Tales From the Crib: Month 22

22 months

Gooooing to the chapel and I’m goooona get mar-ar-ar-ied…

That’s right! It was super wedding month!  This past weekend, I got married. I walked down the aisle and everything.

matty wedding

amywedding

Not sure why Uncle Moose is in the picture with Aunt Amy, but I think we can all agree that everyone came to see me.  Though, I’m still waiting on all those shiny presents to be delivered to my house. Weird.

Friday was the Rehearsal, or as I like to call it, Run-Around-the-Church-Eating-Snacks time.

matty rehearsal

Then we went to fancy restaurant, and I got a fancy pizza and ate fancy bread, and dressed all fancy, too.  We didn’t get done until like 9:00. We stayed in a hotel, where I got my very own Big Bed! By the time we checked in, I was very tired, jumped in the bed, pulled up the blanket, and went right to sleep all by myself.  Yes, yes, I know–I’m amazing.

The next day was WEDDING DAY!  Finally, the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life all week (I asked Mommy every morning if was time to go to Grandma’s and go to church with Amy).  Mommy and Daddy and me were all in the wedding, so it was a bit chaotic getting everyone ready and to the church. But all went swimmingly.  Mommy and Daddy got to ride in the Limo (pretty much the coolest car I’ve ever seen), and I got to ride in Grandpa’s car (the second coolest car I’ve ever seen).  After pictures in the park (seriously, can weddings get any better?!), it was time to walk down the aisle…

“I pee pee potty!”  Mwahaha.  Leave it to me to have perfect timing.  Mommy told me to just go in my diaper (I thought she threw all of those away, but apparently I was mistaken), and I’m pretty sure she caused years of irreparable damage. Then I got to sit with Aunt Nancy.  She’s warm and snuggly and fun and has cookies shaped like little animals hidden in her purse–I mean, where has this woman been my whole life?!  Together, we made it through the entire wedding (a 7:00 pm Catholic wedding), and it was on to the reception!

I danced the night away. No seriously.  We stayed until midnight.  If anyone has pictures, please send them.  I was so cake-drunk I don’t remember what went down.  So ladies, if I offended you in any way or tried to hit you up for a quick drink of milk, I apologize.

Of course, I was up bright and early at 6:30 the next morning ready for the day.  Mommy and Daddy look like the cast of The Walking Dead. I know that wasn’t juice in your cup, Mom. You brought it on yourself.

Of course, not everything revolved around the wedding this month.  It also revolved around rain. And cupcakes (which are wedding related, so…). And words. Vocabulary explosion!

Favorite Words and Phrases

  • More cupcake? (Thank you bridal showers!)
  • NO! (Even when I mean “yes”)
  • Whatchoo gots?
  • Ooooh, what’s Mommy GOTS?!
  • Oh, no!
  • Hi, Mommy. Hi, Daddy or just your basic Hi…for no reason…
  • Come on, Dada! Racecars. Vroom!
  • Mommy, come on!
  • Let’s go, Mommy.
  • Kitty eat! Kitty eeeeeeeat!
  • No, drive car! (I like to yell this when we pull in the driveway to come home.)
  • Wake up, Mommy. Eat bredfast.
  • Uh, huh, I do.
  • Oh, no. Poop poop!
  • Pay Kinel? (Play Kindle.  I’m a touch-screen genius). And the follow up, more games!
  • Oh, no! Neighmor’s car?! (Our neighbor leaves a lot and I like to keep track of his whereabouts out the window.)
  • Counting to 10 in English and Spanish.  Yep, finally got it down. Well, sometimes “yellow” still makes it in there…

As you can see, I’m very excited and a bit dramatic.  I get the best of both parents–I’ll let you decide which is which. There’s actually not much I don’t say.  I’ve mastered plurals (two apples?), and possessives (Mommy’s car!).

Monthly Photo Round- Up

I caught my first fish…then screamed “no!!!! fish in drink” All water is called drink. Did you not know this?

