Family Trip to the Tennessee Valley Fair

The Tennessee Valley Fair is in full swing in Knoxville right now, so we took a trip over this past weekend so Grayson could officially experience the fair. We ate corndogs and snow cones, chocolate covered cheesecake (um, yes please!) and chili cheese fries. It felt like fall, not too cool and not hot at all, just perfect. We all walked our little legs off and enjoyed the fair energy – so many people and all that color!

Gray is not quite big enough to do the rides yet so we coaxed him into standing next to the height requirement chart and giving us a little pout. Adorable. Thankfully, he didn’t really get that he was missing out and spent his day petting the cows, ducks, chickens and exotic animals. Mamas favorite part? By far, I loved walking next to Gray during his first-ever pony ride. He would say “pat-pat” and pet the pony’s mane while we were walking. Sweet man! I can’t get enough of him right now.

If you’re in the East Tennessee vicinity, get yourself over to the TN Valley Fair (Sept. 11-20). There’s something for everyone. And a few photos from our day trip…




Fair 1









Next year

pony 3

pony ride



shaved ice 2

shaved ice 3

shaved ice

with daddy

P.S. Thanks to the Tennessee Valley Fair for providing tickets in exchange for this lovely little post. We can’t wait to go back again…for more chocolate covered cheesecake. ;)

mouseinyourhouseFamily Trip to the Tennessee Valley Fair

Dear Daycare

I came across this letter I wrote to Grayson’s first daycare providers. I wrote it as an emotional new mommy about to send her baby away for the first time. Oh my goodness. If only I could tell myself then that it really does get so much better and easier. Two years later, and Grayson adores “school”. I adore school. Can you imagine getting this letter as a daycare worker? Bless it.

I so remember the desperation I felt when I wrote this. The two sweet ladies who first watched Grayson became dear friends to our family, and I’m glad I shared my fears and hopes with them. In some way, I think it helped us jumpstart an open, honest connection that guided us tremendously through that first year of daycare. It ended up being wonderful, by the way.

How did you prep to send your child off to daycare for the first time? Any letters or words you shared? I’m completely interested.


To Grayson’s Teachers,

First off, thank you for everything you do every single day. I know it’s not easy – boy, do I know it’s not easy – but I am so thankful that you have chosen this profession. I realize that you are underpaid, not to be disrespectful to this awesome facility, but because there is no way to pay someone enough for the type of mind-boggling hard work you do.

Secondly, I’m sharing a list of things I’d like you to know about Grayson and our family because, aside from the direct members of our family, you’re basically the most important people in our lives and we think that fact alone demands we be as honest as possible before our year of daycare starts. During the day, you ensure the safety and happiness of my child. Need I say more? So here it is….

1. I want you to feel like you can love on Gray. Our little man will be comforted when you let him hold your finger while you feed him and stroke his sweet head when you hold him. I do not want him to go all day without feeling kind human touch, not just the changing diapers quickly and handing him a toy sort of touch. I will not hesitate in the least if you kiss him on the head and hold his pink cheek up to yours and play with his soft little baby feet (although that tickles him so he may pull them away). I want him to feel human touch so that he knows he is safe and learns that it’s ok to be affectionate with other people, for hugs and security and to connect with them and make this planet a little smaller.

2. We promise to drop off and pickup Grayson every single day with a smile on our face because what we make of daycare will be what he makes of daycare. We understand that creating a positive experience here is a two-way street, and his happiness starts with us as parents.

3. His smiles are the best smiles. When you look directly into his eyes his little toothless grin will get even wider and that means he is really, really happy and you will be rewarded with a slight gurgling laugh that would melt his mommy and daddy’s heart if they could see it. Thank you for making him smile. Above all else, we want him to be happy.

4. If he has eaten and has a clean diaper and is still crying he could need either his paci or to be held closely with his head tucked under your chin, but most likely both. Once he falls asleep he normally is pretty good about staying down for a nap in his crib. He sleeps on his back and will look like a gorgeous little angel. I’m telling you now so you can be prepared when that level of beauty enters your life.

