Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas, The Beginning

It's here. The day after Thanksgiving. To some, it's Black Friday. To me, it's the first day of the Christmas season.

It's time to get my decorate on!!!

Last year, it was low-key but nice. The girls were still quite small and didn't get what was going on. This year, I'm not going to be so low key. I have vowed not to go Opryland-lights crazy, but I am going to have a little fun...on a budget, of course.

The tree is going up this weekend, so I'll be back to post pictures.

Other than the decorating, I am very proud of myself for being frugal and thoughtful with this year's Christmas shopping. For the girls, they are getting three gifts from us--one of which will be handmade (if I finish on time...which I will, dammit).

They have a new obsession with dinosaurs thanks to Jane Yolen's "How Do Dinosaurs" book series, so they will be getting Dippy Dinos from Jellycat. They also really love playing with Mommy and Daddy's keys--to the point of not letting us have them back when we need to drive--so they're getting Funkeys* from B. Toys. The handmade item is a crocheted blanket for each of them. I'm no master crocheter, but I thought having something made by Mommy would be a really nice thing...even if I meant them to be birthday presents...last year. Oops.

*The Funkeys were recalled back in 2009 but have since been redesigned for anyone concerned. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quick Tip of the Week

OK. I know, I know, my last three blogs have been quick tips. But I can't think of anything to write about, so please send me some ideas so I can get back on the wagon!!

Anyway...on to this week's quick tip.

Find a Field

Today, the girls needed to get out. It was such a beautiful day, we went to the park. Usually we play on the playground, swing, or walk the path. Today, though, I grabbed a couple of balls, a bag of snacks, and let the run free in a big field at the park. I could pretty much sit in one place and see them. It was great for them because they could run and check out leaves and pinecones and whatnot. It was great for me because I didn't have to stay right on them, and they got rid of a lot of energy. I highly recommend a large field for playing.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick Tip of the Week

Make Oatmeal Fun!

The girls eat a lot of oatmeal. We have our "normal" flavors: apple and cinnamon (made with diced apples or applesauce) and raisin (a little brown sugar, a lot of raisins and pumpkin pie spice). Recently, though, I've started experimenting with different flavors mixed into our quick oats.

Frozen fruit has been a big hit--strawberries or blueberries thawed in the microwave, stirred in before cooking the oatmeal.

Almond butter and honey taste like wonderful cookies!

Diced peaches and vanilla yogurt (Stoneyfield Whole Milk yogurt is our favorite) make a wonderful oatmeal or put it in the fridge after cooking and have it as a pudding for a snack.

So if your kids (or you) like oatmeal, forget the instant and buy a large container of quick oats with all kinds of different mix-ins!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quick Tip of the Week

Hey, it's been awhile. I'm sorry. But I've been busy. I'll blog more, I promise. And I'm starting here, with a new weekly entry called "Quick Tip of the Week." Every week I'll share some small tidbit that I use that helps to make my life easier. Hopefully it will be something you can use too. And because I only have so many ideas in my head, I would LOVE for you to send me your own quick tips as well.

First Ever Quick Tip of the Week: Cheap and Simple Blind Cord Safety 

Instead of spending any kind of money on blind cord wrappers, trapper, winders, or whatever, I stuck two push pins in the wall next to the window. Wrap the cord around and there you go! The cord is out of reach for little hands, feet, and kitty paws.

I already had a pack of push pins, so this was free for me to do on all the windows in the house, but a pack of push pins will cost you, at most, $5 for 100. (Check the dollar store to save even more.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Space Saving DIYing

Lately, the girls have been helping me with the laundry. I've known for a long while that our laundry room needs some serious reorganization to allow for better use of the tiny, tiny space. I realized it even more when I was in the room with two little helpers. It was a tight squeeze and the girls are still just knee-height to me. I can't imagine when they're three years old and really helping me out! Therefore, I've started--you guessed it--a plan to make the laundry room more friendly. More friendly to clothes washing and drying and ironing, cleaning supplies storage, and even kitty littering.