There was lots of “pay dibble dibble dopp” (play in the rain). Have you not read Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

The good news is that I’m no longer afraid of my rain boots.

Mommy has also decided it’s time for me and Daddy to spend more quality time together.  So we lift weights.  Well, Daddy lifts weights, I lift canned goods.

Please ignore my beer milk gut. I’m working on it.

Scrap Wood Table

sun room table, diy coffee table

The sun room is coming along nicely, if I do say so myself!  The addition of our DIY coffee table really helped to finish things off.  When we decided to add a coffee table, we hit Pinterest (follow me for more sun room eye-candy!) to find some inspiration:

sun room table inspiration

1. Vintage Chic 2. No Link-through 3. No Link=through 4. Jenna Sue Design 5. No Link-through

We already had a crate-like thing going on, round wasn’t functional, and since Eric was building it, he got the final choice (5).  Though I have to admit, I’m totally digging 4.  The inspiration picture  used 2×4’s for the top, but we wanted something a bit wider, so we changed the plan.

We measured and made a plan for what we wanted to fit our exact space–my favorite thing to do when measuring for furniture or art is to put painters tape down in the dimensions you’re thinking to really help visualize.  We had to take into account what size lumber could fit into the car, and what would be most cost effective, for example, buying longer boards that can be cut down instead of multiple boards of the exact dimensions–a little more time, but usually cheaper.  We hit Menards (always a treat with a toddler in tow!) and went straight to the “value wood” pile.  Basically, this is a pile of scrap wood that may be a bit warped, have large knots, or leftover pieces from cuts made in the store–if you can work with this, you’re getting a little deal.

Were were able to find everything we needed with the exception of the 4×4:

  • (5) 4ft. 2×6’s
  • (2) 6ft. 2×4’s
  • (1) 6ft. 4×4

The total cost was around $35.

The dimensions of the table are 5 ft l x 2 ft. w, and 18″ h.

I asked the hubby to give some tips on how he put it together…

“A billion pocket holes, a measuring tape, and a trusty #2 pencil.”  Sorry folks, you’re on your own from here! 🙂 I will say he’s becoming quite addicted to the Kreg Jig, though.

I do know he assembled the top and bottom separately, as I stained them separately.  We used the same Rustoleum Kona stain we had on hand, using an apply-then-wipe strategy, then followed with 2 coats of polyurethane.  After that, we decided to jazz it up by adding some hardware on the ends.

sun room table, sunroom, diy coffee table

I bought some basic 1″ L brackets (or corner braces) at Lowe’s for about $2 each. Each bracket had a price sticker on it, so I used my lazy Go0-Gone method to get it off: spray a few squirts on a plate, put the object with goo on the plate to soak, come back later to easily wipe it off. (Don’t forget to wash it with soap and water.)

goo gone

Then I picked up this spray paint:

I must say, I’ve been doing a lot of spray painting lately, and I swear by Rustoleum.  Valspar seems to have a lot more colors, but it doesn’t go on as easily or hold up as well as Rustoleum. To paint the screws, I grabbed a leftover styrofoam take-out container and punched the screws through. Voila!

paint screws, spray paint screws

To keep the finish on the screws, Eric pre-drilled the holes into the table, then hand-screwed them in.

Then it was on to accessorizing! Most things we already had on hand. We love these Pottery Barn flameless candles since burning any type of candle can release carcinogens into the air.

pottery barn flameless candles

This serving tray was complements of a wedding gift 5 years ago, and I just Modge Podged it with some scrapbook paper.

I picked these succulents up at Lowe’s for just a couple dollars, and plopped into these metal buckets from the Target Dollar Spot that I bought to store Matty’s craft supplies.

sun room decor

P.S. I feel like a legitimate blogger now–I have a photo styled with Pellegrino bottles.  Seriously–find me a home decor blog that doesn’t use Pellegrino bottles in staging! 🙂

sun room, table, diy

sun room, table

Upcycled: Sun Room Cabinet

sun room cabinet

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Especially when said free stuff turns out to be a perfect fit, looks great, and functions well.  Case in point? The above cabinet.  That sucker started off like this: (okay, I can’t find the exact picture, but it was part of our kitchen cabinets that used to look like this)

When we moved in, one of the kitchen cabinets was in the garage.  Not sure why.  We tried to put it back where it went–didn’t fit.

