Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gwen's Fairy Birthday Party

I am mere inches from surrendering my entire blog to three solid weeks of Christmas festivities, but before I do, I just wanted to share a little look at Gwen's birthday party with you. 

Gwen is kind of a chill little girl who doesn't love a lot of hoopla quite as much as her big brother (see his birthday parties here, here and here!) so I tried very, very, very hard to restrain myself and not go as overboard as I am wont to do with children's parties. We kept the guests to family and some very close friends, all people that we knew Gweny would be happy to spend time with. I maintain that your first birthday is not the time for meeting new people!

After I had put together a Pinterest board devoted to all things fairy party, I started where I usually start the parties I plan, by asking my lovely friend Kristen of Sage Digital Designs to design a fairy party invitation. I always feel like a good invitation helps set the scene for what you're trying to do, and gives me some more ideas for something for the party. I found some cute fairy clip art from Cloudstreet (side note: I specifically wanted fairies that looked like little girls, and it is surprisingly hard to find non-sexy fairies!) that Kristen was able to use for the invitations and that I used for party decorations. 

Cute, right?

I loved how the invitation managed to be very sweet and feminine with a very low goofy-factor  and without even a speck of pink! I think it's always fun to steer away a little from the obvious choice, and a fairy party could easily have gone very pink, sparkly and frilly. I was delighted to see that Kristen didn't go in that direction at all, and am so happy with how it came out. 

Fairies swinging from the chandelier.

I kept the decorations quite simple: balloons (you've gotta have balloons!), a banner and then a little hanging decoration I made from the fairy clipart. It was super simple: I slapped different colored clip art fairies onto different colored ovals in Pages, then printed two of each on card stock, cut then out and glued them onto different lengths of silver thread. Then I hung them from the lamp over the dining table. I liked that it acted as a sort of centerpiece that didn't get in the way of conversation or eating. 

Balloons: instant party!

I think I've waxed lyrical about why I love balloons at children's parties before. They're instantly festive, add a punch of color and get little kids giddy with excitement on sight. All for a very low price and minimal effort on your part. I also love to give balloons as party favors for the little guests to take home. They're fun for a few days, then they can be disposed of when they're done, and you're not left with a random selection of the typical little plastic toys when you're done. For the fairy party we chose a selection of flower and butterfly printed balloons, and tied them to the front of the dresser at various heights. 


Right up there with balloons on the front lines of instant party creation are garlands. I love a good garland for parties. And holidays. And birthdays. And anything else I can think of. Gwen currently has two in her room. This isn't the greatest picture of the fairy garland we got for Gwen's party, but it was hugely backlit against a bright window and pretty hard to photograph. But it was cute enough that we've moved it upstairs to Gwen's room, so you can have a closer look when I pick up the house tour again. Just let me get her shelf organized first, ok? 

Birthday muffins big and small. 

We've learned from past experience that no matter how adorable and delicious a birthday cake is, you're still stuck with a mountain of it after the party. But muffins and cupcakes, however, have a way of disappearing in front of your eyes. Especially mini muffins, because who's counting? And they're easier for little hands to handle. So instead of a birthday cake, we made a tower of double chocolate mini muffins topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and a few dancing fairies and no one complained - not even the birthday girl!

No complaints, just dedicatedly packing away her first muffin. 

All in all, it was a lovely little party. We timed it so Gwen would just have woken up in time for her party, so she was fresh as a daisy and ready to go. A good friend (who should really run her own catering business, but happens to prefer life as a Russian scholar) brought some really fancy-pantsed sandwiches, so I didn't have to stress out about anything beyond putting some fruit on a plate. We didn't have any activities planned, which allowed for plenty of time to really relax and spend time with each of our guests. Keeping it small felt really good and really right for our little Gwen, just as I am sure than a dozen shrieking four year-olds will feel like just the thing for Espen's birthday. 

Oh, and let's end this with my favorite birthday photo of little miss Foofyboots, shall we?

So very cute.

Resource guide

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thankful Tree 2013 Edition

I was taking down our Fall and Thanksgiving decorations to make room for Christmas this afternoon (is it just me, or does Christmas take up a lot of space?), when I was about to clear away the Thankful tree. Call me sentimental (and you should), but I just couldn't bare to chuck those leaves out without making a record of the things we were thankful for in the month of November, 2013.

  • Woofy and my Scooter.
  • Our thankful tree.
  • Everything.
  • A mom.
  • My dog Woofy.
  • My two rattle rattle things.
  • My family and friends and sweet little home. 
  • My home and playroom. 
  • Toys.

