Thursday, February 26, 2015

Telling Time: TOKYOBay

You know what I really hate? The fact that people are more likely to check the time on their phones than their watch (if they even have a watch, that is). And that now, some watches are just as likely to have emails on them as the time. What happened to the good ole' days when a watch was just a watch? In my opinion, there is something really stylish and (dare I say?) timeless about a good-looking watch.

Which is why I was so delighted when Zach bought me a new watch from TOKYOBay for Christmas. Have you heard of this company? They have totally stylish and totally reasonably priced watches for men and women, and I love them. The leather for the bands is soft, the colors are great, and the company describes their aesthetic as a "unique fusion of Japanese minimalism and fashion-focused sensibilities". Doesn't that sound like exactly what you want to wear?

Zach bought me the Isla in brown. It's really feminine and goes with everything. I love it. But there are so many others too. Here are just a few of my faves:

Tokyobay lily watch
Ink | TOKYObay Mens Watch in Orange.
Duet | TOKYObay
Jet | TOKYObay  TOKYObay is killing me with their selection of watches. The yellow face
They also make some really great leather accessories. My favorites are what they call "stack ups", collections of leather bracelets that you stack on top of each other.  

More good news- they are having a Winter Sale right now- a whole 30% off! Happy shopping!

top photo taken by me wearing my Isla watch. others via here and here and here and here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Unexpected Art

I love having art on the walls. Art and color. But sometimes, I run out of wall space or can't find the perfect spot for a particular piece. Such was the case with the sweet Petit Prince print my sister bought Tate. I knew I wanted it in the boys' room, but I just couldn't find the right spot. It floated around for awhile. But this weekend, it finally found an (unexpected) home!

In the end, I decided to hang it on the door to the boys' room. And I love it! The sentiment is so over-arching, I love the idea that it is what greets you first when you walk towards the boys room. And as I head up the stairs or down the hall, it makes me smile.

I love the idea of extending your wallspace by using bedroom doors. And no need to worry about nail-holes. I used these Command picture hanging strips and they worked great! 

Do you hang art in any unexpected places? Tell me about it! I'd love to hear your good ideas!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Function Over Form: My Keepsake Portfolio from Lakeshore Learning

Today I am doing something I rarely do. I am going to advocate bringing something into your life that is not that visually appealing to me but that does a remarkable (dare I say perfect?) job of solving a problem in my life that has gone unsolved for quite some time. I know. Function over form? So unlike me. But trust me, if you too have kids that get sent home with reams (and reams and reams!) of artwork, you too will appreciate the My Keepsake Portfolio from Lakeshore Learning.

So here's the thing. Tate and Ames each create tons of art at pre-school/daycare. And they are attached to it and don't want it thrown away. And it inevitably clutters up my car when I grab it from the cubby during pick-up. And some of it is so adorable, I want to keep it.

But there was just nowhere to keep it.
Until I found the Keepsake Portfolio at Lakeshore Learning. Ok, I admit it. It's a little garish. But it is also totally functional. Durable, heavy-duty cardboard. Large handles. Nine pockets (think accordion-file with nine dividers) so you can keep track of art by year. Perfect size to fit papers big and small. Personalized (with basic stick-on letters, but still) so that I know quickly and easily which one belongs to which boy. And did I mention it is super cheap? As in less than $20? I know, right?
I keep the boys' portfolio's in the trunk of my car so I can toss things in when its convenient (added bonus is that this helps keep my car clean). I also toss things in that I want to keep for posterity- the tickets to the Bronx zoo from Tate's 4th birthday, or stubs from Tate's first movie. It is so handy.

I love that I have a vehicle for easily keeping track of important kid-related documents. Trust me- in this case, function over form is totally worth it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Last Firsts

I was struck this weekend at how quickly Ames is growing up. Despite the fact that Tate still calls him "our baby", it is becoming clearer every day that the sweet baby days are quickly becoming the raucous and silly days of toddler-hood, and soon after that, a rough-and-tumble little boy will emerge.

I am finding all of Ames' "firsts" particularly bittersweet because, for Zach and I, they are our last firsts. We know that Ames will be our last child, a decision that I feel at peace with, but that felt quite fraught at the time we made it. There were many factors we considered, but I think what was most difficult for me at the time was the fact that resources (or lack thereof) seemed to be the most compelling. We kept asking ourselves- could we afford another child? Did we have enough space for another child? Did we have sufficient energy for another child? And while all these things were so practical, it felt wrong somehow to make a decision of the heart so much with our heads.

I finally had an "aha" moment when Zach and I started discussing all the things that Ames had brought to us, what he had brought to our family, with his arrival. He made Tate a brother. Can you imagine that? Making someone a brother? He fulfilled the dreams that Zach and I had of looking over two little heads in front of the Christmas tree. Whereas Tate brought the tender, Ames brought the silly. Two boys are exponentially louder than one, and our house is now filled all the way to the rafters with pounding feet and Ames' guffaws and all the craziness that our two "Holm-bros" bring. When I started to imagine what was missing- what we didn't have yet that a third child would bring- I came up empty. 

