April 16, 2014

my little easter bunny


Ella has discovered her empty Easter basket and eggs.  She carries it everywhere so I monopolized on this and spent the morning following her around with my camera and occasionally trying to get her to wear bunny ears.  Now that she is an opinionated, stubborn toddler it is almost impossible to get her to cooperate for a little photo shoot.  I don't blame her though.  I would rather play and run around then sit and have my mom dress me up.  Fortunately for me there are certain items that Ella will always play dress-up with and this skirt and easter basket just happens to be at the top of the list.

She spent a fair amount of time trying to sit on ALL her eggs.  She has no idea how appropriate this is. My little mother hen.

And then we went right back to climbing.  One of her favorite activities.

If I would let her, she would climb all the way to the top and stand there triumphantly.  I've seen it.  It's scary.  So we aren't usually allowed to climb on this anymore but I made a slight exception for the sake of super cute photos.  I will regret this decision these next few days.

I always say it because it's true but what a difference a year makes.

April 4, 2014

DIY: Easter Coloring Book/Pages

Ella may not be able to "color in the lines" yet but she does love scribbling all over the page (and table).      I use to just give her plain paper for doodling but found she had more fun when there was a pretty picture for her to add some color to.  Using Microsoft Word I even added a few pages customized just for her with her name. 

Most of the pictures I found online or I made in Microsoft Word with clipart.  She has been having so much fun coloring these.

So much so that I've made several different theme books.  Her favorite seems to be the Ella Rose coloring book full of different roses and flowers.  What little girl doesn't love flowers!

You can download and print some of the images on my flickr page here.

April 3, 2014

Baby #2: 30 weeks

Well by now we are actually at 32 weeks - just two more months!
I am so ready to meet this little guy.

I love being pregnant and I always miss it when it's over but with a toddler to care for (and carry) I am ready to say goodbye to the expanding bump and hello to our little boy.  Of course, that just means my hands will be twice as full but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

This pregnancy in many ways has been very similar to my first but I can definitely tell that this little one growing inside me is very different from his sister.  I haven't met him yet but I have a feeling he will be a chill kid.  Ella was a mover!  Non-stop, spastic movements.  The doctors ALWAYS had a hard time getting a heartbeat because she wouldn't stay in one place.  And she has lived up to that.  She is a high-energy, fun-loving little girl.  This guy doesn't move nearly as much and when he does, it is one or two VERY STRONG kicks and then nothing.  Even on our ultrasounds he just seems to be hanging out (or sleeping).  I just cannot wait to meet him, see who he is and watch Ella become a big sister.

I hope these next two months go by very fast!

April 1, 2014

Baby gear for baby #2

We are two months away from meeting our baby boy and becoming a family of four!  It is hard to imagine what life will be with two kids but we are busy preparing as best we can.  Part of that is hauling out the baby gear and cleaning and prepping the items we loved and relied on and upgrading the items that didn't quite serve us well with the first.

