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Archive for the ‘Loves It’ Category

Is it just me or has Mother’s Day become this insane competition to see whose husband/kids can come up with the best brunch, gifts, and excursions? Even my husband admitted that Mother’s Day is  “a lot of pressure” because we’re all bombarded with advertisements that essentially guilt everyone into making sure they appreciate all the mothers in their lives, and do it better than everyone else.

On the other hand, as the recipient of all of this appreciation, I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. Despite the stress it causes him, my husband always goes above and beyond. I’ve already told the boys, jokingly of course, that they’re going to have a hard time living up to the Mother’s Days that their daddy gives to me.

This year, I woke up to the smell of bacon, coffee, and blueberry waffles.  But before I could even come downstairs, the hubs sent D into the bedroom with a card. On the inside, a little blue handprint (D’s) and a little blue footprint (Sam’s). So cute.

Downstairs on the table was a lovely display of breakfast, flowers, a framed pic of the boys, and a box full of my favorite goodies – chips, hard apple cider, cookie dough ice cream, Dove chocolates, and Food Network magazine.

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After breakfast and showers, we attempted to head to Grant’s Farm even though we both had a hunch it would be insanely crowded, much like the zoo was last year when we went. When we saw the line of cars just trying to park in the main lot, we turned around and headed to the Frisco Train Store instead. Of course, once we got there, the sign on the door said they would be closed for Mother’s Day, so we headed to the Transportation Museum. Third time’s a charm as the parking lot was pretty much empty! Score! We paid our entrance fees and bought our train tickets and $28 later we were finally on our way to an enjoyable afternoon. What is it about trains that can keep little ones occupied for hours? D had a blast! The auto exhibit was less exciting for him, but still pretty interesting to us.

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After the museum, we went to a new-to-us restaurant in the area where I had the most delicious buffalo chicken sliders. Fortunately, both boys behaved themselves, right up until we were paying the check. Sam started getting fussy and D yelled at the top of his lungs, which turned almost every head in the joint. That was our cue (and also why we don’t eat out much anymore). Of course, neither one made a peep the entire way home. Kids, man.

The rest of the evening was pretty typical. A little afternoon mimosa for me and a couch nap for the hubs. Later, we spent about an hour hanging out in the backyard. D started pointing at the sky and it took us a minute before we realized he was pointing at the moon. Little guy discovered the moon for the first time! So cute. Overall a pretty fantastic day with my little family that I’m so lucky to call mine.

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Just one day after his 17 month birthday, I’m happy to report our little man FINALLY started walking. On Halloween night. And now I have video to prove it.

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I Live for the Weekend

Another great fall weekend in the books!

Friday: It was rainy and gloomy all day so I assumed we’d end up staying in and possibly watch a movie after the babers went to bed. Instead, the clouds cleared and we thought (hoped) that the crowds at the annual balloon glow wouldn’t be so bad, so we decided to go. (The balloon glow is held the night before the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, where all the balloons are inflated and lit up for people to come by and check out. They just look stunning at night. ) We went last year so we figured we’d make it an annual tradition. Unfortunately, the weather did absolutely nothing to deter the crowds and it was probably worse than the year before. We sat in traffic for about an hour before we finally found a parking spot. It’s such a cool thing to see though, and D really enjoyed it so I guess it was worth it.

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Saturday: Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, followed by some good old fashioned lounging around the house, an afternoon nap, and then a trip to the Old Webster Groves Jazz & Blues festival. The weather was just too perfect to sit inside ALL day (though I did enjoy that nap). Although D still isn’t walking by himself yet, that doesn’t mean he likes to sit contentedly in his stroller. Oh no. He likes to be out, standing or walking with one of us holding his hand for support. At one point, as we were sitting, enjoying the music and chowing down on various festival foods, D started bopping up and down to the music while holding onto our legs. I guess he’s a jazz fan!

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The crowd really wasn’t all that bad, and there were a ton of dogs and other little kids for D to watch and laugh at. On top of that, we just had a good time exploring a part of St. Louis that was actually quite new to us. After we got our fill of the festival, we walked a few blocks to a popular pizza joint and had the most delicious fig and prosciutto pizza (the “porky fig”). Then it was back home so the hubs could have a sports night, flipping between his beloved Michigan Wolverines game and the Cardinals game. (Both teams won!)