5. If he doesn’t stop crying, call me. I will leave right away and come down to hold him and tell him everything will be OK. I will not question what you did or didn’t do to try to calm him because I know you’ve done everything possible and I would rather spend my time holding him close and smelling his delicious baby smell. It will get easier and I know that.

6. We call him our “sweet, sweet baby boy” and you can do the same. We want Gray to grow up to be a kind person who loves others, will give of his talents and work to make this world a better place. I think who he becomes starts with who we tell him he is. We – you, me, his father and our family – start the story and he gets to complete it one day. Thank you for being part of building him up to be the passionate, friendly and loving person he will become one day.

7. During holidays I will buy you Target gift cards when possible. It is selfish and I will secretly hope it will buy my kid the time and attention he needs from you.

8. He loves to be read to. He’ll gaze at the illustrations for what seems like minutes. Yes, he’s an infant but he will love hearing your voice and seeing new things.

8. Please share his accomplishments with us. I realize that because he is in daycare it is likely that we will miss some “firsts,” but I would rather hear about his progress and be part of that journey. I will not cry – at least not in front of you – and will be so thankful because I get to take him home and praise him for his little milestones even if he can’t quite understand what I’m saying yet. ;) We will feel better because of your honesty.

That is it. Thank you again for being there for us. We are so excited to start Grayson’s “school” with you!

With love,
Christina & Matt Honkonen


mouseinyourhouseDear Daycare

World Breast Feeding Week & A Giveaway

In honor of World Breast Feeding Week I’m taking part in a blogger group giveaway. This is a nice way to recognize a practice that sadly is not very appreciated nor supported in the US. Grayson is now 8 months old, which is insane!, and our breast feeding journey is slowly coming to a close. I have no idea how much longer it will continue because we continue to feed in the mornings. And to be honest, I love that aspect of our morning and that my body continues to care for him by producing milk like this. I’ll let it go as long as it sticks around.

Breastfeeding in Knoxville

Breast feeding is a tricky subject because for a lot of moms, mainly because it really isn’t always the most viable, best option. As a full time working momma, I feel like I know first-hand how exhausting and time consuming it is to pump at work and come home and try to feed while making dinner and getting house chores done. Even with an incredibly supportive husband, it was challenging. Looking back, I’m so glad I did it. Grayson and I had our own special route and experience together and he slowly weaned himself. He was never a lover of the boobies. I used to joke that he sort of just ate to get full.

I think I’ve said this before but while we’re on the subject I’ll definitely say that there isn’t nearly enough support for moms who want to breast feed. I would love to see local restaurants hang signs showing that breast feeding moms are welcome and I SO dearly wish hospitals were not so negative toward moms who want to feed. I was in a very natural birth-friendly hospital and when I asked to feed Gray right away they looked at me like I was crazy. P.S. he latched right away and I think that was because I went with my gut instinct. Education is key and no one tells mommas that. So pass it on. Get educated. Know what you want and go after it. Breast feeding is possible and there are lactation specialists and supportive moms out there to help you.

Happy World Breast Feeding Week, ladies and gents! Now go enter this rocking giveaway. xoxoxo

About the Giveaway 

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week,  Nesting Days Newborn carriers are hosting an incredible giveaway with top brands and bloggers. One lucky winner will take it all! The prize is valued at over $300! Enter for yourself or for a friend and share the giveaway with all of the amazing mamas in your life!

Giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on July 10th at 12am.

One winner will receive :

(1) Nesting Days carrier in her choice of size and color

(1) Undercover Mama shirt in her choice of color

(1) Multi pack of Bamboobies nursing pads

(1) Teething Necklace from GumiGem

(1) Infinity Nursing Scarf from Abbie Grace Designs

(1) Bottle of Nipple Cream from MotherLove

(1) Hands Free Pumping/Nursing Bra from The Dairy Fairy(1) Sleep Nursing Bra from The Dairy Fairy

Estimated retail value : $330

Enter the giveaway below and then click through to read stories, see photos, and enjoy other fun goodies from all of our partnering bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

mouseinyourhouseWorld Breast Feeding Week & A Giveaway

3 Places to Find Cool Art for a Kids Room

Whenever I start browsing around for nursery room wall art I always stumble upon the most kitschy stuff, full of chevron and elephants and sweet sayings with little depth to the design. Now I actually do, in all reality, love chevron and elephants and sweet nothings. But this stuff can quickly go the uninspired route. It wasn’t until Arrington recommended we use Status Serigraph, a local Knoxville print shop, that I started to look to rock poster print art for our kid/baby spaces.