WHAT THE WHAT?! We ended up buying a better fitting cabinet for the kitchen, and used the ill fitting cabinet in the garage for tool storage.

tool cabinet

When we recently redid the garage room for a man cave, this poor little working hard cabinet was left without a home, again. Eyeing the piece, I thought it looked about right for the sun room…it was about 11″ too short, didn’t have a top, and was a horrible orange-brown, but I figured that was nothing a little scrap wood and paint we already had on hand couldn’t fix.

After cleaning, using Liquid Deglosser, and painting, I enlisted Hubby’s help in building some open shelves to make up that 11″ gap. At some point I had to step in because things were getting over engineered and a bit crooked, but he gets credit for trying. 🙂 We had enough quarter round left to nail around the bottom to give it a finished look. For the top, we used…furring strips!  We have so many of these things.  I don’t even know why.

While Hubby built the cabinet shelves, I sanded and stained. We used Kona by Rust-Oleum, which we already had.
First we nailed down a scrap piece of beadboard as a base, then used wood glue to glue the stained furring strips down.  We used one on each edge to give it a nice finished look, and finished with two coats of polyurethane.

sun room cabinet

We actually got the whole thing done in an afternoon, so not too shabby for an almost free project.  The only thing we had to buy was the hardware, which I found these at Lowe’s for around $2 each.

It’s perfect as a drink and snack station, and the storage is amazing.  The bottom drawer holds most of Matty’s outdoor toys, and the other drawers hold random outdoor essentials like candles, bug repellent, and grill accessories.  The DIY basket crates hold a few more toys and gardening tools.

sun room cabinet

sun room cabinet

sun room cabinet

Munchkin Meals: Combos

Munchkin Meals is a link-up hosted by Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life.  Ever in need of a fun, healthy meal or snack for your kiddo? Click on over to find loads of ideas all put together by other Mamas.

The theme for this month’s link up is “odd combinations”.  I feel that most meals are a hodge-podge. Ha!  He’s still a bit picky, so each meal usually consists of something I know he likes, something I’m working on getting him to like, and maybe something new.

Surprisingly, he did concoct this very appealing meal the other day. 🙂

strange combo

ham, sunflower seeds, granola, and carrots

His favorite not-so-strange but maybe-not-so-popular combination is graham crackers dipped in applesauce.  That’s right–I finally got him to try applesauce, and surprise surprise not so surprised, he liked it.

Other Foods He’s Loving at 21 Months Old

  • deli style ham
  • cheese on crackers
  • cheese quesadillas, or plain tortilla
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • celery
  • apples (especially green ones) sprinkled with cinnamon
  • watermelon
  • strawberries (especially the ones from Grandma’s garden!)
  • oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins
  • eggs
  • waffles
  • bacon (love doesn’t begin to describe this relationship…)
  • mac & cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • this allergen free “ice cream”
  • and of course pizza and Chipotle

In other meal related news, he’s eating much better!  He still doesn’t eat a huge quantity of food, but it’s not just mouse nibbles anymore either.  The variety of food is increasing everyday, and he’s usually pretty game to try something once.  He’s even started drinking small cups of almond milk. Maybe it’s because mealtime has become a lot more fun? 🙂

A Tisket A Tasket…

DIY Rustic Crate Baskets

…a rustic crate-like basket. Oh yeah, I busted that rhyme.