The first step is finding a compact ironing board. I currently use a double folded bath sheet on top of the washing machine. Yep, it's as horrible as it sounds. But I believe I've come up with a solution. Two of these extremely clever folding shelf brackets along with a DIY pressing board in whatever size I'd like. (Thank you to Amanda at A Crafty Fox for the wonderful idea and tutorial!)

As I've always thought, starting a room with something cute and homemade makes it a better room to matter how dreadful laundry can be.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Have a Goal

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and got weighed. I'm not going to tell you what the number was, but I'll just say it was a lot higher than I wanted or expected it to be. So now I have a goal. I do have a number in mind, but that's not the true goal. The goal is, by next summer, to be able to wear this.

And this.

Yes. Both the swimsuit and the lovely, lovely dress come in my size. But if I put either of them on now, I'm damn sure someone would ask me when I'm due. (And if you're that evil greeter at Wal-Mart, you'll check twice to make sure I answered correctly when I said I wasn't expecting.)  Since puberty, I've had a big booty and muscular thighs. I accept those things. I do not accept the mommy tummy. I want it to go bye-bye and never return. Thanks to genetics, I've always gained weight in the midsection, and thanks to two little ladies, the midsection grew some more. But now I'm done with it.

The thing about this awesome goal is that I am a procrastinator, and I hate "working out." I have yoga and Pilates and other workout DVDs, but there's something about standing in front of my TV and doing moves that makes me want to just go ride a bike, play a little volleyball or take a martial arts class instead. I want to sweat and work hard for my weight loss, but I want it to be enjoyable too.

I will do the DVDs to really get my heart rate up, but I plan to walk with the girls more, run around on the playground with them. Maybe eventually sign up for some karate or something. I want to be more active, more fit, and less tummy. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Guest Appearance

Lillie and Dani have made the Photo of the Day over at Spearamint Baby!

While you're there checking out my cute ones, check out all the fun stuff on this great blog. Everything from birth stories to nursery decor. It's great for soon-to-be and already-there parents.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Follow Me!

I joined the masses. I am now on Twitter. Follow me if you'd like. I probably have more interesting things to say here, but you never know when I might bust out a winner. :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Planning Far, Far, Far Ahead

I have a problem. I've had it for years, but with kids, I must say that's it has gotten worse. I love to redecorate. At this juncture, I do not have the funds (or truly the time) to do so, but I definitely do lots of planning. I have links to about twenty home improvement, DIY and decor sites on my bookmark list. I would cry big tears of happiness if someone gave me a shopping spree to Lowe's, Havertys, and Ikea. (Wow, I'd have one awesome family room if I could pull that off....) I also happen to have a small collection of inspiration photos for redecorating the girls' room when they move to "big girl" beds.

Yep, I have inspiration photos for something that probably will not happen for another four years or so. I told you I have a problem.

We bought convertible cribs for the girls so we could get the most bang for our buck, so when they're out of crib stage, we'll convert them to toddler beds. Once they leave toddler beds, I still want them to be in the same room; therefore, converting the toddler beds to full-size beds won't fly in a 100 square foot room. This is where the planning starts--what kind of beds do we go to?

Twin beds, duh.

But bunks beds? Side-by-side beds? Storage beds? There are so many choices!!

from Better Homes & Garden
Bunk beds, at first, were the way to go for me. The girls get there own space yet we open up some floor space for a play area and a desk (which is already in there as a changing table right now). The downside is storage. The girl in the top bunk doesn't get much in the way of a nightstand or anything. I mean, I could install a wall shelf or something, but it still seems a bit lacking. Plus there's the whole ladder thing. Yes, they make cool bunks that have stairs on the side, but I'm still not keen on someone climbing to bed every night OR a parent having to carry a sleeping child to a bed that's taller than said parent.