And I LOVED it. The idea of shopping for “kids stuff” was smashed to smithereens and a whole world of poster options spread itself before me. Enter the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, which Matt and I used as our freedom vacation recently. One of my favorite aspects of the festival was a huge slew of print designers who setup shop. One after the other, they hung up their colorful, mesmerizing, screen-printed designs and I was in heaven. Matt joked that if he couldn’t find me right away, he always knew where to go. I was slowly making my way through nearly a dozen print booths. I could not get enough.

Here are 3 that I highly recommend you browse through if you’re wanting to find new wall art for a kids space. Really, any space will do, but these particularly reminded me of the lively, dreamy aesthetic I want for Gray’s play spaces.

1. James Flames. Here are some examples:
POST-AvettBros-Lexington2013 - James FlamesPOST-FeliceBros-RhodeIsland2014
2. LeDouxville. They print stuff like this:


3. MadPixel. I thought this city-inspired design was cute, and a dog on a bike:

Mad Pixel


Where do you find your wall art for kids rooms? Do you have a favorite print designer? I’m always on the lookout.

I hope you have a gorgeous weekend. I’m planning to find a Tennessee River beach and pretend we’re in Florida again. xoxoxo

mouseinyourhouse3 Places to Find Cool Art for a Kids Room

The Product Collective: Eye Makeup Remover & Moisturizer

About a month ago I introduced the Product Collective, a consortium of beautiful ladies who have been kind enough to share some of their favorite products with us. Then…life happened and this series got put on the back burner. I don’t have good excuses. Isn’t it amazing how the basic daily routine can get so busy there’s no time for anything else? I wish there was a big life event to share with you but…nada. Just the normal changing diapers and getting baby to daycare and dinners made (oh wait, Matt does that one) and….I’m running out of excuses.

But here we are, in July, the end of summer, and I’ve got an action packed post full of eye makeup and face moisturizer recommendations. This Wednesday just got more interesting. Let’s get the dishing started.

Remember these ladies…


These are the products they rely on daily to protect those gorgeous faces:

From Christy:
Yes to Blueberries Cleansing Facial Towelettes for eye makeup removal -
Say Yes to Blueberries towelettesAnd Olay Regenerist Regenrating Serum used as her facial moisturizer -
Olay Regenerist Regenerating SerumFrom Leah:
Baby wipes are her go-to choice to remove eye makeup -
Pampers baby wipesAnd she chooses Aveeno Positively Radiant for her lotion -
Aveeno-Positively-Radiatn-Morning-MoisturizerFrom Jessi:
She goes with olive oil to remove eye makeup. Just pick the purest you can find.
Olive Oil as eye makeup remover
And her face moisturizer pick is Argan Oil, like this -
Argan OilFrom Molly:
She uses Clinique’s Take Off the Day as her eye makeup remover -
Clinique's Take off the Day makeup removerAnd for her moisturizer, her pick is Vaseline’s MenBody Fast Absorbing lotion -
Vaseline LotionFrom Tuyen:
Her top pick for an eye makeup remover is the Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser. Because she doesn’t use much eye makeup, this does the trick -
Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial CleanserAnd her moisturizer is the trusty Aveeno Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30 -
Aveeno Positively Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30
And that concludes your rundown of new face lotions and eye makeup removers test out. Have you ever used olive oil to remove eye makeup? I did once and thought it was very effective. The lingering smell was odd but something I could get used to.

What do you use? Anything you’d recommend? Share away.

P.S. I’m actually testing out a new time-saver trick. I’m foregoing makeup ALL week to see if it makes my morning routine less hectic and more enjoyable. So far, so good. No one has banned me from the office…yet. ;) xoxoxo


mouseinyourhouseThe Product Collective: Eye Makeup Remover & Moisturizer

The Babyless Freedom Vacation

Do you ever go on vacation without the kids? This is our first trip away without 8-month-old Grayson and it’s positively freeing. Yes, I miss him. I miss him so much, with his sweet baby-head smell and his big toothy smile and waking up with him yawning. Ohhhhhhh, I miss you sweet Gray.

