Rockin’ It Out

rock painting

Last week I had Matty help me out with a little project I needed in order to complete his outdoor playspace.

Paint + Rocks + Outside = Very Happy Toddler

rock painting

rock painting

rock painting

Things Needed:

1. Rocks
2. Acrylic Craft Paint. These are the little bottles found for $.97 at Wal Mart.
3. Brushes (any kind)
4. Stickers
5. Sharpies
6. Modge Podge
7. Newspaper or cardboard (to paint on)


1. Clean and dry rocks.  Painting over dirt just won’t do.
2. Paint. Solid colors, half-and-half, swirls, anything goes.
3. Let dry thoroughly–at least an hour
4. Apply stickers, glitter, or write & draw with Sharpies
5. Apply two quality coats of Modge Podge.
6. Let dry (pretty quick drying time) and enjoy!

This is a great activity for colors and even color mixing.  I only gave Matthew primary colors, then he asked for green.  So he watched as I mixed blue and yellow, and was thoroughly impressed it turned green (and I was thoroughly impressed I only had to think for a second to remember what colors to mix!).

These make great outdoor “toys”.  In addition to Matty’s colorful masterpieces, I added a few “learning resources” as well.

rock painting

There’s a lot of great uses–sorting games, stacking, making up stories–the possibilities are endless.  I started off by using basic things he already knows, and we’ll add to it throughout the Summer (especially since he loved the painting so much!).  He’s really into Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so I’m thinking we’ll add some character rocks soon from his favorite books.  Independently, he really likes just naming the items on the rocks (he knows everything except the numbers!) and putting them into buckets.  Together, we sort colors and letters, or make up a story about a cat chasing a butterfly.  Either way, it’s a great vocabulary builder!

Tales From the Crib: Month 21

21 months

Uno, dos, tres, cah-tro, seis, siete, oh-no, nueve, dies!

That’s right  folks, I can count in Spanish. My Aunt Amy taught me that, or at least that’s what I tell Mommy.  Can you please verify my statements, Aunt Amy?

Oh, and you want to hear my English counting?

Two, two, tree, sex, eighteen, five, nine, ten, twelve, twenty! Mommy taught me that.  Perhaps we should have a conversation about who’s the better teacher?

I’m quite the playground sensation.

I also know some letters:

A (for Amy)
B (for ball)
C (cat)
D (Daddy!)
G (Grandpa)
M (Mommy)
P (for poop)
S (for snake)

You know, all the important letters.  Last night, Daddy even tried to sneak one past me and spell “ice cream”, and I yelled “CREAM”!  Not that I really knew all the letters, I just know that when Daddy starts spelling stuff, it usually involves an ice cream stop.

Speaking of Daddy, Mommy made the mistake of sending him out for more bubbles.  Daddy bought this instead.

Of course, Daddy doesn’t understand the delicate mindset of a toddler.  Oh sure, the “bub shene” is fun, but it will not curtail my endless requests for “bwow bub”.  A machine cannot replace human interaction, Dad.

Grandpa understands this.  Grandpa gets me.

So sorry to bore you with our little park adventure, Dad.

But, um, someone needs to tell Grandpa “we don’t throw rocks.”  He’s trying to get me in trouble.

Ummm…P.S. I suffered through another haircut.  It was very traumatic this time.  Especially since I flailed and cried so much it didn’t get done.  Mommy calls it the crooked-Frankenstein look.  I’m in desperate need of a stylist if anyone has a recommendation.  All I can say? Don’t mention haircut, hair, cut, or scissors in my presence.  It will result in teardrops.

Beach Day

With weather sneaking into the 80’s last week, we needed ways to cool off. So we decided to hit the beach!

Oh, I wish we were close to a real beach, but alas, we had to settle for a local park.  Just a few minutes from home, we have Ottawa Metro Park with a sandy beach, lake, toddler water table, and water slides.  So what did Matty like best?

