Friday, May 30, 2014

5 on Friday: Summer Priorities

Linking up with April today!

I was originally going to call this a summer bucket list, but I think "summer priorities" might be a better name. Here's what I'm aiming to do and accomplish this summer. If we only get to accomplish these 5 things, then I'll call our summer a success!

1. Join a pool! We're Y members, and while our Y has a great splash park, it is so so SO crowded all summer with camps of kids who are playing with no parental supervision. We want to join a pool that is not so wild 95% of the time and where we can go have fun and relax (is that possible with a 19 month old?) some.

2. Pull out the sprinkler! We haven't done this one yet, but I'm waiting for a hot summer evening to bust out our sprinkler in the front yard with some popsicles for that last hour between dinner and bedtime. I think someone might be a fan!

3. At home happy hours! I want to open our home up to friends (and their little ones) for Friday night happy hours, or heck really any day of the week. It's getting harder and harder to go out to eat and go to restaurants with M these days, so we're going to embrace it and start to bring the fun home with friends. Plus, it's way cheaper to socialize and eat and drink at home!

4. Cabin weekend! Every summer we look forward to visiting our friends' cabin in the mountains in VA on the Maury River. While I'm slightly nervous on how our little one will sleep for us there this year, I think she will have a ball by the water. And her dad is crazy excited to go on walks to show her cows. It's the little things I suppose.

5. Clean up and organize and make our play room/J's office (it's one giant room) 100% functional and usable. Right now it's so mismatched and not a place I like in our home. I am so determined to get it to a point where I love it by the end of the summer. I'll be sure to share once we reach that point! Hopefully putting this out here on the blog will help keep me accountable.

What's on your summer agenda??

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Littler Gardener

Most evenings after dinner, this is what M insists on doing...watering our plants! 

She gets such a kick out of "helping" us right now. It's amazing how much she watches us and then mimics our behaviors. I know I've said it before, but this is such a neat age watching her grow and learn so much!

I went to a Montessori workshop at a local school last month about understanding the toddler's brain and how it grows and develops (which was super interesting, btw!), and one of the things I learned was to give her lots of jobs and let her feel like she's helping us. We do a pretty good job at this, but I won't lie, sometimes it's easier to just do the job all by myself so I can get it done quicker and move on, but when I do stop to let her help, the smiles of accomplishment I get in return are well worth it!

How does your toddler help at home?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday Randoms

1. I've been going to cycling at my Y in the mornings a few days a week for the past 3 weeks now. I am embarrassed to admit how long it had been since I actually used my Y membership, but it's feeling good to go in the morning while J and M have breakfast together (yay for dads who work from home!). I really want to keep this habit up. I need it mentally and physically.

2. I picked up this tank at Target the other day (in blue and red white stripes and in white!). I love it! The top part is kind of lacy It's a little flowy so not too tight, and perfect for hot summer days! And $16.99!

3. On Saturday we went to a local park in the morning and went on a big walk together. We took the BOB and we were able to convince M to ride in in for the first half hour, but then she walked for close to a mile for a good portion of the trail. While her aversion to the stroller can be frustrating, I do like to see her exploring on her own two feet!

4. We had a babysitter come to watch M last night so we could go shopping for a sofa for our playroom. Furniture shopping with M is pretty much impossible. The good news is we were able to sneak in a dinner out while the sitter was here and it was a gorgeous night to sit outside. Talk about an exciting date night!

5. Can we discuss Sons of Anarchy for a minute, all of my fellow SoA watchers? We almost gave up during season three with all the Irish drama. I just wasn't into it and the stories were just getting old (plus all the scenes in Ireland were so dark and gloomy), but now we're onto season four and I'm so glad we didn't give up. We're flying through this season! Plus, I'm kind of a fan of Jax's haircut this season...

6. Have I mentioned on here just how much we LOVE going to the playground these days? I know, this isn't news to any mom who has an 18 month old, but it's crazy how happy this girl is at the playground. We often go twice a day park in the morning in between errands if we don't have somewhere else to be and another after her nap but before dinner. Going to the playground is probably the #1 perk to having a mobile baby/toddler!

7. We have a bunny who lives nearby and spends a great deal of time in our front yard, and I have a two dogs who sit behind our glass door who want to kill play with the bunny, and a toddler who is determined to hug the bunny. She will chase that bunny all over the yard, and what's really crazy is the bunny will let her get within about 2 feet of him. If only she (and the dogs) knew that they're never going to catch him!