Sunday: Another morning of cinnamon rolls for breakfast (I’m addicted), followed by a trip to Herman’s Farm to meet up with a couple of friends for more apple picking. (Can you believe almost all of the apples we picked last weekend are almost gone?? I’ve been on an apple kick lately.) Herman’s Farm is a small farm that really looks more like a nursery, but it’s kind of perfect for little kids. They have a “hay ride” which is a bunch of loose straw thrown in the back of a wagon, pulled by a very small tractor. It’s a little silly but the kids love it. They also have a play area with a slide, and a bunch of mini John Deere trikes/tractors/wagons for the kids to play on. Alyssa met us there with her hubby and of course, the adorable AR. Extra special since her name is Autumn and it was, in fact, the first day of Autumn! Angie and her two cuties were also there, and far more adventurous than D when it came to the activities. Her little girl is only two weeks older than D but she climbed to the top of the giant slide and had NO fear going down it all by herself. Little daredevil!! Thanks to Alyssa for the awesome pics!

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Check out that shiner. It looks a bit worse than in this photo. Little D had a run-in with the footboard of the bed on Friday.

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Family pic! Not letting go of that apple.

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D is clearly suspicious of AR, and grips his apple a little tighter.

So intrigued by AR's apple-eating abilities!

So intrigued by AR’s apple-eating abilities!

And now for a few of my own iPhone pics.

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By the time we wrapped our apple picking adventures, it was lunch time. We stopped by a new-to-us BBQ place in St. Charles, and while the atmosphere was impressive, the prices were a little ridiculous. I also wasn’t feeling super great by this point. I made the mistake of getting sweet tea and that just killed my stomach. After lunch, we took a brief walk around the area but almost immediately I felt the overwhelming urge to nap, so we headed home. Later that afternoon, we went to our favorite local park to check out some sail boat races, though they had already docked by the time we got there. Still, we enjoyed a nice walk and some dog-watching. On our way back, we stopped by the grocery store and couldn’t help ourselves when we saw the table of pumpkin pies and pumpkin gooey butter cookies. We ended the weekend with the Emmy’s, which my husband wasn’t super thrilled about, but he ended up enjoying them better than most award shows.

There’s just so much to do in STL in the fall, and I’m glad we’ve been blessed with great weather these last couple of weeks to be able to enjoy it. These are the moments that life is all about!

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My Favorite Season

Taking a break from pregnancy posts to talk about our weekend. I don’t normally detail in minutiae our weekend adventures on this blog, but this past weekend was so wonderful that I want to remember it.

As a kid, Saturday mornings were always my favorite. On a good Saturday, there would be pancakes and bacon or biscuits and gravy for breakfast, accompanied by the absolute best cartoons on TV. Now, I’m the one cooking breakfast and cleaning up, and the cartoons aren’t nearly as enjoyable (I’m starting to hate the Hot Dog Dance song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), but there’s just something about hanging out at home with the family on Saturday mornings that I absolutely love. On this particular Saturday, I made cinnamon and sugar toast in the oven. So easy with minimal clean up and it makes the entire house smell delicious.

After breakfast, we just hung out while D played. At 11am it was kickoff time for my husband’s favorite college team – the Michigan Wolverines. I think I used some of this time to go online and order some Michigan gear for D since he’s outgrown all of his infant gear. We had every intention of leaving the house at half time to go apple picking but the game was too close and D ended up passing out about 2 minutes before halftime. I took advantage of the delay by putting away some laundry and then crawling in bed to read for a bit. Around 3pm, just as the game ended, we finally made our way to Eckert’s, about an hour away.

My mom used to force take me there when I was a teenager and I absolutely hated it. I don’t know why I was such a brat about things, but as an angsty teenager, nothing sounds like more torture than hanging out with your mom and her boyfriend and going to pick apples. Then, when the hubs and I first started dating, I thought it sounded like a pretty fun date idea. And we’ve been going just about every year ever since. It’s one of those few seasons traditions that we’ve carried on through the years and now I’m thrilled we get to do the same with D. Here’s our first trip together, way back in 2005!

