Traveling with Little Ones

8 11 2015

Last week, I had a work conference that took me to The Homestead Resort for 3 days. Last time I went, I traveled with a friend, and we had a great time, so this time, I invited my family along. It was a nice escape from our daily routine, but taking the kids out of that routine throws all of us off! The Homestead is pretty spectacular:

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First off, what should have been a 90-minute drive took us 3 hours. Our little guy screamed for the entire 3 hours, so we were forced to make pit stops in a few places, including a tiny diner halfway there. The boys were all keyed up and definitely entertained the workers – luckily, we were the only ones dining in. E kept swinging his corndog around, yelling about his “horndog.”

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Luckily when we arrived, the valet handled our car and luggage, and our room was ready with a nice Pack n Play already set up. Of course, I wish I could say this was the scene, but he didn’t go to sleep for several more hours:

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Even though it was late, we decided to explore the hotel and easily walked about 7000 steps just by looking around.

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It was a late night followed by an early morning, as I went to early sessions and listened to the keynote speaker of the conference the next day. All of my sessions were SO good this year! I came away with lots of practical ideas and freebies. Meanwhile, my husband spent lots of quality time with the boys – lots of snacking, napping, and trips to the playground and the Village.

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I thought our evenings would be full of dining out, downtime to explore the hotel and the town, a swim in the heated pool or a trip to the gym, but there never ended up being time for that. The conference schedule kept me busy, with receptions lasting until 9 PM. When we did have a break, it would only be for a few minutes here and there. I don’t think we got much sleep because of the boys, and then we would start all over again the next day.

Well, we attempted to dine out twice, but Sage cried almost the whole time both nights.

The second night, we ate at the Casino, right on the property.

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On the third night, just before leaving the resort, we ate at Le Cochon d’Or (The Golden Pig) in the village of Hot Springs. I was late to our dinner reservation because my session ran over, but my family was seated right there in the window and I was able to snap a pic of this happy scene before all the meltdowns started.

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I kept it simple with a French onion soup because I knew the kids weren’t going to last long in there – YUM! So hot and cheesy!

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One of my favorite places in the hotel was the Christmas shop. I picked out this year’s ornament and took lots of pictures of E with the gorgeous tree. At the end of November, The Homestead will ceremoniously bring a real tree into the grand lobby.

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I’m so glad that I was able to show my husband The Homestead, and I’m thankful that he was able to spend real quality time with the kids, but I wouldn’t call it a “vacation” by any means! It was pretty stressful for me to find a balance between being a mommy, spending time with my husband, and still attending all my sessions.

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Juggling Act Lately

13 10 2015

Maybe it’s life with two who are getting just a little older, maybe it’s just the busy-ness of fun fall activities, but we have been go-go-go lately, with sickness to boot. So yes, this blog post is all over the place, too. Just like my thoughts these days.

Home

On the homefront, the children’s clothing app where I sell my kids’ outgrown clothing featured my shop last week (yay!), so I gained about 250 new followers and had lots and lots of sales! A lot to manage, even with a shipping scale at home. My friend’s shop was also featured, so we teamed up to do a giveaway, which brought in a lot more followers and sales. I’ve been busy packaging up items to send to sweet little fellas all over the country!

My husband has also been diligent with his business, participating in lots of fall craft shows and sales, so he’s usually off doing that in the wee hours of the morning, when he’s not running. It works out well when the baby is up with teething pains from 3-6 AM each day after nursing with me all night.

My family attempted our first mini photo session with a professional photographer, which went by too quickly for my liking, so we hung around the farm an extra 2 hours so that I could take more photos of my own at our own pace and more my style – less props, more letting the kids play while I followed them around. The day was gorgeous, and the setting was breathtaking. I spent forever trying to coordinate outfits for 4 different people and finally went to Target the night before to purchase some last-minute items, another reason I wanted to take pictures while we were all dressed at the same time!

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Our neighbors hosted an Octoberfest celebration for the neighborhood after we got home from pictures, so we stopped by and met some new faces.

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We recently had a hurricane, and my yard flooded – we were so fortunate that the only thing we lost was our garden, which was nearing the end of its season, anyway.

