X is for…

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  • You’ve been eating real, legit food!  You loved sucking on your brothers’ apples that they picked out of Grandma’s backyard.
  • You are trying SO hard to crawl, but that one darned leg just keeps getting stuck under you.  I’m okay with you not crawling for one more week.  (I have a wedding to be in and I’m 100% counting on being able to set you down with a basket of toys and have you STAY there while I’m helping with all the prep, etc.).
  • On that note, I also need a baby gate and asap.  The boys have way too many little things in the playroom (marbles, Playmobile tiny pieces, acorns, etc).
  • You are starting to reject your binky, which is exactly what Zeek did at 6 months too.  You don’t want it unless you’re trying to put yourself to sleep.  But if you’re already asleep and start waking up, you don’t want it if I give it to you. You just want me to “shush” you and then you turn your head to the side and go back to sleep without it.  You also seem to be aware that it puts you to sleep and you reject it in social settings where you are fighting sleep.
  • You love pulling your hair bows off of your head now – over your eyes and into your mouth.

A Sunrise Party

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now that I like to throw a party.  A gathering.  A coffee social.  Hosting a holiday.  Anything that involves gathering people in my house for fellowship.  And if I’m going to gather those people, well, good grief – I might as well make it pretty.

Often when friends say something to the effect that I have done a good job as a party planner, I will tell them, “Well, I learned it from my mom!”

This past weekend, my small family had the enjoyment of experiencing one of mom’s fun social gatherings – a Sunrise Party, as we were calling it.

This past weekend in my parents’ town was the Art & Air Festival.  They also happen to live right across the highway from the festival and directly in the hot air balloon’s line of travel.  This was always one of our favorite things about my parents’ house when I was growing up.  Often, because it was August every year and August is generally hot and my parents’ house has never had AC, I would have found myself sleeping upstairs in my room with the window wide open.  And every year around the 20th of August, right around 6:15 am, I would be awoken by the familiar “whoooosh, whooooosh” sound of the first hot air balloon filling with hot air and rising over my house.  I would climb out of bed and head downstairs and to the backyard where my parents were often already sitting with their housecoats and coffee, ready to watch the 30 or so balloons fly over head.

While that’s fun and all, and I’ve done this same thing many many years, it has been a few years since I’ve been down to see (partly due to kids and who wants to trek them somewhere before 6 am and partly because it always seems to fall on my anniversary).  So, this year, my mom decided to make it a party!

On Friday, she had some girlfriends over for her Sunrise Party and hot air balloons, and for Saturday’s take off, she invited my family over for her Sunrise Party.  We opted to stay the night on Friday so that we didn’t have to trek the kids any farther than from that same upstairs bedroom I grew up in to downstairs in the backyard.

I climbed out of bed at 6 to help mom set up breakfast.  She had already prepared a lovely gathering for us:

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The fire was already crackling, the sitting wall was lined with cushions, coffee, creamer, hot cocoa and mugs sat on a table beside the fire, and blankets were piled on a chair for the picking.

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The table was prepared for eating breakfast right after the hot air balloon show:

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Once things were set, we watched the pilot hot air balloon lift off (who always goes about 15 minutes before the rest of them to test the air).

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Once I saw him fly overhead, I went upstairs to gather my sleeping family.  (We let the baby stay and sleep).  My boys were confused and tired:

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And then they saw this:

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And the first one was up!

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The boys were delighted and loved seeing them!  They literally fly right over my parents’ back yard and often they are low enough that you can wave or say hi to them still.  (And excuse my 500 pictures of hot air balloons.  Zeek was insistent that I made sure to get each one.)

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The boys loved these character ones!

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This looked too funny to not capture on film.  Mom and I were having a good laugh from behind their backs. ;)

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And after the last balloon flew overhead, Grandpa started up the griddle and made us some pancakes while I made sausages and mom made more coffee.

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What a perfect and lovely Sunrise Party.  The boys were early to nap that day, but it was so worth it for the fun and excitement they had over watching all of those balloons so closely.  :)

Thanks mom for planning and hosting us!

Camp Tadmor III

For the 3rd summer in a row, we found ourselves at a place nestled in the mountainside near Sweet Home called Camp Tadmor.  The boys loved the last two years that we spent there but with house projects and Skyler’s schedule being wonky, we didn’t plan to take any vacation time to be out there this year (where Skyler spends the week as camp nurse and the rest of us just hang around, mostly at the lake).