Even though I'll still consider them, I'm leaning more towards the side-by-side idea. Everyone gets a bed and a nightstand. Depending on how I set up the room, both can have a little bench or seat at the foot for getting ready. Also, I've always wanted a room with side-by-side twin beds. If we hadn't had children, I actually thought about doing it in the guest bedroom anyway. There's just something very clean and inviting about the symmetry of it all!

from Apartment Therapy
I love the bright headboards paired with the bold striped rug in this picture. I'm not so keen on the perfectly matched bedding, though. Just as with their clothes, I don't think I'd give Lillie and Dani identical bedding. The centering of the photos over the nightstand is a nice twist on the norm as well. I'm thinking that I'll still have the mural up that's painted there, so I won't even worry about additional art, but who knows! Maybe Mommy the girls will grow tired of it and want a change.

I also think storage is a big, big, huge deal. Beds with built-in storage seem like the way to go. But their beds will be rather close together side-by-side, so I can imagine pulling out drawers being a bit of a nightmare when two little ones are rushing to get ready. So then I think about a different room set up to allow for ultimate storage.

The L-shape set up in this picture gives plenty of room for drawers plus a central nightstand/storage place for each girl. Plus I'm pretty sure this could be very optimal for sleepovers later down the road since a wider bit of floor would be open.

So many decisions and so little much time to go back and forth and back and forth. Of course, I'll just keep these inspirations tucked away in a folder and add to them as I find new pictures. But it is fun to share my little obsession with people just to get some extra feedback (either on my ideas or a good counselor I could see).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Ikea Hack

For months (OK, it may actually be years), I have been looking for a great piece to go in our makeshift entryway. I needed it to be no more than 12 inches deep and 50 inches wide. I wanted to have closed storage to keep the girls out of it, and I didn't want it to be too cookie cutter. Every single piece I found fit only one of my criteria. In fact, the dream piece I found at Pottery Barn (for a mere $599!) is too big for the space.
Expensive, but beautiful!
I'd finally found a piece--or pieces rather--that worked for me: closed storage, the right dimensions, and...well, they're a little cookie cutter because they're from Ikea. I knew that I could take these boring pine dressers and make them my own.

I purchased two Rast Dressers through ModerNash (love you guys!). I also purchased some stain, new knobs and some foam brushes. That way, these cookie cutter dressers could become what I wanted them to be.

So here you go.

And (drumroll please...) the after! Well, not exactly the after; it's more the in progress. Eventually, I plan to make these two dressers look like one as well as add legs to bump it up about six inches. For now, though, I really am proud of the work I did. 

I'll take some better pictures in the future when I've done a little more work on it, but I was just too excited to not share right now. What do you think?

Monday, June 6, 2011

No Longer the Favorite

I'm going to begin by saying typing this will probably make me cry. Actually, there's no probably about it. I will cry.

When Tim & I first discussed getting pregnant, I initially said I wanted to wait a year in the hopes to better prepare myself for the idea of pregnancy. He, on there hand, said sooner was better than later since my grandparents aren't getting any younger, and if we had children after my grandmother died, she would haunt us. (I don't care if you don't believe in that kind of thing, Miss Lillian would haunt us.) I try to never think about any family members dying; therefore, the idea hadn't even crossed my mind. I'm happy we did have the girls when we did because just seeing them brightens my grandparents' day tenfold.

So today, in the car, my grandmother told me that she loved me lots and lots...but that she loves my daughters more. I knew this. I may have been the favorite grandchild growing up, but I've known she loved my children more since the day she literally pushed me out of the way to say hello to them when they were around six months old. It wasn't that statement that brought a tear to my eye. It's what she said next: "Those girls are a ray of sunshine that makes our lives better, and I am so happy that your granddaddy and I get to spend the end of our lives with them here."

