Fall is in the air…

The calendar may say otherwise, but fall is here. Pumpkin everything. Hoodies. Cool weather. In our area the leaves are already starting to change color (and, gasp, some have already fallen).

This is my absolute FAVORITE time of year. I sure wish it lasted longer, though. Winter will be here before we know it. But until then, we will enjoy it.

I feel very nostalgic during these months. It must be that whole season of change idea. It’s hard to say goodbye to summer and all of the memories they always bring (especially with two summer babies… that’s a lot of pregnancy, babies, birthday parties, and adaptation over the last four summers). My husband and I also got married on Halloween, and our son is a wedding baby. It’s just a special time of year for us.

I feel many mixes of feelings as we bid summer farewell and look forward. I feel sad that summer is behind us. I feel optimistic about life and the things ahead. I feel excited about the fun things that fall brings us (Halloween, costume making, a trip to the corn maze). I feel anxious about the holiday season (a good anxious, of course). And, if I’m being honest, it’s hard not to feel a bit of dread about winter’s promise of a nasty visit.

I also feel a renewed energy in my writing. An energy I haven’t felt in years. I just need to find a way to make it a priority, look for the time in each day to work on my goals. I actually have IDEAS. I am working on a short story. I am working on a children’s book. I am going to restart my novel (again!) for NaNoWriMo, and this year I want to do a lot of planning ahead of time so I can finally be successful. I also have a NEW idea for a novel, although it still needs a lot more brainstorming before I’m ready to commit anything in writing… but it feels good to have new ideas and feel excited about something that has been leaving quite a void in my life. Writing has always been a way of life for me, and it fell by the wayside after having kids. No longer will that be “okay.”

Speaking of kids… mine continue to amaze me day in and day out. All challenges aside, they are just so lovely. We had a wedding this past weekend and had to spend about 4 hours in the car. They handled it wonderfully. They were charming and well behaved at the wedding. Our son danced and danced and danced.


I wore our one year old in a ring sling, and she was happy to hang out and dance with us and kicked her feet wildly while out on the dance floor. The extra snuggle time was much needed, for both of us.


I had one of those perfect moments while I was standing in the back of the room, against a wall, swaying along with her to a slow song. And I looked around at all of my family, and felt my daughter’s little body tight against me, and just felt this wave of peace and happiness. A moment where everything was perfect. Completely content and where all is right in the world.

Time is flying by. It is impossible to enjoy every second… let’s be honest, not all of those seconds or minutes or hours are worth enjoying. But I am doing my best to remember that we have such a brief time in each phase. These moments are fleeting. This, too, shall pass… both the bad and the good.


Happy First Birthday

Oh, sweet Greta. Happy Birthday to you.

I’ve done pretty well with it, so far. I had a few tears last night, saying goodnight to her. That sentimental, emotional part of me really comes out around birthdays. Just like with her brother a couple of weeks ago, tearfully wishing my two year old goodnight for the last time, preparing to wake up to a three year old in the house.

But first birthdays are just so different. We say farewell to infancy. We think about how much has changed in one year. At this very time one year ago, I was still pregnant. I was in labor. I had yet to meet my daughter.

I remember the intense fear I had during my pregnancy, that I could never love another person the way I loved my son. I just couldn’t fathom it. I was scared about all the changes sure to come, and was convinced I was going to tear apart my son’s perfect little world.

And then Greta was born. And it really was, as cliched as it sounds, love at first sight. And I was so relieved that all I felt was LOVE, and that meeting her felt so right. And it continued to feel right, as she just fit right into our family. Truly, I cannot imagine life without her.

gretabday1Ready to go home.

She is such a light in our lives. She is so funny, so sweet. She is opinionated. She makes us laugh. She adores her brother. She is feisty. She loves to squeal, clap, wave, and giggle. She doesn’t crawl, but instead does this funny hopping butt scoot to get around. She dislikes diaper changes and always tries her hardest to get out of them. She loves to snuggle, especially in the chair with her daddy.


Daddy snuggles.

This year has been amazing. How could it not be with a smile like this?


It has also been challenging, of course, as we adjusted to having two kids (and only two years apart). But overall she’s been a pretty easy baby.

