Friday, March 28, 2014

Hooray for Friday!

Here are a few pictures from our week:

Captain Ameri-Charm

Clover at 12 weeks!

Super Charm!  
Picture courtesy of Tami O.

And here are some things we've been enjoying recently:

We had a 'Cupcake War' themed weekend after discovering this show last Friday.  The kids timed themselves while making toy cupcakes, then we made real ones with vanilla butter cream frosting, and Bill even made meat cakes (meatloaf in a cupcake tin) for dinner on Sunday night.  If you want your kids to eat meatloaf, make meat cakes:).

What a simple concept!  Why didn't I think of this?  All I know is, it works and I feel less rushed.

These pens are the best.  They even write upside down.  (You know for when I'm making lists while doing hanging sit ups:).  Just kidding about the sit ups, but not about the awesome-ness of the pen.)

Bill has been eating us out of gumballs as of late.  At least I tracked down an 'all natural' version.  They were meant for an occasional treat for the kids, Bill, but I'm glad you like 'em too!!

Have you been struck with the Frozen Fever?  This song has been playing on repeat in our house while we sing and dance along.  The kids love it, but truth be told, I do too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clover's New Dresser Knobs

Even though I haven't shared Clover's nursery in its entirety 
quite yet, I thought I'd share this quick update.  Late last fall, we purchased this dresser to serve as a changing table for Clover's room because it matched the color and style of Clover's crib.  It was on sale and we used a coupon, so the price was right compared to most nursery specific pieces.

And then I saw this image on the Land of Nod website and really like the whimsy the mix of knobs added to the dresser:

Land of Nod

I decided I wanted to replicate the look on Clover's dresser, but at $6-8 per knob, the Land of Nod knobs were a bit too pricey for me, especially considering I needed 12 knobs and I already had perfectly good knobs that I was replacing:).  So I patiently waited for Hobby Lobby to open locally, and picked up this collection of knobs with most priced at $2 on sale (I think one or two were $2.50 and one was $3).

Clover and I finally got the knobs switched this week, about a month after purchasing them:

 Aren't they cute?

 And here's a tiny bit more of Clover's room:

I still have some pictures to put in frames, a crib skirt to make, and a couple other small details to work on before the room will be done.  I'll share more soon.

Hope you are having a nice week!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Fun Day

Here are some pictures from our week:

And here are a few things we've been enjoying as of late:

This movie was my Valentine's Day pick, but Bill really enjoyed it too!  If I could sum it up in one word it would be: Dads.

I am loving the Lou and Grey Collection at the Loft.  This tunic is one of my favorites.  I'm just needing super comfortable clothes right now, and these are perfect for me.  Even the sleeves are long enough!

Have you tried this candy yet?  I stumbled upon it at Target, and gave the caramels and fruit chews a try.  They are so good.  The fruit chews are like Starbursts except no artificial colors or flavors and there is real freeze dried fruit in the candy!  I'm hoping to try out some of their licorice and raspberry fudge rolls too.

I love this room by Emily Henderson.  It makes me happy just looking at it.  I can't imagine how awesome it would be to actually be in the room!!

My kids and husband LOVE this song.

And with that, have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Simple Ship Controls

When I was at IKEA awhile back, I found these magnets:

Spontan Magnets

I love them and use them in our mudroom and on our kitchen fridge.  One day it occurred to me that their size and shape would be perfect for ship controls in Charm's room.  (I think this idea came to me about the same time I was working on a rocket ship for Charm's Outer Space themed birthday party in August.  That's how long it takes me to implement things:).  Also, that's a reminder to me to post some pictures from his last party before its time for his next!)

I had picked up three packs of the white magnets sometime before Clover was born, and then a couple weeks before or after he was born (that period of time is sort of a blur to me now), Charm and I made 'Ship Controls'.  They could be for a space ship, or a pirate ship, or even a car or train.  We drew on them with black Sharpies and stuck them to his Spontan Magnet Board that he already had in his room.