8. I'm still keeping up with my project life album and loving it! Here's a few of my more recent weekly spreads. 

9. We recently started ordering our dog food through Amazon Prime when we discovered it's the same price as what we were paying at PetSmart. I'm sure the UPS man hates us even more now that he has to lug a 40lb bag of dog food up to our steps every 4 weeks, but oh my goodness! Best Amazon delivery item yet!

10. On Tuesday, M had her first "friend" roadtrip with our friends Katie and her little girl to go see Erin and her boys down in Columbia. We had a ball catching up with her while the kids played, and M thought it was crazy cool and just plain crazy to ride in a car with another child!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Thanks to a pretty sick little girl, it was a very low key and quiet Mother's Day weekend for us. 
On Friday afternoon M came down with a fever, so we went to the ped where we got a bronchitis diagnosis that was brought on by her allergies. I'm now beginning to wonder if there's something else going on, because although her cough has started to clear up from the antibiotics, the poor girl was still pretty pitiful on day five of this yuckiness. I called the nurse this morning and he said to give it till Thursday before bringing her back in since (thankfully) she hasn't had a fever in over 24 hours. She seems to have turned a corner after dinner tonight, but man, it's been a long couple of days!

The one upside to a sick toddler on Mother's Day is LOTS of snuggles, which are pretty far and few between these days. We also watched Frozen together for the first time, which definitely cheered us all up a bit!

It was pretty nice out on Sunday morning, so we tried to do a little playing in the shade in her pool and water table, but you can tell she was still pretty sad about the whole thing.

But on a happier note, look what she helped me make for Gigi and Granny for Mother's Day! I can't resist a fun handprint craft!

Despite having a sick girl to take care of on Mother's Day, I still had a great day snuggling with my girl. I feel so fortunate to be her mama. On the good and bad days. Being a mama blows my old job out of the water. I love every second of it!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Five on Friday: MOMS!

In honor or Mother's Day on Friday, I thought I'd do a "Mother's Day" themed Five on Friday today! Go link up!

1. First things first, my own mama!! I may live 5 hours away, but I am so thankful that we can call and skype with my mom all the time. M helped me mail a little something to her on Wednesday, but we won't share on here since I know she'll be reading!



2. My friend Rachel shared this article on Facebook the other day, and I then proceeded to share it on my own FB page. It's a good read, especially in this era of social media and being able to compare our lives so easily. 

3. Yesterday we celebrated Mother's Day with a brunch at a friend's house! She hosted 13 of us from our little group in her home (15 babies/toddlers!), and we had a ball and some really delicious food. It's so nice to be able to celebrate motherhood with other moms! I am lucky to have met so many wonderful moms who are going through this season of life with me. 

Good work looking at the camera, M!

M and one of her pals were twins for the morning!

Our spread of food!

4. I shared this commercial on here last year for Mother's Day, but it definitely deserves to get posted again. It is my faaaaaavorite!

5. And finally, a sweet pic of me and the girl who made me a mama!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Home Improvements 2014: Patio Furniture

Back in March I did a few blog posts discussing a few of the small projects we had started at home. Another project I completed last month but never got put on the blog was painting our Patio Furniture. When we moved in almost two years ago, I found this iron set of table and chairs on Craigslist for $100. It has served us well, but has needed a good paint job since we got it, but due to pregnancy two summers ago and just plain laziness last summer, it never got done! 

You can see how rusted it was here...

I used THIS spray paint. I went with hammered to help hide the imperfections. It took me about 7 cans to do the table and all four chairs, and I did 2 coats on each. I think all 7 cans cost around $40.

The whole project took me about 3 weekends to accomplish. I needed lots of sunshine and time for drying, and I could only do it on the weekends during nap times, that way if M woke early I'd have J's help. 

And our finished product....

And I honestly think it looks even better in person! It seriously looks (and feels!) like brand new furniture. Definitely worth the cost and effort of painting it!