  • Parents.
  • A good job. 
  • Good education.
  • The things Espen learns at Joy School.
  • Close snuggles.
  • Tamsin, Espen and Gwen.

  • Nick’s work.
  • Family Home Evening.
  • Joy School and Miss Stepper.
  • A comfortable and beautiful home.
  • Sunday afternoons.
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Beautiful mountains.
  • Doctors who listen.
  • Naptime.
  • The kind heart of Nicholas Stewart North.
  • Handyman Nick.
  • Mealtimes where everyone is happy.
  • Nick, Espen and Gwen. 

  • I am so happy to be with Espen and Gwen.

  • We made it here safe to be with kids and grandkids.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Scenes from our Thanksgiving

Before we all hurtle headlong into a month of wall-to-wall Christmas extravaganza, here are a few shots of our Thanksgiving celebrations. The torch has been passed, and this year Nick and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner in our home for the first time. Nick's parents, brother Cody and sister-in-law Becky joined us for a fairly low-key and highly enjoyable celebration. Although we brined a turkey for the first time (and were highly successful, I might add!) and seemed to just keep adding more and more sides, there is not a single photo of the meal, because we were all too busy eating it. Feeling happy, full and grateful for my little life and all the good people in it. 

Setting the scene.

All the ladies in the kitchen. 
Working up an appetite at the park with Daddy...

... and Grandpa. (I love this photo!)

Place setting.

Waiting for dinner - and adding his own flair to the table.
Time for the feast!
I hope your Thanksgiving was a happy one too!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A bit more about loss

Back in the day: Espen, my dad and my mum.

I said several months ago that I was going to write more about how I've been dealing with my dad dying, and although I have made several attempts, I've never completed anything sharable. There are a few reasons for this: 1) There's no way around it: death and how it makes you feel is depressing, and I've always wanted Project Project to be a positive little spot on the web. Most of the things I feel and want to say are pretty bleak, and I don't want to send you all running for the hills with my moroseness. Which brings me to point 2): I really need to write these things, and I really need someone to read them. Someone like you. But putting these things out there could make me look like I'm in kind of a dark place, and that makes people worried and uncomfortable, which makes me worried and uncomfortable. And so very vulnerable. It's a feeling they call "hudløs" in Norwegian, which means "without skin". And no one wants to show themselves to the world without skin.

However, I know from experience that writing down some of these things helps me, even if it's hard. Moreover, I feel like writing this post, or more to the point, not writing this post has been blocking me from all of the other things I want to write about and tell you. So let's just do this quick and dirty, ok? Let's do some bullet points:

  • This still really sucks. It continues to hurt. Knowing that my dad will be missing from the rest of my life and my children's lives is genuinely awful. It's not always so much that he isn't here right now, it's knowing everything that he won't be a part of in the future. Gwen won't remember him, and any children we might have in the future will never have known him at all. That hurts my heart. 
  • I feel like I have lost part of myself. An innocent, childlike part of me has been lost. Seeing someone you love so much go through that kind of suffering in the very last stages of life, and then dealing with the realities of their death changes you. I am changed forever. It's not necessarily a good or a bad change, it's just one that we inevitably all have to go through, and once we're there, I don't think there is a way back. I can't unsee or unfeel what happened. 
  • I feel like my heart got a little heavier when my dad passed away, and what I am doing right now is learning to live with that weight in my heart. I don't notice it all the time, but I will always carry it with me nonetheless. 
  • I love it so much when people talk about my dad! It makes him feel real and alive again. I've noticed that people (out of kindness and concern) try to avoid talking about him, but that makes me feel (unfairly, I think) that they've forgotten him and have moved on from his passing. I just want people to talk about my daddy like he was a real person, and like he still matters. 
  • I had a dream recently where he was alive and healthy and walking along the seafront with my mum and Espen. Even in my dream I knew that he was dead, but I found so much comfort in just seeing and remembering what he was like. 
  • When people say "I'm sorry for your loss" what they're really saying is "I'm sorry for the moment when you'll be standing in a store with the perfect Christmas present for your dad in your hand, only to realize that he won't be needing a gift". They're saying "I'm sorry for the day when you'll want to call your mum to talk, only to remember that she's out of town, and you then think "Oh, I'll just call and talk to my dad for a bit." And then you remember why you can't." These little moments happen every once in a while and they feel like, on a very small scale, like losing my dad all over again. 
  • Grieving takes such a long time. I was reading an interview with someone recently where they talked about losing their dad, and how it took three years for things to feel normal again. At first three years seemed like such a long time, but then I felt so relieved that I don't have to be done yet. It's OK for me to continue to feel this way, even if it must feel like such a long time for others. 
  • Finally, it gets better. It gets a little easier every day. I've all but stopped making a note of the 27th of each month as a marker for how many months have passed. Telling people that my dad passed away is becoming normal, and I don't break down and cry every time I talk about it anymore. I've found some ways to keep my dad part of our every day in ways that feel natural and good. I'm getting through some of the guilt I've felt at the "what ifs". Life goes on, and I have so much to enjoy and be grateful for. 
OK, that actually feels better. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. I'll be back with Gwen's birthday party before too long. Onwards and upwards.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A letter to Gwen on her first birthday