I think one of the most challenging aspects of it all has been not knowing whether or not we would be having a third child. With our son, I knew we’d most likely have a second child. And I was caught up in new motherhood. This time around, the questions come more heavily. As she outgrows clothing, baby items, toys, I wonder if they are really worth holding onto. I have donated more. I have questioned more.

So, as we leave infancy today, I have a heaviness in my heart as I question if babyhood will be behind us forever. I don’t feel ready for that.

But, as it goes with our children, we don’t have a choice but to look forward. They don’t wait for us, they don’t understand our sentimental hearts and how we ache with longing for the past even though we are so so so excited about what is yet to come.

I love you Greta. Thank you for joining us a year ago. I know you will continue to astound us all with what you will bring to this world. Happy Birthday!

gretabirthdayListening to her brother’s rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

DIY Fabric/Denim Roads – $0 project!

Alright, Pinterest haters, here’s another project I found on there. This was timely and cost me absolutely nothing, unless about a half hour of my time actually has a monetary value. I’m guessing not, though, since I get paid for my job as a stay at home mom in dirty diapers and lots of laundry.

Anyhow, it was timely because two things happened this week: I needed shorts so I cut off a pair of my jeans to make them, and my son has a sudden interest in all things cars/trucks.

I had pinned this on Pinterest a long time ago, and noticed it again while I was looking through birthday party ideas a few days ago. Please check out the original post and idea from lil Mop Top on “Easy Fabric Roads“!

My son got some Matchbox trucks for his birthday yesterday (he is very in love with firetrucks, as well as ambulances and police cars… but especially firetrucks). I bought him the exact same pack that my mom picked out for him (it’s what he wanted when we went there yesterday morning), so last night we returned them to get something new. We ended up with a small section of a wooden train and a wooden police car.

Today I decided to use up those denim jean calves (I guess that’s what you’d call it? lower extremities? whatevs) to make this for his new found car/truck love. I was starting to think we were bypassing that stage, but apparently it really is in their genes. Or jeans. Har har.

This took me maybe a half hour. I already had the acrylic paint on hand from my peg doll projects, but if you had to buy it you can find it for under $1 at a craft store. I used the inside of the jeans for the surface instead of the outer bluer part. So glad I didn’t toss those legs! Yay for free projects.

Ta da:


I decided that this would be a quick project and I wouldn’t obsess and try to make it all perfect (i.e., no measuring, drawing lines, etc.). I just winged it. I may trim up some of the pieces because two stretches of road are wider than the others, but other than that I didn’t try too hard. I especially liked the original blogger’s idea of making the intersection, which makes it easy to spread the track out and go different ways.

I still need to figure out how I want to store it, probably in a pouch of some sort in the bin with the cars and trucks. But what a great, easy project to use up something that would have otherwise just gone to waste.

Last day as a two year old.

Sad face.

I know, I know. Birthdays, they’re exciting. I’m sure my son is going to be an amazing three year old and the best is yet to come.

But, because I’m me, I need to mourn a little, just as I have with his other birthdays.

Today is our last day with our two year old son. Tomorrow we will wake up to a three year old. We will celebrate the day of his birth. We will go out for ice cream and he will open his presents from us.

Today, I want to soak it all in. I know these changes come slowly and he won’t be all that different tomorrow. Really, just another DAY older than today, even though those numbers signify an entire year.

Here’s my little boy a year ago, at his birthday party. Turning two. Still practically a baby.


He has grown so much since then. Physically. Emotionally. Intellectually. Two weeks after that photo was taken he became a big brother. He’s AMAZING to his sister. I am blown away by it. He has to kiss her before he goes somewhere, before he goes to bed. Today he hugged her and told her that she was his favorite sister. They adore each other and I am so blessed that he has shown very little jealousy and welcomed her into our family with open arms. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s true. Literally with open arms, always hugging her, always reaching for her, always loving her.

He is so smart. The things he says are so funny, so intelligent, so quick. He has the best sense of humor. We laugh so much.

He tests me in many ways, but he is teaching me how to be a better mother, a more patient human being, and a more loving woman.

This year has been incredible. Not always easy, but somehow always good. Age two was certainly not “terrible” like so many like to say. Challenging, yes. We are no stranger to fits and tantrums and the word “no.” But two was also sweet and fun and innocent and full of laughs and love and snuggles.

