Friday, April 22, 2011

We've had a lot going on!

Sorry I am the worst blogger ever lately. (To the 5 of you that read this.)

Seems like I am always waiting for my life to "slow down a bit" so that I can have time to upload pictures, write new posts, etc. And I think I've realized that I have 2 kids and life very well might never slow down again! So I'll have to do what I can do.

Here's just a tidbit of what has gone on over the last few weeks:

1. A change in plans. After having our house on the market for about 8 months in anticipation of moving to the Hunstville area, Chad has taken a Birmingham position with his company! We are excited that he'll be closer to home and that we can actually have the possibility of having lunch with him (or dinner with him, for that matter!) during the week! He has been commuting to Huntsville/Florence every.single.day for way.too.long and it takes its toll, let me tell you! So we're staying put for now!

2. New projects. Well, I've done a few things to our house. For one, I painted my entire house. Yep. Entire house. By myself. In the presence of my toddler and my infant. I'm talking living room, kitchen, foyer, all hallways, master bath and laundry room. I went from bright colors to mostly neutrals. And I love it. Never thought I would, but I do. My once lime green kitchen is now Laura Ashley Tweed and my living room, foyer, hallways are Behr's Mesa. My master bath went from a dark mahogany brown to Valspar's Ocean Breath: (This picture is horrible because it's so dark.)


It's much brighter. And it makes the bathroom seem bigger too. (I picked those wheat-looking stems out of my yard. I'm cheap.)

I also refinished 2 night stands, 2 end tables, a thrift store desk, and 2 lamps. Here is my thrift store desk (in my once gray but now bright yellow laundry room.) It was just brown, unfinished wood before I painted it.


And just so you don't get confused, when I say "refinished" I mean spray painted. I use spray paint for all projects like this because I do not have the time or energy to use brush-on paint. Krylon spray paint is my favorite (WalMart) and I've never had a problem with bubbling or streaking. For this desk I used Krylon's Ocean Breeze. I painted the knobs with black and white acrylic paint and just did some designs by hand. Don't zoom in or you will see how terrible a job I did on the knobs. But from far away you can't tell :)

I finally finished the playroom half of our den downstairs. We used to have a jumbled pile of toys. See?

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But finally we have a functional space that we can actually enjoy. (Again sorry for the camera phone pics)


This idea came from Pottery Barn Kids but I purchased everything at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupons, one thing at a time. The chalk and dry erase boards ended up being around $8 each. The small metal pails were $2 each. One contains chalk, the other dry erase markers. I hung them each on a nail. Because that is super safe for kids. Ha. Hopefully we will have no pushing and shoving near our metal pails. Or maybe I'll just make our visitors sign a release form.

The wooden ABC's came from Hobby Lobby, unfinished, and I just painted them with some acrylic paint.

This shelving unit is from Ikea (around $49-$59 I think? bought it last year.) Great for holding toys, books, our records, everything. The canvas cube bins are from Target.


The canvases I straight up copied out of The Land of Nod children's magazines. Thank you Land of Nod for great ideas and too high prices.

Dad came down a couple weeks ago and he loves a good project so he helped me install some outdoor carpet on our screened porch so that we could use it more like an extra room. It definitely made it feel more cozy. We also installed a storm door (yes we've gone without a door for 3 years). The door took us a little over 13 hours to install. There were some ugly words involved and lots of sweat and tears and sore muscles. But we finally got it done and I think I nearly worked Dad to death. THANKS, DAD!!!

4. We celebrated our 4th anniversary. We went to FLIP Burger Boutique at the Summit for our anniversary dinner and we loved it. We are big fans of Top Chef so we've always wanted to eat at FLIP because one of our favorite TV chefs owns it. It's basically an upscale burger joint with the freshest of the fresh ingredients, all organic, grass-fed meats, and they are also known for their amazing milkshakes. We decided to get 2 burgers and split them. We ordered the chorizo burger, which is topped with manchego cheese and a poached egg and I think some kind of caramelized onions. It was AH-MAZ-ING. Then we also got the Farmer's burger which is just organic beef, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, etc. It melted in your mouth! We ordered the onion rings at the recommendation of our waitress and they were good but I didn't care for the mayo-sauce that came with them so I asked for ketchup and felt like I was breaking a rule. We also ordered the sauteed green beans at her recommendation which were AWESOME. And at the end, like true high-calorie consuming Americans, we dove head first into these 2 milkshakes...