As a last minute effort to get a nurse to cover for one week that they were in need, they sent an email asking if any of the past nurses that had been there could spend ANY of the days out there covering.  We had a 3 day chunk set aside that particular week where we were going to go camping.  We offered those three days and quickly found ourselves back out at one of our favorite little spots.  :)

This year was particularly sweet because our dear friends who have lived and worked at the camp for the last 6 summers were planning to move down the mountain and out of camp after this summer was over, so we knew it was our last chance to spend summer time up there with them.  Our friends, Adam & Angie, have 3 little girls – each of them the same age as our three kids.

Our families had such a fun little reunion and good time together!  We tried to capture our short but sweet three day stint at camp on film.  We sure do have a special place in our hearts for Camp Tadmor and our family friends.  :)

Skyler, ever the alert nurse:

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Preparing for being on-duty for the ever action packed and painful giant slip n slide:DSC_0003

I don’t know what Asher is doing here, but the TAN LINES on my kid! haha.  DSC_0006

Playing baseball with a plastic ball and stick:DSC_0008 DSC_0012 DSC_0009

What Miss Elle did almost the whole time at camp – sat on a blanket and played with toys!DSC_0029 DSC_0036

I love this little serious-faced kid!DSC_0050

Zeek, proud of his daddy’s creation – a giant leaf wrapped around a plastic ball and closed up with a little twig through the leaf.  These were “presents” that he gifted to random campers.  :)DSC_0084

Finally!  The buds showed up just before the slip n slide started!  Julia & Kate.DSC_0090

After the big kids, the littles had their chance on the slip n slide.  Year 3, and my boys are still terrified of it. DSC_0099

Zeek got a little more brave…DSC_0111

Most of our time at camp was spent like this:DSC_0127 DSC_0135 DSC_0144 DSC_0157

Happy little girl loved sitting lakeside!DSC_0176 DSC_0208 DSC_0213

Daddy just couldn’t leave his little Beach Babe alone!DSC_0235

I’m dying over this photo of her!DSC_0234

Asher spent most of his day playing “alligator”.DSC_0187

He does a fine job at it!  His fierce and serious alligator face:DSC_0241 DSC_0252

Skyler decided to give Zeek & Julia their first date by taking them on a “gondola” ride.  I hope he serenaded them!DSC_0270 DSC_0272 DSC_0276

Meanwhile, Asher was whoopin’ and hollerin’ for them to come back to shore so that he could go out with them too.DSC_028111811547_10152914746837096_271431880681812968_n

So, daddy loaded all 4 kids up (Zeek, Julia, Asher & Kate) for a canoe ride:DSC_0283

Much time was spent catching newts (possibly the boys’ favorite thing about Camp Tadmor).11168763_10152914754677096_8378745300636043675_n

And of course ice cream!  Angie told Zeek that if he were brave enough to swim all the way out to the buoy’s, then she would get them all an ice cream cone.  It took some coercing, even with ice cream on the line, but eventually he did it and they were all rewarded!

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THE BABIES!  I sure love these two.  :)11855737_10152914743947096_943442395103251070_nDSC_0291 DSC_0305 DSC_0323

And finally.  One of my favorite things about Camp Tadmor.  Our strolls around the lake at dusk.  It’s the time of the day when the camp is still and quiet.  The campers are at evening church service, the lake is quiet and calm, it’s nearly bedtime, and we get to have a little adventure time as a family. DSC_0335

The lake has a gorgeous golden hue to it as the sun is setting.  The boys always have their jammies on, ready for bed, and we head around the lake.DSC_0339

We always have to stop and look for newts.DSC_0350

The best lakeside photo I could get of these two squirrelly boys:DSC_0369

Final day at camp:DSC_0388

Mama and her daughter:DSC_0406

And our annual mama-babies photo:

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Our broods are growing!  This was our family photo last year:

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Thanks for another fun time Camp Tadmor!