We are spending this day quietly. Reading books. Watching television. Making smoothies (real and pretend). Playing musical instruments. Having an existential crisis over the fact that “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “The ABCs” have the same tune. Okay, so perhaps quiet wasn’t the right word. Ordinary. Beautifully ordinary.


The kids are napping together now, and then we’ll play outside.

Then, tonight. Tonight I will say goodnight and kiss my two year old one last time. I will cry. That I know. But tomorrow we will be excited and we will celebrate and we will embrace what is yet to come. I know he will continue to amaze me and make my heart swell in so many new and lovely ways.

I love you, sweet boy.

Our Kids’ Digging Garden

I was inspired to do this when I first saw this blog post linked to on Pinterest. I finally got around to doing it; we had a very late start to summer but I wanted it ready for our July festivities (4th of July BBQ, kids’ birthdays, general summer fun…).

This was a super quick project. We already had the perfect spot for it. Our backyard is weirdly landscaped, so we had this random retaining wall here. Last summer it’s where we put the sand & water table, and the year before a kiddie pool. The grass was already dead as a result of that, so I just raked the area. I’m debating whether or not I want to put a bit of topsoil there, since the dirt is very… dirty? Okay, duh, I know. It’s just very fine dirt that is quite dusty and manages to get everywhere.

This was also a super cheap project. The fencing came from Lowes and was just a few bucks for each section (I like the look of the wooden fence on the original link, but went with what was cheaply and readily available, and I still like the look of the fence we chose). The little decorations were already on clearance at Target (my son helped pick those out, we went with a butterfly and a mushroom) and he wanted the flag one day when we were at Lowes for something else.

I added in some of our little gardening projects from the spring. The larger planter in there has a strawberry plant and a couple of carrots. There’s a mason jar growing a marigold (which is also a bug deterrent, I believe?) and the little ceramic pot has a lone hot pepper. I don’t have much of a green thumb, if you can’t tell… most of our starter plants died. I also picked up a citronella plant and planted that in there in hopes that it might help with mosquitoes (WHAT is with the bugs this year?!).

I threw in the Tonka trucks he got for Christmas and his gardening shovels and rakes, although those are sometimes used elsewhere. My husband tossed a few coins in there (treasures to dig up, I guess?), although those will need to be removed before our littlest plays in there. Oh, and there’s a disposable lasagna pan that we already had (pack of 2 from the Dollar Tree). Mud pies, anyone?

Okay, onto the photos. You can click on them to make them larger.

Here are the befores and what I had to work with.



And the afters.



Very pleased with the outcome, especially for it costing very little and only taking about 15 minutes to throw together. We have a sandbox, but I like that this involves the earth and plants and has a more nature-y feel to it. I like the idea of having a space where kids can dig in the yard and feel like they have their own place to freely explore. While the kids would have been welcome to use the space before, setting it up like this seems more inviting. My nephew was immediately drawn to it, so it must feel more welcoming this way (and kids know that it’s for them).

Major thanks to the imagination tree blog for giving me the idea. Check her out, there are lots of great kid ideas on there!

A very random update… summer, motherhood, and purple hair.

Oops. I’ve been meaning to post here, but I get to the end of the day and sometimes I opt to read… okay, I lied. I read one book. Mostly I watch youtube videos or crappy television.

I have approximately 824 things I’ve been meaning to blog about. We’re doing some household things that are obnoxious but also a bit fun. I love home projects. LOVE them. Except for that little part that involves small children and the fact that a “quick weekend project” always seems to remain partially unfinished for a month or six. Or for over two years, if you count the stenciling project in our dining room that I started in May of 2011. We are painting over that in the next few weeks, if you’re wondering how THAT is going.

It is summer. Finally finally summer. It took forever. We had a few nice days, but I think yesterday was the first day that BOTH kids were in shorts when we left the house. Yesterday we had a wonderful day that started with a lazy, rainy morning of fort building, popcorn eating, Roseanne watching, coffee drinking bliss. Then the weather took a dramatic turn and it became hot and sunny. An impromptu BBQ at my sister’s house ensued. Kids played. Adults chatted. Everyone became drenched at one point or another. Summer.

998680_10100369888058567_1144891496_nWhen did he get so tall?