Birthday girl
Dear Gwenyth, 

Tucking a very content and tired little girl into bed tonight marked the end of your birthday weekend, and I think we can say that you have been well and truly celebrated! You decided to sleep in an hour later than usual on your birthday (smart girl!) and we woke you up by all sneaking into your room and singing "Happy Birthday" to you. You loved it! It made my heart sing to see you smile and clap your hands and squeal with delight at the sight of your whole family singing to you. You continued to be delighted by everything we offered to you to celebrate your day: from the pancakes for breakfast, opening your presents, riding a carousel with Daddy to your little birthday party the next day - you took it all in your tiny stride and found joy at every turn. I think that just highlights a few of the things that I love so very much about you: you always find so much joy in life, and you are happiest when you are surrounded by the people you love. 

Grandma kisses
In turn, we all love you so very much. We've been telling people for months now that your birth marked the start of the craziest, busiest, hardest year we have faced as a family, and that much is true. Your came a week before your scheduled (scheduled!) arrival, and we have been in a state of chaos ever since. But what I have come to understand is that having you join our family at such a tumultuous time in our lives was exactly what we needed. You, my beautiful little girl, were exactly what we needed. You have set so many wheels in motion. From our decision to buy a bigger house, to knowing we needed to bring you to Norway to meet your Grandad and making it there just in time before he passed away. With only hours left of his life, you took his big hand in your tiny one and gave him exactly the thing he was holding on for. And in the difficult months that followed, you and your brother were the sunshine and joy your mama needed. You could not have been a more perfect person for our family, and you could not have come at a more perfect time. 

Presents and pajamas
Ever since you were born, you have had a sweetness about you that is your very own. You are happy and loving and interested and attentive and so delighted to be part of whatever is going on. What I think makes you truly unique is the equal measure of feistiness you pair that with. If you do not want to do something, you have no qualms about letting us know. If there is somewhere you want to go, or something you want to do, you do not give up until you get it. And more than one person has been surprised to hear how our sweet little angel baby can roar like a lion when the mood strikes! 

It's hard to say who you love the most: me, your constant source of care, comfort and silly songs, your Daddy who gets the brightest smiles and squeals whenever he's around, or your big brother Espen who you cannot spend enough time around. It has taken a while, but I think you're both starting to see the potential in each other. Espen tells me that you are his friend, and with the belly laughs he gets out of you, I know you feel the same way about him. Sometimes the two of you will hole up inside the tent in the playroom, busy with some secret game or other, and I know it's just a little taste of what is to come. In cahoots, is what you two will be!

Gwenyth Josephine North, thank you for being my baby girl. As you hurtle towards toddlerhood at the entirely alarming pace you seem to have chosen, I thrill at the little signs of the girl and woman you are one day going to become. Thank you for letting me come along on your adventures through life. Thank you for being part of our family. Thank you for making me your mama. 

I love you, little girl. 

From your Mama. 

Gwen and her mama

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy birthday to Gwen!

Today is my little Gwen's first birthday. Can you even believe it?


Happy birthday, Miss Gweny!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Thankful Tree

Our Thankful Tree

It is perhaps just as well that no one told me that two children would be the point for me where just about every moment of every day would be filled with something that needs my attention, because here I am in the thick of things, not knowing quite how to put two minutes together. If it's not Espen who needs me, it's Gwen. If it's not either of the kids, it's the pile of laundry on the bed in the guest room that needs folding, or the floor that needs to be mopped or the dishwasher that needs to be loaded (or unloaded) or the next meal that needs to be prepared. I'd be lying if I didn't say I didn't feel a bit mired sometimes. A bit like all of the days meld into one big giant sisyphean Groundhog Day where all I do is stumble sleepily from one task to the next, never quite getting anything right or the way I wanted. Of course I feel this way sometimes - don't we all? (Please say yes.)