Instant Controls!  
Even though they aren't interactive in the sense that the vehicle always has 3/4 a tank of gas and the compass always reads NE, Charm uses his imagination and really enjoys them regardless!  He presses the buttons and makes rocket blast off noises.  I love watching him play...he is a kid who gets totally lost in his dream world of play.  Back to the control magnets...we use the magnet feature as well, and they oftentimes get used to hold Charm's artwork in his room.

I can't wait for Charm and Clover to be co-captains!

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Perspective

A couple weeks ago, while loading Clover into the minivan after a quick errand, I saw this in the snow packed ground of the parking lot.  You may see see a smushed up Hershey Kiss, but I see a four leaf clover!  Lucky me!  It's time to get a lottery ticket, I think:)!

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

(And Bill, Happy 9 Year Anniversary of our engagement!  If only we could go for a walk on that beach today.  Mental note: Return to the beach in Miami someday on St. Patrick's Day.  Drink green beer.  Enjoy a little sun.  Just a little:).  And bottle up some sand as a souvenir of the day Bill asked a simple question, and I made the best decision of my life by saying, 'Yes!')

P.S. Check out the leprechaun trap that Lucky and Charm set up last night:

Leprechaun Pete led them on a little scavenger hunt this morning.  Gold chocolate coins were hidden under their breakfast plates:)!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Triple T: Totally Terrific Target

I don't know about you, but Target is one of my happy places, and one of my favorite things to do at Target is browse the home decor aisles, especially when new collections are displayed.  Their designers always seem to get it right and offer higher end looks at Target price points (and when you hit a sale, use a coupon or score a clearance just can't go wrong!)  I inevitably find something that I 'have to have' and my mind begins to race asking the question, where could I put that in my home?

Here are a couple things that caught my eye on a short Target trip.  (The trip was short only because my children and I are good at reminding ourselves to 'stay on track' when one of us gets distracted by all the fun and pretty stuff Target sells.  I got off track the most on our trip this week because the entire home decor department is on sale...and there is a coupon out too for $10 off a $50 home purchase.)

Threshold Poufs:

I love these poufs.  I think I have a pouf obsession.  These specific poufs remind me of West Elm's version except lots cheaper at $69.99 full price, on sale for $48 currently.

West Elm

I also loved this Threshold Bamboo Hamper (I couldn't find it online and I don't remember the price, sorry.):

It reminds me of this West Elm version:


And check out these nearly identical floor lamps from Target and Land of Nod, respectively:


I also loved checking out the patio furniture and accessories:

I like these wicker outdoor chairs and I think they would make super practical and kid friendly indoor dining chairs as well!

This set is modern and fun and seems to be made out of the same material as composite decks.  Also, did you know you can even buy a dog house at Target now:)?

Outdoor Pouf!

Outdoor Baskets and Garden Stools

And as a heads up, Target is clearing out this popular bar cart in stores (which means there will be room for a new collection!!):

Locally, it is 30% off.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and if you end up at Target don't forget to check out the great home sale:)!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Weekend Whirl

These days, our weekends are PRECIOUS.  It is family together time as we continue to learn about our new family member, and friend time as we try to put our focus on people, not things, and lots of routine trial and error as we continue to work on more efficient ways of accomplishing the necessary daily tasks.  I've been working hard to make sure errands are completed and laundry is done (not folded, but steps) during the week, so that our weekend time can be dedicated to quality family fun time.  And at the same time, I'm learning to let go of the my long list of expectations I used to make for our family weekend time.  There won't be any big DIY projects around here any time soon.  We are just going to chip away at the small things one at a time, maybe one per weekend even.  Slow and steady is where we are at right now, and it's exactly where we need to be.  (Notice how this weekend post is coming on a Tuesday even?:))

This past weekend was a perfect example of our new norm, as long as you don't count the crazy venture trip to the Mall of America that I planned for me and my three kiddos on Friday since school was out...that is not part of the norm, but we all enjoyed it greatly, and I'm glad we ventured out for a little excitement!

