, I was discussing an upcoming flight with my mom, and to my surprise Parker made the airplane sign! The fact that he is able to communicate like this because of signing reinforces to me our decision to commit to it. 

Here are the top three things I've found surprising about baby signing...

1. Your baby will probably start signing suddenly and out of the blue
I'm embarrassed to say that Parker was probably signing for at least a few days before we recognized what he was doing. We were so used to signing to him and getting nothing in response, that when he kept doing this funny clap at mealtime, we thought it was just that, a funny clap. This leads me to surprise number two...

2. Your baby's signs might not look anything like yours
Yeah, that funny clap? That was Parker's attempt to sign more, which is done by tapping one's fingers together. When we realized that he was attempting to communicate, we verbally praised him and said the word more over and over, but it kills me that we were missing it at first! Knowing now that his signs might be kind of wonky, I feel I am much more aware and responsive to him. Parker's sign for hot for example involves him tapping his head instead of his cheek, but I caught this sign on the first go 'round! And finally, 

3. You will probably be surprised at which words your little one takes to 
Words that revolve around needs (mainly food and eating) will probably be most common (more and milk were Parker's first two signs). However, Parker's favorite sign? Bird. So random. He points to birds out on our walks and signs bird. He does the same thing for geese at the park and ducks by the pond. He'll even look for birds in his books and make the sign. He's not communicating a need or even a want, but simply letting us know that he's identifying things and making connections. As a parent, this is even more mind blowing to watch than when he signs his needs.

I'm loving our journey so far with baby sign language, and I'm excited to see where signing takes us! I want to thank Ashley for having me today! I am enjoying connecting with other mammas throughout the Toddler Tuesday series, and learning from all of your experiences! If there are any other families out there using baby sign language (or if you are wanting to try) I'd love to hear from you!

Smiles, Mande

Thank you so much Mande for this great post!! So many great ideas and tips.  I know that some of these I am going to start using with Ellie! 

♥ Ashley

Remember if you love this series as much as I do and you want to contribute a post just send me an email or leave a comment and I would love to have you guest post!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Meals Mashup + our weekend

Happy Monday!!

I hope y'all had the best weekend! Mine was a blast!

Monday Meals Mashup

Thomas and his dad made a last minute trip to Ellensburg to go fishing on the river this weekend so I got to Single Mom is up! Before he left though we stopped by the play space at our local mall and Ellie had the best time! The whole play area is designed for little shorties, the floor is cushioned and all the jungle animals/climbing toys are soft and squishy! Ellie had fun on the slide and we could barely get her off it!!

Saturday was a big day! We headed up north to Snohomish to a flea market called "The Barn" with my MIL, Deanna. It was super fun and lots of eye candy but a lot of the vendors were pretty pricey. I came home with a vintage glass door knob for Ellie's room. Since we were in the area we decided to shop around our favorite town.  Ellie got lots of compliments on her new cowboy boots (target for the win!) and we had fun twinning the day away!  

After our shopping trip we headed over to my BILs to celebrate my SILs birthday! Ellie had a blast with her cousins an loved playing with all their big girl toys - play vacuum, playhouse and slide! Happy Birthday Auntie!

Sunday we laid low, attended church and then back home for farm chores, house cleaning and laundry! 

Here is what's cookin' this week on the farm:

Monday: Greek salad is still calling my name since we have some Feta Cheese left over.  I was watching Barefoot Contessa this weekend and she mentioned her Greek Panzanella so that is what we are trying this week!!

Tuesday: A few years ago I got the Dinner at Home cookbook from Martha Stewart. I decided that I would try to cook something from this book each week and this is what I picked. Pancetta Cheeseburgers!  I will let you know if they are worth trying.

Wednesday: for our Engagement Party we received the Bride and Groom cookbook.  I thought I would try out a recipe from here this week as well - since I am always looking for a new Pasta recipe the BowTie with asparagus and sun dried tomatoes stuck out.  Here's to hoping its a good one!

Thursday: Taco Salad has been calling my name and this recipe is too good to pass up!

Friday: Lets go out for dinner.  We need to make sure that we continue to expose Ellie to eating out and she is so well behaved that we need to make sure we continue this trend!!

Saturday: Since Thomas made a last minute decision to head to the river for some fishing this meal didn't happen last week so it's on the menu again!

Sunday: after all that chicken its time for some good old steak! YUM

What are you cooking up this week? I would love to know!

♥ Ashley

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

NapTime Projects

So here is a little confession: we never really had Ellie on a nap schedule or sleep schedule for that matter. In addition we didn't sleep train Ellie either. (She fell asleep just fine in the car seat but "needed" to be rocked to sleep in our arms/laps.)

