Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Schooled by Mother Nature

In my very first post for this blog, I showed a glimpse of our backyard full of trees (see here). When we first saw this house, we fell in love with the trees and the size of the yard. We had seen other houses with decent (more normal) sized yards that were nicely landscaped and only needed the addition of patio furniture. But there was something about the potential we saw in this particular backyard that got us excited. We knew it needed work, but we didn’t mind. Even the 17 mosquito bites my legs received during our first look at the house couldn’t deter us.
 

 

Then, we moved in. And we quickly realized that all though trees are pretty to look at and they provide a lot of shade, having a forest for a backyard comes with a few problems. (The image above doesn’t even show half of the trees, but it’s the only shot we took of the backyard after moving in.)

Problem #1: Roots in the plumbing.
After 6 hours of listening to a jackhammer destroy the bathroom connected to my office (while trying to work) the roots are gone…for now.

Problem #2: Grass actually needs a little sunlight in order to grow.
Too much shade, and you get a backyard full of dirt and sticks without a single blade of grass in sight.

Problem #3: Leaves!
Trees are pretty during the spring and summer, but then autumn comes, and suddenly your dirt and sticks are covered by millions and millions of leaves.

Problem #4: Trees need to be pruned.
The previous owners obviously hadn’t touched those trees at all. My poor husband spent a lot of time back there pruning what he could reach. And we ended up with a crapload of firewood. In case you don’t know how much wood a crapload is: crapload of firewood = 4 pickup trucks filled to the top.

But even through all of this, we know deep down in our hearts that we can turn it into a yard that we enjoy spending time in. And we are determined to do just that.
 

January 26, 2011

Age 4, smell you later

Today is a day full of conflicting emotions for me. It is the last day that my oldest son will be a 4-year-old. Tomorrow, whether I’m ready or not, he turns 5, and for me, that age represents a lot. It represents the transition of a little boy into a big boy.

To Simon, this means no more naps at preschool and no more “T” after the number on his clothing. Apparently, he thinks that turning 5 means all your 5T clothes no longer fit you anymore, and he’s very excited to lose that “T”. To me, this means more independence (as discussed in this previous post) and more embarrassment towards his parents. And, I don’t think I’m ready for that.

However, 4 hasn’t exactly been the most lovable age. For us, it’s been the most trying. Maybe turning 5 will bring an end to the “terrible fours.” Also, the older Simon gets, the more fun it is to watch him. He’s playing sports and learning to read and write. He amazes us all the time with some new skill he has developed. So, in some ways, I’m really excited about having a 5-year-old and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

I guess, no matter how conflicted I am, it’s going to happen, and there is nothing I can do about it. If there were, he would still be that little boy in the picture to the left. So, I’m ready to welcome age 5 with open arms. Bring it on!
 

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January 25, 2011

An “I Do” To-Do

On May 5, 2007, almost 4 years ago, Alex and I became man and wife. It was an evening filled with family, friends, Mexican food, margaritas and piñatas (it was Cinco de Mayo, after all). Definitely a night to remember!

But, as I said, it has been almost 4 years now. And, well, our wedding album, the keeper of all these great memories…doesn’t exist. I have yet to put it together. I KNOW! What’s wrong with me?

Not that it’s an excuse for me not having these photos organized, but just 1.5 months after getting hitched, we moved from Texas to Virginia. We lived in a hotel for a couple of weeks before settling into a rental house and, well, somehow the wedding photos were put into a box and then life just got in the way.

But enough of the excuses. I’m ready to finally take care of it.
 

 

I have the album. I have the photos. And I’ve run out of excuses. Check back soon (maybe not too soon) to see the finished results. Maybe it will make a nice 4th Anniversary present for Alex :)

Please, tell me I’m not the only one guilty of this type of procrastination. Can someone else relate?
 

January 24, 2011

A living room worth living in

In our house, most of our time is spent in the living room. It’s a huge room, and it took us a while to decide how to best set it up to make it feel more cozy, yet still have space for the kids to play. So here’s a picture of what the room looked like right after we moved in.
 

 
Very eclectic, right? We didn’t have much furniture having just moved from a much smaller house. After a lot of talking, a lot of shopping, and then even more talking, we finally decided on this new furniture and a rug to help break up the beige carpet a little.
 

 

 
The coffee table, two chairs and entertainment center are from Crate and Barrel, the rug is from Home Decorators, and the side table is from CB2. And for Christmas, we bought ourselves a new TV by taking advantage of a nice Black Friday deal from Best Buy!!

