Friday, November 30, 2012

The Things You Do; November Edition

Squeaking in by the skin of my teeth on this month's post!! Also - that expression (the skin of my teeth) is kind of disgusting, no?
Jack:  You have started to recognize your name when it is written out.  You can sing through your whole alphabet, and you recognize most of the letters on their own, but I was astounded when I realized you knew that the combination of J-A-C-K means you!
Luke: You have realized that you are silly, and you LOVE to make people laugh.  Whether it is by sitting something on your head, or by sticking your fingers in their mouth, you will try your best to make others smile. 
Jack: You mastered potty training.  You wear big boy undies all the time, and you like to have final say in which pair you want to wear that day.  I am so proud of you!

Luke:  You have started really dancing this month.  You break it down man!! 14 months is a good age for dancing - because you haven't learned to be self-conscious in any way.  I love our daily dance parties.  You bend at the knee and lift your arms over your head - precious!

Jack: You started drumming out discernible beats.  I know that seems like a weird thing to notice, but I REALLY thought it was your dad drumming in your room with you one day - but it was you!! You clearly have inherited that from your father, because I have absolutely NO musical aptitude.  None. 

Luke: YOU STILL DON'T SLEEP FOR CRAP.  How kid?  How?

Jack:  You are SO excited about Christmas.  You told me about a week ago that Santa is a big man that flies around and brings us presents.  We don't do Santa - so I have no idea where you learned that - and I wasn't sure how to respond.  It's not that I think there is anything 'wrong' with believing in Santa, it just isn't something that we do.
 Luke: You are getting more and more coordinated everyday.  You use a fork now, not a baby one - no no no, you had to have a big boy fork just like your brother.  I think this month will be the month that we pack up the high chair and move you to a booster seat at the table, just like big bro.  Makes a momma
want to cry little boy!
November has been a fun - let's see what December has to bring!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

Sunday dawned crisp and cold, and in no time at all Clark Griswold had whisked us out the door to make it to a diner in time for Breakfast.  Because it's not a Christmas tree hunt until you have overdone it on the bacon, you know? 
I instagrammed this picture, and then did everything in my mothering handbook to entertain our hoodlums for the next 40 minutes.  Oy.   But the food was good, so with our tummies full we set off to find some Christmas garland.  After braving the madness that is Christmas tree shops, one covert nursing, and one potty accident (and subsequent outfit change), we strolled out of the store with 30 yards of garland.  Next up?  THE TREE FARM. 
But not just any tree farm, no no, this was the tree farm that Matt used to go to when he was little. Now, I'm not gonna say who - but someone didn't listen to his wife when she was co-piloting, so we got a leeetle bit lost.
Ahem(you guys - it was Matt).  After a nice scenic, loopy, drive, we finally did find THE tree farm. 
And OK, yes.  It was worth the drive. Upon arrival we realized that we forgot both hats AND mittens for either of the boys, so we settled pretty quickly on a nice looking Fraser Fir.  I would ALSO like to add that Clark(Matt) promised we would not get a huge tree this year, that we would find one that was not taller than he is. 

Apparently Matt believes he is eight and half feet tall. 

The boys had fun time manning the saw with Daddy, while I spent my time laying on my belly snapping pictures. 
We hauled that baby back to our car, strapped it to the top, then hurtled down the highway hoping against hope that it wouldn't fall off. 

It didn't thankfully, so Matt got it ready, and brought it in (P.S. - I take a picture of him bringing in our tree every year - it is becoming a favorite tradition of mine - silly as that sounds).
Matt worked on stringing the lights while the boys and I readied the ornaments, and played with our rag garland.
After that, it was a free-for-all with the ornaments.  There are very few pictures of said free-for-all because I was busy trying to keep Luke from stealing all of Jack's ornaments the second after he put them on the tree. 
Now - let me just say - I am a big fan of beautiful, well-laid out trees.  Our tree?  Is never going to be any of those things.  I am a sucker for sentimental ornaments, so that ornament that my cousin painted for me when he was one?  Always going to be on the tree.  Matt's Star Wars ornaments?  Always going to be on the tree.  The salt dough ornaments that Jack painted last year? ALWAYS GOING TO BE ON THE TREE.  

So anyway - we here is our not so little Fraser Fir in all of his mis-matched, sentimental Christmas glory. 

Oh, and can I just point out the top?  How it appears to be chopped off?  Yeah...Matt is tall, but he is not that tall.  I do love that tall guys Christmas spirit though! I will show you the rest of our house all Christmasfied in another post!

Have you gotten your tree yet?  Did it fit in your house??  Are we the only ones that do that every year?

