Friday Tidbits

Amelie is quickly approaching the big TWO! Two years old. Such a big girl!

Last year, I put together a (subpar) “pink theme” and this year…a (possibly also subpar) dinosaur birthday party is in the works! I’ve been working on decorations and gift bags – trying to do as much ahead of time as I can. And because it’s fun!

Remember my craft bin?

If you look closely, you may spy a big bag of crayons. As it turns out, they are broken crayons. Broken crayons are sad but it comes with toddler territory.

I bought these adorable dinosaur molds from Amazon to bring new life into those broken pieces. Behold, mini-dinosaur crayons!

Didn’t they turned out cute? And I was able to recycle lots of random crayon bits – weeee! I bought big gold Easter eggs (aka, “dinosaur eggs”) to tuck the crayons into for the treat bags. I’ll be sharing more as the party planning progresses…if you care?

Until then, happy Friday from us!

Candace’s Crafty Corner: Amelie’s Craft Bin

Like I mentioned in the last My Amelie, I’ve been enjoying Toddlerdom. Amelie is a pleasure. Although she is still fairly young/uncoordinated, we’ve been doing “crafts” together. I love it! Granted, our projects generally last 15 minutes or less and then I spend her nap time cleaning up/finishing whatever we started. But hey, I’m so happy I get to do this kind of stuff with her now.

My mess of a craft bin is unorganized and loaded full. Plus it was too heavy to drag out and play with often.

I decided to create a craft bin for Amelie. Something just for her. I put in pipe cleaners, Playdoh, paints (washable!), crayons, paper for coloring (in the black and white organizer), stickers (in the polka dot organizer) and sidewalk chalk (also washable, which is key).

As she gets older, I can add in more fun stuff – like glue sticks, scissors, stamps, colored paper, stencils, etc. But for now, these keep us pretty busy.

I may have to get a bigger bin though. My eyes about bugged out of my head when our neighbor tipped me off that the 48 COLORS SIDEWALK CHALK WAS ON SALE at Target.

Just imagine the possibilities! I can’t wait to play with them! I mean, I’m sure Amelie can’t wait to dive into these even though she tends to gravitate towards one color for all of her art. And that color is usually black or brown…

 

Friday Tidbits

It’s FriYAY!

I apologize for my absence! I can tell that, deep down, you missed me a little. You see, Amelie and I have been sick. Since I’m breastfeeding and Amelie is little, of course there is nothing either of us can do but suffer through it. She’s been up crying 3-5x/night all week long because she’s so stuffed up. And now Cade is congested too…oh please no!

Since I do enough whining in person, let’s get on with the post, shall we?

One Friday long ago, I posted this really gross picture of our newly “organized” kitchen cabinet. Hello there, Fish Oil!

Unappealing? Yes. Super helpful at keeping a little sanity in our kitchen? Also a yes!

Well, after we prettied up our cabinets with lots and lots of white, I knew this cabinet could use some refreshing up on the inside as well. So I did and it took a long time even though it shouldn’t have.

Oversharing:

A closeup:

This system is working pretty well for us. I love that all of my breast pumping supplies are in one bucket. It’s actually the bucket I swiped from the hospital when I had Amelie. What IS that color anyway? Faded mustardy puke?

Where was I? Oh yeah, oversharing. For our keys, I bought the long Command Hook rail from Target. It was pricey at $9.99 but perfect. It has a slot where you could put important mail so maybe I’ll try that instead of piling it on the counters…(maybe). I also picked up a pack of label key rings from Home Depot so we could organize all of the miscellaneous keys floating around. A small To Do with a big impact!

The white basket (also from Target) I use to keep all of our vitamins, medications and sunscreen handy. I hate to mention it to those in frozen land, but we’ve had to pull out the sunscreen already so it’s good to have it close by. It keeps everything together and tucked away. I pull out the entire basket each morning and put it back when I’m done. Why didn’t I do this system a hundred years ago?

The purple tea tin is still holding sunglasses. I put another small Command hook to hold my iPhone charger. Lastly, I bought a wire basket from the Target dollar section and a new pack of pens because our hodgepodge collection was irritating me. That small project was worth the $2.03 that it cost me!

Doesn’t it look so much neater in the “new” cabinets?