The blanket. He liked the blanket. Aka, not touching the sand or going anywhere near the water.  Thankfully I brought snacks. Wait, sitting at the big picnic tables may have been his favorite part.

It took him a good 30 minutes to “warm-up” to the idea of being there (even though he was yelling “beeeeeach!” the entire car ride there).  Once he did though, he enjoyed the sand, filling up the buckets and having me dump them out so he could stomp on them while yelling “squeesh” (all from the comforts of the blanket!).  Of course, he was totally freaked that the sand wouldn’t come off of his feet and he kept asking me to “keen” them and to “taka bash” (clean them and take a bath).

He did eventually get within a few feet of the water. 🙂

We managed to stay there for almost 2 hours, which is a long span for him.  He also keeps asking to go back, so we’ll see how that goes!

If you’re local and looking for something to do, here’s the details:

Ottawa Metro Park

Open everyday, Noon-7:00 pm

Kids under 2 are free, and adults are $5

We went after nap, around 2:30-4:30, and it wasn’t crowded at all–maybe 25 people?  There were moms with preschool age kids, and teenagers playing volleyball and playing on the water slide, so lots of room to spread out and let Matty run around.

And yes, that IS the same beach outfit he wore 15 months ago at 6 months old…I don’t think his opinion on sand has changed much though!


Man Cave: Ultimate Father’s Day Gift

That’s right.  Eric got a man cave for Father’s Day this year.  When we were deciding whether or not to buy a house 18 months ago, Eric’s one stipulation was that he was allowed to buy a Playseat with steering wheel for video games and that he have a place to put it.  Well, we bought the playseat.  Heck, we even bought a 46″ TV to go with it.  But unfortunately, we never found the right place to put the seat. After it being shoved behind Matthew’s playhouse for the past 6 months, I finally decided to do something about it.

We have this little room off of the garage.  Eric always called it his “man room”, but instead of using it, he shoved a bunch of half-empty paint cans, old tools, and leftover renovation materials in it.  So I decided it needed to be a “real” man room.  We spent 2 days cleaning it out. My only stipulation for this project was that I spend no money.  We have tons of other stuff that has to get done, and this is definitely not a necessity.  Plus, we have plenty of paint, materials, and decor items from previous projects just lying around.

This is what I started with:

Let’s take a look now, shall we?!

The door to the room started tan and grimy.  I primed and painted a bright white, but it seemed too glaring, so I added a bit of pop with some wooden numbers spray-painted oil rubbed bronze. Now Eric has no excuse to forget my or Matthew’s birthday!

The ceiling got a fresh coat of white.  The walls got the last of some Rockport Grey that we used in the living room.  We realized this space would also be perfect for when Eric works from home or needs to take a call without hiding in the closet to get away from Matty, so we hung his insanely huge white board so he has a place to track stocks, make notes while taking conference calls, and scribble video  game notes.

We recently bought this shelf at IKEA for Matty’s outdoor toys, but it didn’t quite work out.  I was happy to find it a new home here.  Eventually, we’ll need to get him a more comfy chair, but this works for now.

Eric has been to a lot of races, so I took some of his old tickets and put them in a frame we already had. Perfecto!

The red cabinet is one of my favorite things in here.  We inherited it with the house, but it was grimy and green.  I did invest $12 for a few cans of spray paint, but it was worth it.  Eric had to step in to run coax and some electrical, but he very happily obliged.  And before you worry that he’ll freeze or burn up, he’s got a portable air conditioner and space heater, and things are very cool in there now.

Have you ever painted brick? It’s so fun! (Sarcasm font, please!).  And this seat? No, you wouldn’t be able to find a place for it in your house either. 🙂

This IS my favorite thing in the room.  I took a program from the F1 race Eric went to in 2001, and pulled out 2 pages to frame.  I used a textured cardstock as a mat, and it really makes a huge difference.

We still have plans for a new light fixture and a rug.  We may also redo the entire garage floor, but um yeah…that’s going to be a while.  In the meantime, Eric’s definitely enjoying his new space!