I felt so much pride leaving the mall that day...mostly for Lucky and Charm, because they are such great kids and good listeners that I was able to venture out with all three and not worry too much that I would lose one in such a big place:).  And there was a bit of self pride too, because even though I was a little nervous, I made sure we all had a fun time!  Our highlights included one ride each at Nickelodeon Universe and visits to the Disney Store and the American Girl Store, along with lunch at the Nordstrom Cafe.  Lowlights included Lucky needing a bathroom break five minutes after entering the mall, visiting the Nordstrom Women's lounge for a Clover diaper change and seeing strangers' boobs galore (Charm called it 'Baby City', not 'Boobville', so hopefully his focus was on the babies) and finally, standing breastfeeding in the Old Navy bathroom (albeit clean and well maintained) after a Lucky jean try-on-athon with a less than happy Clover.  If you don't count bathroom visits, it was a perfect day topped off by homemade pizza and movie night.  We splurged for Spring Break and bought Frozen through Amazon Prime and we all loved it!  I can't tell you the last time I watched a kids movie at home and could stay focused on the movie...this one captured us all!  The story, the characters and the music were all fantastic!

Saturday morning started with swimming lessons for Lucky and Charm.  I stayed back with Clover and worked on some Pharmacy CE while he napped.  When Bill and the kiddos came home, we had an impromptu cook-athon.  Bill has been wanting to make Alton Brown's homemade cottage cheese from this recipe.  I wanted to try out some Gluten Free Banana Bread from this recipe.  And then we made these sandwiches (-ham + turkey) for lunch.  The cottage cheese and sandwiches were fantastic!  The bread was okay.  

Moving along in the day, we met friends and tried out a new local church that is starting a series focusing on marriage, which we found really interesting.  I have to say that Bill and I are in a really good place in terms of our relationship and have a strong, loving marriage, but like most couples we've gone through our bumps along the way.  I always find classes on marriage or parenting useful and interesting, because they help me to grow and strengthen my relationship skills.  The service was fun, and our kids had a blast at the child focused program they participated in and came home reciting bible verse: It is better to give than to receive.  You have to love that!  After church, Bill headed out for a long overdue guy's night while the kids and I enjoyed dinner and play time before heading to bed.  

Sunday morning involved play time inside:
Dining table tent and campfire:)

and playtime outside:
The warm temperatures inspired the kids to attempt to clear off our driveway in their pajamas and rain boots:)!  After two warm days, it's almost completely cleared now...aside from a few icy patches.

And Bill also finished a tiny little project we've been working on:

We've been dealing with this double towel rod in our kids bath for four years now.  I don't get the idea behind double towel rods.  Do the towels ever really get dry when they are touching one another?  And really, how practical is a double rod in a kids bath?  It's tricky/annoying for even an adult to use.  (In preparing for Clover's arrival, one of our goals was to seek out places in the house that we could make changes to enable Lucky and Charm to be more independent.  This goal was fueled by the idea that the more Lucky and Charm can do for themselves, the less Bill and I have to do for them.  The added bonus is that kids seem to thrive on independence, so by helping ourselves, we are also helping them.)  One area we identified as needing improvements was this towel rod.  Now it looks like this:

We actually stained the piece of wood we used last fall, and we finally got to attaching the hooks (purchased for $3.50 each on sale at Hobby Lobby) and hanging it this weekend.  I love the look and the ease of hanging towels now!  We've made a few other updates in this room as well that I'll share once the whole room is complete.  Slow and steady.

And our weekend ended with a birthday party at a friend's house where they served the best ever homemade pizza (like they should get it marketed and go into the pizza's that good) and ice cream made using liquid nitrogen.  The party ended with fireworks, and then we enjoyed a nice family conversation on the way home before we started bedtime routine, capping the end of another precious, fun-filled, family and friend focused weekend that went by in a whirl!

Here's hoping you had a lovely weekend too, and are enjoying a warmer spring week!