You can see our tree past tree posts here (2008, 2009 - I had a colicky baby and fell off the face of the blog for a month 2010, 2011)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful for Sunshine

Thanksgiving was gorgeous here.  Just...beautiful.  It was warm enough to run around outside without jackets, and the sunlight was perfect liquid gold.  



I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Little Turkeys

The last few days have really kicked my butt, and so?  I need a break.  Thankfully this is a holiday week, so that need will be met.

I don't think I need to tell you what I am thankful for...
And yep - it's another family photo fail!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Potty Time

Do you remember back in - oh...March? - when I posted this picture and said that we were now doing this?
Yeah.  We didn't do that.  I mean...we tried.  But...it did not go well. 

But here we are - 8 months later, and Jack is now in week two of underwear.  It all started when we went to his three year well-visit.  The pediatrician asked if he was interested in potty-training, and Matt and I both kind of hemmed and hawed.  We explained that he is more than capable of going, but that if he wears a diaper he doesn't think to tell us - whereas if he is running around the house nekkid he tells us everytime. 

She told us that they pretty much consider that potty-trained, and that if we wanted to - he would probably be ready to just do this thang (she didn't say 'thang').

So we did it.  And he is doing awesome.  I mean..I don't want to brag, but man, my kid could win the Olympics in aim.  

He had roughly two accidents a day for the first two days, and since then, accidents are few and far between (he does wear a diaper overnight though).  He has even done two separate 2.5 hour road trips in undies - and not had a single accident in the car.

And that folks - that is how I learned the difference between a toddler being interested in going potty, and a toddler being READY to potty-train.  

Also - as an aside to all the non-parents who might be reading- it is TOTALLY ok if you think I am weird for being so proud of his potty skills.  I thought parents were super weird for stuff like this - and then I had kids and learned that we can't help being weird.  These tiny people turn our brains to complete mush. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Upstairs Maze - and a Question

I have made references to the second floor of our house being strangely laid out, but there is just no way to do that justice through description - so I made this not-at-all-to-scale floorplan in Google Sketch-Up. 
Like I said - weird.  Oh, I wasn't sure how to show windows, so those spots where the wall appears to be missing?  Those are the windows.  For reference, Luke's room is at the front of the house, facing the road (which is blocked by trees anyway, so there aren't any privacy issues there).  Oh, and yes - the hallway really is over four feet across - it is oddly wide. 

I want to run something past you guys, and see if it makes sense to anyone outside of my brain.  As you can see in our room, we have a very small closet (that is doorless to boot), but Luke's room has a very large closet.  Now, we actually have our clothes in his closet at the moment, but I was thinking...

WHAT IF I switch out the playroom with Luke's closet?  That way our clothes would be accessible to us at all times, and the toys would be accessible through his room only.  The con that I see immediately is that there is no window in the closet, but there is a light, so it isn't a huge deal right?  We also have been having some trouble with the boys closing the playroom door during the day (and it somehow locks itself).  So far no one has gotten locked in...but I think it is just a matter of time UNLESS I just keep that door closed as a preventative measure, and if it is a closet we would keep the door closed pretty much all the time anyway.  

Please feel free to weigh in - especially those of you that have actually been to our house!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crock'o'Crayons

When Jack was a little guy, maybe 1 and a half, my mom and step-dad bought came back from vacation with these awesome wooden crayons.  They are great because they are big enough that little hands can easily work them, but they look cool so it's fun to have them out all the time.

Over the last week or so, I have noticed that our big crayons seem to be dwindling, and I couldn't find them anywhere.  The obvious place to look was under the sofa, but no, not there. 

This morning as I was making the boys oatmeal, I heard a funny clinking sound, accompanied by a bit of maniacal baby laughter.  I came out to observe, and grabbed my camera once I realized what had been going on...
Uh huh.  Hey Luke?  Whatcha doin'?
Look at that face.  He knows he is a booger.
So.  THAT is where all of our big crayons have gone huh?
Yeeaaaaaaah...anyone know how to get big crayons out of a big crock?  Turning it upside down and shaking didn't do the trick.

*And yes, I do realize I should have stopped him instead of documenting it, but sometimes it's fun to have proof of things that happen when Daddy is at work, you know?

UPDATE: Upon continued shaking I have managed to get two crayons, two small dinosaurs, a marker lid, and a snickers wrapper.  Apparently this hoarding has been going on for some time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

S'mores Cupcakes

I promised the recipe from the delish cupcakes we had for Jack's birthday party, so here it is! It is originally from the Betty Crocker website, and you guys - really, they are SO good.  The recipe below is theirs, and any comments in italics are mine. 

For the cupcakes:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 vegetable oil
3 eggs I doubled this recipe, and accidentally left out an egg.  Oops! You couldn't tell!
1 cup graham cracker crumbs Put your crackers in a freezer bag and bash it with a rolling pin! It's cathartic.
4 bars milk chocolate, finely chopped. Chop it very finely so that it does not sink in to your batter.

