Fun

Saturday Evening Thoughts

  1. Just ordered my L.L. Bean New Baby mocs and I can’t wait! After more debate than I care to admit, I ended up going with the women’s Wicked Good Camp Moccasins instead of the Wicked Good Moccasins, only because the lack of fleece collar makes them less slipper-y and thus more acceptable to wear in public when I don’t feel like actual shoes for a few months¬†ūüėČ
    Women's Wicked Good Camp Moccasins Size 7:
  2. Wacey’s birthday is on Tuesday and I am¬†so excited. Like I’ve said before, we’re not doing a party, per se, but we’re sort of stretching it out into a birthday week since grandparents are coming this weekend and next, and for his actual birthday, we’re starting the day with balloons and chocolate donuts and tractor rides and you guys? It’s supposed to be¬†in the fifties¬†all next week, and this weekend too! Perfect for a brand new sandbox! And a break from the cold and snow that’s kept us cooped up the last couple of days. I can’t wait! Walks every day, not having to bundle up to go outside, actual warm sunshine…ahhhhh. Actually, it’s just ¬†like the weekend he was born, which is very fitting. Lovely weather for the most sunshiney boy.
    Now, I just need to get over the sticker shock of how much play sand costs. Yikes. And the ridiculousness that we have to drive almost 40 miles each way to get the sand since the local farm store only has two cubic feet in stock. Who on earth only needs two cubic feet of play sand? No one, folks.
  3. Blogging is hard when you’re not feeling very creative, especially when that lack of creativity is due to struggle somewhere else. I’m never sure what to write when there’s a lot going on at home, or when there are hard things going on in life that aren’t really share-able. I want to be as transparent as possible, but when the hard things aren’t just your things, or even primarily your things, privacy is the most important. But, that’s the point of learning how to blog and navigate the bear that is the internets, right? We’ll figure it out.
  4. I (finally) ordered a book about light exposure because I’m frustrated at the quality of my pictures, and I want to take more high-quality, blow-up-and-frame pictures of my boys. It comes highly recommended by one of my favorite bloggers who captures the most beautiful moments of her kids, so I have high hopes. Our favorite photographer won’t be out here until June, so I’m hoping to get some decent shots of the four of us (!!) when Bub is still a newborn with my tripod and remote. Also, what on earth is the point of having a DSLR if you don’t know how to use it? There is no point. That is the answer to that question.

  5. Next Friday, I’m taking a tour of a packing plant (read: slaughterhouse), and I’m so excited. I’ve toured the plant before, but it’s been many years, and I’m looking forward to seeing it with fresh eyes and taking piles and piles of notes to share with you. Now, I just have to figure out what on earth to wear because I’m fairly certain sweatpants¬†and Uggs won’t fly, even for a very pregnant lady, especially since it’s technically a work thing.
  6. I’m currently on the hunt for a reasonably-priced double Bob stroller on Craigslist. Pray for me.
  7. If you follow me on Insta, you’ll know that we had a THIRD set of twins¬†this morning. If you don’t follow me on Insta, we had our third set of twins this morning! What on earth?! I mean, no one is complaining, all the calves and mamas (and foster mamas, post next week!) are doing really well. One of the other cowboys has also had a set of twins, too, so we’ve had four so far this year, and we’ve calved out maybe 10% of the cows.
    twinsies
  8. ¬†We’re so excited to have a snuggly little newborn around, but when people tell you that babies just keep getting more fun, they’re so right. Wacey was so good (I mean, impressively, miraculously, held-my-hand-the-whole-time good) while we were walking all over Home Depot getting sandbox sand taken care of that I took him to get a little treat (okay, and one for me too) and it was so fun sit with him and giggle for a little while. He loved choosing his own drink and sitting in his own chair and thought the writing on the cookie was amazing.
    wacey-milk-starbucks
    starbucks-selfie
  9. We just finished the movie The Duel (western-esque with Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth). It was okay–the trailer made it look a little better than it was. I hope that someday someone will revive the art of making the Western movie without all the weird stuff. That being said, it wasn’t bad, truly! Just a little strange with some unnecessary plot points and superfluous snake action.
  10. Can we all agree that Sam Hunt is not actually country? I mean, it seems like most of what’s on the radio these days isn’t really, either, but that guy has yet to have a song that’s even close. I’m not hating on him, I think he’s just really in the wrong genre. Also that song a gal sings about a tuxedo, and something some kid sings about putting a label on it. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Again, not hating, just confused. It makes me feel old. Like, really old. Like the mom who is like “What is this? This is terrible!” while changing the radio station to oldies while her kids groan in the backseat and my kid’s only two. However, Wacey dances equally enthusiastically to Willie’s Roadhouse and Andy Grammar, so maybe he won’t mind if I change the station when he’s older.
  11. To end on a bright note, these shoes.
    We want to live in the latest drop from J.Cew and New Balance.: Aaaaand I just remembered I have quesadillas in my diaper bag that really ought to get into the fridge. On that note, happy Saturday night, see you Monday (or Tuesday, at the rate I seem to be going).
Friday Favorites · Fun