We are quickly approaching our kids’ birthdays (both in July). I can’t believe I only get a few more weeks of having a 2 year old, and a little over a month left of infancy for sweet Greta. It is going by too fast. I’m trying to breathe it all in, enjoy. But wow do the days just go and go and go.

I am constantly pulled between the emotions of motherhood. It can be very challenging. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and am just completely touched out. Sometimes it’s hard not to yell at my son, who loves to push those boundaries. But I’m learning. I’ve become more laid back. I try, and then remind myself at night that we get a new day tomorrow. I appreciate the successes, and do my best to sweep the failures under the rug. I remember that the good stuff weighs more than the bad stuff.

I am working on living in the moment, enjoying the stage we are in, and going with the flow. And, sometimes, I am hit hard in the gut with the realization that we don’t get a second chance. Yesterday is over. I never ever ever again get to spend a single hour with my son as a baby. I will never feel his newborn body asleep on my chest. My daughter is racing through infancy. What if she weans soon? How much longer before she walks? I know many wonderful things are ahead, but these things are the sort of things that crush my sentimental heart while I can’t fall asleep at 1am.

One of the hardest things is wondering whether or not we will expand on our family. Long story short: most likely. I am a planner, and I like to know for sure. As I pack away outgrown baby clothes and donate others, I want to know if I’m saving them for a reason. As my daughter meets another milestone, I wonder, Is this the last of these baby phases I get to experience? Is this the last onesie? Is this the last time we worry about starting solids? The thought of never having another pregnancy (as much as most of my pregnancies have been miserable) makes me sad. The excitement and terror of a positive pregnancy test, seeing the little gummy bear on the ultrasound screen, feeling those early flutters and later watching your whole belly swirl and churn as 35 week old baby does somersaults.  I also see the benefits of stopping now, enjoying our family as it is, and focusing on childhood instead of babyhood… but I just don’t feel done.

Oddly enough, my husband has been bringing it up a lot lately. If you knew him, this would surprise you. He originally said he’d be happy with one child, and wanted “one, maybe two” kids. Then we decided to have a second, and he swore that two would be it. Then, in the hospital with Greta, he made a comment about something “for the next one” that made us all go, “Whaaaa?”

He is smitten by our baby. He has really grown as a father. He doesn’t consider himself a “baby person.” He likes playing basketball with our son, rough housing, showing him how to hold a golf club. But this little girl has him wrapped around her fingers (which are freakishly long, by the way), and they look so damn RIGHT when they are snuggling together and she falls asleep in his arms. I’m not sure he feels done, either. But we don’t need to decide anything just yet.

In other news… I dyed my hair purple.


I can’t really explain why I did it. I wanted a fun change. I needed to dye away the splashes of grey anyway. It’s summer. I don’t have a “real” job to report to. Why not? I love it. It isn’t, like, WHOA GRAPE CRAYON purple. We didn’t lighten my hair before dyeing it, so it didn’t turn out to be a bright purple, it’s more subdued from my brown hair. But I love it. Grant thinks it’s awesome, of course. My mom used a semi-permanent dye so we could test it out (if you’re wondering, it’s Vero K-Pak Color Intensity in “indigo”).

So, there we are. Twenty-four days into June. Where does the time go.

Quick DIY Play Kitchen (Kitchen in a Box!)

My son has been playing pretend lately, and it is adorable.

He’s had play food for awhile, and this past Christmas we got him a neat wooden toaster. I’ve been slowly starting to build up the stuff for a play kitchen.

I’ve seen so many neat ideas online for how to make one, especially the ones that repurpose things likes nightstands or entertainment centers. Originally I had wanted to make him one last fall, but didn’t find anything that would work (that, and I had a baby in the summer, so I had a lot on my plate).

I had told my husband about my plans, and then even suggested we just buy him a nice one for Christmas. Then he was all, “No, I’ll make him one from scratch!” Okay, great. So he took my son to Lowes, and they picked out some stuff to make it, and he started in on it, and then it was something that he said he’d finish in the spring. Fair enough. Winter isn’t the best time for sawing and sanding and whatnot.