My Amelie

AGE: Almost two! (23 months)

Amelie, you are such a joy. You are the most delightful toddler – I’m so lucky!

Verbal: In the past two weeks, her verbal skills have exploded. Before she said very few words and now she is saying new words every day. Words: Cade, yellow, purple, red, oh no!, alright, let’s go!, yay!, hey!, whoa!, okay, outside, one, two, three, elbow, puppy, poopy, pee pee, pot pie (she likes those “p” words), and hot tea (which is secretly hot chocolate).

Amelie “sings” the alphabet too! It’s so cute. All of the letters sound mostly the same but she’s trying to get the hang of it. I haven’t been able to catch it on video because she clams up the moment the camera comes out.

She is stringing a few words together like “i sit mama” (I sit with/like Mama) and my favorite of all…she is answering my questions with “yeah”. Her sweet little affirmative reply is just about the cutest thing ever. Also, she likes to mimic. I’ll say “Ok, let’s go!” and she’ll copy. If I’m puzzled and go “hmmm”, she’ll do the same. A lot of times I’ll be talking to Daddy or Grandma in the car and she’ll pipe up from the back seat with what I just said. Amelie is always ALWAYS listening.

Amelie, I love talking with you. We talk about what fun things we did that morning while we snuggle in the chair before nap time. It’s something I never ever want to forget.

Activities: Amelie is doing a great job with colors. She knows blue, red, yellow and purple. Grandma put together a color matching activity for her using colored bins and she got it on her first try! She has trouble with orange, not only is it hard to say but she confuses it with red. Amelie can count to three and knows that she’ll be two on her birthday. She has no idea what her birthday is but once she realizes cake is involved, I’m sure she won’t forget that awesome word!

I love this stage. Amelie is finally coordinated enough to do activities with me. Before, I could tell that most things frustrated her and so she ended up only wanting to be physical (like being bounced around by Daddy). Now we can do a nice mix of both – color on the sidewalk with chalk AND smash snow in the yard. Paint Valentines for a bit and then dance around in the living room. We can spend the morning together – doing crafts and “helping” with chores. Gone are the days where we HAD TO leave the house – now we can spend some mornings at home keeping busy.

She loves to help and desperately wants to be involved in what we are doing. Her favorite activity is cooking with Daddy. It takes forever and makes a fine mess but that’s what having fun is all about.

Enjoys: Cooking and helping – especially with Daddy. Playing pretend with her stuffies – they do everything: color, cook, clap, dance and drink hot tea. She likes accessorizing with her fox slippers and backpack from Oma, hats (loves hats!), and necklaces. She likes playing with our phones and calling people (for real and pretend). She knows how to scroll through pictures and how to play videos. She also showed me how to turn on the TV and somehow set an NBA alert on Daddy’s phone! :D

Amelie, you are still a Daddy’s girl and probably always will be. But you do like our mornings together. So do I. We talk and laugh a lot and have a good time!

Schedule: She usually wakes between 7-8am and we try to get her to bed by 7ish but that tends to get drawn out. She’s been good this week but for a while, she was waking a few times per night. Sometimes she drops her nuk but other times she wants to be comforted with a few pats and covered up with a blanket. She’s been napping late in the afternoons – usually around 2ish to 4ish – sometimes we have to wake her at 5pm when Daddy comes home.

Personality: You are shy when we are out in public. I find myself saying things “Are you being shy?” when we are around new people or new situations, which is dumb of me because of course you are being shy! Because you are shy. And shyness is not something that should be “fixed” or “forced out of”. Amelie is goofy, smiley and happy at home because she feels comfortable.

She does not like change. If we visit Daddy or Grandma at work, it feels weird so she gets nervous. I try to prepare her for when people come over or if we go somewhere and she seems to do much better. I get it, Amelie, I’m the same way!

I signed us up for music class and she is very clingy, which surprised me at first. She almost seems relieved when it’s over and I suspect it’s because the class is small (compared to story time at the library) and we sit in a circle. Duh, we are all facing each other. I think she feels nervous being engaged across the circle. She does love when Miss Dar pulls out all of the instruments though!

She is obedient and a great listener. She holds my hand, gets her boots on, and stays by me when I ask. She is such a good girl! That doesn’t mean I don’t have to chase her around the coffee table to get her diaper changed…but still, I am so thankful.