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E’s curly red hair was really starting to look completely unkempt, so I attempted to cut it but am not sure if I made it better or worse. I finally got mine cut, too, by someone legit.

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We took our son to his 12-month “well-baby” checkup Monday, but he was actually very sick.  The doctor was concerned that he might have pneumonia because of the way his voice was catching when he breathed, but she monitored him for 3 hours and determined it was more likely an ear infection and upper respiratory infection, topped off with a 103.6 fever that is STILL going strong at over 103 even tonight.

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Parent-teacher conferences at the boys’ preschool are tomorrow. plus we have all kinds of appointments in the next week – eye doctor, dentist, chiropractor, the works – and a new friend from church (whom we’ve never met) is coming over Friday to learn more about cloth diapers. I’m exhausted just thinking about getting everyone where they need to be while still putting in all my hours at work. On top of it all, I’m sick, too and barely have any voice left for teaching! I’m sure my immune system is down – I blame severe lack of sleep, a lotta nursing, a whole lotta coffee, not enough water, and not enough time to eat real meals today. I’ve been putting lemon EOs in my water and using Thieves EO for my whole family.

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At work

My husband and I are missing all kinds of work this week – I took off early Monday for the baby’s well visit, took a half day today for our preschooler’s field trip, and I will miss again tomorrow to stay home with our sick baby. Meanwhile, my husband already has missed two days of work being at home with him this week.

My school has had some festive fall programs in the evenings. Last week (before all this sickness!), our family literacy night was a huge success. Students came and picked up a free bagged dinner, which they ate on blankets while visiting 4 different storytelling tents. Afterward, they attended an assembly while their parents attended a workshop, then came back together again to pick up free books and make s’mores over fire pits. Afterward, they viewed Saturn through a telescope! The literacy night inspired me to take my family to a seasonal book fair, but I was too sick to walk around, so we didn’t stay long.

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Tonight was also my school’s Spirit Night at Chick-fil-a, so I just got home from facepainting for 2 hours.

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I have so many posts I want to write about – hopefully they’ll come soon! Blogging has just not been a priority lately:

  • My latest Stitch Fix.

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But instead, I think I’ll go fill my empty tank with food, infused EO water, and what bit of sleep I can catch before someone wakes up crying or needing their next dose of meds!





3rd Birthday | Under Construction

5 08 2015

With my oldest, I’ve always said every new age and stage is a favorite, but so far I’m really loving three. My son can dress himself, put his shoes on, get his own snack, buckle himself into the carseat (we always double-check), and is completely potty-trained. It certainly makes life with 2 little boys that much easier! So there was a big reason to celebrate turning 3. 🙂

But first… I just had to sneak in his room to transition him from age 2 to 3.

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He was very excited to wake up as a 3-year-old!

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Here’s a quick glimpse at his “Under Construction” birthday party, which was a month ago!

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We are having a year of no-donuts, so we sent the leftover spare tires home with family. 🙂

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Growth chart rulers 2015 Looking forward to what’s in store for T-H-R-E-E! 





Five on Friday

3 07 2015

Linking up with September Farm and The Farmer’s Wife (she has news!) for oh hey, Friday and April for Five on Friday!

This week brings so much celebration – my brother-in-law got married, one of my best friends had a baby (and I held him!), obvi the 4th of July, and then my son’s birthday and mine fall the next 2 days! So this morning will just be a quick recap of our week:

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one | My “Mommy and Me” yoga class inspired me to get a yoga mat ($2 new at a yardsale) and a workout DVD (free at library). Neither of which will get me any steps toward the challenge I recently registered for with September Farm, but at least I’ll be motivated to train for two upcoming races.

two | I took the boys on a lake outing. It had all the benefits of the beach, as far as toddlers and babies are concerned, without the long drive. They loved it!

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three | We’ve been going to a nearby peach orchard each week for their children’s program. Since my husband and I are on a “no donuts for a year” kick, I bypass their peach cider donuts and get a slice of fresh, homemade peach pie or a peach milkshake. Heavenly.

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four | I stumbled upon this playground not far from my house through a library program. I cannot BELIEVE we didn’t know about this place! We were also excited to get free lunches, and the boys each picked out brand new, free books to keep!