OK, snap out of it. Back to how awesome this is. It’s lovely and Matt and I have been able to talk to each other in complete sentences. Crazy. We’re spending this vacation at the Forecastle music festival in Louisville, KY, which reminds me of my Bonnaroo days, which reminds me of being young, which makes me feel young. So many kids, so much hooliganism. And even though I feel at times like a parenting bystander, watching how I used to act and the freedom I used to have, I’m still…so much loving this. Should I feel guilty for enjoying this? I don’t. I feel fine, weirdly, calmly level headed about it.

Here are some shots of our baby-less vacation. Would you do this? Do you do this freedom vacation thing? Thank the stars for grandparents and knowing that Gray is living it up with songs and yummy food and Nanna snuggles or I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this getaway at all. I feel fairly confident he’s going to actually be sad when we return, he’s getting so spoiled right now.

Jill Andrews is pictured in the bottom left. She's a fantastic local Knoxville musician. She's also a mama and rocks (both literally and figuratively), which I love.

Jill Andrews is pictured in the bottom left. She’s a fantastic local Knoxville musician. She’s also a mama and rocks (both literally and figuratively), which I love. And that’s Matt and I getting ready to watch Outkast. I have no words for that performance. Took me back to my high school days. They played every hit and were so tight. 

I got to pose with a Hunter S. Thompson impersonator. Life, made. DONE.

I got to pose with a Hunter S. Thompson impersonator. Life, made. DONE. Also PS Matt is dancing with a complete stranger. Music festival culture in a snapshot.

The music poster vendors here are unbelievable. They are all inspiring my ideas for Gray's toddler room revamp. I am full on embracing music posters for nursery wall art. They are dreamy and fun and colorful.

The music poster vendors here are unbelievable. They are all inspiring my ideas for Gray’s toddler room revamp. I am full on embracing music posters for nursery wall art. They are dreamy and fun and colorful and should be in every young room.

Reasons I'm happy here: there is a Gonzo bar (swoon), there is a shipwrecked boat with mermaids and a lifeguard who dances to welcome you in. But I miss sweet Gray and he is obsessed with doggies, which he is attacking in the pic (he even took his paci out to be more effective).

Reasons I’m happy here: there is a Gonzo bar (swoon), there is a shipwrecked boat with mermaids and a lifeguard who dances to welcome you in. But I miss sweet Gray and you should know he is obsessed with doggies, which he is attacking in the pic (he even took his paci out to be more effective).

Well, there you have it. My freedom vacation isn’t over yet and I’m back to it now. I know I owe you guys tons of cool posts, like more of Arrington’s rooms and April’s nursery. It’s coming, but Jack White is playing next and there’s a cocktail with my name on it. Enjoy your weekend and see you soon. xoxoxoxo

mouseinyourhouseThe Babyless Freedom Vacation

Yay, Grayson is Clapping

So it’s not a huge deal but MY BABY IS CLAPPING. Ok, so I sort of/maybe thought the world came to a stop when he finally started placing those two hands together about a week ago. It’s adorable. He bats his left hand toward the other so he definitely favors one side, but he’s mainly got the clapping thing down. Look how proud he is…

photo 2photo 4 photo 5photo 3photo 1
Do you celebrate milestones? I’m not great about catching everything on camera and getting it placed in his baby book but this one seemed monumental to me. Which ones did you love the most?

And a few notes so I remember…Gray is almost 8 months old and loves being thrown in the air, spun around really fast which makes him belly laugh. I want to hold him tight and rock him like an infant but he’s already pushing away like he’s a big boy or something. You’re a little man, Grayson! He doesn’t love us leaving him at daycare now but I hear he forgets about us quickly and starts playing with the “big” babies. He isn’t crawling yet but will be soon. He still breastfeeds (not for long spurts anymore which I have mixed feelings about) but is loving carrots, mixed fruit, pumpkin and taking sips of water. Sleeping through the night is lovely and happens quite often and I still think it’s weird that he’s perfectly happy to sleep alone in his yellow crib. Toys are a must and they keep his little fingers busy as he explores the buttons and sound responses. He is a sweet, sweet man, still…always and forever.