Now, I may joke on a regular basis that Grandma is one morbid person. She's convinced she's going to die when she has a bad headache. She even once gave me her diamond anniversary ring because she wasn't going to "make it through" her knee surgery. But I know the inevitable will happen. Everyone on this earth leaves it at some point in time, and I know my grandparents (especially Granddaddy) aren't in the best of health. To know that my daughters help them have better days both warms and breaks my heart. I want my girls to remember their great-grandparents; I hope they are around for a long time so  Lillie and Dani have some good solid memories of them.

Spend lots of time with your family. I know you know in your heart that you love them, but sometimes someone needs to say it for you to realize how much love is there.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Little Touches, Playroom Edition

As I stated in this blog, I've gone on a cleaning rampage. I have officially finished the dining room and, early this morning (around 1 AM), I finished the playroom. My goal was to dust, sweep and mop all the surfaces; hang new shelving and finish floor pillow covers for the girls. This morning, it was all about that last floor pillow.

Here are the results! (Click the photos to supersize.) I must say that I am very proud of myself. My dinky sewing machine broke halfway through the first pillow, so I had to sew those suckers by hand. And, of course, the embroidery is all hand done because I definitely don't have the money for one of those cool Martha Stewart embroidery machines.

The embroidered circles were my original design. In fact, I did a small version way before the girls arrived. I had planned on doing the pattern on curtains for their room, but that fell through. Then I started searching online and came up with the felt butterflies for the second pillow. I knew when I did the butterflies that I was going to love it more than the embroidered circles, but that's OK. I will not (will not, will not, will not) redo that circles pillow because I love it too.

The playroom will be ongoing--adding new art, replacing old toys. But for now, it's seems quite complete. When I finish the entire house, I shall have pictures.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Road Trip!

Last week, the girls and I (along with Aunt Mandi) came back from a trip to Maryland to see my dad. He was meeting his granddaughters for the first time, and it was absolutely amazing to watch him with them. I'd say a majority of the trip was a grand success. The other parts not so much.

The girls did very, very well in the car. Our attempt to drive overnight so they would sleep didn't go quite as planned. We ended up stopping at a hotel both coming and going. Both times being more for the adults than for the children. I think next time we'll travel during the day and just have plenty of leg-stretching, energy-expressing, eating stops since it seemed the day travel went better for everyone. I'm obviously no longer a spring chicken who can stay up all day and drive all night as well.

The visit was lots of fun. We nearly abandoned all sense of schedule, which I took better than I thought. The girls actually took naps in their strollers while we were out. They loved being out and about in the city--seeing people, museums, and lots of birds. The only thing that really seemed to make them unhappy was mealtime at Dad's. There was lots and lots and LOTS of screaming and crying every single time we had a meal. Dani tipped over in one of the chairs--scaring the crap out of everyone in the room. I don't know if that fall is what triggered the unhappiness for the rest of the trip, but as long as those girls weren't up to the table having a meal, they were relatively happy. (They also didn't particularly like when I left the room, but that's not a new thing.)

We successfully survived our first long trip. I'm not so scared of taking more now. I have learned to now pack every bit of medicine they might need. Be prepared for all kinds of weather, no matter what the Weather  Channel says. Travel with painters tape or plug covers. Having single umbrella strollers is nice because they take up less room and make for easier maneuverability in museums and public transportation, but they suck when it comes to storage, so take a big backpack and deal with the bag searches.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Super Spring Clean

I used to be a neat freak, and I've always been a procrastinator. Adding two little ones to the mix did not make matters better. My need to clean and straighten was quickly replaced by my need to eat and sleep.  But now I just can't take it anymore. I see dust on bookcases and fans, dingy spots on my beautiful white rug (Yes, I have a white rug in my sitting room...about one foot from Lillie's highchair.), stacks and stacks of junk mail piled up everywhere. I actually twitch a little when I walk into certain rooms.

Summer begins on June 21. That's seven weeks away. I plan to spend the remainder of this spring cleaning my house. And yes, I am insane.

I do not intend to spend every free moment cleaning. That's just crazy talk! I do, though, have a plan. An actual plan written on index cards with little boxes next to each task that can be satisfyingly checked off as I accomplish them.