I was in search of a couple of baskets for a new cabinet we built for our recent sunroom makeover.  Problem is, the cabinet is custom built, so I was having a difficult time finding basket that fit the dimensions.  I knew I’d have to DIY something.  Not a problem, I thought–we’ve got tons of scrap wood and materials taking up floor space in the garage.  In fact, we had a bundle of furring strips that I knew would be perfect.  But problem.  I’m not skilled enough to actually build the frame (or at least a structurally-sound frame). As I was perusing Wal-Mart later that week, I saw these:

These little baskets, while neither rustic (or that appealing) or quite the right size, where in fact perfect…nothing a little hot glue couldn’t fix! So at $1.89 each, I was sold.

The baskets had connectors on all sides, so that the baskets could lock together.  I squirted some glue in the holes, essentially gluing two baskets together.  The connectors stuck out just a tad further than the rest of the basket, which means my furring strips wouldn’t fit snugly in some parts.  So first, I created a base layer of furring strips on each side.

DIY Rustic Basket

DIY Rustic Basket

Then, I glued the outer layer of furring strips to that base.

DIY Rustic Basket

The blue baskets were still visible at this point, so I used furring strips to cover the top ledge.  Then it was time for stain–I love Kona by Rust-Oleum.  It’s the perfect espresso color–a rich brown with no red undertones.

I knew I wanted to add some sort of “pop” on the front, and after scouring Pinterest for hours, decided a black stencil of some sort would be best.  However, I didn’t have a stencil or black paint.  I did have stamps and craft ink, though!

I wasn’t entirely sure if this would work, but decided why not?  It didn’t go on completely smooth, which was actually great because it looks worn without have to sand or mar it in any way.

DIY Rustic Baskets

There’s no significance to the numbers, though Hubby doesn’t believe me.  He thinks it’s the phone number for my hot Latin lover or the combination to some top-secret safe with dead bodies or loads of money.  He clearly thinks highly of me.

They turned out perfect, and will work great in our sun room for outdoor candles, bug repellent, and other outdoor odds and ends.

Surprise! Sun Room Redo

You missed a spot, Dad!

We have a sunroom.  I posted about it last year here.  It wasn’t much of a room, but it was a nice place to let Matthew play during rainy days or to sit for a few minutes while he played outside.  One day a few weeks back, I got inspired by this post, and thought hmmmm…I would love to paint the ceiling in here.  This was a great plan because we have tons of half-empty paint cans in the garage just begging to be used.  So a free, easy project, right?  No. Of course, of course, this snowballed into an entire room make-over. ::facepalm::

First, we did indeed paint the ceiling.  Sadly, it did not turn out as dark as I wanted, so it’s just a hint of color.  But that’s ok. We have to repaint it anyway…

sun room blue ceiling

Thankfully we did this project during Rain-a-geddon, and noticed the ceiling was leaking. Bye, bye paint job. 🙁  Thankfully, it was just clogged gutters, which Eric fixed in the pouring rain, and nothing a little caulk couldn’t fix.

Then, we noticed how dingy the walls were, so we decided to give them a fresh coat of paint.  I mean, we already had paint, so why not?  It was exhausting.  The whole thing had to be hand-painted…and now we have tons of paint to scrape off of the windows.

paint on window

Then, Eric somehow talked me into painting the brick.  I mean, we already had the paint, so WHY NOT?! I didn’t really want to paint what is technically the exterior of the house, but I admit, it looks UH-Mazing now.  Also, a very, very, very exhausting job.  We needed two coats of primer and two coats of paint.  Even using a large nap roller, we had to hand paint most of it, because it’s not a smooth brick.  Lots of bumps and crevices within each brick.