1. We loved the SleepSack for Ella.  She pretty much resisted a traditional swaddle from the beginning so I loved having the option of swaddling her with her arms restrained or removing that attachment and allowing her arms to be free while still keeping the rest of her warm and cozy.  She slept in this until she started rolling over so we got a lot of good use out of it.  
2. I started with the Puj tub but didn't love it.  Mostly, I hated that it only could be used in the sink.  With a small house and bathroom I also resisted the plastic tubs so when my mom bought this little, cheap bath seat for use at her house and loved it, I immediately went out and bought one for us.  It was perfect for use in the tub, comfortable for Ella and easy to fold up and store.  I actually stuck a command hook on the wall of the shower and just hung it there making it so easy to prep and clean bath time.
3. I LOVE our Ergo carrier.  We tried the Bjorn, Moby Wrap and Sling and the Ergo was by far our favorite.  I have to say, I don't hate the Bjorn but the Ergo was more versatile for our lifestyle.  It was easy to use for household chores, outings but especially hiking and more vigorous outdoor activities.  
4.  I didn't try any other bouncers and to be fair, I think it is hard to get a "bad" one but I do like our Bjorn bouncer.  It doesn't vibrate, make noises or any other "special" features but we didn't seem to miss them.  It is light, easy to carry from room to room or store (unlike the swing) and made taking a shower and other tasks easy to do hands free.  
5. I cannot say enough good things about the Inglesina travel high chair.  I know most restaurants have high chairs but in my opinion they are aways filthy, sticky things that I don't want to touch, let along set my kid in.  That really isn't my only reason for thinking this a necessity.  We used this so much when traveling whether on a vacation in a rental home, visiting friends or heading to the lake house.  We also used it in restaurants when Ella was too little for traditional high chairs but wanted to be sitting up and part of the family.  It's light, easy to clean and fold.  I keep ours in the car with the stroller so its always handy.
6.  Ella has always loved the sound of rain.  I can't blame her, it is soothing.  That is why we love this sound machine.  It has several didn't nature sounds, including rain.  We use it for bedtime and nap time.  Generally we keep it very low and time it out unless we are having company over - then I turn it up a bit and let it run all night.  I probably would weaning her off it about now with the introduction of the big girl bed but since she will sharing a room with her baby brother I think we will keep it going awhile longer.
7.  I am so thankful that I registered for this stroller and included ALL the attachments like the second seat.  We are completely ready to stroll around with two kiddos.  I picked this stroller because I liked the toddler/older child was in front and had a view rather than tucked along the ground at the parent's feet staring at the back of a seat.  The second seat is also the same as the single so it is strong, sturdy and made for larger kids.  In some of the other brands, the second seat was smaller and more flimsy.  Lastly, I liked that whether single or double it still had good storage underneath.  It is easy to grab my diaper bag and other belongings which I can't say for my BoB (although I do love that stroller too).
8.  I have to admit that we didn't really use the video feature of the monitor in first few months.  With an infant that didn't move too much a sound monitor would have been plenty but as she got older and more mobile we used it more and more.  And now that she is a toddler, I almost rely on it.  I can't compare our monitor with any others but I can say that I have no complaint with ours.
9.  I really struggled when it came to finding a highchair.  To be honest, at first I really only cared how it would look in my house.  All the ones that I loved were $200+ and I am sure that those are wonderful highchairs.  But for $80 I LOVE ours.  The thing I love most about it is that the little leg/crouch barrier is on the chair and not the tray.  I don't know what to call that thing but it annoys me that most are now on the tray making it hard to set the tray down on a flat surface and making me paranoid about those 2 seconds in between setting the tray down and getting the kid out.  I also love how easy it is to clean, that it reclines, folds and the height adjusts.  It really is a great deal for the price.  Definitely not top of the line but I think it will last through multiple kids.

There are a few items I quickly learned that did NOT work for us and the way we live.  The Bumbo was one of the items that I was excited to use but realized I did not need at all.  By the time Ella was old enough to sit in it (3-4 mos.) her legs were already almost too big for the openings.  Now granted Ella was a perfectly plump baby with the most deliciously thick thighs but I was still hoping to get a little more use out of it.  Either way, the only time I used it was when I started to feed Ella solids.  It was easier to feed her in the Bumbo since her high chair was still a little big for her.  I'm still debating but if I am going to replace the Bumbo I am getting the Mamas and Papas chair.  Friends have this and Ella could sit in it when she was a year but it also worked well for their infant.  It is the same size and serves all the same purposes.  Another item I decided to upgrade was our swing.  I considered registering for the MamaRoo with my first pregnancy but didn't think it was necessary so I just went with the smallest swing I could find by Ingenuity.  It worked great and Ella loved to be in it but with a small house, two kids, a dog and all the stuff I don't know where I will fit a swing.  That is why I decided to get the MamaRoo.  It is small, compact, easy to install, light and easy to move from room to room.  I just hope the little guy loves it as much as I and Ella's baby dolls do.  One item I definitely do not care for was the  Crane Drop humidifier.  It collected mildew and residue so easily and quickly, was difficult to clean and not that effective.  I got it because it was "cute" and I wanted only "cute" things in the nursery but quickly realized that the humidifier we already had (Vicks Warm Mist) was the best option for the nursery.  Another item I was excited to put to use was my Moby Wrap and while I didn't hate the wrap effect and wearing Ella I did hate how THICK it was.  It was such a heavy fabric and you wrap it around yourself so many times that it was heavy, hot and uncomfortable.  With a summer baby I decided to try the Solly Baby Wrap since I don't want to give up on the wrap so easily.  The fabric is SO much lighter and softer.  I think I am really going to like it.  I also didn't care for the Balboa Sling.  Mostly because Ella hated to be in it but it too was big and heavy and more of a burden than a help.  This time around I am using the Ergo and the Solly Baby Wrap exclusively!  

Well that is a lot more information than I originally intended so for those with the patience and need to read it all I hope you found it helpful.

March 15, 2014

Easter Basket Ideas

I love gift baskets!  I love the creativity it takes to put one together.  Picking a theme, a fun container and then all the unique, pretty little things to fill it.  I think that is why I love Easter baskets so much.  I love filling a basket with a lot of little gifts and sweets for my loved ones to explore.

I've already started my shopping for this year too.  Here are some of the items that may or may not end up in our Easter baskets.