 

W is for…

W 6 months

6 Months Old… what?!

  • You’ve been fed legit baby food!  I even made it!  Organic!  Homemade!  and… HOME CANNED!  Take that, last two baby mama’s self! #beingmonica #competingagainstmyself
  • I love hearing your brothers saying your name or comforting you when you’re sad.  Asher has his own “baby voice” that he uses when he’s talking to you.  It’s so adorable!
  • Right now, you sit in the back of the van with Zeek so that he can help you while we’re driving.  A few weeks ago, he told me, “mom, I like Ellery sitting back here with me, but I think she shouldn’t sit back here until she can get her own binkie in her mouth…” :)
  • You’ve been loving your toes again.  Now though, your thing is to sit on the floor and then fold over completely in half so that you can get your big toe in your mouth.
  • You’ve been grinding your gums lately, so I’m wondering how soon we’ll be seeing teeth!
  • Your favorite thing right now is to sit in the living room with your basket of toys and just pull them out one by one and play with them.  You can easily do this for 45-60 min.  Someone recently told me, “I haven’t really seen babies play with toys like she does.”  I agree and I’m hoping this means you’ll be more easily entertained than your brothers who don’t know what to do for entertainment without each other.
  • I often go check on you in the morning around 8:30 or so and you’re often just laying there in bed with your eyes open and just playing with your toes and looking out the window.  I think you really really like this quiet time of just laying there by yourself without anyone in your space.  (Introvert?!)  I don’t ever bother you.  I just quietly close the door because I know that when you are ready to be gotten, you will squawk at us.
  • You’ve been such a good girl while we’ve been making headway with our front yard!  You like to just hang out in your exersaucer and as long as you can watch daddy working and your brothers running and playing with their neighbor friends, you are pretty content.
  • Nicknames that have generated: Elle, Ellie Belle (or Elle Belle), Honey Girl, Ellery Bellery Boo (said like the Cinderella song.  We have a whole song for you, actually.), Elleroo, Roo (by Zeek)

We love you, sweet lil’ thing!

Shark Rotator Vacuum Review

Last month, I found myself vacuuming up some popcorn that the boys spilled in the playroom when my vacuum started sputtering and then made an awful high pitched noise.  We declared it dead on site.

I wasn’t terribly heartbroken since I didn’t really care for the vacuum anyway.  It did an okay job but I never truly felt my carpet (especially in the playroom with messy boys) was clean.

Insert Shark.  I am obsessed with my Shark Professional Steam & Spray Mop that I picked up from Kohl’s last year, so I knew that Shark was the only way to go for a new vacuum.

I gladly welcomed this beauty into my life:

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I was so excited to rip this sucker out of the box and use it.  At that point, my house hadn’t been vacuumed in about a week or more – which is a crazy huge amount of time for someone (me) who can’t stand dirt on the floor and vacuums every 1-2 days.

When I first got it – I gave it the ultimate test: the PLAYROOM.  Let me first back up and say that this carpet was shampooed before we moved in, back in November.  However, it still never really looked clean.  I’ve always been pretty disgusted by the carpet.  It had a dog smell (though my friends swear they don’t smell it, I do), and it just hasn’t ever felt super clean.  Especially in the corners.  My old vacuum didn’t have a hose attachment, so I could never get close in to the edges of the room.  I knew that the playroom was a remodeling project that we wouldn’t get around to until fall this year and that I just needed to suck it up and try to get past the yucky carpet for the time being.

Here’s the playroom… from far away, it doesn’t look awful.

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But it was littered with crumbs and filth that just sat deep in those fibers.

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I’m about to be very vulnerable right now and show you the nasty carpet that we have been living with… I was DISGUSTED by how I couldn’t ever get the dirt out of the edges and corners with my last vacuum.  Look at this grossness:

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I was SO ready to see that dirt and filth go away!!

I barely got 1/4 of the room vacuumed before I had to stop and take a couple photos.  Look at how clean it looked already!

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Here’s the true wow factor – just in not even 1/4 of the room that I vacuumed, look how much STUFF was pick up out of the carpet!  (And yes, that is a full canister already).

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GAH!  It’s so nasty! I can’t believe it picked up so much dirt, dust and filth in such a small portion of the room!!

I was a little scared to see how much dirt was really living in our entire carpeted area, but I kept going.

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Ready to see how much we came up with?  Our play room is a 20×20 room and in that space we nearly filled a standard sized mixing bowl with dirt, dust, hair…. other stuff. bleh.

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It’s ok, you can be grossed out by my house.  I officially am too.

Needless to say, I was majorly impressed with this vacuum!

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One of my favorite things about it is that it has little headlights on any attachment piece you are using to vacuum!  It really helps you to see the dirt and dust that needs to come up.

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It has an “Edge Cleaning” side which is really powerful and great for the every day clean of edges in a room.

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Easy to hold handle and 3 levels for vacuuming: hard floor, low pile, and high pile/area rug.