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five | We also went to our first $1 movie at Regal! Sage loved the movie but then nursed for the last half. E was terrified and shouted loudly every few minutes, “I want to go home and get in my bed!”

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And now… off to celebrate the 4th and party on my little guy’s THIRD birthday! Weren’t we just celebrating his 1st birthday with our matching birthday smashcakes?

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Have a safe and happy Independence Day!





Sage | Nine Months

28 06 2015

Sage 9 months nine onesie

Sage. You’re a smiley, giggly, chunk. You’re nine months today and wearing size 18-24 months. There is so much to love about you! Look at that hair, for starters. Blonde and wispy and way too cool.

Teething: 4 teeth came in at once and you’ve been gnawing on EV.ERY.THING. You’ll pull out dresser drawers to chew on, and today when E kicked the drumset cymbal you were chewing on, it cut into the top of your gums. You love Pumkin Butt teething oil and your chocolate silicone teething bar.

Eating: 3 meals a day with lots of nursing and snacks in between. You might have tried wedding cake last night. And loved it. So just pretend on your birthday like it’s all brand new.

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New tricks: Crawling forward! I didn’t want to rush this, but clearly you don’t want to be left out.

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Sleeping: You’re not big on daytime naps, but you stick to your bedtime. You’re usually up to nurse a lot throughout the night, but I don’t mind while school’s out and we’re not rushing to be out the door by 6:45 AM. You’re still in our room!

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Playing: Endless giggles shared between you and E. You are the very first person he looks for every morning when he wakes up. You have also said his name several times! Your giggle is much deeper then E’s, and your eyes absolutely sparkle when you look at him. And your dimple!

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I can’t leave the two of you alone together though. E likes to say, “Baby’s all locked in!”

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Loves: Movies in the theatre, Taylor Swift, listening to the sermon at church, reading board books, dancing at weddings, puppets, your brother, your parents, babywearing. How do we know you love all of these? Your arms and legs FLAIL. WILDLY.

During the last month, you have: been to 2 weddings (but the rest of us have been to 3!) and a rehearsal dinner, you were dedicated at church, attended a “Mommy and Me” yoga class, spent time with our LifeGroup, picked strawberries, went to Busch Gardens, went to a library kickoff program, helped Mommy teach Sunday School, went to yardsales and a Food Truck festival, ate lunch and watched puppets at an elementary school, went to the peach orchard, saw Paddington at the movie theatre, danced at the library, fed ducks at the park, enjoyed playgroup at church, swam at the lake, went to a birthday party, visited puppies (you LOVED), had several playdates and time outside, went to the river, and played on many different playgrounds. I love being at home with both of my boys for the summer!

Sage nine 9 month collage

Month by Month

birth | one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight





Five on Friday

19 06 2015

Linking up with Karli and Amy for oh hey, Friday and April for Five on Friday!

Now that I’m off work just for the summer, I try to leave the house everyday with the kids, which can be exhausting at times, but rewarding. It’s a lot of work to pack up everything for the day and make sure they’re fed/changed before we leave, but more fun than chasing them around the house all day long! And certainly more fun than packing up their stuff to be away from them all day while they’re at daycare – plus no pump parts and bottles to wash! We’ve been able to do so many things this week that I normally can’t do when I work during the school year, from trips, to playdates, to starting fun projects and trying out new recipes.

It makes me a little sad to see how close the boys get to me, and how sweet they are to me and to each other throughout the day. When I work, I come home to tantrums that last all evening after we’ve been apart for 10+ hours, and I miss out on all these little moments.

one | We scoped out a new-to-us playground. E always prefers the big kids’ playground to the toddler ones!

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two | After visiting a puppet show and signing up for a couple summer reading programs at local libraries, we went to another program at an elementary school. They provided a free lunch during the puppet show, with BBQ sandwiches, chips, cookies, apples, carrots, and water bottles for the kids and for the adults!IMG_3628

three | I don’t have a green thumb, but I’ve been diligently checking our garden each day for progress. We planted tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, basil, lemongrass, and peppers. My favorite, though, is the sunflower my son brought home from school. I love that it was tiny when he brought it home, but it will eventually grow taller than he is!