But there is another feeling that overwhelms me too. Gratitude. Gratitude for this big, messy house and the people who eat food, make dirty laundry and leave their sticky handprints all over it. Gratitude for the little face that appears at my bedside early each morning, often requesting "I just want to snuggle with you, Mom" as he crawls under the covers beside me. Gratitude for my little girl who just wants to crawl, climb, dive, pull herself up on and eat everything in sight. And gratitude for the man who stays at my side through it all. Most of all, I'm grateful that I just get to be part of this wonderful life and family that is mine.

During our family night last week, we made a Thankful Tree in preparation for Thanksgiving later this month. It's a pretty simple affair with paper tags shaped like leaves. We all write the things we are thankful for on a leaf, and hang them on the tree whenever inspiration strikes. With Thanksgiving just over two weeks away, I'm hoping for a pretty leafy tree by the time we sit down to our holiday meal.

I find it a blessing in and of itself to take a few moments to think about the things I am grateful for, the blessings that I have. And it's a wonderful thing to see that process begin to develop in my little three year-old Espen too, to see him think about the things he's grateful for. The other night he got a leaf and a pen and asked for help to write something down. Usually he is grateful for his toys, or his play room or his imaginary friends, so I was surprised and had to blink back a few tears as he told me what to write. Espen's leaf read: "a mom." What more could I possibly ask for?

Espen is thankful for "everything". 
So whether or not Thanksgiving is a holiday that you celebrate, why not take a few moments and think about the things that you are grateful for? Tell me, what would you put on your Thankful Tree?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Family pictures

Nick's birthday was two weekends ago, and he wanted to spend part of the day up in the mountains. Photography is a new hobby of his, and he was eager to try out some of the new camera equipment he got for his birthday. So of course I saw the opportunity to hijack the event and turn it into getting some family photos. 

We managed to look pretty civilized and borderline idyllic for some of it: 

Nick will want you to ignore the remote in his hand in this one until he has edited it.  

And for the rest of the photos we looked like the bunch of crazies that the North family really are: 

Doing big brother stuff.

Marshmallow bribes. 

I can't even tell you what's happening here.

"Stop kissing us."

Gwen wants a marshmallow too!
There were moments of that day that were filled with perfect moments in beautiful surroundings with the people we love most, and I just wanted to bottle them up and keep them forever. Then there were moments like when we discovered that Gwen was covered in tiny bugs, or Espen's misadventures in peeing in the bushes, or when I got snippy with Nick for looking at me "wrong" as I was carrying a post-pee misadventurous Espen across a stream. 

Mostly, like our picnic where we ate tasty food in beautiful surroundings while golden Aspen leaves drifted through the air around us, and it was so bitterly cold and windy we only lasted five minutes, life is a bit of both. And let's be honest, isn't this what life as a family is really all about? There's a lot of pee and poop and meltdowns and kids trying to eat the forest floor while all you're trying to do is create some beautiful memories here, people! And then there are parents getting frustrated and resorting to bribery and yelling and getting even more frustrated, because clearly those are not working. And then there's those moments when you open your eyes and realize that the kids are not cooperating for pictures because they're having so much fun exploring nature and being together that the last thing they have time for is to sit still and smile politely. And so you just look at each other and smile over your funny kid who just wants to play at gathering wood and building a campfire, and you take a picture of your little girl taking her boots off and chewing on sticks so you can remember her like this forever. And then you look at each other again and laugh at this crazy, messy, noisy happy life you have created together and know that you are the luckiest people in the world. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Goodbye to our first home

House portrait of our little home in Spanish Fork

Yesterday we signed the closing papers for the sale of our previous home. It is such a relief to have the responsibilities, both financial and practical, of owning two homes lifted off our shoulders, especially given that it has been six months since we moved into our new home. But still, it's a little bittersweet to say goodbye to that home that held our family for five years.

In the spring of 2008, Nick and I were house hunting, and happened to stumble upon a cute little community of town homes in Spanish Fork, UT. There were duck ponds, a playground and horses grazing nearby. There were a handful of basically identical houses for sale, but it was only the one tucked into a quiet corner by the ponds that made me skip up and down on the sidewalk with excitement. I just knew it was going to be our home. And about six weeks later, it was.

Our first meal in our first home - no furniture yet!

