Category Archives: Zoe

It’s 3 days after Christmas and I have 1,000 toys in my living room

Ok, obviously, there’s not exactly 1,000 toys in my living room, but sometimes, it sure does feel like it. Brad and I are pretty good at *hiding* toys at 8pm when Zoe goes to bed, I still have my aversion to all things toddler after she goes down for the night. But, during the day, I wade through a sea of primary colors, dancing monkeys, baby dolls, and cardboard books from sun-up til sun-down. When I’m on top of my game, we do a “30 second pick-up” that really takes about 15 minutes right before Brad gets home. To be honest, that’s the only time I clean up the toys during the day. I don’t even clean them up when company is coming over. Sorry. But that’s the truth.

IMG_8027

So, what do we do with the slew of toys that came along with Christmas? So glad you asked. The first thing we did, about a week before we knew all the new toys were coming is throw out about 1/2 of the old ones. I use the term “throw out” loosely. They’re in a bag, in our garage, waiting patiently for child #2 to come along and play with them. I believe 150% in hand-me-downs. We did this mini purge when Zoe was asleep. I recommend not trying to throw out toys with a toddler who wants to play with everything they see {for at least 30 seconds until they get bored and move on to the next toy}. We did not purge anything that Zoe plays with every day, nor did we throw out anything that we know she loves. The toys mostly came from the bottom of the toy chest, or they were baby toys that made the cut during the last purge, and now are ignored in favor of toys that light up! and talk! and can be pushed from one end of the hall to the other! You know, cooler toys.

IMG_7784

Truth be told, my daughter is super easy when it comes to toys. She, like most toddlers, has very little demands. Sure, the toy is way more awesome if it lights up and talks to her, but she’s also perfectly content with homemade toys too. Also, we have to be very careful which toys we let her keep out and about as our lovely dogs like to eat her toys… particularly wooden blocks, puzzle pieces, stuffed animals, and Little People farm animals.

IMG_8021

After the purge was complete, we simply waited for the influx of new toys. They came almost every day. A super cool vacuum cleaner, baby dolls, teddy bears, half a {large} living room full of toys from my side of the family’s Christmas, a box full of Elmo stuff from Indiana {including a pop up tent that Zoe has already discovered is a GREAT place to hide with a book}, a coloring table, two drum sets {one had a full marching band contained inside and the other lights up and plays music. Both are incredibly cool, and I’d be lying if I said Brad and I don’t play with them when Zoe’s not even around.}, a dancing monkey, a dancing dog, a box from Virginia that has Abigail the interactive bunny rabbit and a book. The list goes on…. Seriously, I don’t even have an estimate for you yet. I can’t keep track of all the new toys she got. I mean, we came home from my family with an entire car full of toys. A car full. I just know that they’re everywhere. And, I know we’re not talking about clothes, but I think she got about 20 outfits from Brad’s mom. 20. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to get 20 new outfits in one day? I digress.

IMG_8034

So far, we’ve let her play with everything. Most toys are opened immediately and then she can have them for several days. This is new, at her birthday we just immediately put 1/2 of the toys away, unopened. But, this go around, we’ll start sorting through the toys by the end of the week. Once I get a good grip on how many toys she got, I’ll go through them one by one and hide about 1/2 to 2/3 of the toys. What I really care about is having at least 7 toys hidden away. This isn’t going to be a problem {at all!}.

IMG_8037

Then, once {or twice} a month, Zoe gets a new toy! How awesome is that!?!?!?! I do this for two reasons, 1) So that Zoe doesn’t get overwhelmed by the amount of toys that she has, and only plays with her favorite few. 2) So that we always have something “new” for Zoe to play with. Oh, and 3) So that I don’t have 1,000 toys in my living room. The only problem is that now I need to find a place in my house that Zoe doesn’t have access to. Back in July, she never went into the guest bedroom, and even when she did she never found the toys, so they were safe. But, now, she knows where everything in the house is. And, I promise you, if she sees them one time she will try to get them, every.single.day.