Less Formal Friday (okay, Saturday) Faves

I had almost a whole “Currently” post written, and went back and re-read it, and holy complaining, Batman! I’ve hit the point in my pregnancy where I can’t quite keep a handle on my feelings (and there are so many feelings), and things have felt a little out-of-control and stressful lately, but I don’t want that to be the new normal for the next few months. It’s so easy to fall into the deep, dark pit of “I hate everything.” But, I don’t like being in that pit, and it’s not fair to my boys for me to be in that pit.

So I scrapped that post, and instead I’m going to share some positive, happy things, although I am a day late and a dollar short. Ah, well.

Oh, baby things. They never cease to give me the warm fuzzies. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these bibs! We loved having bandana-style bibs for Wacey–they seemed less bulky and easier to manage, but I was washing all of his baby clothes for Bub and most of them are so milk-stained that I think we need new ones. In my search for non-stupid bibs, I came across this etsy shop and I’m in love! I tend to dress my babies in plain onesies, too, so these are perfect.
bibs

We don’t do “push presents,” but I am gifting myself a pair of new moccasins (I’ve talked about them before, I know), because my old ones are shot and since I’ll be living in mocs from the moment we leave for the hospital to the moment I feel like a human again, I think it’s an appropriate investment. I know a girl that got a BMW as a push present, so this isn’t quite on that scale, but they do look prettttty cozy, and I love the blue. After the spend-spend-spend of the holiday season, I am trying to be so much more mindful of what I spend money on, but I’ve done my research and these are perfect. Now, LL Bean, please have a sale. Love, me.
moccs
Women's Wicked Good MoccasinsWomen's Wicked Good Moccasins
Wacey’s SECOND (what?!) birthday is in a few short weeks, and I’m so excited about the present we got him–a sandbox! He got so many gifts for Christmas that we didn’t feel the need to go crazy for his birthday. I found this one for a great deal at Target, and yes, it’s a little cheesy, and I would have preferred a wooden one, but it’s going on our deck (to help mitigate the rattlesnake situation) so we needed one with both a bottom and a cover that’s easy to move around. We’re not doing a big birthday party, but we’re going to spend the day doing what Wacey wants to do. I’m envisioning balloons everywhere, chocolate donuts for breakfast, spending most of the day at the barn, and a trip into town for frozen yogurt and chicken lo mein.

Or just six hours in a tractor. You know.
sandboxValentine’s Day has never been a big holiday for us since we’re always calving, but I have to admit that I love Valentine’s candy. I’m trying hard to cut back on the sugar as it exacerbates these wild mood swings, but when I do indulge I love to have a little heart-shaped box of chocolates, or some conversation hearts. I’m also really interested in trying Halo Top ice cream as part of this new effort!

I also picked up some craft supplies today to make a few Valentine’s banners for around the house, and I’m so looking forward to some pink festiveness in this house full of boys!

Also in the less-sugar realm, I’m back to drinking more tea instead of Starbucks Via Refreshers as my caffeine source. I don’t know why I ever stop drinking tea, because I really do love having a mug of something hot, and the no calories/no sugar (I drink it black) is really a big bonus. I have a couple go-tos (Bigelow’s Plantation Mint and Constant Comment), and I discovered that Amazon carried their Green Tea with Mint so I ordered a big box it’s so good. I love mint tea, my tummy loves mint tea, my mood and head love caffeinated mint tea, we’re just so happy together. My favorite decaf option is, of course, Celestial Seasonings’ Peppermint.
green-tea

You know what else I love? Finding new shops to follow on Instagram, new podcasts to listen to, and new books to read. New additions: Southern Fried Chics Boutique on the Insta;¬†Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Pantsuit Politics for podcasts; and Hidden Figures, Sudden Death, Evicted, and the Magnolia Story¬†are on request at the library. The latest episode of the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey featured Anne behind Modern Mrs. Darcy, and expanded my must-read and must-listen-to list exponentially!