For the icing:
1 7oz. jar Marshmallow Creme
1/3 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 to 2 tsp. milk

Optional:
1 bar of milk chocolate, finely chopped, to sprinkle on top

Teddy Grahams to decorate cupcakes with
  • 1 Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 26 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box; fold in graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate bars. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  • 2 Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • 3 In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread over tops of cupcakes. I actually spooned mine into a freezer bag with the corner cut off to work as a pastry bag.  This was MUCH easier, because that icing is sticky to start with! Divide chocolate bar into rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half and place on top of each cupcake. Top each cupcake with bear-shaped cracker. After frosting has set, store loosely covered. 

I did not put chocolate on top of mine, just one chocolate Teddy Graham on each, and I think I made my icing much thicker than theirs, which I liked because I could kind of pipe it on for that fun swirl look that is popular with cupcakes right now.

Also I stored mine in the refrigerator, which worked fine, but if you do that, take them out at least a half hour before you serve them.  I didn't, and they were cooooold.  They warmed up quickly though!

Big thanks to my mom for finding and printing the recipe for me! They really are SO good!

Monday, November 12, 2012

When You Don't Love Your Space

I have realized that I have a habit of only posting pictures of our house if I have gotten it to a point that I like, and then not sharing the areas that are lack-luster.  But my thought is that I bet you probably have a space or two in your house that you don't love...and for the sake of full-disclosure - I will show you mine.  Consider this a before - it's just that the 'after' is still in progress.

Our bedroom.  You guys.  This room.  Ugh.  There is a good reason that I haven't shown it to you, and that reason called avoidance.  It is a space that is hard to love.  The ceilings are low.  LOW.  Like so low that Matt bumps his head on the light.  The window is off center - and starts right around knee level so that if you stand in front of it to look out, your face is actually level with the wall. 

It's just so...meh.  This is a picture from our original move in house tour...
Pictures really don't do the ceiling heights any justice, I will have to post a picture of Matt standing in here.  Also the outlets are at waist height.  Totally normal right?

BUT ANYWAY - We originally planned for this to be Luke's room, so we painted it a greenish/tan color called 'river reed'.  After living here for about a week though, it was clear that this wasn't working for Luke's room.  Mainly because the door doesn't close, and how can one put a baby to bed without closing the door? 

So we switched his room with our room, which was good for him (walk in closet in there), but meh for us.  We plopped our bed down, and put on the same linens we have had for the last four years. 

Ugh.  It's ok.  You can say it.  It's not good.  It looks like a retirement home - and not a nice one at that.  Also - I didn't even have the gumption to clean off the bed or get my real camera for this picture.  So yeah...Matt's shirt is on the bed, iPhone quality picture, baby on the left pulling things off the nightstand = normal.  

I have had enough of it though.  It can't stay this way.  Matt and I have differing opinions here, he says that it is no big deal that we don't like it, because it is the last place we go at night, and then it is dark anyway, which is totally true BUT - and this is my argument - this is the ONLY place that is only for Matt and for me.  Our boys have free reign of any room but this one, and I want so badly for it to be place that we like. 

I can't make the ceilings higher, and I can't change the weird off-center window, but I think that with some creative thinking I can at least make it a space that we like...

So there you have it! That is the honest truth about the state of things in our bedroom (get your mind out of the gutter!). 

Here are the things I want to tackle in here:

- bring in some romance
- draw attention away from the low ceilings 
- paint all the trim (you can't see it in these pictures, but the trim is all just unfinished wood at this point)
- infuse our space with more  of our personality.  Anyone could live in that room pictured above. In fact, if you look at our house tour of rooms we have made some progress in - our bedroom doesn't look like it fits in AT ALL. 
- guitar storage? Where does one put guitars? We can't put them in the basement (moisture) and both the large closet and the attic are both only accessed through Luke's room, and since Matt typically plays at night, he needs to be able to get to the guitars without waking the baby!
- find new bedding that we both like (we still love our white quilt, but after two babies and a dog, it is starting to be not quite so white)
- pop in a rug.  It doesn't have to be anything special, but the brown carpet is kind of a downer.  Sometime I will have to take a picture of the spot where someone previously spilled a gallon of evergreen paint.  It's pretty spectacular. 

So - Okay.  I have shown you my crappy space, what is yours?  What space are you least excited about right now, and how would you change it?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chalkboard Writing 101

I switch out our chalkboard saying about once a month or so, more for special events like birthdays and such, and almost every time I post pictures people have questions about how I get my chalk to look so defined.  There are certainly others out there that are better at this than I am, but I thought I would walk you through how I do our chalkboards, and hopefully make it a little easier for some of you as well! If you click this link, you can see the first thing I had on our chalkboard after we made it...and yeah...it was not impressive!