By this point, we’d put so much time and effort into the room, we figured we’d might as well do something about the floor.  It was your standard ole concrete floor, and we thought a nice coat of concrete paint would suffice.  Unfortunately, we forgot how bad the two cracks running through the room were.  Upon closer inspection, we realized we couldn’t patch it well enough to have a paint job look good.  Eric had his heart set on doing something with the floor, so I went back to the drawing board, where I found this:

vinyl plank

We read lots of reviews about vinyl flooring in sun rooms and even on patios, and we actually used vinyl tile in the bathroom and laundry room with good results.  It definitely was more than I wanted to spend on my “free” project, but it didn’t necessarily break the bank either.  We lurve it.  Like love, love, love it. It took the room from meh to whoah.

vinyl plank sun room

Before laying any flooring, you have to prime it with special vinyl  floor primer.  It rolls on like paint and takes just a couple of hours to dry.  It dries tacky so that the planks have something more to adhere to.  This is the drying primer, plus the huge crack.

sun room vinyl tile plank

Of course, we then needed quarter round to cover the edges of the vinyl plank and then we had to caulk all of that.

sun room floor

And while it wasn’t expensive, it was a cost.  You see where I’m going?  My “free” project is slowly bleeding us dry. 🙂  Next up, a DIY storage cabinet/bar, DIY coffee table, new furniture, and accessories! Stay tuned!

Summer Beauty Essentials

summer beauty healthy

1. Acquarella Nail Polish. I wrote a review 3 years ago here.  Acquarella is the only brand I’ve used since.  I’ve tried Plasma, Livid and most recently Sleek, and I love them all.  A little pricey, but it lasts awhile–my first bottle lasted two years!

2. Babyganics Hand & Face Wipes. I keep a pack of these in my purse for wiping down after the park.  They’re cooling and they clean with one wipe, without being scented or leaving a greasy residue.

3. Babyganics Insect Repellent.  This is the only bug spray we’ve used for two years.  I find I have to reapply more frequently than other chemical-laden sprays, but I guess that’s to be expected. It leaves an oily residue, but the smell isn’t bad at all.  I think the spray comes out heavy and fast, though, so watch out!

4. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion.  I use this after showers, but I also keep a small tube in my purse.  If I were ever exiled to a deserted island and could take one item, it would come down to lotion or toilet paper, and lotion just might win.  I apply multiple times during the day, so I like that this is a healthier choice, doesn’t have a fragrance, and doesn’t leave a residue.  Matty loves putting lotion on, too, and I don’t worry much when he pulls this out of my purse.

5. Babyganics Sunscreen. Do you get that we love Babyganics?  I bought this sunscreen for Matthew for our vacation last year in the Caribbean.  Eric and I ended up using it too, and no one got burnt.  We’ve continued to use it almost daily this summer, and I still love it.  It does go on really white, but Matty doesn’t mind. Heck, neither do I…I’m too busy chasing a toddler around the park to care if I have white streaks on my face. 🙂

6. California Baby Calendula Cream. I bought a big tub of this when Matthew was born in lieu of traditional diaper cream.  We just ran out.  I use it for everything from bites, scrapes, rashes, and even moisturizer in a pinch.  Matty loves to get kisses from Mommy and then his “creeeeeam” when he gets an ouchy.

7. Honest Company Conditioning Mist.  I love Moroccan Oil for my hair, but when I ran out recently, I decided to try Honest Company.  I don’t love this as much, but I still love it.  It keeps my hair soft and less frizzy, which is great because I rarely have time to blow-dry.

Lord knows I carry enough in my purse, so it’s nice when I can find a product that does double (Mommy and Matty) or even triple (Daddy, Mommy, and Matty) duty.  The best part?! All of these products are rated as a 1 or 2 (low risk) on Skin Deep, the EWG’s website ranking beauty and household products.  Check it out!

Acquarella Sleek

**I had a hard time finding a picture of the exact color of “Sleek”, so hopefully this helps!

Questions:

1. What healthy beauty products are you loving?
2. Did you make the “jump” to healthy products all at once, or as you run out?
3. Does anyone else feel like maybe if they trash all their sunscreen, magical voodoo will get rid of all this rain and bring the sun back? Seriously, what is up with this weather?!

Baseball

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!  We’re having a day filled with grilling, festivals, and other pre-approved shenanigans.

And baseball. What could be more American than baseball?

Daddy taught me the great American past-time of baseball.