And, of course, I’m still living in my jogger sweats. If you’re pregnant, get you some. Seriously.

I hope your Saturday was wonderful!! I am not going to talk about politics much here, but I will say that I hope your day, regardless of what you did or who you voted for, was about being proud to be an American, and the rights that we are so blessed to have in this country, and not about being hateful. I hope that we can all be tolerant of and kind to one another no matter what–I hope this also extends to your friends and family who voted differently from you!

On that note, it’s Documentary and Dessert night here in the Johnston household, so we’re keepin’ it classy with Milk Duds and Oreos with a side of a documentary about ISIS. I know, it’s hard to not be suuuuuper jealous of and intimidated by our rockstar lifestyle.

….#parentlife.

 

 

 

 

Family · Fun · Home · On The Ranch

Weekendin’

best-friendsWe started the weekend off strong with a visit down to the pens on Friday afternoon to check out the new baby calves. If you’ve noticed a theme where we are at the barn a lot, you’re right! I can’t not take Wacey down there as it’s his favorite place to be, and so it’s mine, too.

chocolate-donutsSaturday morning was a win with a chocolate donut for this maniac, who didn’t enjoy it at all, obviously. We bundled ourselves up, and strollered down to the barn to check calves for Bert since he was moving cattle on another part of the ranch.

baby-calfOur cold walk was rewarded by the birth of a new baby calf we’d been waiting on! This mama did a great job getting her new baby licked dry and he up and nursing in no time.

calving-booksDuring Wacey’s nap, I got the final touches put on our master calving book, which is a gigantic labor of love (and necessity), and it feels so good! I spend days putting together calving books for each member of the crew as well as a big, fancy one for my records, and cleaning up our database so it’s all fresh and clean.

I also did some more mucking out and organizing (of course) and ordered the last few things for Stage 2 (of oh, a hundred) of our downstairs fix-up. I can’t wait to share once it’s all put together!

selfie-2

picture-of-cows-through-the-pensBy some miracle, the frigid, foggy morning that we’d expected to stay around all day turned to fifty degrees and sunny by Saturday afternoon, so there was really nothing for it but to go down to the barn and help Bert feed the cows and enjoy the sunshine. But mostly, mess with the cows!¬†Of course. Bert tends to have a little less to do on the weekends (due to busting his butt during the week), so weekend afternoons are fun since we can spend more time just goofing off and looking at things. And opening and closing all the gates, of course.

Some families do a lovely and much more photogenic brunch-and-park combo on the weekend, we do family barn time. After all, the family that gets poop on their boots together, stays together right? Or at least takes their boots off in the mudroom together.

I think that’s the next big country hit–“Poop on my Boots.” Remember folks, you heard it here first!

Anyways. We fed some cows because, oddly enough, they need to eat every day. Imagine! We fed them round bales today, and the gals were not enthusiastic about how long it took for me to get the net wrap off (#dullknifeprobs). Also, it’s sort of a big deal to stand up from a crouching position when you’re in your third trimester gestating what feels like a block of cement.

cutting-wrap-2“Umm excuse me. Excuse me. Are you going to get the wrap off that bale any time soon? Because I’m pretty pregnant. And pretty hungry. Also pregnant. Seriously. Wait, are you taking pictures? Are you taking my picture? I NEED FOOD.”

cutting-wrap“Hey. HEEEEEYYYYYYYY! HAAAAAAAY! WHY IS SHE TAKING SO LONG?? WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG?”
Girls, I’m stuck. Give me a minute.

funny-hayDon’t worry girls, that’s what I look like when I eat, too. A little less roughage, though, maybe.

cows-fences-hay

sunshine

wacey-stormy-kromerAfter we got done feeding, Wacey had to run around and inspect everything. Don’t worry, all is ship shape!

wacey-picking-bullsAfter we got home, we sat on the porch and basked in the sunshine while Wacey (aka General McMullet) perused the latest bull catalog and let us know all his top picks. He’s big into the Stabilizers this year.

Yesterday was a pretty typical Sunday: lots of laying around, planning for the week and spending long-overdue time with my devotional, laundry, and watching Netflix. PS–I had no idea the book The Magicians¬†was made into a TV series and I am in Nerd Heaven right now!