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The Shark also comes with a few different end pieces for the hose attachment – some narrow ones for edges and corners and one with rollers for pet hair on furniture.  You know that disgusting edge I showed above?  Well, I got in there with the narrow hose attachment piece and in no time that edge that had given me trouble for the eight months that we’ve lived here, finally looked actually clean(er.  It can’t take out stains…)!  Check out the difference with just a short vacuum job:

Edge Before & After

HUGE difference, right?!  I had gone over it and over it with my other vacuum and even our shop vac with a narrow attachment piece. I finally started feeling like it was clean for the first time since moving in.

And finally, the freshly vacuumed playroom!

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Ahhh, so fresh & so clean! :)

My parents came over the following day and both separately commented on how clean my carpet looked and why was I planning on ripping it out?!  :)  I suppose if it passes the parents’ test – it must have been much cleaner looking than before!

While it’s fantastic on my carpeted areas, the reality is that my house has a majority of hardwood floor.  While my last vacuum picked up the dirt okay from the floor, it never made it really feel clean.  You know, the kind of clean where you don’t feel any debris on your feet when walking around barefoot.  It never picked up the dust that accumulated.

One of the attachments (and really, my favorite one) that this Shark comes with is the hard floor one.  It has a vacuum section to suck up the dirt as well as a microfiber cloth section to wipe up the dust.

Dust, though all over my floors, was very hard to capture on film but you can get the idea in these photos (before and after):

Dust & No Dust

Follow that up with my Shark Steam Mop and I’ve never felt my floors so clean before.

Another thing I love about this vacuum are the many ways you can use it to clean pretty much anything you need to.

The hard floor vacuum/microfiber duster attachment (aka, my favorite way and my lifesaver): DSC_0884

The “regular” way – aka, the way I vacuum my carpets and area rugs:

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And the way that I vacuum my hard floors if there is just dirt and food debris to clean up, and also how I get underneath my furniture:

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Check this out – I’ve never had a vacuum that could fully get under things!

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Now, let me break it down in true Kayla-review fashion:

Official Name: Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Vacuum
Website: http://www.sharkclean.com/rotator/

Cost: Varying, Approx $300

Pros:  This vacuum got my floors cleaner than they have ever felt before, swivels and propels and doesn’t take much effort to move along your floors, and has so many attachments that you really can clean practically anything.  It has headlights on all attachments so that you can really see the dirt and where to vacuum (which comes in handy in my dark hallway or in the evening times).

Cons:  Two minor cons – 1. It was a little difficult to figure out exactly how to dump the dirt, even after looking at the instructions.  Also, because the entire lid of the canister pops open, the entire length of lid and canister is longer than my trash can and despite my best efforts, I often get some dirt dumped back on my floor by my trash can.  2. The self-propelling and swivel features can take a little effort to get used to if you haven’t had one like that before.  I definitely have some knicks in the machine already from not being used to the self-propel and knocking it on my fireplace/cupboards.

Features I love:  The easy to remove wand that easily slides into any of the different attachments – you can change how you are vacuuming incredibly quick and easily to vacuum one area differently, and then pop the wand back into the main attachment you were first using to resume with the rest of the floor.  The SUCKING power.  The headlights.  The many attachments that you can use with the vacuum for different areas.  The easy to remove dirt canister.  The microfiber dust cloth on the end of the hard floor attachment.  The extra long cord (I used to have to move my vacuum 3 times to get our large area for the living/dining rooms.  Now I can just put it in the center plug in and reach the entire space, even to the front door and down the hallway).

Features I wish I could change:  I would have loved to see a longer hose and longer narrow edge attachment piece for reaching high up places (like corner cobwebs).  The self-propel/swivel features feels a little out of control sometimes.

Rating: A+, I would have bought this awesome vacuum even if Shark hadn’t supplied me with it.

I will say it again and again, I love this thing.  I was so excited when it first came and once I saw the difference it made in the playroom, I wanted to test it out on everything.  That first day, I literally vacuumed for four hours.  (Oh yes, I did).  I vacuumed until I had a little blister on my hand.  (That is also true).  But it was worth it – my house felt like it was sparkling.  Since then, I have pulled it out of the laundry room almost every day to vacuum.  It’s so quick and easy to use that it doesn’t feel cumbersome or chore-like to pull it out and give a quick vacuum.

Thanks Shark!  You’ve made a loyal fan out of this girl!

Shark provided me with this vacuum to review for you all, but all opinions are my own and I literally would have bought this same one even if they didn’t provide me with it.  Thank you, Shark!

V is for…

Better late than never…

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This hat makes me want to buy you a legit bonnet. 