Mommy stuff: We are enjoying each other. Amelie has accepted that Cade is part of the picture but she still gets a lot of attention from me. She’s quite the little Mommy herself. She kisses Cade and makes him clap for her! She spends a lot of time (and uses a lot of wipes) changing her babies’ diapers.

I’ve learned a lot in this stage. I’ve learned to have planned spontaneity (if that makes any sense). I have to have a plan but I also have to be flexible. I try to brainstorm a few activities for the day and I recognize that there is a high probability that it will only entertain Amelie for a few moments and then we’ll have to move on to something new. Sometimes I hit the jackpot, like scrubbing the high chair out on the deck (who knew?!), that Amelie can’t get enough of. The girl loves to clean things! Sometimes we run errands but I accept that I can’t get much done. It sounds simple but it’s taken me a while to accept this since becoming a Mommy. I can pull out the mop with the hopes of cleaning the floor but I accept that most likely “mopping” will create more of a mess than when we started. And that’s ok. We are trying to pass time, experience new things, and spend time together. We are not actually going to mop the floor!

Bunny, you. are. awesome. I love you so! And you know I do because when I ask who loves you, you answer “Mama.” Heart melted!

 

Things got hairy

Amelie was born with crazy hair. It was full and dark. With blonde tips! It was gorgeous and strange. Of course I couldn’t help myself, I had to pick up a few hair bows. Then a few more. And a few more. And so begun Amelie’s hair bow collection.

After a while, those tips faded but her hair kept growing. It’s now past her shoulder blades! Her hair is so long, she actually needs to wear hair bows/barrettes/ponytails to keep it out of her eyes. Weeeeee, I love when accessories are required!

I seriously need to learn how to do hair STAT. My crummy attempt at a french braid:

Anyway. I was protective of the hair bows. I wanted to make sure we kept track of them and I kept them neatly on the cards they came with. I went a little hair bow psycho, I admit. One time, Amelie dropped a hair bow on a walk with my MIL and by golly, she went out for a run the next day and tracked that hair bow down! She’s a good woman, I tell you.

In spite of my obsessing, we’ve lost a few here and there. And then Amelie chewed on one of the cards and ripped another. My Type A tendencies flared. No me likey chewed up cards and empty hair bow slots.

I picked up a bead organizer at Michaels and problem *mostly* solved!

Much better, right? I still need to hunt for a bigger one that can hold her hair brush, elastics, big bows, necklaces and sunglasses but we are moving in the right direction. Little things like this make me so happy!

This has been the year of organizing for me. I think now that we’ve gotten a few rooms painted and some big projects checked off, I can pull back the reigns and work on little things, like hair bows and closets.

And that’s all I’ve got today. Sorry to send you into the weekend with only boring hair bow nonsense.

My Cade

AGE: 3 months

Oh Cade, you are my sweet, smiley, snorty, good sleeper little guy. You are such a blessing.

Schedule: I wish I had noted Amelie’s schedule at different phases because it’s hard to remember…even though in the moment you think you’ll never forget. Right now, Cade has a great schedule. He usually wakes between 6ish-7ish and wants to go down for his first nap fairly soon afterwards. I usually keep him awake out of necessity because I’m trying to get Amelie fed, dressed and ready for wherever. As soon as we’re in the car, he’s asleep! Blows my mind. If we’re at home, I swaddle him and put him in the swing. And he falls asleep. Blows my mind! It’s absolutely perfect because then I can focus on Amelie for the morning. He likes to feed every three hours with a some awake time but not much. He spends much of his awake time spitting up. :D He is so smiley and sweet. I’ll catch him smiling away at me because he thinks I’m talking to him when I’m really talking with Amelie. Poor guy! He is so ridiculously adorable.

Amelie goes to sleep around 2pm and if both kids are napping simultaneously (which happens fairly regularly), it’s so delicious that I can hardly stand it. I start to drool!