And just because:

man caveAnd just to wrap up our Father’s Day fun:

We had a nice visit with family (3 generations of great men, here)

Due to said family trips, Matty was all tired out, so he slept in until 9! We let Eric sleep until 10:30 while we ran out for donuts and breakfast.

Oh yes, I will reward him with stacks of donuts for a good night’s sleep! I will make it rain donuts for a solid 8 hours of slumber. Jk (kind of).  To his credit, he did eat one sprinkle, and then ate all of his breakfast.  It took him all day to eat half of the donut–he would take a tiny, tiny bite, then place it down just so, then run around yelling “donut”.  Crazy kid.  And yes, he’s wearing Eric’s earplug.

We got Eric some cookies and a bottle of wine for the man cave, and Matthew made him a footprint picture and an “All About Daddy
questionnaire–a tradition we started last year.

This has got to be Eric’s best Father’s Day ever! Ok, ok, he’s only got one to compare to, but still.

He Said Flag, I Promise

Matty Moments

It’s time for another exciting episode of Matty Moments. I need to remember to write all of this down, because I don’t remember the half of it.  But he said something so outrageous today, it reminded me I needed to chronicle more.


Out taking a walk around the neighborhood while many, many neighbors are out:

Matty: Shoot da fag! (in the loudest possible toddler voice ever heard)


::runs away avoiding all eye contact::


I walk into the sunroom to find birdseed all over the floor:

Me: Who made this big mess?

Matty: Amy. (he didn’t even pause–he must have planned his story out ahead of time)

Me: Aunt Amy drove all the way to our house and made a big mess?

Matty: Uhhhh-huuuh. And pizza!

Me: Oh, and she brought pizza?

Matty: Uh huh. Mmmmm. ::rubs belly::


Working in the yard when a neighbor stops by to chat:

Matty: (looks up after being shy for a few minutes) Poop poop mah hand!

Neighbor: Your hand?

Matty: Poop. Poop. (enunciating it very clearly so she understands)

Neighbor: (looks at me me quizzically)

Me: ::nervous laugh:: Thanks for stopping by!

::runs in house::

If you didn’t guess, there was quite the unfortunate potty learning accident this week. 🙂


Getting ready for bed, and sitting down to nurse:

Matty: Bites of milk?

Me: NOOOOOOO! …You can have a drink of milk…

Matty: ICE! Two ice? Mmmm. Cold milk. Ice? Yeah. Ok. Ice. (runs for kitchen)



5 Years

Friday, Eric and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary.  We ordered a small cake from the company who made our wedding cake, which has now opened a shop that sells coffee and cupcakes in the Cincinnati bridal district.  We may have to start making that a regular stop!

cake tresbelle

Matthew spent the day romping with his Aunt’s dogs, feeding the turtles at his Grandma’s house, and otherwise enjoying Grandma and Aunt Amy time.


Then we finished the night by helping some friends (best man in our wedding) finish up some details for their upcoming wedding.  They have a guest list of over 400, so they needed a bit of help with their invitations!

Of course, we took a stroll down memory lane with some pictures…

And did some reflection.  We’re currently working on an art project for the house using old memorabilia, and we came across a crumpled piece of paper in the bottom of a tote.

Back in 2005, Eric and I went to Daytona after Finals Week (we barely knew each other, but that’s another story!), and before we left to come home, we made a list of all the things we hoped to do together (as friends, of course!).  Obviously, a few months later we started dating, and three years later we got married.  We never really thought about that list until we found it this weekend.  Ironically, we’ve managed to do a lot of things on the list that we wanted to do together:

#2. New York

#7. Gatlinburg (almost 7 months pregnant, no biggie!)

#8. Yellowstone

10. Take a Cruise (We’ve been on 3!)

2008 (Honeymoon)


2012 (Matty’s 1st Vacation!)