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The Fun Farm is fantastic for kids, though D is still a little young to fully enjoy it. He was too small to ride any of the rides or jump on the giant trampoline, but he did get to pet the goats and watch the pig races. I think he liked riding the tractor out to the orchard. And even though this kid has never been handed a full apple in his life, he knew EXACTLY what to do with it and wouldn’t let it go for about 15 minutes.

20130917-221233.jpgStill can’t get over how cute he is here. Chuck Taylors? Baby jeans? Apple juice dribbling down his shirt? I can’t handle the cuteness.

I even made sure to take my good camera but the one thing DSLRs aren’t very good at yet are taking selfies, so the only family shot we got was this one.20130917-221243.jpg

By the time we left, little man was wore out! So back to the house we went so we could do our regular nightly routine of dinner, bath, books and bedtime. While I was on bedtime duty, the hubs busied himself by building a little bonfire so as soon as D hit the hay, mommy and daddy went outside to play. We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores and just sat outside, enjoying the cooler temps and the smell of bonfire. It only lasted an hour or so, but it was fun while it lasted.

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Sunday morning was just as pleasant as Saturday. A nice, leisurely breakfast of pancakes and cartoon watching, followed by our second week in a row of going to church.

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After we saw how much D loved the church nursery last week, we felt like we needed to go back. The first week, we went with our friends to their Sunday School class so we didn’t really get a chance to check out the service since they happen at the same time. This week though, our friends had other plans so we decided to go without them and check out the service.

If we ever had any questions as to whether or not our son has separation anxiety issues, we got a very firm answer of NO this weekend. In fact, when we went to pick him up after service, D took one look at us, realized it was time to go and started bawling! Even the nursery staff were shocked since it’s normally the other way around with kids crying during drop off. But not our child. Nope. He was mad that we made him leave!

After church, we grabbed lunch for my grandma and dropped by her house for a quick visit. Then it was back home so the hubs could mow the grass and I could get my pie-baking skills on. All of those apples called for an apple pie, of course! And it’s been YEARS since I’ve made an apple pie, though this time it was much easier than I remember and maybe even turned out a little bit better.20130917-221325.jpg

So that was our weekend. Pretty simple, but full of all of my fall favorites – apple picking, bonfire and s’mores, a little church and family time, and homemade apple pie! It was just one of those perfect fall weekends that reminds me why this is my favorite time of year and to be thankful for all of life’s little blessings.

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No matter how much you probably love your current home, do you ever just find yourself daydreaming about living in the perfect house?

We bought our house in April of 2006, a month before we got married. It’s our first house and we expected to live here for only about five years. (Side note: why is it that young people can only think ahead about 5 years? Saying you’re going to live somewhere for 10 years or more is basically saying you’re going to be there forever. So five years is the max for everyone.) We didn’t buy for the area (mistake #1) or even pay attention to the school district (mistake #2). We just wanted the best house for our budget. Seven years later and I now have a love/hate relationship with our house. I love that we have 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. I love that we have a basement. I love that we have a huge driveway that can fit about 7 cars, plus street parking. I love that we have a spacious side yard, plus a deck and a patio. I love that we have TWO parks within walking distance. I love how easy my commute is most days. I love that we have a basement, and plenty of storage space. And I love that we have mostly pergo/wood/tile floors rather than carpet.

But there are also a lot of things I don’t love. I don’t love not having a two-car garage (we have a carport). I don’t love not having a ranch, or a suitable pantry in the kitchen. I don’t love not having an on-suite master bathroom. I don’t love having a backyard that overlooks our neighbors’ backyard (even though they’re nice, quiet people). I don’t love having neighbors in general. No matter how nice they all are (well, most of them anyway). I don’t love having low ceilings. I don’t love not having a spacious bedroom or open floor plan. I don’t love not having an eat-in kitchen.

While we haven’t started the hunt for our second house quite yet, I’ve been stockpiling a list of qualities I want in my future home. For all of those house-hunting shows on HGTV that say first-time home buyers are the worst because of their high and unreasonable expectations, I almost think second and third time buyers are even worse because we have an even greater idea of what we want/don’t want in a home based on our previous experiences.

Anyway, enough talking. On with the inspiration photos.