In the late afternoons and evenings, Cade has his fussy time. Sometimes I end up feeding him every hour because neither of us can figure out what he wants. My milk supply is crap by evening and we both find that frustrating. Hubs bounces him on the ball and sometimes it takes a few tries to get him to bed. Now Cade’s fussiness is a joke compared to Amelie’s “witching hour”. Amelie would howl and sob and scream and it was all sorts of sad/painful/awful/exhausting. Cade doesn’t even full out cry – he just fusses! Blows my mind!

Anyway, I feel bad but Hubs and I are both zapped of patience by that time. We’ve finally gotten Amelie to sleep and frankly, we want to rest! Cade is such a great baby and he should be allowed this tiny bit of attention but I get crabby. But when night time rolls around…Cade is a dream baby! Whenever we get him to sleep (usually around 10) he sleeps. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. All night! Blows my mind!

Guess who is still waking us sometimes up to 3x/night? Yep. Amelie. She’s the one keeping us sleep deprived…

Talents: Laughing! Oh Cade, your laugh is just about the cutest, squeakiest thing ever. I haven’t been able to catch it on video yet. He’s laughed a handful of times and mostly it’s because of Amelie. He thinks she’s awesome and hilarious! I do too!

Cade does “baby” things that Amelie never did. He has a fairly predictable schedule of awake and sleepy time! He likes mobiles! He coos when I talk to him! I can sit and hold him (instead of pacing)! I can put him on the floor to hang out for a while! All of this (you guessed it) blows my mind!

It’s hard not to fill this post up with comparisons to Amelie. I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. The contrast continues to amaze me. Cade loves being a baby and I love it too. Cade, thank you. You’ve given me a gift. I’ve never had much confidence in myself but especially when it comes to this Mothering stuff, it was stripped pretty bare for a while.

But now, on most days, I think I’m a pretty good Mommy and it’s because I have two delightful kids making me feel that way.

Gotta go, the Mommy tears are coming and I can’t see what I’m typing anymore.

 

Friday Tidbits

The big kitchen cabinet redo got me hankerin’ to update our gross mishmash of kitchen towels. We’ve got a wide assortment – all different colors, a few bath hand towels and some holiday ones. But they all have one thing in common: they are worn out!

And then, this happened. It’s like Target crawled INSIDE MY MIND:

Clearance! And coordinating!

You can tell some of the cabinets, like this one, could use a solid round of caulking. One day? Maybe never?

I do need to update our washcloths too but those weren’t on clearance. I wish they’d make gray ones! The little basket that houses them is from the Target dollar section. I go nuts there.

Even though I have the one-in-one-out rule, I haven’t gotten rid of the old towels just yet. I’m going to replace my stash of rags in the upstairs linen closet with the towels that are still somewhat decent.

I’ll cringe the first time Hubs wipes Amelie’s ketchup face with one of these but I do accept that kitchen towels are meant to be used.

Next up, kitchen rugs…

Happy Friday! We are supposed to get loads of snow!

Home Sweat Home: Kitchen Cabinets

Hello! I’m still here! I’m sorry I’ve been delinquent. Now that Cade is awake more in the afternoons and evenings, it’s becoming difficult to find time for computer-y things. Buuut, I have a *big* update for you!

Before we get right into it, let’s take a look back on this started-off-as-an-exciting-DIY-but-turned-into-let’s-pay-someone-to-do-it-for-us journey.

It all began with a beigey-butterscotchy cocktail of yuck:

And even though I kept referring to it as an “island”, it’s actually not an island at all since IT’S CONNECTED TO THE WALL. Anyway, the bar got a pretty makeover:

Then the trim and doors got transformed:

Although I neglected to do behind the fridge so it still looked  junky.

Thanks to a good friend and some serious effort, the wall paper border got scraped off:

And the walls were painted a delicious Gray Owl, which clashed angrily with our cabinets:

Then later, I painted ONE cabinet but left the door off for many many months…as well as many visitors:

By this point, I had lost all of my kitchen DIY mojo. So we hired painters to paint the rest of the cabinets! TA DA:

Whoa! Pretty pretty cabinets!

The photos are dark because I don’t have the patience (and neither does my toddler) to take them in afternoon light:

This project took two painters EIGHT days and cost us almost $2000. I know. Our wallets are a a stingin’. Like I mentioned earlier, they used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation System from Home Depot so it’s not just regular old paint. It comes with a sealant and everything. Obviously this was a very labor intensive/costly job. After watching them work for over a week, I felt relieved knowing there was absolutely no way I could have done this job myself during nap time. Pieter The Painter even painted the trim behind the fridge for me. What a sweetie!