For the first few years it was just the two of us. We painted everything in sight (except our bedroom and bathroom that remain white to this day, because we could never ever decide on the color) and set about making it our very own. We hosted our first ever Christmas at home with my parents as our guests.

That little home saw us through some tough times too. Some of our darkest days as we struggled with infertility were spent there, and it's where we lived when my dad was diagnosed with cancer.

But mostly that little house was a happy home. I (finally!) graduated from college in that house. We enjoyed happy times with family and friends, and I stumbled down those stairs on two separate mornings with tears of joy in my eyes to tell Nick that I was pregnant. We brought our babies home to that house.

The nursery we decorated for our babies.

We spent holidays and birthdays and everydays in that house. It was where we really and truly became a family. We painted and built and gardened and grew that little place from a house into a home.

Gwen's blessing day. 

Now it is not our home anymore. We have a new home and are in the thick of building memories here. Tonight another little family will get the keys and unlock the door to their new home and new life. They will have their own memories and stories from their time in that little house, and I hope it will be the happy home for them that it was for us.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sentimental materialism

My name is Tamsin North and I like pretty things. Pretty things and special things and lovely things. I love the little thrill of getting a package in the mail containing a lovely thing, and I love how a very special thing can continue to delight me for weeks, months and years. This makes me a bit of a materialist, doesn't it? 

A lot of my love for things stem from the sentiments I attach to them. I've hauled around the same toy dog to every place I have lived since about 1982 (with the regrettable exception of four months in the dorms when I was trying to be a grownup), I keep a small plate from my grandmother's kitchen on my nightstand and struggle to get rid of the scruffy pair of shoes I got engaged in. 

Every once in a while I'll form a sentimental attachment to a new thing, like the little stamp pictured above. We had it custom-made with our new address on it by a company called Chatty Press, and it is just the loveliest little thing. I love seeing our names together, and it just feels like a little declaration of love and fidelity to our new home. It's like saying "House, let's make this official. We love you, we're staying here and we've had a stamp made to prove it!" 

Of course the silly thing is that I can't show you the stamp itself, because one doesn't simply go about posting one's name and home address on the internet. But I'm kind of delighted with it, so I had a bit of a think, and this is what I came up with: 

If you would like me to write you an old-fashioned, in the mail letter, leave me a comment, and I will. That way you get something (hopefully!) more fun than junk mail, and I get to use my stamp. Win-win!

Naturally there are a few details to work out, like I need you to give me your address, but I promise I won't do anything more nefarious with it than writing it on an envelope. And if absolutely hoards of you (say, more than 10?) want a letter, I will probably pick out a handful of you to write to. And then there is the awkward possibility of no one wanting a letter, but I will bravely face that on my own and console myself by practice-stamping on a sheet of scrap paper.

  1. Comment if you would like a letter (but don't leave your address in the comments!)
  2. I will contact you for your address via email. 
  3. I will then write and mail you a letter. 
  4. You will receive said letter, admire return address stamp on envelope, and then (in my imagination) read the letter on the way back from the mail box. Or perhaps curl up in a favorite chair during a quiet moment to read it. There might be cocoa involved, I'm not sure how you roll in this particular instance. 
I'll write soon, penpal!

As much as I'd like to think I was that cool, this is not a sponsored post. I highly recommend Chatty Press, but they don't know that and aren't compensating me for telling you that. 

Also, please note that I made it through this entire post without a single "stamp of approval" joke. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

House Tour: Play Room

Lots of hours clocked on the road rug.

Shall we just continue our little house tour? Seeing as I spent most of Friday morning cleaning up/excavating the play room, let's go in there next. I should tell you that it doesn't often look this neat and tidy, and that whenever I comment on the state of affairs in there, Espen will say: "Mom, it's not a mess, it's just a play time!" And so 95% of the time, I just roll my eyes (lovingly, of course!), shut the door and let him have at it. But you caught me during the other 5%, when I declared it time to "clean up, clean everybody, everywhere, clean up, clean up everybody do your share" and put everything in its place.

I realize that having a designated play room is a pretty suburban, petit bourgeois thing to have, and it is absolutely a luxury. But I was so sick of having our living space completely dominated by toys, that a play room, or in the very least a separate play area, was pretty high on my list of wants for our new house. As well as simply containing a lot of the kid clutter, I wanted to create a very kid-centric space for playing in. We're hoping this will be the house the kids will remember as their childhood home, and want to make it feel like a home for the whole family, and a play room definitely goes along with that. 

We shop at IKEA - can you tell?