Here’s how you play:

1. Jab baseball with the tip of the bat

2. Get corrected by Fun Police

3. Swing (with all your might)

4. Swing softer. Hit a foul.

5. Spin with glee. Or boredom. Same thing.

6. Take a break to collect pinecones and dandelions.

7. Disassemble tee and use the top as a faux shop-vac.  Sweep yard.  Watch Daddy hang head in defeat.

Look at me, all ready for Little League.  I’ll fit in great, no?

Happy Freedom Day, ‘Murica!

Halfway There

reading challenge

I almost included Bon Jovi lyrics.  Almost. 10 points if you name the song,

Anywho, June is over. How did that even happen?  2013 is halfway over, which seems cray-cray but looking back, we’ve actually gotten a TON done.  Including reading. I’ve read 18 books thus far, with a goal of 34 by the end of the year. That’s 2% ahead of schedule–I love being ahead of schedule…that rarely happens anymore. 🙂

reading challenge snapshot

So, if you’re still looking for a few good beach reads (take me with you, please!), or just looking for a few good laughs, tears, or angel-demon love, here’s what I’ve been reading.

Parenting Books

Review

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

Like the title suggests, the book explores how character building and character education lead to more successful outcomes than academic goals.  For far too long, children have been looked at as input x and y will come out; that is, drill vocabulary and sight words, and your child will score high on his SAT’s.  Obviously, that’s not the case, and there’s many factors influencing outcomes for kids. I especially liked that there was an emphasis on bonding with your kids and treating them with respect without being preachy.  It was  reminiscent of Jonathon Kozol’s Savage Inequalities, and a little Freakonomics-ish.

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Honest Toddler Review

Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting

If you haven’t read Honest Toddler, go right now. No seriously. Go, come back later.  I think we could be good friends in real-life.  I looked forward to this book all year, and it didn’t disappoint.  Though, I am a bit disappointed that I talked about writing a book like this a couple years ago.  Always one step behind…

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crappy pictures

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures

Another blog favorite.  Check it out.  I read this book after reading I Just Want to Pee Alone, and I loved this positive tone of Crappy Pictures over Pee Alone: yes, parenting is hard, but it’s hilarious and totally worth it.

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I Just Want to Pee Alone: A Collection of Humorous Essays by Kick Ass Mom Bloggers

Again, I just thought this book came off negative.  More of like, kids are horrible, stay away.  Although the first essay was hilarious, like can’t catch my breath pee my pants hilarious, the rest of the book left something to be desired.  I really felt like a lot of authors wished they hadn’t had kids or resent their kids, and that’s never a good place to be.

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Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic

If someone asked me to describe my child, I’d just hand them the title page of this book. Nailed it! I read this back in February, which I shall now deem “the dark days”, and I think I almost cried in relief while reading: you get it, you really get it.  There’s a line in the book that says something like, “Do people often describe your child as Dennis the Menace?” Yes! Yes, just today that happened actually.  Matthew often gets compliments about his behavior, development and people question why I’m so tired and stressed, but I swear to God I feel drained at the end of the day, like I’m parenting 10 times harder than I should need to be. Does that make sense? No? This book isn’t for you. Yes, you feel me? This book will help!

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Montessori Madness: A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education

Yes, we’re those parents. You know, the one’s who stressed out about schools before Matthew was born.  The good news is that we’re open-minded.  The bad news is that we’re no closer to a solution.  But we like the idea of Montessori.  The idea.  Not so much the cost, the sense of elitism, or the way it is implemented in most “Montessori” programs.  Did you get all that?  It doesn’t really have anything to do with the book, but if you’re in the same boat as us, this book provided an interesting perspective.

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Raising Boys: Why Boys are Different And How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men

The title pretty much sums up the plot of this book. Ha! Lots of talk about how boys are different than girls (duh!), research on what they need to make them happy and successful.  I highlighted a bunch in this book, and was really inspired by the fact by when Matthew hits 7-12, he won’t really need me much anymore and will latch on to Eric. Huzzah! 🙂

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NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children

I talked about this book here.