#25. Columbus Blue Jackets Game

#26. Red’s Game (Lots of ’em, but our favorite was one lasting 17 innings!)

#36. Indy 500

And unfortunately, we will not be able to do #21.  Go To the Republic National Convention 2008. Ha!

It was  really fun to look back over the past 8 years and realize that the things that we wanted to do together then, are still the things we want to do together now.  And heck, after 5 years of marriage and 2 years of parenthood, we’re just happy we still want to do anything together. 🙂

This was in Eric’s box of mementos, and he get’s major points for holding on to this for 8 years!  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I married him.

Munchkin Meals: Veggie Plate

It’s Munchkin Meals time again! The unofficial theme this month is how much your munchkin eats.  Considering the before and after from my little nibbler wouldn’t be much to look at, I decided to share a little tip that has been working really, really well for us this past month: the dinner-prep veggie plate.

toddler meals

What’s that you ask? A brilliant solution thought of no one ever before? No. But I always laugh when I realize how it really is the simple things that work best.  Meal-prep is hard for a lot of people, and we are no exception.  Hubby doesn’t get home from work at a consistent time each day, sometime fluctuating by hours.  Wee One never seems to really want to eat at the same time each day.  By the time I finally get around to cooking dinner, there are 3 cranky people marching around the kitchen. (Yes, I’ve tried feeding Matty first, but he just asks for Daddy and holds out until he gets home.)

A few weeks ago, I was chopping veggies for a dish, and Eric and Matthew kept snagging veggies off the tray.  Forget it, I thought, just take it!  So I handed it over, and they both sat happily at the table, eating an entire tray of fresh veggies, while I cooked the rest of the meal.  I think Eric and I were even able to have a full conversation during this time! 🙂

So each night I’ve been putting out a veggie (and usually a little fruit) tray, and each night I have two happy boys sitting quietly at the table. 🙂  It’s usually just carrots, celery with ranch, green or red peppers, and cucumbers. Matthew has eaten 2 entire cucumbers by himself over the past month!  I’ve also been tossing some diced apples, pears, strawberries, and frozen blueberries on.  I’ve started prepping these earlier in the day, and it really takes a lot of the evening stress off.

I really have no problem if everyone wants to fill up on fresh veggies and fruit.  I think the greatest thing is that Hubby and Wee One are eating tons more veggies than they do when I cook them, and it’s even easier than actually cooking them! Wins all around.


Any little tips that make big improvements to meal-prep?
What are some other good pre-dinner veggie choices?

Psst. I’m linked up @ A Healthy Slice of Life for Munchkin Meals.  Check it out!

Let’s Go to the Zoo: Sensory Play

zoo sensory box

I love the zoo! And apparently, this little guy does, too.

We bought a membership last May, and went once last Summer. It was very exhausting.  Our membership technically didn’t expire until the end of May this year, so we wanted to fit in a trip this Spring, too.  And…we’ve already gone twice. With no crying. No whining. No running away. Generally lots of fun.  I love this age.

We have an awesome zoo in Cincinnati, complete with a petting zoo (where you can brush the goat’s hair!), and a train.  We weren’t sure how Matthew would like the train, but we’ve been hearing “more train” nonstop for the past few days. Actually, we’ve been about nothing but the zoo (and Grandpa) for the past week.

The first time we went, he got a bit freaked out when the elephant actually started moving (ha!), but quickly warmed up once the elephant shot water out of his nose (like his new favorite book).  He was also totally freaked out that the giraffe got close enough to touch, but once we backed up, he was happy again.

The hands-on exhibits were an obvious favorite, too.  No fear about running around with goats, petting lizards, being surrounded by thousands of bugs and butterflies, running towards alligators, or feeding birds from his hands.  The playground doesn’t hurt either–I was so proud? that he climbed to the top of  the “big kid” playset while Eric and I sat on the bench. He even went through the tunnel, which is HUGE for him because he seems to be scared of small spaces and usually avoids this at gymnastics. Actually, he maneuvered his way around the entire playground for about 20 minutes before even realizing we weren’t right there with him–then he just sauntered over, said “hello” and ran away again (to try to get in another mom’s wagon…).  Getting so big!

