Friday, June 29, 2012

Does this make me a Twit??

So I took the plunge about a week ago and started a Twitter account.  I've been Tweeting a bit and spending some time trying to understand what it's all about.  If you feel so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter.  Odds are that my tweets won't be interesting or insightful, but they will be me :)

And to go along with my brand spankin' new Twitter account I've added a "Follow" button here on the blog over to the right (by the Pinterest and FB buttons).  That way if you are too scared to Follow today, you can find me later!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Home Styling Tips for Parents with Toddlers

The internet and pinterest are chock full of posts and articles about how to artfully arrange your life so that it's beautiful and pleasing to the eye.  Every time I look at these beautiful images, I just think of how long it would be before my kids/dog would destroy and dismantle everything.

Right now with the human tornado that is Chris, we do things a little differently.

Arranging Pillows - I love the look on a couch. You know what I'm talking about...tons of throw pillows in beautiful fabrics, coordinating patterns and textures.  So chic.  Check out this blog for some tips on arranging pillows beautifully on your sofa.

Unfortunately, any pillows on our couch generally end up on the floor with Chris belly flopping on top of them.

My personal throw pillow recommendation for someone with small kids is to go with cheap pillows from someplace like Ikea (ours are just $9.99) with washable covers!  Best case scenario: when your toddler spits chewed-up goldfish on the pillow you can unzip the cover and wash.  Worst case scenario  when your dog pees on the pillow and it stinks to high heaven, you can just throw out the whole dang thing and buy a new one.

As to how many, don't buy any more pillows than you feel like picking up off the floor 37 times a day.

Coffee Table Styling - A beautiful tablescape featuring artsy books in colors coordinating with your throw pillows.  Some sort of reclaimed tchotchke that you picked up at goodwill or a yard sale for $2 that has some sort of funky vibe.  Maybe it's a turquoise ceramic dog or an African looking basket for your remotes.  Of course you put it on your antique trunk coffee table.  Or maybe you made the coffee table from old pallets.  Or maybe it's an over-sized ikat upholstered ottoman with a mahogany tray.  Either way it's not in my house.  If a graceful tabletop is what you're after, check this out!

The only stuff adorning a table top here are made by Fisher Price or Lego.  Our "coffee table" is an upholstered ottoman, but again it's slip covered so that it can be washed (often) to eliminate Nutella hand-prints and milk drool spots.  It's also a storage ottoman containing various throw blankets (which are cycled often due to gross kids and dogs).  Hand-knit cashmere afghan?  Nope, more like a Costco synthetic throw that can hold up to washing and dog torment.

Other surfaces - aside from coffee tables, most living rooms have consoles, bookshelves, etc. that are are arranged with things like photos, candles and more knick-knacks.  Aaah, someday we will have a room like this.  For now our bookshelves hold everything we take away from the kids including: phones, remotes, computer, iPad, annoying toys, broken toys, keys, wallet, beverages, etc.  Also, the shelves become a dumping ground for artwork and random things that get confiscated from the dog, such as socks.

I go through this stuff regularly to put it back where it belongs, but a few hours later, the shelf seems to have gathered more crapola.  It's pretty amazing.  Like an undiscovered Law of Physics:

Any flat surface can and will attract as much crap (or more) as will cover it sufficiently.  

Upgrade to Some Nice Furniture - Once you reach adulthood, you start off buying necessities like a really big tv.  But once you've got your big tv, you need to avoid the frathouse or mancave look, so you locate and purchase a lovely console table.  After all you have to have a cable box, but you just don't want to look at it.  Glass doors, polished wood, old timey hardware, it's perfect.

So we have one.  But sadly our 2nd child is as destructive as a...2 year old in a living room? so when he was bending the cabinet doors back until they cracked, we decided they needed to come off.  They're in the basement for now.  Oh and to keep him from turning the Xbox on and off and changing the channel on the cable box, we get to use some of the sweetest looking childproofing products out there - like this super swanky cabinet lock.   **Please note for this and future posts- italics often are used to convey sarcasm.

So this is my effort at "keeping it real".  I like to clean up for photos, usually, but there's a good reason our house isn't magazine perfect:  little people.  I do know from my experience with Sarah that this phase of absolute chaos does end and eventually we'll be able to have nice things out again.  Child locks, baby gates, outlet covers encompass just a brief moment in the span of their childhood.  It's totally worth it to me to put up with some ugly mess for a while if it saves my sanity.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Swingset time!

