Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend in review

Memorial Day weekend was no vacation at our house! Work, work, work! There was lots to be done outside, as the constant rain and a certain little babyman have prevented us from getting much accomplished to this point. It was bummin' me out too, because the yard was starting to look a bit WT (white trash). We can't have that!

Saturday Hubs mowed, weed-whacked and did some general yard maintenance. In the process he found this guy:

Ew. Seriously. Ew. I'm a pretty independent gal. I can kill my own spiders and pay my own bills but snakes seriously freak me out. The idea that this giant garter snake is living in our yard does not sit well with me. The idea that he's so fat because he's been feasting on lots of mice and moles sits even less well!

Sunday while Hubs was fighting with the weedwhacker (who had apparently decided it had worked hard enough to deserve the rest of the weekend off) Sweets and I made a run to the nursery to pick out some plants for my window boxes, and some vegetable seeds. We came home with petunias, some other plants I don't know the name of, and tomato, zucchini, butternut squash, basil and parsley seeds. We had planned a much more elaborate veggie garden but it has been so ridiculously wet we aren't sure much would grow in our plot. Annoying! Also on Sunday our neighbor gave us a ton of hostas and irises that she had thinned out of her garden. Score! I heart free plants.

Monday my parents came over and we worked like busy bees weeding, planting, getting those veggie seeds started, raking, sweeping, dog-washing, cleaning the pond...whew! It was a very full day, but I love that we got so much accomplished!

Sweets had a serious case of the crappy nappies this weekend. It all caught up to him while he was rocking on the porch with Grandma!

Biggity desperately needed some spring cleaning too. He got a bath and then he got Furminated.

Our little house, all spruced up!

Reading with Grandpa while the ladies cooked dinner.

All in all, it was a great weekend, even if we didn't get to relax much or getaway. I find a profound sense of peace in the fact that our yard is looking SO much better. I also don't mind that I got a little color on my pasty pale skin! Hope you all had a great holiday weekend as well! 


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Curse you, baby monitor

I deliberately did not register for a baby monitor before Sweets was born. Come on, our house is like 1300 square feet, and his bedroom is just across the wall from ours. We can pretty much hear him any time, anywhere, especially if he really needs us. But what's been nice about not having a monitor is that I don't have to listen to the tiny sleep noises he makes...the noises that if I could hear them, would make my inner dialogue go something like this: Was that...? No! NO! He's only been sleeping 13 minutes. He's not waking up already is he? No. He's not. Wait...yes, that was definitely a wake-up noise. Or maybe it was a fart. Just ignore it. He'll go back to sleep. If he was even awake in the first place. Maybe the dog woke him up. OMG that dog is going to live on the porch for the rest of his life. 

I'm only partially kidding. Nevermind, really, I'm not kidding at all. These are the kinds of thoughts that tormented me for the better part of my baby's first year. But as you know, Sweetie Pea has been sleeping exponentially better lately. With the weather improving as well, I decided that nap time/right after he goes to bed for the night would be a great time to capitalize on getting some work done in the yard. Since I couldn't make my peace with leaving him sleeping alone in the house, I picked up a very basic baby monitor this week. Just as a sidenote: the baby monitor section is completely overwhelming. They have monitors that tell you the temperature of the nursery, monitors that vibrate, light up, and make noise, monitors that have video feeds, monitors that allow you to talk to baby, monitors that do your taxes for you. After a head-spinning 20 minutes of reading the back of the boxes, I settled on this one:

Fisher Price Surround Sounds and Lights Baby Monitor

It sounds hi-tech but it was pretty much the most basic option they had. One receiver. Two channels. Sounds from the nursery come through as both noise and lights over the receiver. I gave it it's first go the other day while Sweets was napping. Admittedly, I did not intend to do yard work, I intended to sit on the porch with my book and a glass of iced tea. But it didn't go quite as planned. I ended up reading the same paragraph over and over because I could hear every rustle, every peep, every time my child batted an eyelash. And it totally stressed me out. I'm not used to hearing all those sleep noises. Just to make myself feel better, I walked into the house without the monitor and confirmed that no, standing in the living room, I did not hear those noises. And it made me so grateful that I didn't have one say, on my nightstand all this time.

Baby Monitor: 1      Stacy: 0

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Rapture

Nope, I am not talking about end-of-the-world earthquakes and plagues of locusts a la crazy Harold Camping. I am talking about the rapture that is sleep. Sleep, my friends!

We have a beautiful, healthy, happy baby who is growing and thriving, and for that we could not be more grateful. Honestly, we couldn't. Sweets is the greatest blessing we have ever receieved. But our beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy did not sleep for the first 9 months of his life. There were nights I didn't get more than 45 minutes of consecutive sleep, nights I logged no more than 2 hours of total sleep, nights I didn't sleep at all. I read every book. I tried every suggestion. I let him cry. I cried. I went to work (almost) every day feeling like I was slogging through jello. Afraid I would fall asleep at the wheel on my way home. Exhausted but dreading going to sleep myself. Not knowing what any given evening would bring. Obsessing over every nap and every night. It was the hardest 9 months of my life.