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I’m not even going to put weeks now, because I know all of these are a few weeks off….

  • We did Virginia as an ode to your Grandma that you are named after (June Evone), who was born and raised there. :)
  • You can fully sit on your own.  Maybe once every couple days you get too excited and fall backwards, but you are safe enough for me to sit you up and walk out of the room now.  You LOVE it.  It always opens up a whole new world of playing with toys.
  • You’re scootching more, but definitely not crawling yet.
  • You’ve have a few tiny bites of our dinners, but not really been fed yet.
  • You are getting more and more annoyed when people try to rock you to sleep.  You start squirming and arching and whining.  As soon as you’re laid down in bed, you roll over and go to sleep.  It’s a miracle.
  • You love love love your Johnny Jump up and twirling around in it.  You figured out how to stand just on one tiptoe so that it spins you.  So funny.  :)

Before & After {Baby Girl’s Nursery}

One thing we loved about our new house was how all the bedrooms were tucked together down the hall.  Being a parent of tots and babies, it is SO much easier to have the rooms all next to each other rather than traipsing across the house and stumbling in the dark in the middle of the night when one needs you.

Ellery’s nursery is right next to the boys’ room and across the hall from ours.  It started out in the same way as the rest of our house: outdated, dingy and many “that wasn’t done quite right” discoveries from the past owners.

This was the listing photo of her room:

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Far away, it didn’t look too bad.

These are the “before” photos that I took after we acquired the house:

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These little dinky fans were in EVERY room in the house.  They were awful.  And while I’m SURE they were functional since our house does get hot in the summer, we knew that would be only a temporary necessity because we’ll be getting central air by next summer.  We knew we could survive a summer with some room fans this year, so all those ugly fans had to come down!  IMG_1341IMG_1338

You can see in this picture that the floors were fairly damaged in this room.  This was by far the worst room for floors.  (They had huge area rugs covering the floors in this room and the boys’ room when we toured the house, but we did think to look under the rugs so there were no surprises at least.)

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We started with the basics: we tore off the window coverings, patched holes in the walls, retextured the walls and caulked the baseboards (and replaced chunks of baseboard that were missing).  If you look closely enough in this photo below, you can see that the ceiling paint was the same as the room paint and was a shiny glossy paint that gave the room a vintage feel – and not a good vintage.  A greasy, yucky vintage feel.

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So, we painted out the trim, the baseboard, the ceilings and the walls.  (Oh yeah, and took those mini blinds down too!)

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All this included painting the door frames and trim in the hallway too!  (You can see Ellery’s room on the left and the boys’ room on the right.)

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Ready for some afters?!

First off – here was my inspiration for her room.  I fell in LOVE with this watercolor peony wall paper from Anthropologie, but for $148 a roll?!  Heck no.  (Sorry Baby Girl.)

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I loved the soft color palette, the floral’s, the pinks and aqua and mint.

And so, Ellery’s room was born (just a couple months after she was. :P):

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I found a similar patterned paper from Craft Warehouse and cut the sheets to fit in the window (which used to be our headboard in our last house).  This was my ode to Anthro.

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I love stepping into this room every morning!  Even though her windows are West facing, the angle of the neighbors window next door reflects the light into her room in a stunning way.  I looooove it.  I wish we had this same light all over the house.  We chose a neutral drum shade light, painted the ceilings a flat white and the walls a soft aqua/mint color.

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Over her bed, in lieu of a mobile, we hung up our chandelier.  It used to be over our bed (but now we have a real chandelier in our room!).  This special little chandy was what Skyler and I stood under when we got married.  And bonus – she loves staring at it.  I love out-of-the-box mobiles.

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This “Joy” sign was on an old church board from my old church when I was a little girl.  (You can see the old sign that was painted on it hanging above our closet in our master bedroom at our old house.) I love love love that Ellery’s name means “bringer of joy” and I wanted to incorporate that into her room some how.  I love how this sign turned out.  The stool it’s sitting on was our old kitchen bar stool when I was a kid.

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I loved finding cute little girly things in stores after Ellery was born – like this little white mason jar with flowers in it (found in JoAnn Fabrics).

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Her quilts made by my aunt Donna and sweet friend Gemma are on display draped over her rocking chair.

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And her sweet little bunny that her great aunt Sheri bought for her.  She loves this thing and sleeps with it almost every night.

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I found an old magazine rack on a garage sale site, painted it the same pink as the Joy sign and put some of my favorite baby books in it, sitting next to the rocking chair.