I will go room by room and do some serious organizing and cleaning. I will dust baseboards and get cobwebs out of corners, vacuum a mattress, wash curtains, scrub a refrigerator and steam clean the wood floors. (If anyone can recommend a good steam mop, I'm all ears.) I plan to locate my staple gun that went missing some time last year. I'm sure it's hiding with other things that have gone into hiding.

It began last week when I put together the first of two bookcases for my office and actually got books off the floor. I continued this week with freeing the dining room of dust and cleaning the window. Next up, remove the rug and play mat from the playroom and take care of those floors as well as dust the piano. I'm sure I'll find a (un)healthy amount of Cheerio bits.

There's an interesting saying I found that states, "Cleaning while the kids are home is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing." Well, it's going to be snowing in this house for a long while, so I just have to get over it and do my best.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Spring is the time for renewal and rebirth. For a long while now (around 14 months and 3 weeks), I have been neglecting myself. Not entirely, of course, but for the most part, two little terrors darlings dominate my life. They will, gladly, continue to do so, but I am making Spring 2011 the time I renew, reinvent, rediscover, whatever you want to call it. I will reinvent my body, rediscover a sense of order in my home, and renew my love for tasty, tasty homecooking.

I plan to blog about each of these more in depth later on, but I felt it necessary to put this pledge out in the 'Verse. It's not truly a promise you can keep unless you tell others you're trying to keep it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dani the Sleepy

Ear infections suck. Miss Dani cries and coughs and cries and gets very little sleep. But I must say, I got some cute (albeit pitiful) pictures of her first day feeling the effects of two nights' bad sleep.

Miss Dani having trouble keeping her eyes open...

In my attempt to comfort Dani, I let Lillie destroy napkins to stay entertained.

Falling asleep while I changed Lillie's diaper

During nap time, she wouldn't sleep in her crib, so we went old school on the Boppy.

After lunch, she still had no energy and wiped out on her hedgehog. Later, Lillie tickled her feet.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter and the Eggs

Don't I wish I could decorate like this!
Easter is next weekend, and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't realize that until I saw a big sign at Publix reminding me. Oops.

On Easter Sunday, I've promised my mom that I will take the girls to church. This will be their first time going to church, and I'm curious how it will go. My mom is super excited and has said she doesn't care if they run around like crazy children, but I care, so I've already planned to take them over to the nursery/daycare area if they just can't sit still. They also have these sailor dresses they will be wearing. When we got them as a gift, I had no clue where they could possibly wear them, but I must confess, they are absolutely perfect Easter attire. I promise to deliver plenty of pictures...or at least a couple.

We probably won't be going to visit the Easter Bunny at the mall because I just don't see spending money to wait in line to take pictures that may or may not cause fear in my 14-month olds right now. Plus, the Easter Bunny near us creeps me out a bit. I am considering taking them to an egg hunt, though. They love to run around and pick up things, so why not make a morning of it? I just can't seem to decide which one...

Belmont Mansion 
The mansion's egg hunt is a free event on the grounds. There will be three separate egg hunts starting at thirty minute intervals with the first one at 1pm. There are no age limits on the site or parental involvement restrictions, so I assume the girls can go. Plus, I haven't been to Belmont Mansion since I was in elementary school.

Nashville Zoo
Eggstravaganzoo at the zoo has separate hunts divided by age group. We already have a membership, so this event would be free for us. There will also be eggs "hunted" by the animals, face painting, and games. The girls probably won't play any games, but they do enjoy people-watching.

Tennessee Central Railway Museum
This isn't even in consideration because the cost of a ticket for children under 12 is $20 and $31 for adults, but I think it would be really fun when the girls are older. You take a train ride from Nashville to Watertown, TN where the egg hunt takes place. The Easter bunny rides the train with you, and as long as you have your own camera, you can take pictures with him (or her or it, which is it?). I do think the girls would enjoy the train ride, but the cost just isn't justifiable quite yet.

