Home Sweat Home: Playroom

Over a year ago, we put up a wall between our main level and our lower level den. Even though the handy man was super hesitant, I still don’t regret it. A while after that, I finally painted it

And then it sat like this for forever, acting as a catch all for anything that didn’t belong. It drove me crazy but the annoyance obviously didn’t stir up enough motivation to change it.

This summer, we attended a birthday party at a house that has the exact same layout as ours. And the SuperMom Neighbor created the most heavenly play place down here in her home! She actually dedicated the entire den to Toddler Awesome. It served as plenty of inspiration for me so we have been – albeit very slowly – trying to create a play place for Amelie. Here is where we are at currently:

We scored a used play kitchen for Amelie. I love it so. It was dirty but Amelie and I scrubbed it until it sparkled! We purchased a rug from Land Of Nod for way too much money and I wish it were white, not cream. Ah, well. The table and chairs are from consignment that I plan to makeover one day. Maybe yellow? I plan to do a lot of things “one day”…

Just recently, we picked up two STUVAs from Ikea. They are actually intended as wall cabinets but I liked that their depth was almost the same as the play kitchen. I need to purchase legs so they stand up taller. Although I wanted a lot of storage to stash toys, I’m debating on moving one out (or putting it on the wall) because I think two looks weird. I think they’d look better on either side of the crawl space door but those spaces are too small and not symmetrical. Darn!

I do love the lantern cluster though. I scored most of them on clearance. The mint one was originally lime green so I painted it with my Martha Stewart craft paint in Beach Glass, which I had purchased for this Christmas craft fail. I knew it’d come in handy someday!

Originally I wasn’t going to post these pictures because the lighting is so crappy but I decided to anyway because that’s an issue that needs resolving…we need light down here! I’d love to scrape the horrible popcorn ceiling (one day, but not anytime soon) and put in recessed lights and maybe a chandelier.

Amelie hasn’t spent much time here yet, but she ventures down more often each week.

I’m hoping as she gets older, she’ll be able to keep herself busy for longer periods of time and that this playroom will evolve into a fun and creative place for her – and eventually Cade. Although that kid pukes on anything remotely near him so I keep him far away from this over-priced rug!

What you can’t see is all of the toy organizing I’ve been doing lately. It sneaks up on you, I swear. You’re zooming along in Toddlerdom and all of a sudden you start collecting literally anything that will hold her attention for a few moments. I’ve grabbed a bunch of assorted sized bins and now most of her toys have a home. Just like anything, but especially since littles change so fast, her toy collection needs constant attention and pruning.

I’m dreaming of big cork board loaded with art (made by my Amelie, of course!) and I have grand plans for a dollhouse, teepee, art and craft station, a pretend school and much more! The only thing lacking is execution. And money. And talent. And time.

It’s a start though?

 

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! 😀

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. I don’t like 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!

Update. A friend inspired me to cram more hair goodies in by adjusting the compartments to fit bigger items.

updated2Now I have everything I need to do Amelie’s hair all in one place. I typically do her hair while she eats breakfast. 

updated1

Easy! Pretty! Organized! One of my favorite little projects to date. Seriously.

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. 😀 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.