Hopefully you’ll agree that this is a huge improvement, but there are still some things to be done. For example, Alex built bookshelves to go along the wall behind the two chairs. And those are still sitting in the garage just waiting for a couple coats of paint to be applied. I plan to tackle those very soon…I’m embarrassed to think about how long we have had those out in the garage and not in our house. Seriously, it’s ridiculous!

Here’s the list of all the things that we plan to accomplish in the not-so-distant future (some more distant than others):

  • Paint the new bookshelves
  • Knock down built-in bookshelves next to fireplace (They are very narrow and in a weird place, I’ll post more about this later)
  • Paint the walls
  • Add carpet in area where built-ins were
  • Hang things on the walls
  • Replace mantle (we want something with a little more presence)
  • Get mirror for above fireplace
  • Scrape popcorn ceiling
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Update all of the old throw pillows
     

  • January 20, 2011

    Simon Says: Stranger Danger

    As your children get older, there comes a point where you have to start teaching them about aspects of this world that you might not really want them to know about. Simon is at the age where he is seeking more independence, and we are encouraging it because it’s good for him and maybe it will even help him to overcome his shyness a little.

    One night, he decided he really wanted to go to Alex’s hockey game so he could practice skating. However, I wasn’t able to go, so Alex offered to bring Simon and let him skate around on his own during the game, which meant Alex wouldn’t really be able to watch him closely. Simon thought this idea was great, but being a protective mother, I felt it necessary to tell him some rules about being in a place where unfamiliar people might talk to him. So, we basically had a short conversation about Stranger Danger.

    Apparently, this subject really hit a nerve with him. And it has brought up many questions since and has become a common topic of conversation in our house. Of course, this has me questioning whether I broached a subject that he wasn’t quite mature enough to handle. I didn’t want to scare the poor kid, but I also don’t want an uninformed child naively following a stranger out to his/her car to get some candy or pet a puppy. So, I did what I thought was right at the time.

    Anyway, the other day, Alex was home with both kids. Simon was in his room playing by himself, so Alex took the opportunity to go out the front door to get the mail. While outside, Alex decided to grab the trash/recycle bins from the street and bring them around back. So he came back into the house through the back door.

    Simon heard the back door unexpectedly open and came running towards it with a look of determination in his eye. Then he stopped, looked at Alex, and said, “Oh, I thought you were stranger danger. I was going to punch you in the weenis!”

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    January 19, 2011

    Mom Find: Polarn O. Pyret

    A friend of mine just introduced me to this Swedish-based fashion company, Polarn O. Pyret. The clothes are adorable and they are having a huge sale right now, with some items up to 70% off. You can’t beat that! They are all over Europe, and only have one store in the USA, located in Greenwich, CT. Hooray for online shopping :)

    Here’s just a glimpse of some of the cuteness I saw on their website.
     

     
    {Reversible Lumber Jack Button Down – $17.50 (orig. $35); Two Pocket Button Tunic – $14 (orig. $28); Color Block Track Jacket – $10.50 (orig. $35)}

    I have to thank my friend Amanda, at shrimpsandwich.wordpress.com, for adding another Swedish-based company to my list of things to love.
     

    January 18, 2011

    The Blue Room

    When we bought our house, our son, Simon, was 3 years old. He didn’t come along with us while looking at houses but we knew as soon as we saw a particular bedroom in this house, it would be his room, no matter what. Why? Because it was blue, his favorite color. And when we actually told him of this aforementioned blue room, he was so excited and couldn’t wait to move in. And we were just happy to give him something to look forward to since we were moving to a different state and taking him out of his preschool and away from his friends.

    Here’s a picture of his room shortly after we moved in. We had already purchased a few new things from Ikea at this point. Sorry for the bad image — we were in desperate need of a new camera.
     

     
    Unfortunately, the blue isn’t exactly the blue that my husband and I would have chosen. But Simon was so excited about it we decided to go with it…for now.

    Here’s a picture of what the room is looking like these days. The blue walls are coming across a little differently in these new shots (better lighting and better camera…YAY!)
     

     
    This was shot from the same angle as the BEFORE image above – standing in the doorway. The quilt on the bed was a baby gift for Simon, made by my mom. He loves it, and we think it works perfectly in the room. Most of the furniture and some of the decor was purchased at Ikea. We think it’s the perfect place to shop for kid’s rooms.
     

     
    This shot was taken from the corner near the closet. The red bookcase was given to us for free. After a couple coats of glossy red paint, it was the perfect addition to Simon’s room and his growing book collection. The paintings on the wall (yes, they still need to be hung properly) were painted by Alex. He still has one or two more he plans to finish up soon…hopefully.
     