Needless to say, we needed some serious “zoo play” at home.

Sensory Box Table

zoo sensory box

Yeah, we took over the whole table for this one.  After all, the zoo has a train, people, and little trucks that drive around (he was enamoured by this too).  I was going to add little roads and and such, but this is as far as I got during naptime. He was very happy with it when he woke up, so I let it be.

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

zoo sensory box

Apparently, the bear needed a transfer.  And we might need to have a chat about why polar bears and rhinos can’t hang out.


  • pea gravel from the rockbox
  • landscaping rocks from the yard
  • faux moss vase filler
  • twigs
  • tupperware
  • oats
  • water
  • Toob Wild animals
  • Toob Zoo Babies animals
  • Whittle World people
  • Train track, Thomas, trees, and cars are hand-me-downs, so I don’t know the origins

Total Spents: $10

The only thing I had to buy was the animals, which I got from Hobby Lobby.  They’re originally $8.99, but I used a 50% coupon.  Not a bad toy investment since these things will last for years and can be used for a lot of activities.


books about zoo

1. Dear Zoo.  Animals! Lift-the-flaps! Zoo! It’s like the toddler trifecta.

2. Put Me in the Zoo. This book doesn’t actually have much to do about the zoo,  but it says “zoo” a lot and I contribute that to Matty learning the word.  It also lends to some fun crafts, like the one below.

3. From Head to Toe. We have this Big Book, which is exciting on its own.  Each page shows the way a different animal moves and encourages kiddos to do it too. Lends well for animal charades!


zoo activities

1. Animal Count & Sort. Umm, just a fancy way of saying, “play with the animals!”.  I took them out to his rock box, and grabbed a few things from the house I thought would make it fun.  This is where he surprised me.  First, he put them in the tray, one in each spot, counting, “one, two, two, six”.  The fact that there was 12 animals and 12 spots was just a happy accident!  Then, he said they need a “dink” (water), because he noticed all the animals at the zoo had water.  This really held his attention for awhile.

2. Put Me in the Zoo Craft. I just traced the bear-thing character onto paper, then gave him “garage sale” stickers to make his spots. We did two colors of his choice before he moved on to bigger and better things. 🙂

3. Animal Charades. This stemmed from reading From Head to Toe.  Then I added crawl like a bear, crawl like a turtle, swim like a fish, gallop like a zebra, etc.  I think his favorite part is watching me do it.

4. Visit the Zoo! Did you see the first part of this post? He had so much fun!

5. I’m Going to the Zoo Sing Along. I remember singing this in 1st grade, and started singing it to Matthew in the car.  I had to brush up on the words, and this video helped.

6. Coloring Pages. I put these out on his coloring table for him to do what he wanted.  Just a little something different than plain paper.


1. Zoos…love ’em or hate ’em?
2. What’s your “must see” animal when you go to the zoo?

Everlasting Christmas Joy

Is it too late to post about Christmas presents? Probably.  But after 6 months of using this particular gift, I just have to share.  Hubby and I decided we weren’t going to do presents for each other this year, and instead save the money towards a vacation or a house project.  Of course, he broke this pact, but I have to give him credit–his surprise was well-thought out and downright awesome.

This is an SD card. It can be used in any camera that uses SD.  But it’s not just any SD card, my friends, Oh no.  This is a magical SD card.  It’s saved me HOURS of time.  It’s given me back my sanity (well, some of it).  It’s made life more fun. Okay, that last one is a bit of hyperbole, but still true.

You see, this card slips neatly into your camera in place of your current SD card. Then when you take a picture, POOF! It’s magically uploaded to any device you choose.