I also cleaned out one of the dressers in Wacey’s the boys’ (<—WHAAAAAT) room for Bub’s clothes, and washed and folded all the tiny clothes and baby blankets. Cliche alert, but I can’t believe Wacey was ever that tiny, or that Bub will be too! Having tiny baby clothes and diapers in my hands made me even more excited for Bub’s arrival, and made the chores to get done feel even more urgent. Although, we’re pretty much there on the essentials: he’s got a place to sleep, clothes to wear, a carseat to come home in…buuuuut his mama sure would be happy if her office space was ready to go, a double jogger was sitting on the porch, and the baseboards were clean!

baby-laundryIt was supposed to snow buckets, but we only got a dusting (a blessing in calving season!) so we went out to an early dinner at the Mexican restaurant in town which happens to be ah-mazing. I mean,¬†so good. ¬†Unlike this picture that I managed to snap before my obsessed-with-looking-at-pictures-of-himself-toddler needed to gaze upon his visage to his little heart’s content.

boys-at-dinner-2Lazy Sundays are the best.

Now excuse me while I deny the coming of Monday by burying myself in our freshly laundered flannel sheets

 

Family · Fun · Personal

Christmas and 2016

best-nine

Hey y’all, I’m baaack! I know you probably weren’t really waiting on tenterhooks or anything¬†but if you were…here I am. Kidding.

Anyways. We’ve had a really great two weeks. Between Bert being able to take it slow at work and spend a lot more time at home before he gets¬†really¬†busy, and Christmas, of course, we are set up pretty contented and well-rested for the New Year. Thanks to my amazing mom, we even got to go out to a movie–our first in years! We saw¬†Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them¬†and it was SO GOOD, and so worth it to see it in theaters. We even got popcorn and drinks and oh man was it great. Also, please can I have all the clothes from that movie? Tailored coat game was *thumbs up emoji*

(Sidenote: going to the movies is expensive.) 

 

Christmas this year was pretty low-key, which was perfect¬†because both Wacey and I were feeling the excess of excitement (yes, I am a child) and the lack of sleep pretty hard.¬†I managed to surprise Bert which is always a major win, and we got to see both of our families. We were all thoroughly spoiled with both the food we had (beef tenderloin Christmas Eve, Prime Rib Christmas Day because Beef It’s What’s For Dinner) and with the gifts we received.

I also have a confession: I’ve already put away all of our Christmas decor. I know. It’s not even New Year’s! But who am I, at almost 30 weeks pregnant, to say no to an urge to clean and organize?? Also, for me the weeks leading up to Christmas are the best part, and seeing all the decorations up after it’s over can get depressing. I did leave up the outside lights so Wace wouldn’t have to go through total “la-la” withdrawal.

So. 2016. Everyone says it was the Worst Year Ever, but I think that’s ridiculous because there are a whole lotta years in not-so-distant history that were a¬†lot¬†worse. Lots of big, important, sometimes not-so-great¬†things happened in the world, but that’s how every year is! There’s good things, there’s bad things, and in the end,

Our year was actually pretty amazing! We got to watch Wacey grow from a baby into the best, most wonderful, hilarious tiny human on the planet.Being his mama makes me an infinitely better person. We found out that he’s going to be a big brother and that’s a big, happy deal. We spent tons of time together as a family, and while we didn’t take a family vacation this year, we went to some bull sales, and a lot of fun rodeos to watch Bert and the guys kick butt. Wacey and I also got to go to Indiana for a wedding and to see my extended family, and that was so, so great. ¬†I wish we all lived closer!¬†I went to three beef industry conferences–a symposium about beef and sustainability at Colorado State University, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and the MBA Top of the Class training at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver–and learned so¬†much. I also got the courage to finally start this blog, and I’ve already requested Girl Boss at the library so I can Girl Boss the heck outta 2017.

Yes, in 2017 I will continue to put things on hold at the library.

I also feel like I grew a lot personally. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll keep on keepin’ on, and that’s the best any of us can do, right?

I’ll write a post about my 2017 goals, but today I’m squeezing my boys, and being thankful for a year that was pretty darn good. We don’t have big New Year’s Eve plans but we’re continuing our tradition of Chinese takeout and a movie (Finding Dory), we got ice cream and pregnant lady champagne (aka sparkling cider), and donuts for tomorrow morning. We won’t be staying up until midnight, but I can’t imagine a better way to ring in the new year than snuggled in bed, fast asleep. #pregnantmamadreams

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful evening, whether you’re out on the town or home with your people. 2017 is going to be great!