Here’s my little daredevil…


Gray and Chris - 4th of July

mouseinyourhouseYay, Grayson is Clapping

Grayson’s Nursery Reveal

With the nursery complete, it is so very nice to spend time in Grayson’s VERY OWN room. I literally can’t walk in his nursery without smiling and breathing a big sigh of relief, because let’s be honest, a nursery renovation is no small task. While it’s been complete for over a month now, this sweet guy was well past six months before things were finalized. I guess it goes without saying, but having started off in our 400-square-foot treehouse has made this reveal even more exciting. It practically makes up half of the spaces our whole family started out in! So let me tell you all about it, with Arrington’s help.

When Arrington and I first chatted, I explained that I wanted lots of pops of color but a look that was still true to the traditional calming nursery vibe. He’s a baby after all and I wanted it to feel that way because there will be plenty of time for toddler business. Thankfully, Arrington, with her coastal, calming esthetic, was just what we needed to create a perfect balance to my tendency toward bright color combinations.

I fell in love with that yellow Jenny Lind crib and white dresser from Land of Nod, and from there Arrington curated the rest to create this space we absolutely adore. From the thoughtful chalk board, ready for Gray’s toddler years!, to finding the handmade wooden book caddies, it was fun to see her in her element and made the whole design process so much easier. It was further proof that interior decorating requires talent and lots of experience.

For those of you looking for some assistance or even someone to completely take over a decorating project, she is the gal for you! Below, she talks about her client collaboration style and how her techniques feed into the final look of a space.

Thanks, Arrington for working with us and creating such a cozy place for Gray to grow and play. Tour Arrington’s house here. And you can reach her at

***Find a product list of sources and collages at the bottom of the post***

What was your approach to Gray’s nursery? 

When I first meet with a client I like to come to their home and get a feel for their current style.  Most of their pieces can be re-purposed in a space or rearranged to create a different feel.  If I’m starting from scratch other rooms in the home can give a lot of insight.  While visiting your wonderful home I noticed your love of color and a eclectic modern feel. I really listened to all of that as I searched for new pieces to bring into the space. 

The room had already been painted a light teal color and you had fallen in love with a yellow Jenny Lind crib so that gave us a lot to work with.  There were certain elements you also wanted him to enjoy in his new space as well: a comfy place to play, a focus on reading and easy access to toys.
Through local resources and the large selection of seamstresses on Etsy we were able to bring together a modern colorful nursery that expresses little Grayson’s already detectable fun attitude!! – Arrington
IMG_7178 IMG_7180 IMG_7181IMG_7123 IMG_7187 IMG_7193 IMG_7195 IMG_7197


Source Book: 
Book shelves custom made by Jackie’s Toolbox
White/Gray customized stackable name blocks displayed in wall shelf from PamQCards on Etsy
Drapes by Etsy store Drawstring
Prints over the changing table by Status Serigraph
Print above crib by Powerhouse Factories
Dresser by Land of Nod - Monarch 6 Drawer Dresser
Crib is a Jenny Lind crib and can be purchased here
Re-purposed family heirloom chair
Orange throw from Longest Thread 
White faux fur round area rug by Fur Accents
Reach out if you have any questions about the product I used or just want to chat about your love of Jenny Lind cribs…because I’m sort of obsessed.

photo 2-2 photo 1-2


mouseinyourhouseGrayson’s Nursery Reveal

A Nautical Nursery for Harrison

I’m back today with more space creations courtesy of Knoxville interior decorator Arrington Russell. She’s designed the most adorable nautical nursery for her sweet baby Harrison. I fell in love. His sunlit room is cheery yet simplistic with her dynamic use of navy and white. And that precious mobile with the colorful sailboats… what a relaxing space to spend with a newborn in your arms.

The bedding and diaper bag were from Pottery Barn, and the wall art was an Etsy find. If you have specific questions, feel free to share them in a comment and Arrington and I will work together to provide sources.

For back history on Arrington, find her Q&A here. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and is available for one-on-one decorating consultation or in-person projects.