Well, over the winter my son’s imagination really took off. He started to pretend to make us food and fetch us coffee. I wanted that darn play kitchen, but decided I could hold out a bit longer. And now it’s “spring” except that it’s still snowy and it’s the worst freaking spring ever. I am stir crazy. And, not to be mean, but I also know that there’s a good chance my husband will continue to put off this project for a good long time… and that I will spend this fall repurposing a piece of furniture so the kids get a nice wooden play kitchen for Christmas. (I’m not being a pessimist, it’s just that I asked him to hang a shelf in our son’s room last Mother’s Day, and last week I finally brought the shelf to Goodwill. Apparently 11 months was my threshold for hope.)

I got the itch just to make some sort of play kitchen to hold us over. I saw some cool ideas online where people used cardboard boxes. But we don’t have any that are suitable, and I also worried about it caving in the first time my son tries to climb on it, or a stray football hit it. It dawned on me while I was putting some cloth diapers in a storage bin in my daughter’s room… the bin would work perfectly for this project.

In my usual fashion, as soon as I got the idea in my head to make a stand-in play kitchen, I had to DO IT NOW. I also decided that I wanted to do it only with things that I already had on hand. This is just a stand-in play kitchen until I’m able to get the nice one that I have been yearning for, so I wanted to spend exactly $0 out of pocket for it.

Here’s the result!


Here’s what I used:

  • a Sterilite storage bin (56 qt.)
  • a melamine bowl
  • a hand sanitizer pump
  • wooden blocks
  • felt & marker for the burners
  • 2 caps from baby food pouches
  • hot glue gun
  • washi tape

This was about the easiest thing ever to assemble. I used hot glue to put the pump top into a block that had a hole in it, to help stabilize it and give it a bit more lift so it was above the bowl better. I cut circles of felt and drew a swirl on them for the stove burners… I would have used black felt but I was out. I originally used jar lids, but my son ripped them off right away, so I figured I’d go with Plan B for those (I had debated the two options prior to making this). I left space toward the back of the surface, for “food prep” or to put the toaster or whatever.

You could use a million different household objects to put this together. Milk jug or bottle lids could be used for knobs. A pie tin would have made a great sink bowl. I had recently purged our kitchen, so I was a bit more limited on what to use. And I don’t make pies.

I used washi tape on the front just to give the impression of a cabinet and an oven.

Here’s a closer look at the sink… I used H & C wooden blocks for hot/cold knobs.


Now, I just used hot glue to attach everything. You could certainly get fancy and attach them in a better way. I have been reminding my son to be careful and just pretend to turn the knobs. If anything pops off, a few seconds with the hot glue gun will fix it up. When we’re done, I can pop everything off of there and use the tote for something else.

The best part? You can store all your play food, dishes, utensils, etc. right inside.


Also, it’s so portable. I love the idea of a play kitchen inside of your actual kitchen. Our kitchen won’t allow for that, unfortunately, so it will be nice to be able to bring this in there if he wants to pretend to cook while we’re cooking. Although, he’d much rather make a mess right there with us, of course. 😉

Total cost of the project: $0. Awesome.

My New Obsession: Making Peg Dolls

I really like simple toys. My son plays really well with a minimal selection of toys that is well organized. I like for him to have more open-ended toys that can be used in lots of creative ways… his basic toys get the most use, and it’s fun to see how he uses them. We have very few plastic and/or electronic toys for this reason.

I had seen peg dolls around the internet and loved the idea of them. Simple, basic, wooden. No batteries. Waldorf-esque. I had almost purchased them on etsy several times, because making them seemed like a Very Large Undertaking. I’m pretty crafty, but I’m not usually very artistic.

Well, in my usual fashion, I needed to have a project to work on last weekend. I didn’t have anything I was working on, which is rare. I really need to have a creative outlet, and since having children that has been less about writing (hello, how can I think straight anymore?) and more about being crafty and having “projects.” I told my husband that I wanted to paint the dining room, and may as well do the entry way and stairwell and upstairs hallway while we’re at it! He said, no, please, let’s just have one weekend where we don’t have anything going on. Okay. So I did some Googling and then went to Michaels and made all of these over the course of an evening and the following morning.