We really debated whether we should lay down the cash or wait to do a full kitchen reno later on. Eventually, I’d love a new kitchen. But with two littles, I can’t see us tackling that kind of a project for quite a few years. I don’t have the brain cells to even plan a new kitchen, much less live in the chaos of an actual renovation. So this is a great interim project until we save up more money and spend the time now growing our littles into kind Bigger People.

As for the remaining To Dos…there are still quite a few projects that need attention:

  • possibly paint the maroon grout – it looks very maroon-y now that everything is white
  • paint the wood trim on the countertops white to match the cabinets
  • paint the grungy ceiling
  • install toe kicks
  • replace the outlets themselves since they are still almond colored
  • address lighting someday
  • replace cracked kitchen window
  • address grubby window coverings
  • redo pantry
  • refinish wood floors in a dark walnut to color match the laminate in the rest of the house

Yeah, the kitchen is far from “done” but at least it’s not a total embarrassment anymore. Hip, hip, hooray!

A Messy Monday

You know what one of my favorites things ever is? When Amelie holds my hand. Her tiny delightful hand grabbing hold of mine reminds me that raising littles is precious. It’s such an honor. Sigh…

Except last week, raising littles sucked. It sucked baaad.

I started a super long post detailing last week’s drama but it all got to be too long and too much. Let me just summarize by saying it all began with a very early AND A VERY MESSY Monday. Amelie caught a nasty stomach bug (hooray for projectile puke) and then Hubs and I both got it (think food poisoning/worst hangover of your life). I was so sick, I missed two feedings. Then Amelie got hives!

(proof):

Throw in a few skipped naps (nooo, please, no) and we had an entire household of miserable sleep deprived people. Even my sweet Cade! The kids double teamed us! It was the worst.

We are not yet fully recovered with good nights of sleep but I’ll take these clunky days compared to last week. Oy!

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. This past Monday was a messy one too but for an altogether different reason. Remember when I lost my teeny mind and painted one of the kitchen cabinets before finishing any of the other projects I had started?

A picture to remind you:

Once I saw that beautiful white, I was ALL IN. I worked tirelessly, until, well, I got tired.

You see, after a round of caulking and patching and FOUR coats of paint, I lost steam. Then the wheels fell off when I nicked the door and it chipped immediately. I knew two things:

  1. I did not have the time necessary to put five coats of paint on these cabinets. I only have nap time. And sometimes, like last week, I don’t even have that.
  2. Even after the five coats it would require to cover the “Leather Satchel”, these cabinets would most likely chip with use and that would make me a super sad person.

So, the lone white-ish cabinet sat doorless for five months. Maybe more? I started ignoring it and the king sized bottle of fish oil inside that all of my guests were privy to see.

Then it happened one day. I decided to hire a painter.

And THIS, my friends, is happening as I type!

You guys! Did you almost poop your pants? Me too! Which brings back horrible memories from last week. Regardless, YAY huh?

I took a lot of comfort in the fact that this is a gnarly job. This is not something I could have taken on myself with two under two during nap time. The project is going to cost a pretty penny but I’m really hoping it prolongs the life of our kitchen for a good hunk of time.

Instead of regular paint, they are using the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation system from Home Depot. Our painter has used it in the past and recommended it. Amelie digs it!

It hasn’t been that fume-y (which I worried about with littles) but we have a monster whole house fan that we’ve been running each night to ventilate it really well.

We have our kitchen stuff piled on the kitchen table, in the guest room, office, and on the dryer. It’s been tricky living without a kitchen so Amelie and I have been subsisting on cupcakes and string cheese. Amelie digs that too! :)

A snow storm rolled in this morning delaying the painters so it’ll be tight considering I have company coming tomorrow through the weekend. Weeee!

Home Sweat Home: The STAIRS

This has been a long, long, long time coming. We finished the stairs!

At first, they looked like this:

Then they turned into a grubby floating island of blue carpet between the original wood floors on the main level and the new laminate floors on the upper and lower levels (with shiny black railings).