Friday, March 7, 2014

34: The Year of Efficiency

Last year, I made a big ol' list of resolutions for the year.  I made that big ol' list, and then I didn't look at it again until recently, when I was reading some of my old blog posts to find out where exactly I left things last spring.  When I read my resolutions, I realized that it's silly to make a list that you don't look back at throughout the year.  It was also interesting to see that while I made progress in many of my list points, I didn't really 'cross' anything off the list which is a little frustrating since I'm a 'cross things off the list' kind of girl.  (Last week, Bill even caught me writing something on my list for the weekend after I had already accomplished it, just so I could cross it off:).)

In addition to reading my 2013 resolutions, my birthday this week caused me to pause for some reflection on the years that have passed, and the year that lies ahead.  (This reflection may have taken place in early January, had I not been adjusting to life with a brand new baby and dealing with surgery recovery, but I kind of like the idea of reflecting when my age changes instead of when the calendar changes.  It seems more personal and hopefully, it's something I will continue to do going forward.)  My thoughts can be summarized like this: 2012 was the year of simplifying, 2013 was the year of connections, and if life is a highway, then I just turned onto Hwy 34, also known as, Efficiency Street.

This 'one word' resolution trend is really nice because it no longer is about crossing off tasks.  Instead, I'm focusing on one part of me that I'd like to improve upon.  I probably never will be done simplifying, and I want to continue forming and developing connections with others forever.  Likewise, I don't expect to create an super efficient household in one single year, but I would love to focus on this area more so that instead of living with inefficient systems, I ask the questions like, why do we accumulate so much paper that important things get lost in the piles on our office desk and our counter?  I want to identify problem areas, figure out what isn't working and then fix the problems.  Additionally, I don't want to waste time on matters that aren't really important.  Things like, should I get a white lamp or a silver lamp for our master bedroom?  Or should we host a Superbowl Party or a Valentine's Gathering?  Decisions can be tricky, but the ones that aren't that important shouldn't require much time to work through.

Accordingly, my goal of correcting inefficient household systems and making decisions more efficiently has not been made so that our family can accomplish more, but rather so our family can enjoy more quality time together.  Life gets so busy, especially now that my big kids are school age.  We have less time together as a family, so I want to make the most of the time we do share.  If we can streamline anything, from our 'leaving the house' routine, to our bill paying, to our laundry system, I want to do it.  It will require more simplifying I'm sure, more time up front to learn the new systems, and some expense as we invest in time saving applications or materials, but the ultimate goal of more quality family and individual time makes our efforts worthwhile.  Here's hoping for some good progress throughout the next twelve months!

And with that, while I can't predict what life may throw at me during my thirty-fourth year, my plan for the year is to get through the 'have to do's' more efficiently, so I can spend more time on the 'love to do's'.

Have a lovely weekend!  Our temperatures are expected to be in the upper thirties on Sunday, which is so exciting!  It's amazing how a 30 degree high can raise your spirits after months of subzero cold!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My New Favorite Things

It has been nearly four and a half years since we've had a newborn in our house, and all I can say is wow, what a difference four years makes:).  I'm a different person than I was four years ago.  I'm more relaxed as a parent, though still very involved.  I'm much more health conscious now, but I don't let my quest to be healthy cause as much stress as in years past.  Instead of having a toddler and a newborn, I have a Kindergartner and a Preschooler who are amazing and intelligent and independent in their own ways.  Instead of trudging through each day as a stay at home parent, I'm finding joy in the position.  (And that joy is a result of connections I've formed with other Moms facing the same daily, and oftentimes mundane battles, as myself.  Also, that joy has come from the realization that I don't have to completely lose my identity in the role of motherhood.  I can pursue my passions and be a mother at the same time.)  Moreover, instead of fighting for the life that I had planned, I am embracing and rejoicing in the life I've been given.  And that life sure is beautiful!