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Using my basil, I made a one-pot pasta dish this week with most of the little plant. It was so good, so easy, so PRETTY, and a keeper for sure!

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four | Water balloons – fun to fill, fun to throw, but not sure they were worth the meltdown that ensued when I threw one at his little piggies!IMG_3684

five | I must have caught an exercise bug, because yesterday I got up early and ran on the treadmill, and last night, I attended my first free “Mommy and Me” yoga class at a natural parenting store taught by a friend from church. My midwife suggested I try yoga after several recent bouts of tachycardia. At the time, I just laughed, but I loved, LOVED it, and so did Sage. He was fascinated by the poses, laughing and clapping (probably distracting), and he loved participating and being held all the different ways. I was also surprised to learn that the instructor began yoga because of tachycardia, too. This might be something new to try!

Happy Friday!





Finding “Me” Time

18 06 2015

IMG_2999I just finished an excellent book that I borrowed from a friend – The Fringe Hours, by Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative. I highly recommend this for moms of little ones, for when it seems like there is never time to get anything done for yourself! I journaled alongside reading it but would still love a copy of my own! And no, this is not a sponsored post. Just thought it was great.

First – finding the time to read the book. Luckily, it’s a quick read because of its workbook format. I spend a LOT of time nursing the baby while (sometimes aimlessly) scrolling through my phone. I set social media down for about 2 days and put this book in my hand instead. BOOM. Done. Checked it off my summer bucket list and on to the next book.

Since reading Jessica’s book, I’ve actually found some of those hidden pockets of time to work on several little DIYs that I’ve been wanting to do… projects that all seemed daunting before reading this book because I was waiting til I had entire afternoons or days to devote to completing them. I realized that every time I have a pocket of 5 minutes, instead of spending it scrolling through my phone or cleaning up toys, I should put that time toward a checklist of little tasks that add up to a completed project! Like reserving books online at the library when I have 5 minutes, then running in and grabbing them when I’m there a few days later for storytime with my kids. It just takes some planning ahead.

For another example, to make some jean shorts – I broke up that project into little tasks that each took less than 5 minutes:

  • go in the attic to find old jeans to cut up to make shorts
  • find my sewing tape measure
  • watch youtube tutorials on the best way to distress denim
  • cut the jeans to the desired length
  • ask hubby for sandpaper
  • practice distressing the unused denim using a variety of techniques to find the best method
  • look online at the best way to stain the shorts a darker wash

While I did these tasks, I watched a movie on my summer bucket list (reserved online from library) in short, 5-minute increments until I finished it! I am rarely one to sit and watch a full movie, and never at home. In fact, I’m not allowed to – my orthopedic surgeon told me never to sit for more than 2 hours because of my spine condition. So even at the movie theatre, I sometimes have to get up and walk around the lobby.

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Another similarly-executed project was the process of lanolizing wool overnight shorties for my new little heavy-wetter! The shorties sat around for weeks because I didn’t think I had the time. But I finally broke the project up into DAYS of 5-minute steps until the shorties were lanolized and ready to use!

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Even trying a new recipe! First, I found a recipe using the search term “easy basil dinner.” Another time, I wrote a list of ingredients needed. BOOM. It was ready to make after the next shopping trip.

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My husband and I had an Amway Ribbon gift catalog from our baby shower that is older than our 8-month-old. I think in theory, the concept of the gift is to make it easy for the parents to select what they really need. Well, the baby has long-since outgrown most of the newborn and infant items in the catalog, but I finally broke the process of selecting a gift into 5-minute tasks:

  • browse the catalog
  • lookup the actual items on Amazon to compare retail values. The variety of price ranges is insane!
  • log in to the website
  • realize all of the items in our catalog were no longer available, all replaced with newer items
  • start process all over again
  • select an item that we both wanted (bonus: it was also the most expensive retail item)
  • order the item – a waterproof, easy-to-clean, play mat! This wasn’t even listed in our catalog.
  • our gift arrived today! Went outside and got it off the porch. Just before the baby turns 9 months old

Ribbon Gift

Jessica’s advice has really helped me to streamline the party-planning for my son’s 3rd birthday. I had actually considered taking him on a fun trip instead of dedicating the time and effort into a party, but I also don’t want to skip celebrating this milestone with his little friends! Party planning was broken into a series of 5-minute tasks:

  • gathering ideas
  • making an invite list
  • making a list of things to buy/make
  • making a food list
  • designing simple invites in PicMonkey using a free template
  • finding free printables as party decor that fits my theme – so easy!
  • printing the printables
  • cutting out the printables
  • addressing invites, etc.