And we lived with those ugly floating blue stairs for oh, only two years or so…

But, not a minute longer!

Because (drumroll please):

How pretty, eh?

You see, it’s an awful long story and normally I wouldn’t waste your time telling you about it but…actually maybe I would. Sorry.

When we picked out the laminate floors, Home Depot was all like, of course laminate on the stairs too. But then when the contractor came out to look around, he was like “no, you have to do real wood stairs because they are open on one end” and so we had a wood contractor come out and give us a quote and he said it was a complicated/expensive job and wasn’t going to match the laminate. Meanwhile, the laminate floors were going in and the guys installing them were like “how come you aren’t doing the stairs?” and we were all “they told us you couldn’t because they had to be real wood instead?” and they were all “um, we totally could have done the stairs too if we had the supplies!” and we felt duped/frustrated.

Fast forward a year to when we hired our German handyman (the first person Amelie waved bye to, of course) to build our wall. He noticed the blue stairs and recommended getting those fixed- as if we kept them on purpose- and gave us a pamphlet from Home Depot about a cap and tread stair system that matches the laminate floors perfectly. How come Home Depot didn’t know that Home Depot sells the coordinating stairs for their flooring? Thank goodness our German handyman did…

Anyway, this summer, we went in and special ordered the supplies with the plan to do the job ourselves. We were hoping to get the project completed by the time we had company coming to stay with us. But instead of arriving in the 8 days Home Depot promised, the order TOOK WEEKS LONGER to ship. Weeks!

When it finally arrived, I went to go pick it up. The guy took forever to retrieve our order because he could only find two boxes. He was flustered and with a line at customer service starting to pile up that he needed to tend to, he assured me that this was my entire order and loaded them into my car. Without making him open the boxes to double check, even though we were both suspicious, I signed off on it. Because I’m too nice. That was, like, really dumb.

I brought the boxes home and unloaded them into our garage. Hubs was probably cooking an amazing dinner and so I promptly forgot about the boxes. Our visitors came and went. Months ticked by. The summer was closing in on us. So one fine Saturday, we decided to open those boxes and realized that we only had the risers (the white part) and. Nothing. Else.

CRAP.

Since I had signed off on the order, how would they ever believe me that we were missing most of what we ordered?! I’m talking $400 worth of laminate treads and caps. $400 worth of stuff that obviously wouldn’t have fit into two boxes. And where was our missing laminate??

I talked to Home Depot and they couldn’t find our laminate portion anywhere. So I went in to explain. I don’t know if it was my tired weepy eyes or my very round uncomfortable belly, but by golly, the manager believed me. So he re-ordered the laminate portion for us. Bless him!

The missing shipment was never recovered, by the way. It’s probably sitting confused at a different Home Depot and those people are all like, what the hell is all of this?

After a few weeks (I was starting to worry the same misplacement error might have happened again), we finally received all of the “stuff” do the stairs.

Except we don’t own a circular saw and you need one for this job. Summer ended and so arrived a beautiful fall and busy cross country season. Then winter came and shortly after, Cade was born. Then Christmas and New Year’s and we were both like…

“Let’s hire this job out.”

In waltzed our German handyman again (see how it came full circle?). Initially, I was all about on DIYing everything in this house but I’m so glad we hired him. We did not have the 8 hours that this job required (actually 16 man hours since he brought a partner). We can only work during weekend nap time. Those stairs would cost a boat load of naps when I could be showering/blogging/eating cookies. We did not have a circular saw. Nor did we have a nail gun. We did not know how to disassemble the railing post (which he put in when he put up the wall). We did not have the skills. Most importantly, we did not have energy!

Eventually, we plan to stain the original wood floors on the main level a dark walnut to “match” the laminate in the rest of the house. As for the stairs themselves, we still have caulking and another round of paint touchups to do. But for now, this concludes the saga of our stairs. The blue carpet is officially eradicated from our home entirely. And that feels darn good.

I never thought I’d say this but I have fond memories of the blue stairs. When I was pregnant, I had trouble sitting on the floor with Amelie because of my sciatica. Instead I would sit on the bottom step and soon, Amelie started joining me there. Together we’d sit and share snacks, read books, chat, and cuddle. It was our spot. It was all kinds of sweet, I’m telling you.

The end.