IMG_7787

There are certain exceptions to this rule, for instance, my parents bought Zoe a Weebles Musical Treehouse. I had every intention of not even taking this one out of the box for a few months. I was thinking maybe March. The box waited on a table in our hallway to be put up with the other toys. But, a few days after the Tate Christmas Zoe walked down the hall, stopped in front of the treehouse, and started patting it. Then, when that didn’t work, she came and got me, walked me down the hall, and started patting it again. I asked her if she wanted it right now. She said “yes”. So we sat down and opened the box, Zoe standing over my shoulder. {I’m not making this up}. She inspected every move that I made putting it together, and then when it was completed, she acted like she’d just been given Barbies Dream Playhouse! That girl loves her treehouse. She plays with it every day, several times a day. She carries her little Weeble people around in her shopping cart. Toys like that, where she specifically asks to open them and play with them… she always gets those toys immediately.

IMG_8043

Zoe actually lucks out majorly in this scenario. Not only does she get “new” toy to play with every month, her birthday also falls in the {mostly} dead center of the year. So in 7 months there’s a new influx, then 5 months later it starts all over again. That girl is one spoiled little girl!

IMG_7852

Happy Wednesday Ya’ll!

So, how do you manage kid toys at your house?

PS. One slight twist that me might try this round, to see how it works, is to have certain toys for the upstairs guest bedroom, so that she’s entertained if Brad or I are up there watching a show. It doesn’t happen often, but when we do, it works better for her to have tons of toys and books up there with her.

Advertisements

Christmas Recap: The Play by Play

This was our very *first* family Christmas morning. I say *first* because obviously we’ve been a family for a couple years now… but Christmas morning is always spent waking up slow, and then heading to one of our parent’s houses, then the other parent’s house, then in the past out to a movie, then home… 13 hours later, and exhausted. Happy, fulfilled, but exhausted. We knew going in to this Christmas that it wasn’t going to be like that, because my side of the family was mostly out of town.

{Christmas Eve at Brad’s side of the family’s party. I call this “The Evolution of a Family Picture}
Family Portrait 2

A few weeks ago I started thinking about traditions. We’re right at that prime moment as a family to start traditions. We have a few years to try some stuff out and see what we like and what we don’t, tweak and fluff traditions that we come up with, and really solidify what we want to do. So, somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls as a Christmas breakfast {or lunch} tradition. I figured that it couldn’t be too hard, and now that I know how to knead dough {and dissolve yeast} I should be able to do it. I bought self rising flour and a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, you know, just in case. The night before I read several recipes, comparing them, figuring out the important steps, how they all described the important steps, learned what “scalded milk” was {Thank you Pioneer Woman!}, and generally psyched myself up.

My eyes popped open at 8, and I made my way downstairs to start the dough, which then had to rise for an hour, then I would add stuff and make the rolls, then it had to rise for another 30 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes. Timing was everything. I got about 35 minutes into making the dough, meaning it was sitting in the bowl waiting to rise, when I realized that I’d forgotten two very important ingredients: the egg and salt. I definitely dropped a few choice words, thought about quitting, decided I didn’t care what time the rolls were done, and went upstairs to crawl back in bed with Brad.

{Zoe’s Christmas outfits}
christmas outfits

Zoe woke up as I reached the top of the stairs, so we just hung out in bed for a while. It was perfect. I sat there looking at my perfect little family, and I felt like the most blessed woman in all the world. When we headed back downstairs, I was ready for Round 2 with the rolls. Let me tell you, that egg made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. Huge. Truth be told, because I knew what I was doing, that round took a fraction of the time that the first round did. The dough was set to rise, and we gathered around our tree.