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Her changing table was NOT planned.  It was a beautiful accident….  We had a different big dresser here, but it ended up working better in our living room with a hutch on top.  This piece was the bottom of the hutch (which I just didn’t feel was sturdy enough to have a hutch on top).  It works perfectly as a changing table – fits the pad and boxes of diapers/wipes perfectly, and her two trash cans (one for disposables and one for cloth) fit underneath, as well as a basket of cloth diapers. The drawers hold her diapers creams and such.  Plus it looks way better in the space than the other did.

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Love the girly vibe that it brings!

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I found her some Aden & Anais changing pad covers and love them.  She has pooped on this thing so may times, but it always washes clean.  :)

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Above her changing pad is a flower ball that my mom found at Marshall’s and bought for her, exactly for this purpose.  And guys?  Mom knows best.  She totally loves staring at it during diaper changes.  I do want to hang it actually from the ceiling, but for now it’s just hanging off of the drapery rod.

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I found this little side table at a thrift store for $10.  Gave it a coat of paint and called it good!  I loved the shape of it for her room.

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I ordered this embroidery for her room.  I plan to hang it up, but I haven’t decided where yet.  :)

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This doily basket was a find from Marshall’s and I fell in love with it, before Ellery was even born.  I knew I would use it in her room if she was a girl, and if I had a boy, I would find a use for it elsewhere.  Good risk, in my opinion.  I love that it holds her little toys in it and now that she can sit up, she loves to sit and pull the toys out of it.

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Again, same issue as the other rooms – we removed the sliding closet doors and haven’t yet come up with a solution for what to put there instead… At least her clothes are cute to look at.  The big basket there holds all of her blankets.

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This IKEA stand holds a variety of baskets that contain her binkies, hair bows, nail clippers, thermometer, etc.  All those random baby necessities.  :)

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And there you have it… for now.  :)

What We’ve Done

  • Filled & patched holes
  • Retextured walls
  • Painted walls, trim, baseboard, ceiling
  • Removed closet doors
  • Changed light fixture
  • Removed mini blinds
  • Sanded and polyurethane coated the floor

Still To Do

  • Figure out closet doors
  • Hang “E” and hook behind door for bath towel
  • Paint room door (it’s just primed)
  • Hang flower ball over changing pad
  • Hang corner shelf over “Joy” sign
  • Hang rack for quilts

So so love seeing this overly girly room after so much boy in our home!  I never thought I’d say it but… GIMME ALL THE PINK! :)

And finally – for dramatic effect:

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U is for…

U

Mom, what’s on my hands?!

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I’d better taste it …

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22 Weeks

  • Baby Girl, FYI, you’re not 22 weeks.  I don’t even know how old you are… I got so lost and behind with these pics that I don’t have any clue where I am anymore with them… but I’m just rolling along with them making sure they are still fairly consistent.  I know the boys always ended around 6+ months, and you’re at 5.5 months and have 5 more pictures, so I can’t be too far off.  ;)
  • You have been sitting up incredibly well now.  You still topple over if you lean too far for a toy or something, but you handle it really well.  You just straighten yourself out on the floor and do some tummy time!
  • The boys love how you can sit up.  They love to sit behind you and “hold” you.
  • You’re getting closer and closer to crawling.  You’ve definitely got the backwards scoot down and are getting good at using your leg (your right one in particular) to help guide you.  You’re not entirely mobile yet, but you’re definitely not in the same spot as when I leave you.
  • It seems you are plateauing a bit on your weight, which is nice because otherwise we’d be in 18-24 mo. by Christmas.  You’re still mostly in 9 month stuff, but are definitely wearing a lot of 12’s also.  Almost no 6’s anymore.  ^^These tights were 12 months and a NIGHTMARE to try to squeeze your legs in.  However, your feet are still itty bitty, not even really close to fitting in 6 month shoes.
  • You’ve been talking up a storm.  Always speaking.  Or now you’ve learned squealing.  The other day, you were going down for nap but were showing me your distaste for that idea by squealing at me from your bed.  It was hilarious to watch you because it was the first time that I saw you doing something for attention like that and I just stood at your cribside at watched you for a moment before hushing you.  You had no idea I was there witnessing your little show, and as soon as I made a noise and you saw me, your eyes went huge and you started crying/sobbing with big fat tears rolling down your cheeks.  I scared ya good, lil one.
  • You’ve been digging Bopa’s facial hair.  He says you’re a raccoon that feel, feel feels, but doesn’t look at what they’re touching.  You rub your gentle hands all over his goatee and peer over his shoulder.  Too cute.