So what are you doing for Easter? Family dinner? Church and breakfast? Any egg hunts? For locals, I'm sure there are hunts that I've missed, so let me know if there are some you attend.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Favorite Things

Without this nifty little gadget, my girls may have gone too long between diaper changes or missed bottles. I don't know where my brain went when they were born, but the Itzbeen helped me seem slightly sane. My husband and I were so dependent on those things that we didn't tell time anymore, it was always how long it had been since something happened. I still use it to keep up with naps and diaper changes.

Fisher-Price Happy Days and Nights Diapers
Through Amazon's Subscribe and Save and Mom programs, these diapers cost me $13.99 per case. That's the best thing ever. Secondly, they work really well! I've only experienced two leaks with them and it's because I used a daytime diaper for longer than I should have (over three hours). I'm sure Pampers and Huggies make thinner diapers, but a little extra bulk is nothing to balk at when I'm saving a bundle. (I did that alliteration on purpose.)

Extremely adorable clothes that are well made and last. The sizes are true to my kids, and I don't believe I've ever paid full price since they will send or give you a handful of coupons every time you show. 

We have Circo clothes, socks, toys, storage containers and two adorable hedgehog bean bag chairs. Target's go-to kids brand is amazing.

Bumkins Junior Bibs
We have tried all kinds of bibs at meal time, but these are perfect. The girls cannot pull them off since they have sleeves. They're big enough to cover their laps, and they are super easy to clean. Bonus--they come in really cute patterns!

Perdue Breaded Chicken Nuggets
All-natural baked chicken with a whole grain breaded crust. They take 90 seconds to warm in the microwave, and even when the girls are going through a picky phase, they will eat these. They are the best quick meal. I just wish they came in a Costco-sized freezer bag.

Sprout Stage 3 Meals
Honestly the closest I've ever seen to real food in any baby food. The lasagna has actual ground beef. The macaroni and cheese has a variety of cheeses with butternut squash and real noodles. Their line includes oatmeal with mixed berries, pumpkin peach pie, and ginger chicken.   Plus there are herbs and spices. I'm a foodie, so this is the best baby food to get my girls to be foodies-in-training. It does cost a little more than Gerber or Beech-Nut, but it's worth it. Buy them through Amazon, and they're even cheaper.

Amazon Subscribe & Save and Amazon Mom
Speaking of Amazon... Because of these two programs, I rarely buy diapers in the store. I just don't see the point. I save up to 30%, and it's delivered to my door in two days. And now, as soon as I know they like a certain food, I'll buy a case of it and save myself some more money. Sign up if you haven't already; it's free.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Week of Change

This week is big for the girls. Sunday was their last day in their infant car seats. Yesterday they rode in the brand spankin' new Evenflo Symphony 65 seats.

Here's there first ride...

And their last.

Also, today will be the first week they'll have all milk all the time instead of a milk/formula mix. Tim made the last full batch of formula Sunday night, so yesterday was and today will be some formula, but come Wednesday--all milk! Did you hear my big happy sigh? The idea of not buying buckets and buckets of formula is sooooooo nice.

Also, the girls are about to change diaper sizes. I just ordered Fisher-Price Happy Days/Nights, size 4. They're getting sooooo big!! I promise, when I get around to it, I will do a 12-month report. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Painting the Town Red

Here's the invitation for the party that happened on February 5 to celebrate the upcoming first birthday of my little girls...which happened on February 7.

The theme was red. Friends and family came a celebrated well. Cake smashing and laughter and lots of good presents made for a wonderfully low stress day for Lillie, Dani and even Mommy.

the main cake--vanilla with strawberry filling
smash cakes for the birthday girls
The girls got lots and lots of books.

I'm pretty sure this is another book. :)


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Favorite Picture of the Week, part 2

I had many favorites this week because of the birthday party yesterday, but this one is my favorite right now. The girls had just finished their cake...and decided to share the icing with the bathroom wall.