Mine is on the left, and it's a pistachio white truffle shake. Perfect and light (if you can call a milkshake light), not too sweet but still delicious and satisfying. Chad chose the Nutella toasted marshmallow shake and it tasted like a campfire s'more. With all the smoky burnt marshmallow goodness on top. It was VERY rich though. They also have a Krispy Kreme shake which we tried last fall and it is over the top good. I mean, better than a dozen 'Hot Now's' at midnight. Seriously.

5. consignment shopping Back in February/March I shopped two of the local consignment sales and got some cute stuff for spring/summer. I don't have pictures of everything but I did pick up this cute little retro-looking dress for Mary Ella. I love it. I think she looks like a little waitress at a diner.

I was able to work at the Giggles and Grace consignment sale in February during the receiving hours so I got to shop early. I bought this Combi double umbrella stroller and have put some serious miles on it since! I love it and so do both the kids. It's super light and compact, takes up LESS space in the car than my Graco Metrolite single stroller, and it's great for both indoors and outdoors. It's a $239 stroller at Babies R Us and I scored it for under $50. Go me.



6. I learned to sew pants and made lots of outfits. Then I quit. While it was still cold outside I taught myself (with the help of an Etsy pattern and tutorial) to make pants. I also had fun doing some cute appliques. Here are a few things I did...











Once it got warm I packed up the sewing machine and all the goods and put it in Chad's office; I had a bunch of unfinished projects and even some finished ones that I need to get to some of YOU! (Sorry) We've just been so busy and it's hard to pack and unpack all that stuff and even find time to sit and sew. Especially when I'm busy redecorating and fattening myself up with FLIP Burger milkshakes.

7. Potty Training! I potty trained Mary Ella 2 weeks ago and she's been 100% accident free since last Saturday. We used the doll method that Dr. Phil talks about and is also recommended in "Potty Training in Less Than a Day," a book that several friends have mentioned. I didn't buy the book but just read reviews so that I'd know the basics. We bought a Baby Alive and I packed a bag full of dollar store prizes (no candy - just fun things like paints, crafts, pinwheels, water guns, that sort of thing). When Baby Alive drank her juice and went to the potty for the first time, we cheered, made a huge ordeal, threw a party, and let Baby Alive call Mimi and Poppa and Dora. We filled Mary Ella full of juice and put on her big girls panties, and after about an hour she decided she needed to go. After literally 30 minutes of crying on the potty (because she couldn't learn how to let her pee come out, I think) she finally went and never had a pee pee accident after that. She asked to go every time, and I had no problems. She pooped that same day and I figured we'd be good to go after that. My mom came a couple days later. We sent her to school in panties and she had no accidents. But she did not poop for a couple days and she normally goes every day. So I wondered if she was holding it. Mom took her back to the Compound for a few days and she ended up doing #2 in her panties while she was there, 2 days in a row! So we made a huge ordeal about it, packed a new prize bag, and when she got back home she ended up getting it finally. So now we're 100% trained and I am GLAD to have that behind me! We are still working on getting her pants and panties up and down and for the most part she's doing ok. She inherited her mama's thighs so there's a little resistance there :)

8. I made my laundry room into a happier place. I hate laundry. I do. I don't mind the washing part, or the drying part. But everything else I pretty much hate. And I've come to the realization (yes it took me this long) that there will always be laundry to do. It will never end. There will always be something to fold, something to put away, something to Oxi-Clean. So I decided one night around 10pm that I'd make my laundry room into a happier place since it also doubles as my home office. I know, that's crazy and weird. But it's the only place with enough space for my computer and all my other stuff. We have a downstairs office that is Chad's but I need to be upstairs with my kids so this is just easier. I didn't want to have to be running up and down all day. I do all my bill paying, note writing, to-do lists, calendars, everything here. So it needed to be accessible. I wish I had a before picture, but just picture this:


That's not my laundry room, but that's basically what I had, plus a window. I didn't have the cabinet, just my white shelf. But it was a blah gray and had no life or personality. Certainly not a happy place to do laundry. But now I love it.


Here's the other side. Again, camera phone. Ugh.


The 8x10 frames above my desk were from the thrift store; they were unfinished when I bought them and I painted them with acrylic paint. They were $1.48 each. The metal dry erase calendar and magnet boards are from Target and I love them. The desk was my $29 thrift store purchase. Before a desk I had just a 4-foot craft table in here and it took up tons of space. This desk is small and meets all my needs. I love all the drawer space for storage.