So her napping consisted of 50/50 in the crib and on our laps(or in the car). Same thing for nighttime sleep, half the time she would be in her crib and the other half in our bed. I know! How did we go 14 months like that? It actually wasn't that bad and we were blessed to have such an even tempered go with the flow girl. I loved having her close to is and co-sleeping. Sometimes I just miss her and want to cuddle her. Plus I never wanted to be "stranded" at home due to naps - and still don't want to be. 

Well that has changed. After we got back from Europe the following weekend Thomas went out of town for his brothers bachelor party. I thought I would take advantage of this time and wean Ellie from the bottle to a sippy/straw cup. The first 36 hours were a challenge but we have never turned back. After about 48 hours I packed up all the bottles and associated paraphernalia and stored them away in our attic!!  

Since I felt successful with that going so well I thought I would tackle the sleep "issue" next.  I gave her some time to adjust before going full fledged into turning her life upside down - no more bottles and then fall asleep on your own. I would say this venture took longer than the bottle elimination - we are 3 weeks in and still working on it, but she is doing pretty good and sleeps through te night and her naps are much longer!!

Ellie now naps anywhere between 10:30am to 4:00pm and the nap is generally around 3 hours. (A more detailed post to come). 

So what is a mom to do when she finds herself with three glorious hours in the middle of the day while baby sleeps? House projects of course!!

When we moved into our house the colors were anything but desirable - including the interior of our front door, a fleshy color. I have hated that color for 6 years and every time I looked at that door I wanted to vomit. So I finally got my act together, grabbed a can of paint from the garage, and spent 45 minutes painting the door white!  I love it so much an can't believe I was putting it off for so long, it was such an easy project!

I was so pleased with the results I couldn't wait for naptime the next day to tackle another project that had been on the list for 4.5 years. When we moved in our kitchen was 1989 oak cabinets. While they are nice I prefer white. So after my first ectopic pregnancy/surgery, Thomas painted them white for me while I was recovering!!  We just left the backside under the counter unpainted - because we were lazy. Now it matches the rest of the kitchen!!

Again I love it so much! Why did we wait so long to finish it? This took longer than te door but it so worth it! And the best part is - we already had all the supplies so it was a "free" project!!

I am so glad that we started sleep training and a nap schedule so that we (me)  can get things accomplished that I have been wanting to for a while!!


How do you take advantage of naptime at your house?

Toddler Tuesday - with Elizabeth

Life on the Parsons Farm

Hello Life on the Parsons Farm readers! I am so happy to be here today introducing myself to you all and thank you to Ashley for having me! My name is Elizabeth and I blog over at Chasin' Mason, a blog about the adventures in motherhood and daily life with a toddler. I am a true California girl. I was born and raised in Northern California, in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved down to Southern California after I graduated college. Shortly after I moved, I met my husband. We worked together... and I was his boss. Oops! We began dating secretly since we weren't technically supposed to be dating since I was his manager. We got engaged in September 2009 at Angels Stadium and were married in November 2010.

Our sweet boy, Mason, was born in July 2012 (he just turned two and is an official toddler now!) and is the light of our lives.

Today I wanted to share a topic with you that all moms can relate to : feeding your toddler.

I hate to admit it, but I must have done something right at some point because I was blessed with a toddler who is a good eater. Maybe I am being rewarded for all of the time we spent when Mason was a baby buying liquid gold (aka Similac Alimentum) to feed him. He had such a bad tummy when he was a baby, I'm surprised he's so easy going with food now (knock on wood, please don't jinx it!). He loves fruits (strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, pineapple, blueberries, grapes, etc.) and loves vegetables (green beans, broccoli, etc).

Eating broccoli // Eating fruits and veggies // Trying corn on the cob for the first time.

Of course he doesn't love this stuff as much as he loves junk food, but he will eat it without any problem, so I still consider it a win.

Pulled down the can of Cheetos by himself and helped himself to some snacks.

Now, saying that, you might think I don't have any advice on the topic. Oh how wrong you are. I have lots. My good eater? Not so good at sitting still during dinner time to eat his food. When you can get him to actually put the food in his mouth, chew, and swallow... amazing. But getting him to sit there and focus on eating is the problem. Creativity is key.


Breakfast on a weekday is a challenge. Since both of us work full time, it doesn't leave much time in the mornings for breakfast. When I work at 11am, it provides for the most time for breakfast so I try to provide a well balanced meal of Cheerios/waffles/mini pancakes, some fruit, and some yogurt. But when I work at 8am or 7am, it leaves a lot less time for a full meal at home. This is where creativity comes into play.

Waffles with strawberries & blueberries and a yogurt // eggs with avocado
Eggs, strawberries, and hash browns (aka tator tots) // Cheerios, waffles, blueberries and yogurt

I've known Mason for a little over 24 months now. And if there's one thing that my son has taught me in those 24 months, it's that he is NOT a morning person. He may wake up early and trick you into thinking he's a morning person, but he is definitely not. Sometimes he is in a good mood when you go into his room to get him and sometimes he's not. Regardless of his mood, he's not a morning person. 