We didn't do much today, but saw this arcing over the back yard when we came back from our after dinner walk.

It was as if the rainbow was pointing down at what we should do next.  Yep, swingset time!

A little Superman action

Twist time

And slide action

Who has time for projects when there are swings that need swinging and slides that need sliding.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ho Hum Weekend

Sometimes I hate weekends.  Well, hate is quite the strong word, but I don't find them to be as fun and exciting as maybe I used to.  Perhaps this is part of SAHM-dom.  Saturday rolls around, and while it's great to have everyone around, it feels like we need to DO something awesome.  Or productive.  And if we haven't planned anything (could be hair cuts, trip to Home Depot, or yard work) then we end up doing nothing.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love doing nothing.  It's what I do best, actually.   The problem is the aftermath of doing nothing leaves me antsy and disappointed in myself.  I come up with a loooooong list of "should have dones" and it's amazing what I think I could have done instead of what I did do.  So here's what's usually on the list:

        • Yard work
        • Mod Podge
        • Laundry
        • Find the crevice tool for the vacuum
        • Paint the living room
        • Clean my bedroom
        • Clean the bathrooms
        • Clean the kitchen
        • Fix the toilet seat
        • Take a walk
        • Go jogging
        • Give the dog a bath
        • Declutter everything
        • Purge toys
        • Write
        • Meal plan
        • Other stuff...

It's quite a list, eh?  It may be too late for this weekend, but I think what I need to do is sit down on THURSDAY and make a plan for the weekend.  If we don't have any concrete plans (parties, holidays, movies we MUST SEE), then maybe I should choose 2 from the list and just get them done.  I'd probably feel better.  I know my house would look better if I tackled the cleaning or the decluttering (ok, i still might try to chip away at those this weekend).  

Do you ever feel disappointed in yourself about what you didn't do on the weekend?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting into the Swing of Things

A few weeks back we took the kids out to a local store that sells sheds and lawn furniture.  They also sell Swing Sets!!  Now, if you checked priced out swing sets before, you may be surprised to see what options are available.  If your budget and yard allows, you can probably get a $25,000 play palace with multiple slides, houses, tunnels, and cargo nets.   Because of the size of our yard (and budget!) we wanted to keep the swing set to a reasonable size.

After testing out a bunch and reviewing all the specs, we chose one with the features we wanted:  at least 3 swing locations, a play house, a slide, and monkey bars.   To keep the budget reasonable we went with stained wood rather than vinyl clad.  I must say the vinyl was VERY nice  and will last a lifetime, but the cost was nearly double and would have really limited what we could choose.

Once we had put in the order, we sat back and waited for delivery.  We were told 3-6 weeks.  We received a call about 3 weeks later to schedule the delivery and it came yesterday!!!

So when they called to set up the delivery time, they said they would come on Monday "in the morning".  I didn't realize that "in the morning" meant 7am.  Actually after talking to neighbors, we found out that they were there well before 7 AM, and they just waited until then to call us.  The phone rang at 7, waking Jason & I from deep sleep.  I'm honestly not even sure what exactly the guy said, but I remember he said his name was "Daniel" and he said something about a swing set.  So Jason looked out the window and sure enough, they were there.

We scrambled down the stairs to move the cars and deal with a few things in the yard like dog toys and whatnot.  And they backed their flatbed into the driveway.

It was after this that I realized that "Daniel" was some sort of Amish person.

Daniel & his sidekick laid out all the parts to get a sense of where in the yard we wanted the whole thing.

Once we had that finalized, it really only took them about 25 minutes to knock it all together.

They were done and gone before the kids even woke up!

The minute Sarah saw it she ran upstairs and got dressed.  Chris just said "gotta get shoes" and he ran to find his shoes.  Both kids spent every spare moment climbing, sliding and swinging.

And we actually had a handful of neighborhood kids in the yard since there was finally something to do.

I'm so glad we decided to take the plunge, and that we went for an installed swing set rather than a DIY option.  I know putting it together would have been within our capabilities, but having someone else do it was a HUGE time saver.  Hopefully we can put that extra time to good use and make progress on our numerous projects around the house!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

So Long May! And Birthday Fun!

Holy cow - where did May go?  Is it me or was this May shorter than usual?  Perhaps it's because I was busier or maybe the weather was better, but it just FLEW by.  And actually the whole Spring disappeared on me - the calendar in the kitchen still says February.  I'll have to put in June, but take the time to oooh and aaah over March, April, and May so they don't feel sad about being skipped.