I wanted something fun above my washer and dryer. I bought these wood paneling samples at the thrift store for 39 cents each. I knew when I saw them I wanted to paint them with chalkboard paint. This was the perfect thing for the laundry room. I used Krylon chalkboard paint and let them dry overnight. Then I googled "Laundry Room Quotes" and found a website that sells those vinyl quotes for nearly every room of the house. I found some funny/cute ones and wrote them on my new chalkboards. Here are a few:



Now, I'll be honest and say that my new bright and happy laundry room has not cured my dislike for this never ending chore. But I definitely don't feel like I'm in a prison cell anymore! Which is good enough for me. It's a happy place for sure.

I think that pretty much sums it up. I wish I had time to take better pictures of all this stuff but that would require that every bed be made and every toy be picked up and every piece of laundry removed from the floor, and I mean, who wants to live like THAT?!?! So these will have to do.

Hope everyone has a great Easter! Praise God for our risen Savior! Be back soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10 Months

I'm a little behind on Sam's 10 month update but here goes...

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Sam weighs 21 pounds, 2 ounces (50%) and is 29 inches long (75%). He's a little Chad junior, that's for sure, from his head to his toes. He's sweet to everyone he meets, super laid back, and will pretty much adapt to any situation. If he's tired, though, he'll let you know he is ready for nap. He gets really whiney and starts grabbing at your hair and sucking that thumb. His personality is definitely showing more these days. At his checkup last week he was constantly babbling and nodding/shaking his head and even resisting Dr. A when he tried to check his ears and mouth, which is definitely unlike my easy- going Sam. I think he's learning that if he wants any attention while his sister is around he has to be loud and dramatic. He's getting it so far. What can I say? He's learning from the best. She's definitely a pro in the drama department.

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He is wearing 12-18 month clothes in most brands and size 4 diapers. (By the way, the outfit he has on above is a "Blessed Be the Name" jon jon from Treasures Thrift Store in Pelham - $3!) He's taking 3 6oz bottles daily and 1 8oz bottle before bedtime. I had switched him to just 3 8oz bottles a day but the 4-bottle schedule seems to work better as far as his spitting up goes. He's on Prevacid as well as Bethanicol, which is a motility drug that helps his food move super fast from his stomach to his small intestine, keeping him from spitting up as much. He wasn't a bad spitter to begin with, but with all the activity requirements that he has (tummy time, exercises, etc) he needed something to help even more so that he can do his physical therapy and not worry about being wiped down and changed every 5 minutes! It seems to be doing the trick.

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He has started eating some table foods in addition to baby food. He loves popsicles and he grins and bounces every time we get them out of the freezer. He also loves Gerber wagon wheels and graham crackers. He tore up some mashed potatoes last week at The Ranch House in Vestavia. He is still not too sure about chewing the smaller bites such as puffs, yogurt melts, etc. We're working on that.

Two weeks ago he got his first TOOTH! The 2 teeth on the bottom are coming in together! It's about time! Mary Ella got her first teeth at just shy of 6 months, so I've been waiting to see some little teethies in this boy. He was waking up in the night for a couple nights straight and I thought for sure it was his ears until I was putting him in his car seat one afternoon and noticed his little gums. For the most part he's been a champ and the only terrible side effect has been a snotty nose.

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He's become so much stronger in the last month! He can bear weight on his legs for as long as you'll let him, and now he''ll do it just holding onto my fingers; two weeks ago he would not bear weight just me holding him by his hands; I'd have to hold him under his arms. But now he's doing it like a pro! He's trying to army crawl but his arms just aren't strong enough yet. We've been working on his arm strength with Chantel, our PT, for the last couple weeks and he's getting better every day. He's sitting for as long as you'll let him.

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He loves any baby toy and especially hammers and drums. He loves to take a small toy and bang bang bang on a larger toy. He can bang two sticks together and he likes to do this at Kindermusik when they pull out the box of instruments. He also loves the exersaucer.

Some "tricks" he'll show you on command are:
He can show you where his ear is and where his toes are.
He can "clap" his feet.
He can scream or squeal if you do it first.
He will sniff-sniff-sniff with his nose if you do it first.
He'll "blow bubbles" and make a spitting noise if you do it.

He's my little mockingbird.

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I can't believe he'll be 1 in only a couple months! I still feel like he is my tiny baby and I'm getting all the cuddle time I can get! These kiddos grow up way too fast. Seems like only yesterday I was holding him for the first time...