Celebrate · Fun

Cowgirl Gift Guide

So, Christmas is in four more sleeps, y’all! I know it’s a little late to be posting a gift guide, but I know a number of people who haven’t finished (or maybe even started!) their holiday shopping. With the help of a good friend, I put together this handy-dandy gift guide for cowgirls, ranch wives, and amazing women everywhere!

It takes a lot to wear as many hats as most women do, and gifts that help her stay organized, look and feel good, and make things more convenient are always a win. If the person you’re shopping for is a working cowgirl, check out the ideas for custom gear on my Cowboy Gift Guide.

cowgirl-collage

Heart of the Farm Planner: This is a farm-specific planner, and it’s beautiful and functional. Some others I love: The Anchored Press Devotional Planner (I got the gold stripe for 2017), the Kate Spade planner (for the gal who loves a little glam and a good sale as it’s hugely discounted right now!), and this planner from Etsy (for the gal who loves to customize and organize everything).

Pretty Note Set: Beautiful paper products are lovely to have around, and this set from Vera Bradley has several different sizes of sticky note pads. Plus, one thing I’ve learned? If it’s pretty, the guys will be less likely to steal it.

Rifle Paper Co Notepad: If you (or your gift-receiver) is anything like me, she forgets things unless she writes them down, and loves to make lists. This handy dandy notepad is perfect for either one of those things, plus it’s really pretty. I like pretty.

Let’s talk barn stuff. Many of the ranch/farm women I know spend their fair share of time in the barn, whether it’s working cattle, taking numbers and notes, lambing, kidding, calving-you name it, they do it. Here are some things to make that barn life a little better.

LL Bean Hunter’s Tote: I wish I had known about this sooner, because I would have put it on my own wishlist! This would be great for hauling anything–bottles, notebooks, laptops, much food–to the barn or anywhere, without having to worry about it getting beat up or ruining another bag. I love the zippered top, and how sturdy it is. They don’t have many colors to choose from, but I’d jazz this up with a monogram in a fun color, like bright pink or maybe lavender or teal. Not puce, though. Basically I want these for every member of my family for when we travel. Dreams.

North Face Tech Gloves: These would be great for taking numbers and notes at the chute or any other time when you need a lot of dexterity. Thin enough to hold a pen, but warm, and you don’t have to take them off to answer your phone, or maybe pull up your online database for info about a cow.

Stormy Kromer Petal Pusher Cap: Stormy Kromers have ended up on all of my gift guides, and we can’t leave out the girls! I’m a sucker for a floral detail, so I love this style, but they have something for everyone (if you’re in a really cold place, this earflap model might suit a little better). If you’re not into full-blown hats or prefer to wear your hair high up, try out one of these messy bun hats!

Carhartt Coat: I love my Carhartt coats, and I love the look of this slightly longer one. It comes in more colors than your standard brown or tan, and you can trust the quality since it’s Carhartt.

Space Heater: This is for the gal who has to stand or sit by the chute in freezing weather. I’ve frozen many a hiney (or rather, my hiney many times) doing just that, and it always makes for a miserable day. It gets cold when you don’t get to move around a lot, and a space heater will keep you (and the crew, by extension) a much happier camper. I chose this tall one so that you get warm air from your toes to your nose, which sounds so great!

Now, every girl likes to have things that are functional, but let’s talk about stuff for when y’all go to town!

Bean Boots: These were on my list this year! I get tired of wearing my muck boots or Sorels to town, but often something waterproof and sturdy is necessary. I think these are a great compromise! A tip I got: get them unlined, so you can wear them both in the¬†fall/spring when it’s warmer without sweating your feet off, and also in the winter with wool socks. Plus, lifetime warranty. Roll on over to Pinterest for how to style them!

Johnny Was Duster: Every girl likes something luxurious and pretty to wear to town, and a duster/cardigan like this one would go beautifully with everything from a dress to jeans.

Boots: Ohhhhh, boots. Everyone loves boots. I love these boots. I want these boots. They are beautiful. That is all. I will lust after them until they go on sale, in which case I will hope and pray that they have my size.