My next big project might take the whole summer, but my goal is to finish it in the next 2.5 weeks. When I listed it on my summer bucket list, it seemed daunting, but the trick was just to START. Start with the first step! I give myself grace to know that it’s not going to happen all at once. I may never see a 4-hour chunk of time to myself in the next 18 years, but 5 minutes here and there eventually adds up to the time I will need to complete the things that matter to me, things worth doing.

I’m not talking about the big things – going to my women’s Bible study, volunteering (and I’m learning to say “no” more often now that I have little ones unless I know what I’m doing is truly meaningful), spending time with family, going to work — all that stuff is LIFE.

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In fact, if my kids are awake, I try to prioritize so that I’m spending almost all my time with them. Don’t get me wrong, I want them to know I have hobbies, and I want them to be able to entertain themselves and be creative and have their own outlets, but when they’re grown up, I also want them to remember me and my husband playing with them, reading to them, listening to them, and including them in everyday tasks – like cooking, or our garden.

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The little projects or hobbies are just little things that give me an outlet for myself in a crazy infant/toddler world when that time to myself is SO.HARD. to come by. And as an introvert, I NEED it. I’ll be interested to see how this works during the school year when I’m working and not at home with the boys.

And no…  I didn’t write this blog post all at once! And yes, all I still want for my birthday is this breakfast at Panera BY MYSELF! 😉

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Five on Friday | Segue to Summer

12 06 2015

School’s out! I want to make the absolute most out of my time home with my kids, since I’m away from them a majority of the school year while I teach.

one | I made a quick summer bucket list and a calendar of activities that we can quickly check if we are looking for activities. I washi-taped them to our (non-magnetic) fridge. We bought a few supplies to have on hand.

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two | My son started off the summer with a birthday party for a classmate. It was adorable, and I’m so grateful for these little friends he’s had for the past 2 years.

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three | We attended a local “Touch a Truck” event – a perfect family outing 🙂

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four | Why can’t every morning start like this? I’ve been devouring a new book this week and can’t wait to carve out time to read (and pursue other hobbies) more this summer.IMG_3508

five | I’ll spare the pics, but I spent part of my week hooked up to a Holter monitor and visited the cardiologist a few times this week. Instead, I’ll share some fun summer-y pics!

June 2015 summer collage

Linking up with Karli and Amy for oh hey, Friday and April for Five on Friday!





Nursery Transformation

17 05 2015

Much like how any actual progress on our nursery transformation went down, I wrote most of this blog post on 7/3/14 and then didn’t return to it until today. We decided to move our oldest son out of his nursery and into a toddler room, and convert the nursery into a guest room/nursery with new decor.

We don’t have a theme for our new nursery other than “rustic,” but things are coming together. I don’t like themes because I think they lead to collections. Our first order of business was a closet makeover. It’s still a work-in-progress, but much more functional and keeps a lot of toys off the floor.

We worked our design around a crate we found at Homegoods. We never found the match after searching every Homegoods in a 3-hour radius, but we did find 2 matching smaller crates. My husband designed, built, and painted shelving along the bottom of the closet to fit the crate. We removed the closet doors, making that area of the room so much more open. Once I rearranged the furniture, it became a larger play area.

Closet reno part 1

[Wow. My child doesn’t look like this anymore]

Next up was the dresser. We have a super-nice baby dresser from my sister, and I was itching to try chalk paint – the dresser was the perfect piece, since its wood is already a different color than everything else in the nursery.

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I watched a ton of Annie Sloan chalk paint tutorials, but in the end, the paint dealers were always either closed or out of what I needed, so I went with CeCe Caldwell’s chalk paint in Sedona Red. I had a one-day window in which to finish while my son finished out daycare for the year, so CeCe’s it was! I was able to support a small local business with this purchase – a win-win!