(Cushions and Umbrella are from Garden Ridge!)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

18 Months Update...

At the end of April, we celebrated a certain little lady's half birthday. I've gone from being a mom to a 12 month old to an 18 month old in the blink of an eye, but these two ages feel so very very different! We are into full on toddler mode here. Here's a little bit of what life is like these days....forgive me for the random list! So many thoughts to jot down!
  • You're afraid of bugs. If you see an ant outside, you'll point and scream and start to cry if someone doesn't come to move the bug. This is part hilarious and part VERY frustrating.
  • You don't like to ride in your stroller much anymore. We'd love to take big family walks in the evening, but you only tolerate about 10 minutes in your stroller until you begin shouting "ALL DONE!"
  • You eat pretty much any and everything, and clean your plate (except for the crust on sandwiches!) at most meals. Speaking of eating, you love to eat outside and have picnics!
  • Still holding strong at 12 teeth. Those darn eye teeth have been SO close for about 2 months now, but nothing has poked through your gums yet. 
  • You love your baby dolls and stuffed animals. We can't leave the house without "bebe" or stuffed dog. Speaking of dogs, you also have a few plastic dog figurines that you love to carry around with you. My favorite thing is to tell you different commands for your dogs (Make them jump/dance/run) and you'll do it. 
  • Nothing holds your attention better than books. You could listen to me read books all day or you're usually pretty happy to sit in your room with your books scattered all around you and as you look through them all.
  • You can now run and you have become a pretty awesome climber. You can also go down the slide all by yourself. And just the other night, you climbed a whole chain thing (great description, I know) to get to the top of the playground equipment. You're gross motor skills are pretty advanced. But you're skinned knees also show that you're still learning!
  • Playing with crayons and stickers is a new favorite activity at home and at restaurants.
  • You absolutely adore being outside. We spend about half of our waking hours outside if the sun is out!
  • Your vocabulary is insanely good for a girl your age. When I filled out your questionnaire for the pediatrician last week, it asked if you had at least 4 words. This made me chuckle, because I'd say you have closer to 40 words right now. Just a few of your new favorites: Blue, Red, Two (anything that there is more than one of), Shoes, Uh-Vee (lovey), Cheese, Naks (snacks), Bah (bottle/water bottle), Bebe, list could go on and on!
  • Taking you out and about is either so much fun because you're so engaged and it's a fun new adventure and you're the world's greatest little sidekick, or it's a complete mess because you want to be doing something I won't let you do. It's definitely a tough age, but also so fun because your mind is like a little sponge right now and I can constantly see the wheels turning.
  • You give incredible hugs! And although you're not a big cuddler during the day, you let me snuggle with you every night before bed when I sing to you. You've also started singing along at night time and it's pretty much the cutest thing ever.
  • When you're misbehaving and you know I am not happy with you, you put your face close to mine, and say "HI! Momma! HI!" and smile really big. While I know I'm not supposed to laugh at this, it's pretty much impossible to keep a straight face.
  • One thing you LOVE is going to library story time on Tuesday and getting a stamp, on each hand, at the end. You are brave enough now to go up by yourself to get your stamp. and the look on your face as you walk back to me with two stamped hands is a pure satisfaction. I love this.
  • It's amazing how good you are at bed and nap time right now. I think it's because you play SO hard all day, that you're so ready for sleep. You are usually out in under five minutes.
  • You've started to slowly interact with other kids (at play dates, the playground, library, music class). It's neat watching you branch out and play without mommy or daddy.
  • It's still not GREAT, but you are becoming a better car rider. I think it helps that I can "talk" to you in the car, and we now have a Daniel Tiger Soundtrack that we listen to wherever we go. It's nice to be able to go to the grocery store without screaming (most of the time!).
We love you M girl! Every night you go to bed, and Daddy and I say, "Man, I miss her!"

Weight: 24 lbs. 3 oz. 
Height: 33 inches 
Clothes: Mostly 24M and a few 2T things.
Diapers: Size 4 in disposables; 5 snaps open across in the BG cloth, all the way unbuttoned down.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: You have so much and it's so so light! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

California Trip: Days 4 & 5

Time to finish my California Trip Recap! Only took me two weeks!

On our last morning in Napa (Saturday), we woke up REALLY early to head into town to meet up with a group to go hot air ballooning over the valley. I planned pretty much every step of our trip, but this was the one and only thing J wanted to do on our vacation so he set this all up. We showed up at our meeting place, filled out our papers, and after waiting around for about forty five minutes, they informed us that we wouldn't be going up on that day since the weather conditions were too cloudy. Definitely a bummer, but we made the best of our early morning by finding a diner in St. Helena and having breakfast!