Whipping Post Vintage Tote Bag: Another thing every¬†gal loves? High-quality leather bags. I received¬†this exact bag for my birthday a few years ago and it is one of the prettiest things I own–I get compliments every time I carry it. Now, if the lady you’re shopping for has a baby, or will, get her one of these beauties. I treated myself to the Meggan last year, and it was¬†such¬†an excellent purchase. High-quality, tons of pockets, and four words: converts to backpack carry. Pricey, yes, but it doesn’t look like a diaper bag and the quality is so great ¬†so ¬†I’ll be using it (and my Whipping Post bag) for years. Or forever. Probably that. If it ain’t broke, and only gets better with age…

Now, sometimes things don’t fall into one category or another. Here are a few things that are for all aspects of life!

Seche Vite top coat: Not all gals like having painted nails, but for the ones that do, this is primo. It makes manicures last a week with no effort, even through barn work. Grab some Essie (available at Target and¬†the Walmarts since rural America has yet to understand about Target)¬†and you’re really on top of things.

Pendleton Flannel: Beautiful, warm, high-quality, and can go from the barn to town in a cinch, provided it’s not covered in poop or other bodily fluids.

Wild Rag: A gorgeous, feminine wild rag is one of my favorite things. It adds a little girly to barn attire, and dresses up a coat or vest at the barn or in town. Bonus if it matches that Pendleton ūüėČ Double bonus if you get a pretty rag slide to go with.

Yeti Rambler: Whether you’re a tea drinker or a coffee drinker, a good go cup is a must. I love the seafoam color, and the fact that you can get monogram decals from about a million shops on Etsy. Again, too pretty for the boys to steal, hopefully!

Now, after all the time put in wearing all those hats, it’s nice for a girl to have some comfy, pretty lounge clothes to change into when she gets home!

LL Bean Mocs: We usually get ourselves a small something with a tiny portion our tax return (because this year the big portion will be spent on Brother, #reallife), and these might be what I treat myself to this year. I seem to be very hard on moccasins and have worn all mine out, and I would really love a new pair to wear when I’m in the hospital in March. Also, again with that LL Bean lifetime warranty!

Handy AF: this shirt cracks me up. I kind of want one but feel funny getting one for myself. Whether you are (or your gal is) handy with a rope, or with a calving book, or with kiddos, or just life in general, this shirt is the perfect amount of brag. This is also a great gift for a friend who is needing a little pick-me-up, because every gal is Handy AF at something, and a reminder is nice!

Lounge pants: These are just pretty and look so comfy. Every gal needs (or would like) a pair or two of lounge pants that are a step above jammies but aren’t leggings. I promise. These specific ones are no longer available, apparently, but you get the idea.

Coffee Then Cows shirt: This was on my list this ¬†year because I just love it. I’m not into graphic tees, really, but I like this one because it’s pretty much true. It’s truer for Bert than me as mine would read “Frappucino or Black Tea, Wrangle Children, Then Cows,” but that’s not quite succinct enough for a good tee.

I’ll be taking a holiday break from blogging for a week or so to enjoy the last bits of 2016 with my boys. But, I’ll be back in 2017 with so much good stuff y’all–Stock Show and the start of calving season both happen next month,and that’s a whole lotta pretty cows and fuzzy calves to share!

 

Celebrate · Family · Fun

Little Cowboy Gift Guide

little-cowboy-gift-guide-collage

Shopping for little cowboys is a lot easier than shopping for big cowboys, but as a mom I know I appreciate reviews and recommendations for toys that kids will actually play with! We don’t go toy-crazy in our house, mostly because Wacey only likes a few toys and because he’d rather play outside or with a bucket or Tupperware.

And also because I hate cleaning up mountains of toys. Full disclosure, here.

Anyways. Here’s a list of tried-and-true (if not by us, then by someone I know) toys, clothes, and other things that would be great for the little cowboy in your life!

John Deere Tractor: I found one of these for Wace on a Facebook swap page (for $8, #momwin!) and it’s one of his most played-with toys. Inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs, he plays with it everywhere!

Toddler Stormy Kromer: This falls into the “something they need” category, especially if you live in a cold area. As Wacey gets older, I appreciate so much tiny versions of adult things, both because they tend to be made better and because he loves wearing things that are just like Daddy’s, which makes it easier to get him dressed. We got one of these for Wacey this year (we got the largest “toddler” size, for reference) and I’m hoping he’ll be enthusiastic about actually wearing it!

Little Blue Truck: We have all the LBT books and they are Wacey’s favorites and have been taped back together¬†so¬†many times. I wish there were more!