Love you, Little Miss.

Front & Back Yard Progress

Way back last spring, when we first started house hunting, one thing Skyler and I agreed on was we needed mature landscaping.  Big trees and as forest-like as possible.  And the bigger the better.

When we first came to see our house, we fell in love with the huge evergreens and ferns in our almost quarter acre yard.  (Which, I know.  All you mid/east coast folks – quarter acre doesn’t seem like much land.  Here in the city, it’s a good size.)  We knew it was over grown and would take some love and attention to get it shining again, but we knew it was worth the clean up time and effort because you just can’t add 60+ year old trees into a yard.  I didn’t even want to see any new development or any even just 10 years old because I wanted OLD trees in the yard.  Yes, it was that important to me.

These are the listing pictures of the yard (yes, they are horribly blurry, as are all the house photos from the listing.  Our realtor didn’t think we’d like this house based on the ugly photos, but I could see past them and begged him to show us this place).

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The yard did not even look this nice when we went to see it.

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Because of our “mini forest” and with not getting into the house until mid-November, the amount of leaves that were on the ground was astronomical.  We raked and raked and raked (yes, even me.  7-8 months pregnant.).  Every week that yard waste bin would go out to the curb and finally, about 2 weeks before Ellery was born in February, we had all those leaves finally cleaned up.  It was insane.  And by that time, we had no grass (not that it was in superb condition anyway).

Some “we’re-cleaning-up-but-it-still-looks-bad” progress photos: DSC_0982

Cleaned all the ivy off of the retaining wall…

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Took out the retaining wall stones (we’re going for a more natural forested look…).

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This is how bad the “grass” was after we cleared all the leaves off of it.  Oh, and that line going across the photo?  Yeah, that was a zipline.  It was up for about 6 months, but once we started seriously making some progress in yard work, I insisted it come down.  I didn’t want to have a nice yard and get clotheslined by the zipline every time I walked across it… :)

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As we cleared out all over over grown ivy and other plants, we started discovering these nice big round rocks all over the yard.  You can also see there was a pathway that led from the back porch to the small extra patio.  This was after Skyler dug out all the little pea gravel from the walk way.

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The zipline and how our yard looked for months this winter/spring.

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We dug out bricks from the pathways that led to both side gates and also to the small extra patio.

 

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Cleared out overgrown shrubs from the back patio area…

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Front yard:

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A BAJILLION BLUEBELLS. OMG.  It was insane how many popped up.  I don’t even want to know how many hours have been spent digging these up from the front AND back yards. (And we’re only maybe 2/3rds done with clearing them out.)

We also decided that the rinky dink, add on front deck was silly looking and I hated that it felt like something that you would add on to a manufactured home.  (Trust me.  It was worse than it looks in the photo.  And sloping.)

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We cleared out the two overgrown rhododendrons that were on either side of the steps, and also cut down the gum tree (the horrible kind that leave those pokey little balls all over).

After a loooong while, the front & back yards started to look more “clean”.  SO much dirt, but not a ton of overgrown shrubs, ivy, weeds and dead stuff hanging around in the flower beds. DSC_0198 We trimmed the limbs off of the trees that were hanging low and in the way.

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Looking cleaned up, right?!  :)

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And then, it was finally time to level out the yard, do grass seed, build up our retaining walls, and plant things again!

We brought in THREE big dump loads of dirt… which have brought neighbor kids out of the wood-works to play in.  Something about a giant mound of dirt that screams to be jumped and dug in.

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Almost every day this summer so far, our children have come in at dinner time looking like little hooligans.  But OH the fun they’re having and memories they are making! (That’s what I keep telling myself every night at bath time, anyway.  It eases the pain.)

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Both the front and back yards took several loads of dirt to make them more level.  Our house is slightly on the hillside so we knew we wouldn’t be able to make it completely level, but we could definitely improve the situation.

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Finally time for GRASS SEED!!  I actually did a happy dance.  (Of course, selfish reasons.  I was thinking of perhaps less horrible bath experiences with the boys.)

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Look at how much soil Skyler wheeled in!

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And then.  It started to grow…

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We moved some of the existing ferns and plants around in the yard for a more ideal lay out, and have gone to probably every nursery within a 45 mile radius in the last few weeks.  Twice each.

But we’ve come home with some great plants (and trees) for (mostly) great prices and I’m happy with the plan we’re working with!