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Isn’t this pantry just perfect? The wicker baskets, the wire baskets, the drawers, the open shelves… I could store ALL THE THINGS in here!

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I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to laundry rooms. While this one is by far one of the least extravagant, I love it for its simplicity. I can almost smell the fresh towels in the dryer. The only thing I might add would be a closet on the other side of those drawers (the not pictured area) for a dirty clothes hamper. With our washer and dryer in the basement, we are notorious for just dumping the dirty clothes on the floor and leaving them there until we wash them. It’s a bad habit but I know myself and I’d need a place to dispose of dirty clothes until I could get around to washing them.

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I love having a backyard. I’d love it even more if I couldn’t see my neighbors. My parents have an awesome covered deck on the back of their house.  It’s by no means this luxurious, but doesn’t this look cozy? I also have a Pinterest board for backyards, most of which also have outdoor kitchens in them but when I thought about it, would I really use an outdoor kitchen that much? Probably not. They just look so cool! I mean, look at this!

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Fancy, no?

In my mind, I’ve convinced myself that I would be in much better shape if I had enough space at home to work out. Having a kid plus working full time outside the home means the last thing I want to do is leave again to go to the gym. If I could do at-home workouts while he plays, I’d be so much better at working out. Maybe.

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So how cute is this exercise room/playroom combo? I’d maybe change up the colors a bit but it’s just so darn functional. I even see a large flatscreen mounted on the wall, opposite the mirror. Just add a treadmill or elliptical and I’d be all set.

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I really don’t know how this shower works without getting water all over the floor but I love the multiple shower heads.

 

On a slightly more practical scale, this is much more my jam when it comes to a bathroom.

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Or maybe this one:

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Ok so a fireplace in the bathroom really isn’t practical but my goodness it’s pretty. My only requirement for a future bathroom is dual sinks.

When it comes to kitchens, my style preference is all over the place. I would kill to have something like this:

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Though the practical girl in me would even be over-the-moon for something like this:

benchCouldn’t you just envision lovely breakfasts here every morning before the kids go off to school? I just love it so much.

And since we’re dreaming here, I’d love to have a movie room. Maybe when I no longer have a need for a playroom, I could turn it into a movie room. Most movie rooms I’ve seen are super cheesy looking though. They’ve tried too hard to make them feel like the real movie theater, but I’d much rather have something stylish and comfortable with just a giant flatscreen instead of a projector screen.

This was about the least cheesy image I could find for the seating.

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So tell me, what would you want in your dream home?

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So remember D’s birthday party post and the glimpse of my weekly photo project?

View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

I knew I wanted to document D’s growth in a unique way. I love, Love, LOVE what Young House Love did with their daughter’s weekly photos. Exhibit A:

yhlBut the thought of buying 52 pieces of fabric, taking photos, editing the photos, and photoshopping numbers onto a photo each week just seemed…daunting. I knew it would be too time consuming and I wouldn’t stick with it.

Plus, I didn’t love the idea of just using a white onesie every week when this kid had so many different outfits that I wanted to remember. Instead, I decided to keep the background white and use a different outfit each week so that I wasn’t only capturing his growth and changes, but his outfits too.

A few of my faves:

Week 3:

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Week 11:

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Week 21:

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Week 32:

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Week 43:

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For his birthday banner, I simply edited all the photos as best I could (trying to make the photos as bright as possible since I wasn’t always great about getting natural light and white-balancing).  Then I had them all printed as 4x6s at Walmart. I bought a wide ribbon in his party colors (blue and green), mini-clothspins, and some colorful strips of thick cardstock-type paper and a large circle-shape punch-out that I found in the scrapbooking section at a craft store. It took me only a few minutes to punch out 52 circles. Then I used a permanent marker to write 1-52 on each of the circles and made sure my photos matched up with the right weeks. I used 3M adhesive strips to adhere the ribbon to the wall before clipping each of the photos and the numbers to it. And VOILA!

View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/desmond

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with it now that the parties are over, but I’m thinking of getting a large metal clip ring and just keeping them all together on something like that and ordering a separate collage print to hang in my office.

Now that we’re beyond the 1 year mark though, I’m just going to do monthly photos, and stick with a different outfit each month. There’s just something about packing up all those sweet little baby clothes that makes me teary, but I have a much easier time knowing I’ve documented my favorite outfits well with photos so I can always look back on them when I’m feeling sentimental.