Now - you CAN use chalk markers, I am just too cheap to do it that way, so I use plain old school chalk.
This is how I do it - I am sure there are many ways that others do it that works as well...

 1.I use baby wipes to clean my chalkboard off, but I never really worry about getting it perfectly black, because the more perfect your background is, the more your mistakes will show!
2. I make a general mock up online of what I want my font style to be.  I don't know about you, but my default handwriting is not so pretty, so it helps to have a sort of template to refer to when I am actually printing on the board.

3.  I keep a bowl of water on the table to wet my chalk.  I don't mean dampen, I mean I really WET it.  Repeatedly.  It gets slimy feeling, and that is when you are good to go! As you are writing, it will start to dry out, so dip it again!  It almost goes on more like a paint. 
4. I use another baby wipe to wet the chalkboard where I am going to write, and then I do the general outline of my letters.  This doesnt have to be perfect, it is more just so I know it fits before I go back and work on making the writing more stylistic.  When you first use wet chalk - it is going to look like it isn't really there (see below).  GIVE IT TIME TO DRY.  I promise you that if your chalk is wet enough, it will dry nice and crisp.
5.  Once I have my words on, and spaced correctly, I go back over and make the letters pretty.  If you mess up (which I do often!) just erase that section, and rewrite it.  Remember to be wetting your chalk the whole time.  You can add banners, flourishes, whatever floats your boat.  As you can see below - I do re-wet my chalkboard whenever I am adding a new element. 
6. Walk away and let it dry.  Live with it for an hour, a day, whatever - decide if you really like it.  For example - I did the above board a few hours ago, and now that I have seen it for a while - I think that the 'thanks' needs a little work. 
Sorry this picture is not great, I didn't want to distort the final image through editing! So...like I said - NOT perfect, but with a few simple tips it is definitely easier to get a more crisp chalkline! 

If any of you have any chalkboard tips, feel free to leave them in the comments! I have lots of room for improvement!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Goodwill Lanterns in the Hizzouse

I am imagining my husband cringing at my use of 'hizzouse'.  I crack myself up.

As some of you noticed in my last post, Jack stated that his favorite store is Goodwill.  I assure you that this is true! He loves it there.  I don't know why exactly, but I think it has something to do with the mayhem that is the toy section.

ANYWAY - last week, we were driving to the grocery store, and he saw Goodwill coming up (our Goodwill is in a huge red barn - you can't miss it) and asked if we could go - and really?  Who am I to say no? You know?  Twist my arm kid - I guess I'll go thrifting with you.

So there we were - my boys and I, just roaming the aisles at Goodwill (I typically just stick to the housewares/toys/books simply because I don't have the patience to comb the racks of clothing) and I spotted something.
 Something QUITE brassy.  But I knew those not so little beauties had potential...
...and for $14.99 a pop they are a really good deal - especially when I knew that similar lights (in a much better finish) were discounted to $99 on Joss and Main.

But hey - if there is one thing that being a cheap DIYer has taught me, it is that almost anything can be spraypainted, and I had REALLY been wanting to replace the boob lights in our living room.  There is nothing wrong with them, but they just don't add a whole lot to the room. 
Before I painted them, I laid them out and used a paint brush to really get any dust, bugs, etc, out of all the nooks and crannies, and I also covered the little candle thingies(I am sure there is a better term for that?) with tin foil. 
Oh and duh, I forgot to mention.  I removed the glass first.  In case you are wondering how to take lanterns like this apart, the little knobs at the bottom are generally screws - but be careful...once you take one or two off the rest usually falls apart. 

Once the paint was dry - I coerced my handsome and blurry assistant to spend his lunch break helping me actually hang these bad boys.

Matt did the actual installation while I held the light up (which was the same way we hung the chandelier in the dining room) and after just a few minutes of shoulder burn, we stood back to admire our new living room lanterns.  
Ooooooh, Aaaaaah.  And this reminds me...at some point I should take pictures of our fall decorations...oops.

 Here is a before and after side by side of the other side of the living room as well. 
And yes, those are the chairs I snagged.  They are in desperate need of reupholstery, which I hope to be able to start next week!

I was really close to not posting this last shot, because it shows how my living room looks on an average day.  But that is stupid...so here you have it!
Someday I will take pictures of it when there are not a million birthday balloons floating around, but today is not that day! Today there are cheerios on the coffee table and camera bags on the desk to stay out of the reach of little fingers. BUT the lanterns are fabulous, are they not?!

My total cost for this project came in at under $35, which is right where I like to stay for rental upgrades!

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