The second you get downstairs with him, it's like he knows we are in the vicinity of the fridge and HE NEEDS FOOD. So, Seth and I (being smarter than the toddler and having learned from our prior mistakes), have learned that we NEED to have milk ready for Mason the second he gets downstairs. Literally, if you don't, meltdown central erupts immediately. And most recently this includes a full blown laying on the ground, pounding his hands on the ground, crying fit.
Terrible two's. Fun times.

So I usually hand him his milk immediately, sit him down at his table or on the couch, turn on the Disney channel and get some Cheerios ready for him. He sucks down the milk in 10 seconds flat and I re-fill it for him. I finish getting ready and put his waffle in a to go tupperware and we head out the door. I hand him one piece of waffle at a time while in the car and driving to daycare and he eats the whole thing.

My secret for getting Mason to eat breakfast on a weekday? Feed him in the car.


Lunch is actually the easiest meal for us to feed Mason. I feel like it is the meal he is most willing to sit still and eat while at home. While these are examples of what I make for him to lunch (and snacks) for daycare, he eats very similarly at home.

I try to stick to the basics, things I know he will like. Recently he's been really into tortilla chips/snap pea crunchies/pirates booty so I try to incorporate that somehow. He also really likes turkey and ham so that is usually his "main dish" with some edamame and olives accompanying it. For fruit, he's been on a grapes and blueberries kick though I do substitute strawberries, bananas, watermelon, or raspberries occasionally. He LOVES apple sauce, avocado, and a fig newton for dessert, so I include that as well. I'm not sure what time our daycare provider gives Mason each thing, but I do know that his containers come home empty every night.

For snacks at home, we usually offer Cheerios with blueberries or dried cranberries, gold fish, a pouch, some fruit, cheese and crackers, pirates booty, etc.

My secret to get Mason to eat lunch? Have someone who is not mommy or daddy feed him. 
But seriously, I'd say the secret is to stick to something tried and true. Things you know they will like. And throw in a little something "bad" for them. Hey, why not? You made it all the way to noon without a meltdown, that's cause for celebration!


Dinner is a whole other ball game. Sometimes Mason comes home from daycare famished and needing dinner RIGHT AWAY. Other nights he's fine waiting until whenever. Depending upon his mood when he gets home depends on if he will eat what we're eating or if I make something special for him.

If I make something special...

If he eats with us.

He used to eat in his high chair. Then we switched it up after we made him his own little table and let him eat there. The high chair provided challenges, but the table provides a whole new type of challenge. Before we switched the to the table, Mason thought it was funny to throw all his food off his tray on his high chair and on to the floor. All my hard work, all over the floor. The more we said no and told him not to...the more he did it. We tried to incorporate forks into the mix to distract him and to get him to try to pick up the food on his fork by himself. This worked sometimes but other times not. Sometimes I had to substitute my fork to trick the toddler. Whatever gets him to eat, I'm all for trying. That being said, most recently we've been using the booster seat and having him sit at the dining room table with us and that seems like the best option right now.

A couple weeks ago, Mason refused to sit in his chair at his table to eat dinner. He kept getting up to walk around and kept sitting in his Anywhere chair. So what did we do? We put the table in front of his Anywhere chair and he ate his dinner there.

And just last night? He refused to eat dinner until I sat there and picked up every single piece of food from his plate and put it in his mouth for him. Annoying for me? Sure. But he ate a whole plate of broccoli, chicken, cheese, and olives. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

My secret for getting Mason to eat dinner? Be creative. For some reason, he will eat off of my plate, but not his. And sometimes we are having the EXACT same thing. But if it gets him to eat, he can eat mine and I will eat his. Or I let him use my fork to show him that he is a big boy using a "big kid fork". Or sometimes I will put his food on his/my fork and pretend to eat it. I explain how good it is and how I would love to eat it if he won't, and this usually prompts him to grab the fork out of my hand and put it in his mouth because he doesn't want me to eat his good food.

One thing Mason doesn't need help with? 

...and drinking other people's drinks.

You leave your drink unattended and in Mason's world, it's fair game.

So while it is definitely one of the most challenging things to do as a parent, it is so important that the kids get the nutrition that they need. So, if you have to be creative, do it. If you have to do something you swore you would never do (like let your kids watch tv during dinner), do it. If you need to let your kid eat french fries and gold fish for dinner because he refuses to eat everything else, do it (and I've done it).

My advice on getting your kid to eat? 

Creativity and patience.
And know it is just a phase.

It may not be in the "parent of the year" handbook, but it works for us, so we're sticking to it.

Wow! Thank you Elizabeth for the great tips and meal ideas! I know as Ellie is getting older and eating more of "our" food this is really helpful!

♥ Ashley

Do you like this series? Want to contribute a guest post? Send me an email or leave a comment and I will get you on the calendar!!