Ta da:


Supplies needs:

  • wooden peg dolls
  • acrylic paint
  • varnish (or a clear protectant of some sort)
  • paint brushes of varying sizes (don’t forget some teeny tiny ones)
  • cup of water/towel for cleaning and drying brushes
  • fine-point Sharpie (optional)
  • a painter’s palette (or paper plate, or something else to put the paint on)

The wooden peg dolls come in various sizes and shapes. Our Michaels only carries two types; I used the larger ones (which came in packs of 2), although you can see the smaller ones in the photo below. They were called “man/game pieces,” if that helps. They were in the woodworking section of the store, hanging up on the wall near wooden letters and other woodsy craft items. I’ve seen other shapes online, some of which are more feminine-looking and look like they’re wearing dresses. We’ll see.

It’s really a pretty straightforward project. This post isn’t a “how-to” exactly… just be creative if you decide to do this. Think about what you’d like to make and the best way to approach what you want to make. Then paint. Let dry. Paint some more. Let dry. Varnish or protect in whatever way you choose; I used two coats of my varnish. I let them dry overnight before giving them to my son, but the varnish I used felt dry surprisingly quickly.

I used “craft smart” acrylic paint (69 cents each, whaaaat?!) and “Delta Ceramcoat” glossy varnish. Super inexpensive. Easy to use. Supposedly non-toxic.


Tips (some of which I learned the hard way):

  • Do some testing of your supplies. The varnish I used did NOT work with watercolor paints (although that doesn’t seem to always be the case… watercolors are pretty and let more of the wood grain show through, and I saw some other people have used them successfully). I had to do a lot of fixing and salvaging on poor Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
  • Permanent marker isn’t always permanent, and it may bleed into the wood or streak with the varnish. I had success with a finepoint Sharpie, but I made sure to pick up some black acrylic paint for future endeavors.
  • Let stuff dry. Don’t rush. This was hard for me. But it will make your life easier if you don’t have to fix bleeds and fingerprints and smears.
  • I found the paints to layer well, even if you used a light color over something darker. Two or three coats and it was good to go.
  • Don’t worry about perfection. I obsessed over the mistakes (I always want things perfect the first time, which is stupid) but my son doesn’t care.
  • Keep it simple. Even if you’re doing characters, don’t drive yourself crazy getting every little detail! Less can be more.
  • Have fun. Really. I found this surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable. I don’t paint often (at least not on a small scale like this, I usually paint things like walls). It was kind of therapeutic, even when I was obsessing over clumping, smearing watercolors. Remember why you’re doing it… to bring joy to your child. They don’t need perfection. You’re doing it for a good reason, so feel good about it.

I made my son his own super hero version of himself,  which he has been getting a huge kick out of:


(my son’s eyes are much less beady in person, thankfully)

The star is a sticker. There’s also his initial on the back, which is also a sticker. I used a LOT of the varnish to get these on well.

I decided to make some characters that my son likes, but I do plan on making more of the very simple type of dolls that can be used as just a family/people, and aren’t assigned a certain character. I made one like that so far. And I kept most of their facial expressions fairly ambiguous (dots for the eyes, a pleasant expression with a half-smile, but not a huge smiley face or anything).

I plan on making a lot more of these. I made Super Why, and my son is already asking where Wyatt’s friends are, so those are on my to-do list. And I started making the cast of The Fresh Beat Band already. I have a lot of ideas… a knight, Little Red Riding Hood & crew, some princesses, an owl, some other characters, and lots of basic people. These are really fun to make.

This is how they are currently being stored:


Eventually I will do something more. I want to get a little tin so we can easily make them portable (and bring a few with us in the diaper bag or whatever). The gears in my head are also turning as I am thinking about how I want to approach making a dollhouse for them. But, for now, they are in the zipper pouch. I wanted them to be easily contained (hello, choking hazard for my 8 month old). My son keeps getting the pouch, taking them out, asking questions about them, lining them up, asking where Super Why’s friends are, etc. so it’s really fun to see him getting some joy out of something I made for him. He is just starting to really play creatively, so I really look forward to watching him play pretend with them… and hopefully they last a long time so my daughter can use them in the future, too.

Disclaimer: Just use some common sense when making these. Know your children. If you think they might put them in there mouths or use them inappropriately, hold off on making them. Supervise them. Only use supplies you are comfortable using around your kids (I had considered trying to coat them in beeswax or something, but there it is). Just use your head, and have fun, and be careful… these are addicting! I bought all the wooden pieces our local Michaels has, so now I’m waiting (im)patiently for them to stock up again so I can make some more. 😉