Random Non-Fiction Books

Bossypants

I’ve read numerous reviews on how hilarious this is.  I needed a few good laughs.  I think I was short-changed a bit.  I didn’t really find it that funny.  It read more of a defense against her decision to do Sarah Palin on SNL.  Maybe I’m not liberal enough or funny enough to “get” it.

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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think We Do

Most of the book was interesting.  I think the problem was that too many of the studies outlined in the book have already been talked about in mainstream media, such as the study where the soup bowls were continuously filled up from under-the-table tubes, and *gasp* people kept eating.  This study always made me chuckle because pretty sure if my bowl kept refilling, I’d keep eating, too. Mostly because I’d think I’d gone crazy or something.  But there were a few helpful tips spread throughout.

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The Milk Mem0s: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business With Babies-and How You Can Too

Again, disappointed with this book. I thought it was going to be chock full of inspiring moments and tips for new moms, but alas, there was such literary greatness as, “I brought in a box of tissues, help yourself”. Aka, not very helpful, not very inspirational, and very generic in what could have a been a very personal and encouraging book.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

This book got a bit long and winded at points, but I found it really interesting.  Probably because I’m an introvert.  And like the author, I’ve trained myself to be able to give kick-ass presentations, speak in front of large crowds, heck, I’ve even sung and acted, but put me in a room and tell me to talk to people, and I freak.

Fiction Books

Blackberry Winter

Why would one read a book they know is sad? Because they’re gluttons for punishment.  If you haven’t heard about this book yet, you’re probably not reading your blogs close enough or scouring your Pinterest boards with a discerning eye.  Back in March, Eric and I went out for the evening and stayed in a hotel to celebrate my birthday.  What did I do for fun?  Shave my legs and read this book.  Which resulted in crying all night.  This would not have happened pre-baby. Now? Now I cry at commercials and random facebook posts.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book, but you’ll snuggle your littles ones a little closer at night.

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone & Days of Blood and Starlight

Ahhh! These books are so good.  This is not normally something I’d read, but after reading this review, I decided to give it a shot.  I think I read both books in two days. I just found out the 3rd book in the series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, has been pushed back to April 2014. Scroll down to the comments here to see how I feel about that. Definitely some of the best books I’ve read in awhile.

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Calling Me Home

I just finished this and I would say it’s good. Just good. Which isn’t a bad thing. It started off a little slow for me, but picked up by the middle.  It was also a predictable, but again, that’s not a bad thing.  I really enjoyed just being able to sprawl out in bed a night and read a few chapters at a time without feeling riveted to stay up until 2am reading.

Home & Life Books

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love

Like their blog, lots of good ideas here.  And it looks cute and trendy sitting on the coffee table. 🙂

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Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: The Quick Start Guide

Lots and lots of little ideas to get and stay organized.  Since this is an e-book, there’s lots of links to blogs, inspiration pictures, and products.  At only $4.99, it’s a quick read and I found a few new blogs to follow out of it.  Also written by the blogger behind Modern Parents Messy Kids.

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I haven’t decided what to read next…any suggestions?  Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

The Outdoor House

Not to be confused with the outhouse. Obviously.  Oh, that’s right baby. It’s done.  Just in time for Summer. It only took 3 months, but the outdoor play space is done, well, at least for now 🙂 Construction was halted due to unusual amounts of rain and an infestation, but we’ve got that under control now.

poison ivy

That pine tree really needs to come down and some more grass really needs to come in, but in the meantime, I decided to limb it up to free up some more yard space.  The great thing is that now Matty has a space that is pretty shady, so we can stay outside all day, even in 90 degree weather.