Rody Bouncy Horse: This is solidly in the “fun toy” category. We got one for Wacey last Christmas, but he’s only now really gotten into it. They’re pretty much a ranch kid staple, and seem to be made really well. You can even get little bucking chutes so they can practice their bronc riding skills!

Cowboy Small: This is the only book that is more beat up and read more frequently than Little Blue Truck! I love this book because it’s authentic, and a definite classic, with fun illustrations and short, simple words.

Toddler Armchair: Wacey is getting this for Christmas and we are¬†so¬†excited to give it to him, as he’s really into sitting on the sofa or in chairs. It’s a “something they want” and a “something they need.” It seems to be made pretty well, and is a great value compared to other toddler armchairs, plus the “pony” print is adorable. It seems to come in and out of stock on Amazon, but it’s also available elsewhere.

The Original Cowboy Toy: This has been requested by my husband as a gift that he and Wacey would both enjoy, so it will probably end up under the tree sometime in the future. It’s a great, inexpensive toy that apparently is for boys of all ages, though maybe not a destructo-toddler boy ūüėČ

Duck Boots: Wacey has these exact ones (thanks, Mom!) and they are awesome. He wears them with thick wool socks, and they keep his feet warm and dry and aren’t completely hellatious to get on like some other boots.

Kids’ Rope: Every cowboy needs a rope, right?

Livestock Flag: When Bert’s parents asked what Wacey would like for Christmas, my answer was “A flag and a bucket,” because he really does need his own set that aren’t disgusting. He loves carrying his flag at the barn to “help” the guys, and plays with the feed buckets in the barn when he’s helping Bert with chores, or you know, for holding rocks and dirt and other treasures. In my experience, every kid needs a bucket!

Lil Quad Four Wheeler: This is Wacey’s “big” Santa gift this year, he rode on at my in-laws and had so much fun that we couldn’t not get one. He always wants to go on the real four-wheeler with Bert (again, tiny versions of adult things seem to be a major hit). If you’re in the market for one, I scored one on Jet.com for a really excellent deal!

Resistol Cowboy Hat: Every cowboy also needs a hat! Wacey has one very like this one, and it holds its shape and has held up to some pretty rough toddler treatment.

All-Over Ointment: I know kids don’t care about lotion, but even little cowboys get dry skin and need some help every now and again. This is our favorite, favorite lotion for Wacey’s dry, patchy, eczema-prone skin and we have tried them¬†all.¬†If you live in a climate where you need a Stormy Kromer, you also need this lotion. Plus, it’s a mom-run company!¬†

Little People Farm: Wacey got this as a first birthday present from my mom, and it’s still one of his favorite toys! It’s also great to help kiddos learn animals names and sounds, and it makes not-too-annoying noises.

Cowboy Boots: Rope, hat…and boots! Wacey grew out of his first pair of boots and has been asking to wear them, so it was time for a new pair. I found these¬†incredibly¬†reasonably-priced boots on Zappos, and they seem to be a good buy. They have a real leather upper (necessary, folks, don’t bother with the fake stuff), and side zipper to make getting them on easier, and they don’t look stupid. If he likes them, I’ll probably just go ahead and buy more sizes as he always needs boots that fit, and Little Brother can wear them, too!

Little People Tractor: A perfect addition to the Little People Farm, and again, a very played-with toy.

Carhartt Overalls: We gave these to Wace early when it got frigid and we all went out to chop wood, and they are great! I’d size up–he’s a bigger kid, but still pretty normal, and there’s no way the 2T would have even come close to fitting. The 3T has plenty of room so that he can wear it over clothes, with room to grow. I’ve heard the Oshkosh ones are warmer, but these seem to be more durable, which is what we’re after. Plus, again, they look like Daddy’s!

Pickup and Trailer: Again, just like Daddy’s. They make different models of pickups, too, so if you’re a Dodge family like us, they have one to match ūüėČ

Feed Bucket: See “Livestock Flag” above. Plus, at that price, you can have one for inside and outside, which is ideal. (“That’s what we said, Bob, we looked at this big ski lodge and said “isn’t it ideal?”)

There it is!