We were lucky enough in our new house to have a bit more space than we currently need, and so we found ourselves with kind of an "extra" room on the main floor. It's right next to the front door (so not very private) and doesn't have a closet, so it's not ideal for a bedroom, and we didn't really need a whole room for a home office (more on that solution in a future post), so it became the play room. It's nice because it's on the main level, so Espen and soon Gwen can play in there and still be close to me, without having me looming over them the whole time, which is especially nice for play dates. The kids are within earshot, but the parents can chat in comfort in the living room. The play room also has two big windows and gets lots of daylight, which I love, especially during the colder months when we spend less time outside.

I love the deep window sills for displaying and storing toys.

Our house has a big, unfinished basement, so the longterm plan is to include a play room in our plans down there, at which point this room would become an office/library/hideout hybrid (I'm thinking wall to wall shelves stuffed with books and a couple of comfy armchairs). Because of that, we haven't done anything even semi-permanent to this room. I'd love to hang a shelf on the wall, or maybe a mobile or two from the ceiling, but haven't gotten up the courage to make holes in anything yet. It could well be years until we finish the basement, so time will tell how long I can wait on that one.

Gallery wall, play kitchen and dress up box. 

I'm pretty happy with our current modus operandi for the walls, though. I have hung a few posters with washi tape, but then we're in the process of covering (at least) one wall with Espen's (and my!) own art. One of his very favorite things to do is to paint with me, and after they have dried we pick a few favorites and hang them up on his gallery wall. It won't be too much longer until Gwen joins in and makes her own little mark too. I just unceremoniously stick them up with Scotch tape, often letting Espen hang a few himself. He likes his favorites to be low down where he can see them. Definitely not the fanciest in home decorating, but I honestly like how it looks and that it gives us a place to display Espen's work without cluttering up the fridge or coming up with some complicated system. I'm looking forward to when it covers floor to ceiling!

The play kitchen: where Chef Espen works his magic.

If you look closely, you'll see that a lot (a lot!) of our kids' furnishings come from IKEA. There are a few reasons for that, the biggest one being we live 30 minutes from a store. But I also happen to think that IKEA does children's stuff really right. Besides being clever and stylish, the things we have bought from IKEA just really seem to appeal to kids. And they get big bonus points for being gender neutral enough for boys and girls to play with and aren't plastered with whatever registered trademark your child happens to be enamored with at the time. I know lots of little boys that love to play kitchen, but it can be tricky to find one that's not incredibly girly. And there was certainly a time when it was tempting to buy Lightning McQueen-encrusted everything for Espen because he loved Cars so much, but that love affair seems to have cooled a bit these days. It gives things a bit longer life, I think. I also really appreciate that IKEA children furniture doesn't tend to be as huge as a lot of the other kids' stuff out there. Floor space is important in a play room! 

Circus tent, rocket ship, nest or comfy spot? 

Pictured above is a little reality blogging. Espen does this thing that we call nesting, where he will chose a spot and then round up all sorts of toys, pillows and blankets and cram them and himself inside. He often plays this game where he's preparing on an expedition in his rocket ship/IKEA tent, and needs to pack provisions for his space mission. Can you guess? Well, it involves shoving absolutely every toy he owns inside the tent and then lying on top of them. And it drives me absolutely bananas. Not only do toys get broken from this game, he also spends the next several days asking "where's my...?" Sigh. In light of just how much this bugs me, Espen might not be the one who has issues in this scenario. Be that as it may, when I cleaned up the play room, I started by cleaning the mass jumble of toys out of the tent and replacing it with a big pillow, a couple of blankets and a gang of soft toys, and now it has become a favored hanging out spot. Hopefully this will last a while and keep us both happy!

Who moved my cars?

Even if we won't be moving it to the basement for a while, I do have a bit of a vision for the play room. First of all, things will start to change once Gwen gets a bit more mobile and starts playing in there. Her birthday is coming up in a couple of months (yikes!) with Christmas hot on its heels, and that's going to mean more toys, and an increased need for storage, so a shelf or something might be nice. I'd also love to get a comfy chair in there for adults to join in the games or maybe read a book without having to sit on the floor. And something to hold library books so they're accessible, but don't get lost all over the house would be nice too. Maybe this or just a simple bin? And (if we can fit it with the rest of my grand visions!) a kids' table and chairs would be nice too. I've got my eye on this one. Maybe for Christmas? 

And that's the play room! Do you have one? Do you want one? How do you solve the never-ending deluge of kid's stuff at your house? Spill.