I can’t find a picture of how much space the tree limbs took up, but you can see where the grass ends in the picture above.  That’s where the limbs came out to.SO MUCH MORE SPACE!  Limbing it up did cause some privacy issues, but we’re working on it…think The Great Fence In Part IV…

The House

wood playhouse kidkraft

We considered building a play house from scratch, but we honestly couldn’t figure out how to do the roof. So we considered following Ana White’s plans, but once we factored in lumber costs with overall time (and number of other projects we’re doing), it made sense to just buy one.  I’ve had my eye on a Kid Kraft playhouse for awhile, and when I found this one with free 2 day Prime shipping on Amazon, I was sold.  This house had a red roof, which wasn’t our thing, so before assembling, we used Rustoleum spray paint for plastic to make it a more neutral brown.

Eric built the porch for the house, and it was his own design. We used two leftover 4×4’s from when we disassembled the fence planter that was here when we moved in.  We also had the 1×2’s for the little fence railing leftover from our own fence project, so that worked out great. The rest of the lumber we bought–which was then hauled in a Buick Rendezvous.  For anyone considering it, 8ft. is the longest you can get, and that’s if you put it up to the dashboard through the center console. 🙂  I found stain and sealer in one at Menards that matched the color of the house almost perfectly.

playhouse work

The steps were built from bricks that were here when we moved in.  And the little pathway was made from leftover rocks, much, and flowers. Matty loves watering them each day.

playhouse

Last year, we built Matty these toddler busy boards, or activity boards, but he’s outgrown a few of the activities…

toddler activity boards

So we added them to the house.

playhouse activities

playhouse activities

playhouse activities

So I stained a few squares of leftover wood, attached some of his favorite little doodads, then used industrial strength velcro to attach them to the house walls. I didn’t want to drill into the house, and this should come off with a little bit of Goo Gone should we decide to add different activities.

I also found these chalkboards at a garage sale for $.25, so I added a bucket of chalk to round out the fun.

playhouse activities

Of course, his little chair is the star of the show.  He picked it out (and carried it himself). 🙂

The Rock Box

rock box

I love, love, love the idea of a rock box for numerous reasons.

1. A lot less messy than sand.
2. Most play sand is very harmful to your health.
3.  Cats won’t use it as a litter box. And we have enough of those around the neighborhood…
4. What kid doesn’t love rocks?!

We were actually able to use the ends of the 4×4’s from our fence posts (they were too tall, so we lopped them off) at the top.  Then we hauled some more lumber home and put this together really quickly.

rock box

I think it ended up being 5′ x 5′ which is a perfect size for him (and another kid could easily play).

Plastic lining went down first just ensure he didn’t start digging up a bunch of mud and dirt.  We did rinse the rocks before putting them in (a very arduous process, let me tell ya), and we ended up using about 12 bags.  The price was only about $3/bag, so it wasn’t too bad.

Natural Elements

logs in playspace

Have you jumped on the natural playspace bandwagon? Love it!  I knew I wanted to incorporate as many natural elements as possible, and I’ve been looking for logs for months.  We finally found some this past week, and was able to call this space complete. And yes, we hauled them in a Buick Rendezvous.  I don’t think we ever got up to speed on the highway. 🙂 Poor transmission.

I also put pots with our painted rocks, some pinecones, and sticks for open-ended play.

rocks rock painting loose parts

loose parts outdoor play space

Swingset

swingset for toddler

We bought this last year thinking it would last awhile.  Pretty sure he’s about outgrown the slide already.  I did add these rings and bars to add a new element of fun, but Eric’s itching to build him a rock climbing wall extravaganza of a playset, so we’ll see where we end up…I’d love something that blends in a little more naturally, but that is definitely a project for next year!  The swingset used to be on the other side, but Matty kept complaining that the slide was hot, so I moved it under the tree and it was a perfect fit.

Overall, we love it. And by “we”, I mean all. of. us. Including the neighbor’s kids who invite themselves over–usually when they see us eating popsicles. 🙂  Now that the yard is fenced in, I’m able to let Matty roam while I work around the yard or in the kitchen (it overlooks the yard) or even *gasp* sit in the sunroom and read a magazine.  Yes, it keeps him entertained that long.