     
    And this shot was taken from the opposite corner, standing near that red bookcase that was in the previous shot. You can see a couple smaller paintings by Alex hanging over the dresser. And we love those green wall shelves in the corner from Ikea, of course.

    Simon’s room is the closest to being done, but there is still a small list of things left to do:

    1. Finish monster/alien paintings and hang properly
    2. Get curtains (Probably going to make my own no-sew curtains)
    3. Figure out a good organization solution for the always messy art desk
     

    January 17, 2011

    Oscar Eats: Linguini with Zucchini & Carrots

    Ever since Oscar was born, I’ve marveled over how different our two kids are. Simon hit all of his milestones early, and Oscar is hitting most of them later. Simon tends to be a rule follower, while Oscar does everything he’s told not to do. Simon looks like me, Oscar looks like Alex.

    But one of the biggest differences we’ve noticed is their eating habits. It has always been quite a task to get Simon to sit down and eat for longer than a few minutes at a time, much less actually try any food that isn’t a bread product. On the other hand, it’s difficult to keep Oscar away from the table. He always wants to be near food. We are constantly finding him in the pantry on his tippy toes, stretching his little hands out towards all the food that is just out of reach. Or we find him under the table foraging for any bits of food that might have fallen. And he absolutely has to be held by whoever is cooking so that he can see the bounty that awaits him.

    Due to Oscar’s love for food and his willingness to try most things, I’ve decided to document him eating different foods and post the recipes for anyone looking for new dinner ideas.

    This week you can see how Oscar liked Linguini with Zucchini & Carrots. Then check out the super simple recipe below and enjoy!
     
     

     
    Linguini with Zucchini & Carrots:

    1 zucchini, julienned

    1 large carrot, julienned

    2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

    1 can diced italian tomatoes

    1 small can tomato sauce (sometimes we add another can to make it a little more saucy)

    1 lb. ground beef

    Linguini

    Brown the beef with the onion and garlic; drain. Return to pan with tomatoes, sauce and carrots. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add zucchini and cook until tender. Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Serve with linguini.

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    January 13, 2011

    Simon Says: Your face

    One of the best things about having an almost 5-year-old is listening to the things they say. And when it comes to Simon, he sure says a lot. Nobody else would know this because he’s painfully shy around anyone other than his immediate family, but he lets loose in the comfort of his own home and gives us an earful. Sometimes this can be exhausting, but often times, it’s very entertaining. However, on occasion, it leads to late night conversations between the hubs and I as we evaluate our parenting.

    The other day, Alex, Simon and I were in the middle of a very intense game of Headbandz. (SIDENOTE: For any parents of young kids out there, Headbandz is actually a fun game to play. I highly recommend it.) Anyway – talking about letting loose – in the middle of the game Simon “toots.” This is the word our son has chosen to use, so I’m putting it in quotes.

    Usually we just ignore this type of thing so as not to encourage potty humor, but I just couldn’t help myself and had to say, “Geez, Simon, you smell.” And without missing a beat, our sweet little boy says, “Mommy, do you know what else smells…. your face.”

     

     

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    January 12, 2011

    Mom Find: Zulily

    If you are a mother (or soon will be) and you haven’t heard of Zulily, join now! It’s a great online store that offers daily sales on baby/kid apparel and gear. It even features goodies for moms. As a member you can save up to 70%, and you get introduced to new brands all the time. Plus, membership is completely free.

     

     

    Today, I’m in love with this cool rain gear from Kidorable. They even have knit hats & scarves, backpacks, hooded towels, umbrellas and more. {1. Space Boots – $19.99 (orig. $29); 2. Fire Fighter Boots – $19.99 (orig. $29); 3. Fire Fighter Knit Gloves – $7.99 (orig. $11.50)}

     

     

    Also, I love, love, love these socks from Baby Loopies. Anyone with an infant knows that keeping socks on a baby is no easy task. But these stay on so well (at least in my experience), and they are adorable. They also have toys made of organic cotton and soybean fabric that work for babies or dogs – they squeak! {1. Pretty Bitty Bright Black Socks – 6 pairs: $9.99 (orig. $26); 2. Organic Alfonzo Flat Katz – Medium: $7.99 (orig. $12); 3. Sneaker Brights Organic Socks – 7 pairs: $14.99 (orig. $26)}

    But remember, to get the good deals you have to sign up at Zulily. Happy shopping!