On a lighter note, another area I've seen great change in the last four years is the baby gear market. Wowsers!  I might not have noticed as much had we saved any of our baby gear from our 'Bigs', Lucky and Charm, but we unloaded it all through the years because of the storage burden it presented and also the emotional burden as well.  It's no fun to walk past an old nursery filled with baby gear you may never use again when the thing you want more than anything is to have a need for that baby gear.  With Clover, we started from scratch with a goal in mind to keep it simple, which is admittedly much easier to do once you have the experience to realize that most of the gear first time parents purchase is unnecessary or utilized for such a short time period, that it's basically unnecessary:).  With that in mind, I thought it might be nice for someone out there to see my list of 'favorite things' that are helping to keep me happy during these newborn days.

Here goes:

I was introduced to this tea in the hospital, and I just love it.  It's loose leaf and wonderful, and I really feel like it helps with milk production.

I picked up a Chicco Keyfit car seat/stroller combo on clearance at Target this fall.  It  came with a Cortina stroller which seems nice but is huge and heavy.  I needed a lighter alternative to help me get around with ease while recovering from a c-section.  This stroller is 11 pounds, can be opened and closed with one hand, and has tons of storage room underneath.  The cup holders are great, the handle adjusts for tall people, and there is still room in the back of our car for purchases when the stroller is there!  It worked great during that time period when I was okay to carry Clover, but not Clover in a car seat.  I still would have to lift him briefly, but the stroller did all the carrying work!  And I still love it, 9 weeks out.  (Remember, Buy Buy Baby has 20% off coupons!)

Love this pillow!  It is not as cumbersome as a boppy and you can maneuver it into all different positions.  We call it the pirate pillow in our house, because if you turn it upside down, it reminds Charm of a pirate ship.  Clover is cat napping on it on my lap while I type this:).

4.  Owl Mug

I ordered this mug after Clover was born when it was on clearance with an additional percentage off discount.  I had a gift card that covered the cost, and it was one of those little things that just makes me smile.  I drink my nursing tea in it:).  Bill, however, doesn't like it because it's hand wash only and he has assumed the majority of the dish washing duty these days (Thank you Bill!!).

I pretty much live in these tank tops.  I wore them throughout my pregnancy with my cardigan sweater and legging combo.  I continue to wear them during the day, and even at night, because they make nursing so easy.  There are super stretchy, but they don't stretch out, if that makes sense.  I just love them.  I think I own 8 of them, thanks to a buy one get one 50% off sale at Target in December, I believe.  Even at the full price of $12.99, they are worth it!!

I love this station!  The kids love the this station!  We play it on our tv (using a Roku device) all the time!  Lucky loves to dance to the music in our great room, and one of my favorite things to do is watch her dance.  If you like Jack Johnson, The Lumineers, and Mumford & Sons, you'll like this station. They also play oldies, and children's songs performed by favorite adult artists.  

Apologies for the blurry image.  I'm just getting back to this blogging thing, and Eddie Bauer's larger images don't seem to be super copy/paste friendly:).  Regardless, I LOVE this sweater.  I wear tank tops to sleep in, and when I wake up to nurse, I'm chilly so I always put my sleep sweater on.  It's so soft and so cozy, and for some reason it makes being woken up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night not so bad.  I purchased it awhile back, and I see now it is on super clearance and has limited sizes available.  I probably would have picked up a second one, had I noticed the sale earlier.  Perhaps EB will come out with something comparable next year?

8. Mama Mellace Smores Snack

This snack is SO good.  Sinfully delicious....and for the first 6 weeks after Clover's birth, I looked forward to a small cupful every night during midnight feedings.  My Mom found it at Sam's Club, and it's priced at $7.50 per 32 ounce bag.  It is a fantastic ice cream topping as well!

9. Blog Reading

I heart reading blogs in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I love it too much, and I stay up longer than needed because I'm so engrossed.  I finally updated my 'favorites' side bar for easy reading for me.  There are so many amazing blogs out there!  So much to read, so little time.