May is over and it's time to jump straight into June which means it's time for Chris' Birthday!  Yep, my big boy hit that milestone with grace and dignity and drool on his chin.

This year's birthday celebration was much smaller and relaxed (last year's party included Jason's family who came down for the weekend).  The total guest list included the four of us, plus my parents and brother.  It was relaxed and perfect.

The theme for this year's small get-together was "general birthday with light dinosaur".

To avoid cooking we had hoagies.  So good.  These are from a local place called "Sleepy Hollow Delly".  Their spelling amuses me.


Birthday Boy opted for PBJ instead of hoagie (he's Mr. Routine)

And we had cake

I like to use Cake Mix Doctor cake recipes and then a chocolate frosting recipe from Jason's mom.

Chris opened with presents, which he just ran over to and started unwrapping.

He got a few fun things from us (dinosaur train, big ball, sand mold for a truck) and from my parents (work bench) and Jason's parents (much needed clothes - the boy changes his outfit more often than the queen!).

I was a little bummed when I realized that I didn't get a good birthday-boy shot - but he's so all over the place that it's tough to get a good posed photo, especially with stuff like cake and presents around.

All in all, it was a nice day, great weather, good food, relaxed atmosphere and almost NO dishes to clean!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Haircut

Some kids have a ton of thick hair requiring a haircut sometime in the first year or even first year and a half of life.  Some kids have hair that comes down and covers their eyes prompting moms to trim bangs.  My kids are not like that, both were still mostly bald at a year and now at 2 years Chris was FINALLY ready for his first haircut!

We're lucky in that we have a nice kids' salon about 5 minutes from home.  It's inexpensive, no appointments and has all the frills for the youngest customers.

Chris chose to sit in the airplane.  He went a little nuts at first with the steering wheel, but once the smock was on he was all business.

Toy Story 3 was playing on tv and he was definitely into it (which explains the vacant expression on his face).

The stylist did a great job of shaping him up and giving him more of a big-boy look.  

Since it was his first time, they saved an envelope of hair and gave him a "Certificate of Bravery".  He did great!  No tears, no fear.  Even when she busted out the clippers to clean up around the back.

I showed him how he looked and he said "I yike it!"

His favorite part?  The lollipop on the way home!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Fun: Devon Horse Show

What better way to kick off a fun summer than to head over to the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair!  A tradition round these parts, the DHS has been going strong since 1896.  Over the years it has evolved into a world class equestrian event lasting over a week, plus shops, rides, and carnival games.

I remember coming as a kid and walking around the fair and standing at the railing at the big oval to watch the jumping classes.  I remember it being one of the first places I had a bit of independence - my parents would sit in the grandstands and send me and my cousin off with $10 and instructions to come back in an hour (I figure we were around 10 at the time).  It's a weird mix of super preppy horse people and weird no-teeth carnies.  And the air smells like funnel cake.

After stopping to pick up my mom, we headed over and since it wasn't crowded, we went with General Admission.  For evenings or crowded days, the grandstand seats are nice for watching the action in the big ring.  When it's not crowded it's easy to grab a seat at a bench for some spectating.  After sitting and watching some jumping for a bit we walked around.  We eyed the shops - clothes, hats, shoes, jewelry, gifts and decor.  Everything beautiful (and overpriced).  I generally don't buy, but I always like to look.

Then we went around and played some games and did some rides!  First ride was the carousel.  Chris' first time.  He loved it and kept saying "Whooooooaaaaaah!" as he went up and down.

Sarah's an old pro though and looked natural on her horse.  Maybe lessons in her future?

Soon after that the weather took a turn and we headed up toward the food for some lunch.  We ate in the "Garden Cafe" - a little pricier but the only place to eat under cover.  Mom knows how to smile perfectly in photos.  I wish I had inherited that talent.

The rain moved out quickly and we headed back to the rides.

I agreed to go on the Ferris wheel.  Oh lordy, I am not cut out for this.  Sarah was cool as a cucumber and I was clinging to the pole in the middle of our little bucket (basket? whatever).  Oh and then when it stopped and started to let people on and off it was rocking and I was TERRIFIED.  Sarah just laughed at me, apparently you're not allowed to be scared of anything if you're a grown up.

The view from the top was great though.  Here in this pic you can see the area where all the riders are trotting around awaiting their turn in the big oval.

A little more walking around and a few more games and then Chris started in with huge yawns and it was time to go.

Of course, you can't leave without stopping by the booth for some sweets and the famous Devon Horse Show fudge!!!

YUM :)


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