 

 

 

Celebrate · Fun

Friday Five: Gift Wrapping

I love wrapping gifts, just like I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. Basically, paper goods are one of my love languages. I get everything ordered/bought, and once it’s arrived I put it all away in the guest room (or in a sneakier locale if it’s for Bert, as he isn’t as easily fooled as a toddler, bless him). I set aside an evening or two to wrap in the light of a Christmas movie and the tree, or, in this year’s case, in the light of a Christmas movie and, well, regular lights, since the tree is upstairs, Wacey sleeps upstairs, and for whatever reason the sound of paper always wakes him up. In years past, I’ve wrapped everything and then put the non-Santa/Christmas morning/super obvious gifts under the tree, but again, toddler. So I wrapped a bunch of empty boxes and they’ll be placeholders for the next, oh, ten years or so.

Also in years past, I’ve really put a lot of thought into wrapping gifts, and did a sort of theme each year. This year I’m going pretty basic as the boys could care less how their gifts are wrapped, but I do love gorgeous wrapping paper and am happy to lust at beautiful and festive wrapping from afar. I love things that are simple, colorful, and not too fussy, but are a little more than paper and box.Or a bag. I’m kind of against gift bags for stuff that gets left under the tree for a long time, because it makes it waaaaay too easy to peek, and I’m all about the element of surprise.

Not because I ever peeked at my own gifts inside gift bags, of course.

Although, for those oddly-shaped, don’t-fit-in-a-box gifts, give me allll the gift bags.

Letter tags: I think this would be so great for older young kids to help them figure out whose gifts are whose (provided everyone’s name begins with a different initial!) Plus, glitter and baking twine are two of my spirit animals. I might go so far as to try this for some gifts this year. I know, I know, slow your roll, Martha Stewart.

PS–can you imagine¬†what Martha Stewart’s gift-wrapping is like? In my mind, it’s so lovely.

big-letter-tags

Buffalo Plaid and Kraft Paper: I kraft paper and buffalo plaid is pretty and festive and rustic, even without the evergreen topper. I also love mixing patterns, so throwing in another pattern would work here too! You could use any plaid with this, too, if buffalo isn’t your style.

buffalo

Sharpie Labels: Again¬†with the kraft paper, I know, but it’s vintage-y and simple, comes in giant rolls, and is thicker than regular paper so you never have to worry about sharp corners poking through. It makes a great neutral canvas (yes I just used “neutral canvas” to refer to gift wrapping), and the red ribbon is simple, easy, but also elegant. I like the idea of writing the name of the recipient directly on the paper–it eliminates the whole gift tag step, and is informal and fun. You could also do this with a chalk pen!

gold-sharpie

Jingle Bells: Isn’t this the cutest bow alternative?? It adds just a little something extra, to quote Elle Woods, and bonus points it you color-coordinate it to your outfit. You could go gold, silver, or colorful depending on your decor, and vary your sizes¬†if you’re really looking to win at the wrapping game. I think this would be exciting for little kids, too–Wacey LOVES bells, and if nothing else it might buy you a little time on Christmas morning.

Actually, I’ll take my own advice here, as I have several too-large-to-choke-on bells in my Christmas stash. Of course, the ultimate toddler packaging would involve some lights, too, and something that buckles or zip. Basically, a light-up backpack with a bell tied on. Do it.

jingle-bells

Mixed Patterns and Plaids: How fun does this look?? My mother-in-law gifted me with some beautiful wrapping paper for my birthday, and I mentioned that it was almost too pretty to just be ripped apart on Christmas morning. My father-in-law said “Why don’t you use it for the fake presents under the tree so they stay wrapped?” and basically, he’s a genius. Like I said above, I’m not putting actual gifts under the tree until the Johnston household is a toddler-free zone (soooooo in the next decade ha) and I love this idea with the different plaids and patterns, it fits our whimsical (okay, juvenile)-yet-traditional vibe to a T. Plus, it won’t seem so futile to make things pretty if I keep bringing them out year after year! I still haven’t found the perfect plaid paper (okay, I haven’t looked, but when we went to get wrapping paper Wacey spent the entire time using his roll as a stick and getting pretend cows up like he does in the barn, so we weren’t exactly in perusal mode)

tartan

Now, if wrapping gifts isn’t your bag (see what I did there?), or can’t be because you have a house full of tiny destructive tornadoes, I feel you, because sometimes I just want to put everything in trash bags and hand it over. They do make mint-scented trash bags (to repel varmints), so that’s pretty festive, right? I remember asking my mom if I could help wrap presents and her being like “YES! In fact, you can do it¬†all by yourself!” Now I see what¬†you¬†did there, crafty lady.