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A tea party, a tool party, and a pirate adventure.

Spring is here, and we're ringing in the season with plenty of busy activities, including birthday parties, baby showers (and babies!), trips to the thrift stores, lots of redecorating projects, and some new and delicious RECIPES!

A couple weeks ago we celebrated Mary Ella's best friend Griffin's 3rd birthday. He had a tool/construction themed party at his house. Me and his mama Lindsey searched high and low online trying to find the cutest party decor ideas and then she put it all together! She did a great job and here is how everything looked. Ideas came from here and here.

Party banner - made from a roll of construction wrapping paper and letters cut out of poster board!
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The party table! Construction hats, plastic tools, toolboxes and plastic cones! Oh, and snacks!
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"Nuts & Bolts" chex mix! (These containers and scoops are from the Dollar Tree and we cut the tool labels out of poster board.)
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Spare tires!
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and of course, ball bearings!
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The cake - with a little "Roll Tide" thrown in, of course!
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Amanda and Chad stayed with us for the weekend, and Charlie came to the party with us! This was right up his alley!
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The party was held in their garage since they already had built in tool benches and the decor was definitely perfect for a garage party. Here is the drink area, aka the filling station!

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We had a great time at the tool party and a great time hanging out with Amanda and Chad and the family that weekend.

And this past weekend was full of more parties!

This year I decided I wanted to start having a spring tea party for Mary Ella and her little girlfriends. I grew up going to a Christmas tea party and ornament swap every year and it was the highlight of my holiday season! We would all wear our dresses and go to Jessica's house and make some sort of yummy treat, eat finger foods, drink apple cider and punch, and swap ornaments. Then we'd get our picture made on the stairs and I bet there are at least 10 of those pictures somewhere! It'd be neat to see all of them and how we all grew over time. Anyway, it was such a great memory for me so I decided we'd do a spring tea party since our Christmas season is always so busy. This was equally as exciting and really fun to plan.

The invitation was made by Lily Pad Boutique; they have a store on Facebook. Alicia and her sisters are SO talented and they always amaze me with what they can do! And the best part - they only charge $10. They email you the file and you print it at home! They do EVERYTHING from birth announcements to wedding invitations, so if you need anything like that, go find them on FaceBook!

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I used Mary Ella's pink Christmas tree from HL as the centerpiece and decorated it with spring ornaments that I purchased at Pier One forty seasons ago when they were on clearance. I think I paid $3 for the whole box of them AND the eggs at the bottom of the tree.
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We made these bunny eggs and colored some spring pictures for the mommies. (reusable polkadot table cloth was $5 at Old Navy and the craft egg box was $2.50 at Hobby Lobby.) Of course I only took an "after" shot of the craft table.

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We found the hats in the dollar section at Target! So fitting for a tea party. They all looked like little ladies.
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As the invitation suggested, each girl brought a friend. We had some seats and treats prepared for them as well.
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For the little ladies, we worked so hard to prepare these little treats. *wink*
Easter Little Debbies, bunny grahams, fresh fruit, cheese and some peanut butter crackers.
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The girls ate and drank from Chad's grandmother's tulip dishes; they are so cute and perfect for a spring tea! These will be fun to use year after year for this occasion.

The big ladies enjoyed spinach & bacon quiche, fruit, and orange rolls.
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The big ladies had to eat on paper plates and drink from paper cups. :)

And everyone sipped on raspberry lemonade or peach tea.
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For a favor, each girl took home their bunny egg that they made, their fancy tea party hat, and a treat bag which included a piece of chalk shaped like an Easter egg and a bag full of pink jelly beans. (Treat bags from Big Lots.)
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The tea party was so much fun and made for such a great memory, and I'm so glad we did it! I don't think I'd do anything different other than maybe a few more crafts! I am already looking forward to next year.

That afternoon we went to Hayden's 3rd birthday party. Hayden is our neighbor down the street and she had a pirate themed birthday party which was super cute. (She is the little girl sitting directly across from Mary Ella at the tea party.) Everyone was asked to dress like a pirate for the party; I found these eye patches on the birthday aisle at Target and then used some old clothes to make them both bandanas. A too-small onesie made the perfect bib for drooling, teething Pirate Sambo. They looked hilarious.

Sam's tough pirate face. Bring it.
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And the pirate princess, Mary Ella, with some striped pink leggings wrapped around her curly head.
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About to start the treasure hunt...
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Happy with her loot.

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Hope you all had a fantastic weekend.


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