 

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I think I skipped a 6-9 months post on my favorite baby things so I’m cramming them into one, big 6-12 month post.

1. iPhone or iPad – preferably both. The iPhone has come in handy for SO MANY THINGS. Taking photos/video, playing music (babies love music, especially my baby), or playing videos when we’re trying to have a meal at a restaurant and baby D has decided that everything within reach must be thrown on the floor. The iPad has been most helpful when we’ve  spent 10 hours in the car ONE WAY to visit my husband’s family, which has already been SIX times since he’s been born. That’s about twice the amount of trips we make on a normal year. We try not to rely on it until he’s getting really annoyed, which typically happens after about hour #6. I can’t blame him though. I’m pretty much over the road trip after that long too.

2. iPhone stand – As mentioned above, we like to eat out and while I’ve read posts from other parents who think it’s better for kids to learn how to behave in social settings like a restaurant without the need for an i-something to distract them, those people aren’t usually around when my kid is throwing anything he can get his mits on to the floor. If they were, I’d say “here, you take him so we can eat our meal in peace.” Then I’m sure they’d probably be okay with us playing a little Baby Einstein for 20 minutes. And this iPhone stand helps keep the phone out of reach and in place.

3. MumMums – All of those baby finger foods found in the baby food section are fantastic (and puffs/yogurt melts/etc.) but MumMums are probably our favorite because he can hold them and gnaw on them until they’re mushy. They keep him busy for awhile and I don’t have to have a special place to set it down; I just hand it to him and he goes to town. Unlike puffs or yogurt melts that basically require a clean, flat surface to lay a few out and let him pick them up.

4. Baby Einstein exersaucer – Really any exersaucer will do. This one just happened to be free from my inlaws when they found it at a yard sale for $5. At first, we didn’t think we would need this, since we already had a bouncer seat, bumbo, and jumperoo. I mean, how many baby contraptions does one family need?! But we soon realized that this was the best of them all because it gave us somewhere safe to put him, and I could move it from room to room (unlike the jumperoo) so I could make dinner and have him right there with me.

5. Playmat – Once D started crawling and pulling up on things, we decided even our carpeted living room was too hard and purchased this playmat to provide a little extra cushion should he take a tumble. Maybe that’s the overprotective parent in both of us, but it gave us a little peace of mind. And while this mat is supposed to be some sort of cool block building thing, if I had it to do over again, I’d probably buy a mat with a fewer parts since D likes to pull it apart all the time.

6. Board Books – I don’t know what it is about books, but they fascinate him! His favorite BY FAR is called Baby Woof Woof and we keep it separated from the rest of the books and only break it out at certain times because one reading requires at least 5 readings and even when you’ve done that many, the boy will fuss and cry until you read it again – or find something better to distract him with.

7. Balls – Basketballs, baseballs – any kind of balls really. Balls are his favorite toys. First, he learned how to roll it back and forth, then he quickly taught himself to throw it and loves to spend an hour playing his version of catch. Already a sports fanatic.

8. Blocks – After balls, his blocks are his second favorite toy. Well, blocks and stacker rings. He loves to pick two of them up and bang them together. He still hasn’t quite figured out the sorting aspect of it yet, but he loves to put him in and out of the bucket.

9. Original Sprout Shampoo – I try to use Burt’s Bees lotion and bubble bath almost exclusively because I love the smell, but after fighting a bit of cradle cap when he was around 7 months old and getting his first haircut, the stylist suggested the above Original Sprout Shampoo. And you guys, it cleared up with just ONE use and we haven’t had so much as a dandruff flake since. Awesome stuff, even if I don’t love the smell as much as Burt’s Bees.

10. Glow Seahorse – I was determined to get baby D a glow worm for nostalgia’s sake (both the hubs and I had them as babies) but the glow worm didn’t look the same and I just liked the seahorse better. He doesn’t fall asleep with his arm around it like the baby in the picture but it has provided some comfort and distraction from time to time and I can probably credit it to at least a few hours of extra sleep a week, so it’s already worth the minimal cost.

Tell me your favorite baby item for months 6-12!

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