Now, please know I'm not saying third (or fourth! of fifth!) children don't bring anything to their families, or that, if we had a third child, that child wouldn't enrich us in ways I can't even imagine. But. When I took a step back, and I took money and time and the number of bedrooms in our house out of the equation, I realized that we were done. Complete. The Holmboe's. Just the four of us. And that was ok. In fact, that was great.

So. That bring us back to last firsts. Because every one of Ames' firsts is the last time that Zach and I will ever experience that first with one of our children. 

Case in point: Ames had his first haircut recently. And have I mentioned how much I love Ames' hair? It curls adorably around his little ears, fulfilling my lifelong dream of curly hair. He was born with the smoothest cap of dark hair, which shines red in the sun. So cutting it... oh my. I was so emotional throughout the entire cut.
Oh. Sweet Ames, he looks so grown up here, doesn't he? So self-assured, so calm. And at the end, with a few curls tucked in my purse, I said a little more of a good-bye to the baby he was, and I got to say hello to a little bigger glimpse of the boy to come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Be Amazing: Children Inspire Design

Growing up, I had a friend named Ginny, and in her house, on the way down the stairs, her parents had painted this: "6'1, duck or bump."

You guys. I loved that. It was so fun, wasn't it? I always thought that if I had a stairwell, I would put something fun above it to read on the way down. So when we moved to Western Mass, and moved into our 2-story home, I knew that this was it. Time to put something fun going down the stairs.

But what?

When I saw this print from Children Inspire Design, I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for. What an awesome message, right? That no matter what our day held for us, we would be amazing in it?

Once I bought the print, I framed it with a black frame from Michael's. I painted the wall it  hung on (above the stairs) the bright raspberry sorbet color of the dining room, which really helps draw your attention to it. And I think it looks so great above the wallpaper in the entryway.
This print makes me feel so happy everyday. It has sparked some great conversations with Tate about what it means to be amazing and about putting our best into our day no matter what it holds for us.

There are so many other prints at Children Inspire Design that I love. Ones that ask questions like What if I fall?  Or that tell us we're amazing. Or that let us personalize messages that resonate with our families. I also love their wood frame kits- a good looking way to hang prints no matter your decor.

One of the best thing about Children Inspire Design? They are a buy/give organization, which means that every time you buy something, they try to give something. Inspiring, right? For example, they donate 10% of their proceeds to global woman and children focused initiatives. So great, right? Maybe even (dare I say it?) amazing?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Easy "Happy Birthday" Sign

Last summer, my niece Margot (remember her adorable baby shower?) was visiting a week or two before her birthday (I know, I can't believe how fast time flies either). I wanted to put together a sweet and simple celebration for her. With my sister's help, we made this easy happy birthday sign, which set the perfect tone.

All it took was two pieces of poster-sized black cardstock, some freelance cursive, and a little patient cutting. It couldn't be easier! With a small stack of presents underneath and a few balloons nearby, it set the perfect tone.

My sister took the sign home to San Diego with her- I love the idea that it just might grace Margot's birthdays from here on out. Maybe this year above her bed?

And of course, no party would be complete without a slumpy, delicious, whipped-cream-filled chocolate cake.
Sparkler included, of course.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Swoop Bag

I am really excited to share the Swoop bag with you because it solves a problem that I feel like all parents have: namely how do you wrangle all the tiny Legos that inevitably take over your house? They are not only painful to step on, but they also seem to infiltrate every corner of the house. And yet, I love the imaginative play they inspire, so we put up with them.

Lo and behold, my mom and sister got us the Swoop bag for Christmas, and it is amazing!  A good-looking solution to this common problem. Here's how it works:

You load up all the Legos (and other small toys) into the Swoop bag. When it's open, it is a great playmat (in fact, the boys are using it as a playmat this very moment):

The boys build their towers right on the Swoop, and then, when it is ready to clean up, we fold it over, pull the handles, and swoop up the entire mess. Voila!
The Swoop bag fits perfectly in the drawers underneath the train table, and you can also hang it and get it off the floor if that works better for you. It's good-looking enough that I feel totally comfortable having it out even when people come over, and it makes bringing some toys to someone's house a cinch.

There are a few other reasons I love our Swoop.
  • It is heavy duty. It is made out of a really durable canvas and the ropes are strong too. I feel like it will stand up to the abuse the boys throw at it.
  • I mentioned it's really good-looking, right? They have ten bright colors to choose from. 
  • It makes clean-up really easy. Even little Ames can help by tossing the blocks into the bag,
I think the Swoop bag is a great gift for any parent and I will definitely be buying more in the future, both for myself and others.

P.S. If you've been watching the news, you know that the relentless East coast winter continues. We have reached new levels of cabin fever, in which the boys entertain themselves by pretending the typewriter is a rocket ship control panel, and use the output fan from our hand vacuum to blow their hair. Ha!