Think about that for a minute…

  • no more taking the chip out of your camera and sticking it into your computer to upload pictures…
  • no more grabbing said camera to take a picture of your adorable child doing something adorable, only to realize you forgot to put the chip back in your camera…
  • no more curling up in bed at 10pm to write a blog post, only to realize you forgot to download the pictures you need…
  • no more running out of storage space on the camera (they can automatically be deleted once they’re uploaded)…
  • Magic!
  • Did I just give too much away about my life? 🙂

Of course Hubby bought the super-mega card because he said he wasn’t sure how well it would work, but he agrees that the average user could get one of the lower-tier SD cards.  We take a lot of HD video and use a Nikon D90, so he wanted to ensure the card could handle it… something about Class 10 Rating.

It comes with easy software to install on any computer, and  you can then choose where you want your pictures to upload (your computer, two computers, cloud storage, facebook, Flikr, etc.).  Eye-Fi has partnerships with a lot of online storage sites, so the sync-up is easy-peasy.  Oh, and if you take pictures away from home, all you do it flip your camera on for a couple of minutes when you get home (aka, back on your wireless internet network) and the pictures upload.


Along with the Eye-Fi card, Hubby also signed up for a subscription to SmugMug.  So we have our Eye-Fi card automatically upload all pictures to SmugMug (aka cloud storage).  That means that at any time, any place, on any device (laptop, phone, iPad), I have access to all pictures and video that we’ve ever taken (we uploaded all past pics and vids, too).

They don’t compress your pictures–they keep the full image or video, and you can even order prints and photo gifts through them (though I haven’t done this).  SmugMug has great features: I can tag pictures to search (like “Lima House” or “Wedding”); I can search by date taken; I can create galleries and slideshows to share with friends and family; and best of all I can upload pictures to my blog directly from SmugMug in about 2 seconds. Awesome, unless you’re one of those fancy blogs that have to Photoshop all of your pictures first, though you can watermark directly from SmugMug, which is kind of cool.  If you don’t have a blog, but you’d still like to share pictures with family and friends, you can customize your homepage with themes and layouts.


The cost is about $8/month for unlimited storage, but it’s worth it in terms of peace of mind–in the event of an emergency, we have all of our family memories backed up.  We even got crafty and took pictures of important documents, just to at least have that information, if needed.

I’m not a spokesperson or being paid for this review,but we’ve talked with a few friends about it recently so I thought I’d share. I did, however, steal their graphics, so I suppose it’s even. 🙂

The Great Fence-In 2013: Part 2


Ahhh! Doesn’t that look amazing?  Super Hubby built it with his own two hands. Quit laughing. I’m serious.  Needless to say, I’m beyond impressed.

He did have some help. His mom and dad came up for a day to help watch Wee One and dig the holes.  His mom even mulched our front flower beds (while watching Matty–why can’t we do that?! lol), which was a HUGE help!  And I think we borrowed tons of tools from various friends.  We have very resourceful friends. Plus one awesome Craigslist find for a rototiller. And of course, I helped with painting, mulching, and planting.  We have hours of blood, sweat, and tears into this thing, literally! It was in the 80’s most days, and rosebushes are sharp!

 We’ve had neighbors stop (repeatedly) to tell us how great it looks, so we’re feeling pretty proud.

Here’s the view from the backyard when we moved in, and now:


And the view from the side yard:


The best part?  The fence, gate, and arbor were under $250 to make and install, including paint, painting supplies, gravel to set the posts, and fence hardware.  Heck, I’ve seen arbors for almost that price alone! It was much cheaper than buying pre-made fence panels, of which we would have still had to do the hard labor of digging holes.

We still have plans to add a few more flowers, including a couple of climbing plants up the arbor.  But for now, it’s doing a wonderful job of keeping Matthew contained!

Oh, and since this is Part 2, be sure to read up on Part 1.


1. Hubby impress you with his brute strength and engineering lately? 🙂
2. Why is outdoor work so backbreaking and lengthy, yet the payoff never seems quite as big?