Last year, Ella's basket was very sparse and practical.  She was about 7 months old and I didn't really know what to put in it.  Of course, who really cares when you have a giant, glitter bow on it.

My Easter basket was the best though….

This year Ella will have fun digging through her basket.  It is the perfect combo of practical and fun but even the practical things I think she will love.  She loves playing dress-up and she loves coloring and crafts so when I saw the create your own bunny mask kit from PaperSource, I knew it was perfect for her.  She will also be getting new crayon pens and a homemade coloring book for rainy spring days.  (I'll be sharing more soon about the super easy and cheap way I create custom coloring books and pages for her.)  Ella has also discovered that she can drink like a big girl and she thinks my water bottles are for her.  So I thought this spring/summer would be the perfect time to get her one of her own.  And since she really isn't eating candy yet I thought some cute bunny graham crackers and fruit snacks would be the perfect snack to hide in some traditional eggs.  Throw in some new pajamas, book and stuffed animal and she is all set for her move to the big girl bed.

Of course you can't go wrong with adding some bubbles, chalk or cute hair accessories/jewelry.

And since I had so much fun shopping for ideas for all the moms out there, I decided to make myself an easter basket this year.  It won't be as good as the adorable baby in last year's but it is the perfect excuse for those little extra indulgences.
Can't wait for summer drinks in my new mason jar tumbler!

Happy Easter basket stuffing!

March 9, 2014

Basement Remodel: Furniture

We've been hard at work making the basement livable these past few weeks and while there is still plenty to do before I'll call it finished, we have definitely been enjoying it.  I wasn't even able to get a photo without Ella playing with her toys - she always wants to be down there.  I'm so thankful we did this before our little guy arrives in May.  Hopefully we can finish this list before then too.

    To Do List:

    -  install post and stair railing
    -  new stairwell light fixture
    -  finish electrical (all outlets and the last can light)
    -  finish the trim around the window
    -  cut, paint and install shelves in nook
    -  paint and assemble entertainment center
    -  install kitchen cabinets, shelves and countertop on back wall for office/craft station
    -  move in furniture
    -  paint post and stair railing
    -  inject lots of color with artwork, pillows and accessories
    -  paint office stool

Even with a few things left on the list, this basement has come a long way and has added a lot of livable space for us.  It has allowed us to clean-up and de-clutter so many other rooms in our house, as well as forced us to organize our storage.  It feels so good to sort through all the stuff that accumulates and throw away the junk, give away the unnecessary and pack away the rest in organized boxes. 

I'm also thankful that we are done paying for this basement.  From the beginning we wanted to/needed to do this project on a budget and I'm proud that we stuck to our guns and kept the cost down.  It meant making tough decisions like not drywalling the ceiling, waiting to complete the bathroom and taking free furniture instead of buying new.  We had originally planned to move our living room couch down to the basement and purchase new furniture for that room but then my parents offered up an old leather couch and chair and we couldn't say no.  Well, admittedly I kind of wanted to because I don't love leather and I was looking forward to new living room furniture but now that it is in the basement I am so glad we took it.  It doesn't make the space look as dark and masculine as I thought it would and once I add some colorful pillows, blankets and artwork I think it will really help brighten everything up and give the space a pop.  

Another budget decision we made was to wait on doing built-ins for the TV.  Brandon's brother was giving up his entertainment center and let us take a small part of it to use as console table below the TV.  It still needs to be painted and it doesn't fit the space as well as I would like but it is sturdy and safe for children and will hold all the necessary components.  And maybe someday we'll tackle a full wall of built-ins.  That nook is just calling for it.

The last major budget decision we made was to not install a full wall of cabinets and countertop along the back wall.  Doing a full wall of cabinets and countertop actually doubled this part of the budget.  So instead I brought down the armoire from Ella's bedroom for added craft storage and made a smaller desk for working.  I'm so glad I didn't push the budget, mostly because it has given us so much more space in the shared nursery for a big girl bed!  

Oh and I also bought a cheap $10 stool from Target that I will paint a fun, bright color to help add a  pop to this part of the space and it beats the $70 I almost spent on another option.

Hopefully another update with the "details" won't be too far behind.  I've ordered some fabric and look forward to a few sewing projects.  Stay tuned!

February 24, 2014

Nursery Prints

We are not done with the basement yet but I am already mentally moving on to the nursery.  We have decided to have Ella and her baby brother share a room so now I am trying to turn Ella's feminine nursery into a fun, gender neutral space where they will both feel comfortable.

I shared in this post my "scheme" for the nursery and with that in mind I put together a few new prints to quickly and easily update it.  They are still mostly feminine but they are starting to incorporate the navy color scheme I want to introduce.  I haven't decided which ones I'll actually use but there are plenty to choose from.

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