Now, between my family’s early Christmas and numerous packages she’s received in the mail, Zoe has been opening Christmas presents for an entire week. She knows exactly what to do, and she gets really excited about her presents. Every time. It’s amazing. So, due to the amount of gifts that she was receiving outside of our family, Brad and I only bought a few items: a toy laptop, an over-sized elephant, a fountain for the tub, and a foam finger. {Two days before Christmas, Brad took Zoe to the store for some more fish. That was his special present for her.} Brad and I had a few presents for each other, and then we just played with Zoe on the floor. Again, looking around the room, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’d be lying if I said that my eyes didn’t get watery a time or two.

{The only family “portrait” we took that day. It’s perfect, if you ask me}
Family portrait 1

By the time we finished playing and eating a make-shift breakfast of eggs and toast because the rolls were nowhere near done, Zoe started acting like she needed a nap. So, she got one. That gave me time to slather on the cinnamon and sugar and roll up my rolls, and then we had to wait some more. Zoe slept just as long as the rolls needed to rise and then bake, and let me tell you, those few minutes right before the rolls were done, and the smell was wafting through the house… I knew this tradition was a keeper.

{The evolution of the cinnamon rolls. I’m telling you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming, messy, and sometimes tricky. But, worth every second.}
cinnamon rolls 3

After 3 1/2 hours of prep and 30 minutes of baking, I pulled out the most delicious looking cinnamon rolls ever! There was definitely fist pumps in the air, and dancing, and hootin’ and hollerin’. Brad laughed at me. I couldn’t contain my excitement. These rolls were perfect. And, then I realized that I didn’t have any powdered sugar for the frosting. Womp Womp. I improvised, threw in some regular sugar, added a little cream cheese to the mixture, and made an OK icing. It wasn’t bad, but it could’ve been a heck of a lot better. And then, the moment I waited for all morning… one delicious bite went into my mouth…. and it was worth every OUNCE of waiting. Zoe tasted a bite, walked to the dishwasher, opened it, grabbed not one, but two, forks out of it, walked back to the cinnamon rolls and held them both in the air. I about died laughing.

{Freaking Perfection. Next time my goal is a Cinnabun type icing….}
cinnamon rolls 2

At that point, it was noon, and we needed to head over to Brad’s parent’s house. So, we moseyed our way over there. Brad’s brother and sister-in-law were with her parents, so it was just me, Brad, Zoe, Janet and Glen. Quieter than usual, but perfect nonetheless. They were feeling the same thing for Christmas that we were… no need to rush, slow, relaxing, no schedule, nowhere to be…. perfect. I don’t remember feeling so relaxed on Christmas. It was amazing. Janet, as usual, had a ton of present for us to open, and again, Zoe stole the show. We laughed and talked and opened present slowly. I enjoyed every second of it.

Christmas Presents

We spent the afternoon lounging around, I was able to read more of the Steve Jobs book, Zoe hung out with her Gammy and Glen and Brad watched basketball. Around 4 we sat down to eat, and about halfway through dinner I looked over at Zoe and realized that she was about 2 minutes away from falling asleep in her highchair. Sure enough, her blinks started getting longer and longer, and then she just passed out. Talk about adorable! We just left her there and enjoyed our supper. It was great!

{Can you see that she has a fork in her right hand?}
Christmas nap

Towards 6pm we headed back over to our house to meet my sister {who was supposed to go to Texas but got sick and stayed home} and Kristin was coming over too. The four of us hung out for a few hours, and then after they headed home Brad and I cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie.

I’ve written over 1,000 words in this post, but I don’t think I could even put into words how perfect Christmas day was. We are so blessed with family and friends. I’m so thankful for my little family. Truly, the best things in life are free.

{The many Christmas faces of Zoe}
Christmas for Zoe

How was your Christmas?

Happy Tuesday Ya’ll!

PS. If you want the recipe that I used for the cinnamon rolls click here. It’s Paula Deen’s recipe, but I warn you. She lies about the amount of time it takes. =)