Nursery dresser

Arrington in nursery

Nursery Mobile and Wall Art


Nautical theme nursery

Nursery Chair

These photo were taken about a week before baby Harrison joined the world. Congratulations, Arrington! I bet he’s dreaming of the sea in his nautical nursery.

Arrington can be reached at

mouseinyourhouseA Nautical Nursery for Harrison

Meet Arrington: Touring Her Traditional Chic Knoxville Home

In a cool twist of online fate, I ended up meeting Arrington Russell. While on the search for an interior Arringtondecorator who could bring a clear vision to help me create Grayson’s nursery, I randomly came across a Facebook thread where tons of people were recommending her. As a self-proclaimed interior decorating fanatic, she was just what I needed to set the tone and direction for Gray’s space.

I can’t wait to share his nursery, but to get us started I asked her to explain her design philosophy. Her style is a bit traditional chic. With fresh lines and relaxing, breezy colors, walking through her house has a calming effect. It ended up blending nicely with my crazy love of colors and tendency to go a million different directions. She kept us focused and brought all the pieces together so beautifully.

Today, I’m sharing a short Q&A with Arrington and shots of a few of the rooms in her Knoxville home. From here, we’ll explore her new nursery for baby Harrison (born only a few weeks ago!), her son Pierson’s toddler room and their gorgeous playroom. And of course, I’ll share Grayon’s room reveal soon!

Arrington is available for interior decorating projects and can be reached at

Welcome to Arrington’s world…

On decorating inspiration

I find  inspiration from a variety of places.  That being said, Pinterest is where I spend most of my time!  It is a great tool that I use to see what decorating trends are being used by interior designers and to determine what styles my clients are drawn to.  I’ve uncovered that everyone has a design style, but not everyone has the ability to execute it.  I use information from Pinterest and other design sources in consultation with my clients to create a design that is refined to their interior taste.

(Follow Arrington on Pinterest.)

 Pierson and entery

On favorite stores

Locally, I love Bliss Home for furniture.  The furniture at Bliss Home is great quality with a reasonable price tag.  I also shop online websites such as Joss and Main and One Kings Lane.  However, I found that most of my friends and clients need something that can stand up to children, pets and husbands.  There is something to be said about seeing the craftsmanship of your furniture before purchasing. Whenever buying from an online store I won’t make the purchase without multiple rave reviews.

When I’m looking for those finishing pieces to complete a room, my go to is Home Goods.  From a lamp to a throw pillow, this is always a fun stop on my list.  Also, antique stores for those unique pieces you didn’t know you needed!

Master Bed Shot

 Master Bedroom

On her top color picks

I love keeping a room’s wall color neutral like Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter.  This is a classic gray with a warm tone. Gray can be a difficult wall color but this option never fails.  By keeping the walls neutral a client has the ability to change the space.  To add color, I love an accent wall with stripes or a unique stencil.  Cutting Edge Stencils’ website has great ideas as well as quality wall stencil options.  An accent wall can bring color, texture, or pattern into a room without over powering the space. Oh yeah, and you can paint right over it!  For example, an entrance way with navy stripes makes a bold statement.  It flows nicely into the rest of the home but makes a big impact upon arriving guests.

 Wall Shelf in MasterMaster reading nook


On her personal style and design philosophy

My home is a traditional, vintage, and coastal design.  I love combining styles.  This allows my space to feel classic with symmetry in design for a calming effect.  I also have several antique pieces that add family history and depth to my space.  Through a coastal style, I use blue accent colors and ocean accent pieces to add an all-over breezy feel.  My goal for my personal home design is for a guest to feel a sense of elegance with a ‘lets sit and chat for hours’ comfort.  I’ve found that most friends and clients are drawn to a combination of styles and need help bringing these looks together.  My design philosophy is to help each client achieve their personal design style that they might not know is possible.


On her two favorite pieces of furniture

My coffee table is made from reclaimed beach/barn wood, which was purchased from Bliss Home.   It’s a statement piece in my living room.  My other favorite piece is a circa 1840′s Jackson Press cabinet located in my dining room.  It was passed down from my great grandmother.

Living room

mouseinyourhouseMeet Arrington: Touring Her Traditional Chic Knoxville Home