Updated: Mar 12
I have been a long time follower of Kristen on Instagram! Her home is beautiful, and oh my goodness, her yard is a dream! I was so excited to talk with her about all the fun things she does with her girls and her love of books.
Kristen lives in Houston with her high school sweetheart husband Chad (they met in Spanish class our senior year), her two daughters, Jane (5) and Rose (3.5), and our new beagle puppy, George.
Tell us about yourself and what you enjoy doing!
I love staying busy -- probably too busy, ha! The girls and I read a lot, and listen to music, and bake and do crafts and activities; we also get cabin fever pretty easily so we like to get out and explore in lots of different ways. My husband works long hours so whenever we have him home it's nice to just enjoy each other's company by swimming and going out to eat and being home together. Personally, I love thrifting and decorating and reading and writing and brainstorming ways to inject some of that everyday magic into our lives as often as possible.
Life at home
We live in a craftsman home in the Houston Heights, a historic neighborhood with lots of young families. When we moved in a few years ago I was lucky to connect with some of the other stay-at-home moms on our block who were interested in starting a weekly playgroup together. Since then our playgroup has grown to more than twenty families; we hang out all the time and our kids go to the same schools and we celebrate holidays and birthdays and special occasions with the dads and some of us moms even get together after bedtime to watch The Bachelor and Bachelorette when it's on. I recognize that this sort of tight-knit community can be rare and hard to find, so I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it.
Where do you find beauty in the day to day?
I love when my house is clean! Unfortunately it is almost never clean haha. I love redecorating, especially around the seasons, which means that I am usually switching things out and creating more havoc than is necessary -- but it's always so rewarding to see little spaces come together. I also really love being around the girls' toys and pretty accessories; I must still be a kid at heart because I find it so fun to display everything and organize it all into invitations for pretend play for them.
What are your tips for creating a happy home?
Ooh, this is a hard one! The number one thing that makes a difference for me is getting up early in the morning before everyone else. I am able to drink a cup (or two) of hot coffee, organize my thoughts, and get myself and the house ready for the day before everyone wakes up and things get crazy. I recognize that I am the person who sets the tone for the household every day, so I try to do what I can to keep myself as centered and calm and patient as possible from the outset (some days are easier than others on this front!)
First of all, let’s talk books! Tell us about how you incorporate reading into their days.
Oh my gosh, we are such bookaholics in this house! We recently started going to our local library and coming home with stacks and stacks of new books; it's the best feeling ever. We started reading to the girls when they were babies (their favorites were Goodnight, Moon and Brown Bear, Brown Bear) and have continued to do so as they've grown up. I am not the most playful mom (you will rarely see me on the floor pretending to be a horsie or whatever) but I've gotten better at recognizing when the girls are seeking out opportunities to connect (especially on busy, crazy days when there are inevitably more tears and fighting and tantrums); in those moments I always try to drop what I'm doing and sit down and read a book to them. Books have always been my love language and I hope that I am passing that along to my girls too.
I’m sure it is hard to pick favorites, but what are a few of your must haves for starting a collection for your children?
It is so hard! But here are a few favorite picture book authors to help new parents get started: Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, Emily Winfield Martin, Nancy Tillman, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Teagan White, Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen, Kevin Henkes, Jon Agee, Chris Van Dusen, Jessie Sima, Oliver Jeffers, Akiko Miyakoshi, Mo Willems, Arnold Lobel, A.A. Milne, Maurice Sendak, and of course Dr. Seuss.
Your back yard is super dreamy! Can you tell us about how you designed the space and some of your favorite pieces for outside play?
We love our yard! We have a corner lot so it's actually a side yard. I get a lot of questions about our grass, which is indeed turf -- we were never able to get sod to grow out there so it was just easier to replace it, and it was the best decision ever. We love our playhouse and our slides and in the summer we make great use of our inflatable pool from Mylle; I also recently created a flower shop/farmer's market pretend play set up for them for outside that has kept their attention all summer, hallelujah! And of course the greatest backyard entertainment of all: our puppy George.
What are some of the favorite activities you have done lately?
We have been really busy with storytime this summer! Last summer we hosted art class for the neighborhood playgroup and it was a big hit, so this year I decided to switch things up by introducing the kids to some of my favorite picture books. Every week (or every other week depending on schedules) we have a different theme, plus corresponding snacks and activities. It's been really fun and has definitely filled all our free time. Our themes this summer have included Dogs & Cats, Friendship, All Creatures Great and Small, Underwater Creatures, Cars & Trucks, Space & Moon, and Dinosaurs.
Your girl's rooms are adorable! Can you tell us about how you designed the space and some of your favorite pieces?
Their spaces have evolved so much throughout the years! I tend to choose feminine pieces since I have daughters, but I also seem to have major boy mom FOMO because I'm constantly drawn to classic trucks and retro rainbows and vintage schoolhouse pieces. My husband and I both love products that are timeless and well-made, especially neutral-leaning pieces with clean lines and natural elements. We're also always drawn to items with personality, things that catch your eye right when you walk into a room and that are easy to work around. And of course you can't beat a good secondhand score -- some of my favorite items in my home have been thrifted.
What keeps you inspired and fills your cup as a mama?
My ideas always start and end with my daughters -- I try to follow their lead on what they're interested in (and what they're not -- there have been lots of times when I've tried to introduce something that they're not into, which is totally cool because I'm always led to something else that they do love). I'm also constantly inspired by Instagram and Pinterest -- it's sometimes a problem during busy seasons like Halloween and Christmas because I have more ideas than I could ever pull off! I am a person with a lot of creative energy and it gets me in trouble often because I get excited about things and bite off more than I can chew; I'm trying to be better about acknowledging my productivity limits (and trying to keep my house from looking like a craft bomb went off all the time).
What is your go-to daily style?
I've always said my personal style can best be described as Can I Nap In This -- ha! I stay active throughout the day, so I do wear a lot of leggings and sneakers (I have a legit sneaker obsession). When I want to put on an actual outfit, it usually involves high-waisted pants or shorts and a cut-off thrifted t-shirt, the boxier the better.
What are you reading right now?
An excellent question! I have been living and breathing picture books all summer, but I recently picked up Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, one of my favorite middle grade authors. I also recently finished The Dreamers by Karen Walker Thompson, who also wrote one of my favorite novels ever, The Age of Miracles. Since having kids I have found that it's often easier for me to listen to audiobooks (I "reread" the entire Harry Potter series through my headphones last summer), and I was super pumped to find out that Audible is releasing The Baby-Sitters Club on August 13, narrated by Elle Fanning. I fully attribute my life-long love of reading to Ann M. Martin so you better believe I'm excited to listen to them again.
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