Here’s how we managed to get a 6 ft tall evergreen home – I’m back here because, well, I had to give my seat up.  :)

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Sticking out of the window a couple feet.  #ghetto

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The back yard is much more done than the front yard at this point, but the front will follow suit before too long.  We have a couple trees in will-call that we need to pick up and then we can plug away at the front and hopefully make some great progress in the next 2-3 weeks.

The front yard is still in major overhaul phase.  Still thousands (yes, literally) of blue bell bulbs, still discussing plan for plants/trees in the awkward front corner (to the left) of our house, still discussing plans for a new front porch… (I feel bad for our neighbors with this ugly view, but at least they can see we’re working on it!).  These were taken probably a month or more ago, and we now have a leveled front yard with grass!!

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THESE ARE ALL BULBS!!  *tear tear*

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Our awkward front corner.  We’ve already decided we don’t want grass in that portion because it would be a pain to mow.  You can see we ripped the deck off.

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Skyler, tirelessly slaving away at digging out bulbs, and you can see our blueberry bushes and strawberry plants:

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Hard to really see, but the front yard is leveled out and just waiting for seed:

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A week or two ago, grass starting to grow in and blue bells slowly diminishing!:

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Here are the most updated photos as of yesterday:

The grass has come in spotty in the back yard so we seeded again the other day.

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Building up the retaining wall area so that the boys had a level area up top to play.  We have some fun ideas for this area, like making a mini-city with roads fir them to drive their hot wheels cars. (Probably a next summer project.)

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The boys checking out their new area:

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We had 2 spots of bamboo growing.  We felt that was too tropical and not right in our woodland back yard, so we dug them up.  We did place a portion of one of them behind our bedroom window for right now so that it at least sort of blocks the view from the side of our neighbors house.  DSC_0698

What the girl does while we do yard work all day:

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New natural stone retaining wall with some ferns and a rock step path.

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We decided this railing (which was wobbly and not attractive) needed to come down:

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Much better!  It doesn’t feel as closed in now.

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Back this photo again… now that the railing is gone, we can do a step down to the area under the window and small tree.  Our plan is (probably next summer) to do a paver patio all in this blank space with a fire pit and a small fountain.

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We recently just bought a bunch of shade plants (different coral bells, hostas, ferns, and ground cover) because the most sun our back yard gets is this spotty action, to put in the retaining wall areas:

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Got another couple hydrangeas and other shade plants to place around my back patio too.

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Back to the front yard – these are some of the plants that we’ve collected and will be using in the front area and weird triangle area.  Skyler LOVES Bend and high desert, so I told him we could go a little with that flavor of landscaping.  So rosemary, lavender, grasses, evergreens….

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…and giant boulders.  :)

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*sigh* I can’t wait for this ugly mess to go away.  Slowly, but surely.  :)

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But hey, at least we have green grass now!!

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And there you have it.  A lengthy run down of our yard progress!

Still to come:  FRONT – new porch, new triangle area landscape, front flower bed landscape, chunky rustic fence around the grassy area, placing the boulders, making a patio paver area in front of the house.  BACK – figuring replacement deck railing for the half of the deck that we left railing on, removing the metal roof over the deck, cleaning out flower beds of debris (old leaves and wood chips), play area on top of mound for the boys – mini-city, rock climbing wall, sand box, paver patio, fountain & fire pit, replacing metal side gate with 6 ft wood gate, make small patio deck a “she-shed”, repaint and clean up shed….

Many many more things to work on still.  But I still feel like it’s getting much better and functional now!  More progress pictures at the end of summer to show what we accomplished the rest of this summer! :)

T is for…

T

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My response to those saying Ellery looks just like Asher… correction: she looks just like Zeek.

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Ellery, 5 months, Zeek, 4 months.

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Hanging at the lake with Gram:

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21 Weeks

  • You have been going through a phase where you are very binkie dependent for sleep, except for middle of the night.  If you lose the bink, you’re stirring and looking for it.  Fun times.
  • You are getting better and better at sitting up!
  • You turned 5 months old!
  • You love your exersaucer; you can sit in it happily for a few hours a day.
  • You cry hard buy quiet when you wake and this last week mama has had a super hard time hearing you when you wake, with all the fan on.  You are so upset when I realize you are up from nap.  I’m sorry Baby Girl.  I promise I’ll get a baby monitor soon.
  • Daddy finally got tired of seeing your cradle cap and worked vigorously at it.  It was nasty, but you didn’t seem to mind and it does look better.

Love you sweet girl.