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With chalk paint, there is no prep work or sanding required. I loved painting haphazardly on purpose! That’s what gives it interesting texture, especially when it’s time to add the wax.

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After two layers of chalk paint, I applied a coat of clear wax:

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And before you start thinking it looks too pink or coral for a boy… let’s change lighting. It reminds me of the red of a weathered picnic table. Or the natural clay at Arches National Park.

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On to the hardware. I removed the existing hardware and searched high and low for spherical dresser pulls to cover. I eventually found what I needed at Michaels and bought 120 feet of twine (to resemble jute rope), which was just enough for my husband to cover all nine knobs with a monkey fist knot. He drilled into the knobs to make them compatible with the hardware from the original knobs, and they fit perfectly! These would have been expensive to custom-order, so I’m glad he knew how to do it.

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Okay. Picking up now where I left off. Fast-forward 10 months. The baby is almost 8 months old and has barely visited the nursery. We’ve had a pallet in our yard since before he was born, waiting to be turned into wall art. While my husband tilled our new garden yesterday, I went to work on the pallet, removing 4 boards to expose the inner slats. My son helped me scrub it, and then I sanded off the rougher sides. I added a touch of wood glue here and there, and then hung it today – it’s so secure that you could probably climb on it. But don’t tell my kids that.

Pallet art - nurserywall art - nursery 2I cleaned the nursery up a bit and tried to hide the awful skirt on the guestbed that my vacuum burned. I took a few pics, although it was late and they’re dark! All we need now is the newest tenant to move in! But I’m not ready for him to leave my room just yet! 🙂

Nursery - May 2015

I’m terribly sentimental, so everything has a special meaning to me:

  • Ladder/medal rack: displays medals from 4/6 races I ran while pregnant with the baby, including 2 full marathons!
  • Laminated quotes from my “beautiful mess” baby shower and a Radio Flyer wagon painted by the art teacher at my elementary school
  • The bear card is also a watercolor by the same art teacher, but it was from my baby shower with E
  • Pallet art – by me! – full of all kinds of pieces sentimental to me. I think this might be my new quiet place!
  • The pail of daisies was one of our wedding centerpieces, and the clay handprints and footprints were molded when Sage was a week old
  • The bandana quilt was a labor of love from my mom

It’s kind of eclectic, but I love that it doesn’t scream “baby.” Which is good, because we wouldn’t want to wake him up. You know, if he ever moves in.





Five on Friday

15 05 2015

| Linking up with April for Five on Friday and Karli and Amy for oh hey, Friday |

Palindrome Week

| nifty right? |

one | We had much to celebrate on Mother’s Day! We dedicated our son at church alongside 12 other families.

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two | Mother’s Day was also my husband’s birthday. While we didn’t do a huge bash like last year (I cannot even fathom pulling that off again with 2 little ones!), we did have 9 people over to celebrate after the dedication, including our mothers. My mother-in-law made a Boston cream cake, and I made him a creamy Swiss chicken bake for dinner. Who washes the dishes when it’s Mother’s Day and husband’s birthday??

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Mother’s Day weekend this year started out especially difficult for me, but I was encouraged on Sunday and blessed to be with family all day.

three | I just LOVE Emily Ley and her whole story. So even though I had been toying the idea of a Plum Paper planner, I caved and purchased another Simplified Planner for my 3rd year in a row. And by “purchased” I actually mean tracked down, because right when they launched last week, my school held an unannounced lockdown drill and I had to go into lockdown mode with my students. By the time the lockdown was over, they were sold out. That evening, I called retailers all over the US and had one shipped from Kansas. I’m still debating whether to keep it – it’s much smaller this year! I selected the gold pineapple academic weekly.

emily ley simplified planner

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four | I am now growing herbs in my kitchen alongside E’s sunflower. So far I have basil and lemon balm. I found several interesting ways to use lemon balm that I’m excited to try. What uses do you have for lemon balm?

five | Brothers. I love watching the boys together as they interact more and more. We have dance parties for them, we play outside, we watch them laugh together in the car, and we have lots of cuddles. I’m so glad they have each other.

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Happy Friday! I will leave you with a toddler tantrum. You’re welcome.

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