10. Aden and Anais Blankets and Wash Cloths

We love this brand of swaddle blankets and wash cloths too.  They are perfect for swaddling, keeping baby warm in the car seat, burp towels, tummy time mats, changing pad covers, etc.  

These are my go to pants for Clover.  They are SO cute.  They look like jeans, but are actually more like sweatpants.  I'm tempted to scoop up a few in every size, because I know they will be a staple in his wardrobe for many, many months to come.  And you can't go wrong with the price either, especially when combined with a Carter's coupon, and when don't they have a current coupon or sale promotion, really?:)

Okay, so this container falls under the nice to have realm of baby goods, and I'm well aware of that, but it is so convenient!  We use Earth's Best wipes and it's so handy to put the wipes in this dispenser.  It includes a weighted disc that allows the wipes to come out one at a time and it seals really well so the wipes never dry out.  I realize many wipes come with the plastic containers that do the same thing, but this seems like a super durable version of that.  It allows for one handed wipe pulling which was such an upgrade from struggling with the plastic wipe packages.  Need to have?  No way.  Does it make midnight changes easier for us?  You betcha!

13. Grocery Delivery and Amazon 

I used to think grocery delivery was only for the really wealthy or the really old or the really sick, but now, I think it's for the really smart:)!  We started getting our groceries delivered when Clover was about two weeks old, and it has been SO nice.  Grocery shopping from the comfort of your own home?  Yes, please.  Our groceries are delivered about twelve hours after ordering (We usually order on a Friday night and they are delivered by noon Saturday.)  Our local grocery delivery service offers new customers four free months of delivery, and we are taking advantage:).  This winter has been brutal, and I've tried to make as few excursions with Clover as possible, so this helps greatly!  The company we work with runs sales like other stores, offers a free product every week, and the prices are fairly comparable to what we are used to paying at a normal grocery store, though they are not Trader Joe prices:).  Regardless, we love the service and it has definitely made life easier for us as of late.  Same thing goes for Amazon.  We've been Amazon Prime members for a while, ever since we stopped our cable service and switched to Hulu/Amazon for tv watching, and we have been so pleased with their service.  We get our toilet paper, paper towels, diapers and wipes delivered to our door monthly and whenever I'm in need of a present or household item, I order from Amazon and receive my items two days after ordering.  You just can't beat that kind of service.  I love being able to read reviews and select the product that is going to work best for us!  Which leads me to numbers 14 and 15, both items I discovered on Amazon not so long ago.

I really like having a mirror to see what my little guy is up to in the car.  And he seems to find reassurance in being able to see me as well.  We actually picked up an Eddie Bauer car seat mirror at Target after Clover was born, but it was horrible because you could strap it on, but you couldn't angle it to get the view you needed of the baby.  All I could see was the side window or the back of the front seat. This Britax mirror, on the other hand, is a fantastic car seat mirror.  You strap it on the headrest and then it has a pivot mount that allows you to adjust it.  It's easy to install, and easy to line up the mirror.  And this purchase was made easier by the number of good reviews of this mirror on Amazon.

I had used a car seat cover with Lucky and Charm that was similar to this one, except it didn't have a built in flap to cover their faces when outside in the cold.  I always just put a blanket on top, which was annoying because the wind would blow the blanket around.  This time, I wanted to find a seat cover that was easy to get Clover in and out, but that had a flap to cover his face to protect him from the wind and cold.  This cover got great reviews, and although I still add an extra blanket or two to help him stay warm in the extreme cold, it's been working out really well.

16.   My Bed.  

I love it so!!  It took me at least 1 week and a half to two weeks (maybe's sort of a blur now) after surgery before I could lay down in my bed to sleep AND get myself out of bed on my own.  I spent all those nights sitting in a rocker recliner, which is not the same thing as laying down in bed at all.  I am a belly sleeper normally, and it has been so amazing to sleep on my belly in my bed.  I'm telling you it's all about the little things, really:).

And that wraps up the run down of my favorite things right now:).  Hope you are having a good week!  More to come soon:).