That's our balloon and basket loaded onto a truck behind us in the parking lot. Womp womp!

We went back to our cottage and cleaned and packed up, and then bid farewell to our cozy little home of the past few days. Before heading out of town, we stopped by the Oxbow Public Market in Napa did a little shopping.

We left Napa Valley and drove West and got to enjoy the views of the Sonoma Valley on our way to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa.

We shared a sampling of all their beers (which was a lot, 18!), and enjoyed the change of pace after 3 days of wine!

Before going back to SF, we made one more brewery stop, this time at Lagunita's in Petaluma. I don't know what all we were expecting here, but as far as breweries and brewery tours go, this one was on the more "intense" side of the scale. Their brewery is hidden in an office park (reminded us a lot of our trip to Stone when we visited their in 2012), but once you walk in, it was a full on party. It was PACKED with people. People of all ages (seriously, everything from babies to an elderly man we saw leaving on a stretcher...), and it was just crazy. We really enjoyed our tour (very funny and the company has a neat history) and the beer, but it was overall just a crazy afternoon. I think going midday on a Saturday may have had something to do with the crowds?

Once we left Petaluma we were on our way to San Francisco to enjoy the next day and half. We stopped and got the "required" bridge photo!

We made it to our hotel (Hotel Abri in Union Square...cannot for the life of me remember how we found this place?) and got all settled in and got to relax for a little bit before our dinner plans. We had rented a car that we drove around Napa, and when we got to the city J went and dropped it off and then walked back to the hotel. Hotel Abri was a nice place. Very small rooms, but a neat old building that had recently been updated. We ended up downloading Uber when we got here on to our phones and used this as a our main form of transportation around SF. We were really pleased. Way simpler than cabs. (Also, small promotion...If you use "t40k6" as a promotion code on Uber, you and I will both get $10 on our next rides.) We took our Uber car to Cocotte for dinner in Nob Hill, and oh my goodness. What a delicious meal. This is a (very very small) French restaurant that we found via a friend of mine from college. They are known for the rotisserie chicken which is what I ended up getting and it was served with 3 sauces. One was a parsley pesto type sauce that I have already tried to recreate at home with a chicken from Whole Foods. Mine wasn't nearly as good, but a good second! 

On Sunday morning, we slept in (Ha....7AM! I never adjusted to that darn time change), and got a quick breakfast at a bagel shop on our street. After showering and checking out, we were ready for a full day of exploring before our red eye back to the East Coast at midnight (thankful we could leave our bags at the hotel). We did a lot of the touristy stuff (Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Union Square, China Town, Ferry Building) on foot, and we just had a nice time exploring and seeing San Francisco. We had wanted to Alcatraz, but didn't plan enough in advance and the tickets were sold out for the day. Oh well!

In the late afternoon we caught a ride to The Mission District, where we sampled at another brewery, Southern pacific. It was a nice spot to go in and rest our feet after walking the entire morning. 

After here we headed to a CUTE little toy shop that I had found on Design Sponge, and basically wanted to live in this shop by the time we left. We bought M a fun souvenir, but I could have bought the whole store!

We headed to dinner at Bar Tartine (also in the Mission District). This was a suggestion from a friend of a friend via Facebook (man, I love social media sometimes!). Bar Tartine is basically a German restaurant that serves mostly small plates. But it definitely wasn't traditional German, very different, but VERY good! We were really pleased with the food, the service, and just the neat atmosphere (also...great beer choices here!).

We left dinner and had one more stop to make before catching our flight. It was only about 8pm, and our flight wasn't till midnight, so we still had time to kill, we decided to get ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. I had found this place through Design Sponge and several people on IG mentioned it on this day, so we knew it was the perfect spot for an after dinner dessert. We waited in line for our ice cream (this is hot spot!) behind two funny and kind Australian men (father and son) who were in the US on holiday. We enjoyed sharing stories and chatting with them! I ended up getting Meyer Lemon and Lavender ice cream. Not my norm, but way delicious!

We flew back on our red eye that night, not much fun to report here. We had a short layover in Atlanta, and then by noon, we were back in Richmond with our girl! Perhaps the highlight of the whole week was my parents bringing M into the airport with a sign for us. I loved it!