And for the last 2 weeks, my son has slept through the night. every. night. Can we take a moment to celebrate that, please?    

Don't let the pictures fool you. He really didn't sleep for beans. I took pictures of him sleeping to make myself feel better when I thought I was going to die of sleep deprivation.

You go, Sweetie Little Pea! I love you.
And I love sleep.
Please don't take it away from me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sweetie Pea's Nursery

Since I love decorating, and seeing what other people have done with their homes, I thought I'd do a few posts on different rooms in my house. I am going to start with the nursery because it's my very favorite room! SO much love, thought, and work went into Sweets' nursery. I knew I didn't want a "traditional" baby room - nothing too themey, nothing pastel, and nothing with baby Disney characters on it (blech. I'm sorry, but blech). I was convinced we weren't going to find out the sex of the baby (but Hubs couldn't hold out) so I was planning something gender neutral. Once we did find out it was a boy, I loved the concept so much I went ahead with it anyway. One of my BFFs (through her love of American Pickers on the history channel) totally helped me plan this room out and completely got where I was going with it. We constantly bounced ideas off of each other throughout the process. And what we ended up with was this "Vintage Americana" nursery!

Before it was my sweet baby boy's room, his nursery was our walk-in closet. For reals. It was this odd room right next to our bedroom with no door and no closet of its own. So we lined it with Closetmaid wire racking and filled it with our clothes, shoes, bags and belts. It was like nirvana. But nirvana was not long for this world once that little stick turned blue! Here are a few pics after the closet was cleaned out and moved upstairs (sigh):

Isn't this ceiling fan GORgeous? ;) Don't you worry, I'll deal with that in a minute. 

Then the real work began! I was pretty pregnant at this point, so I have to give major props to my crew who did the heavy lifting: my dad the paint King, my mom the wallpaper Queen, my other BFF who learned how to wallpaper just for me, and my husband, who assembled everything.

First my dad primed the walls using pure Pepto Bismol. I kid. But I really had to trust Home Depot guy on this primer color.

Hubs despises painting. It's just not his thing. But he did pick up the roller to get the first coat on the walls.

Sweets' Auntie M and Grandma F spent a stifling hot day putting up that wainscoating wallpaper. Oh yeah, I said wallpaper. It's a dead ringer for the real thing at a fraction of the cost and labor.

The wallpaper Queen in action.

Everything came together exactly as I had imagined it!  

This is what you see when you walk in the door - Sweets' crib to the left and our little nursing nook ahead.

I had been stalking this upholstered rocker online for months, but the slipcover was backordered. Imagine my joy to score it on craigslist for half the price!

Next to the rocker is this little table and a basket of books. The table itself was a $5 thrift store find that I dressed up a bit.

It got a fresh coat of paint, a bit of distressing, and this fun pattern that I made using paint color samples from the home improvement store. I topped it off with Hubs' vintage Agway bank, a few old books and a pic of us on Sweets' birthday.

This is the view above the rocking chair. The barn star is from Christmas Tree Shop, and the shelves hold a few sentimental items. Didn't I tell you that wallpaper looks like real wainscoating???

Hubs' grandma gifted us with the Willow Tree figurine just before Sweets was born. It goes perfectly in his room! The photo in the frame is Hubs' grandfather, whom our son is named after. And the wooden block sign still makes me smile :)

Those blocks spell out Sweets' name and I L.O.V.E them. They were made by the very talented Lara over at Letter Block Shop. She does great work!

Remember that ugly old ceiling fan? $6 in spray paint and 60 minutes later, it looks much fresher!

My mom made these clean, classic valances.

This is the dresser and changing table area. The dresser is from an antique store. It needed to be cleaned up and have the hardware replaced, but it is a perfect fit now! Above the changing area I strung some twine and hung pics of baby boy with tiny clothes pins.

Interspersed among the pictures are the lyrics to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man," which I have already decided is going to be the song we dance to at his wedding. Sorry buddy, you don't get a choice ;)

The large wicker chest holds extra blankets, diapers, wipes etc. The totes on top make for easy access to toys and changing supplies.

I love this little corner shelf with its punched tin lamp, kid-sized birdhouse and classic needlework.

And there's Sweets' crib. Excuse the ugly mesh bumper, it's annoying but neccessary. The handmade quilt was my big splurge for his room. I had it custom made and painstakingly picked out all of the fabrics. It was pricey enough that he'll be taking it to college with him, whether he likes it or not ;)

Close-up of the beautiful workmanship.

This is one of my favorite things about the room. One day I was looking at that wall above the crib and decided it needed something. I went to my old friend the internet for some inspiration, and that same day I stenciled this verse on the wall. I made my own stencils, printed them out on cardstock, and cut them out with an Exacto knife. Don't even get me started on how long it took me to line them up on the wall and level them. Good thing I love it!

On your way out, you'll pass by this cutey little print - another Christmas Tree Shop find.

So there you have it! That's where my little boy sleeps and plays. Thanks to everyone who made this room what it is!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oh. Em. Gee.

I am getting a new nephew. And he is OH so cute!

Congrats to my brother and new sister-in-law as they add their first baby to the family!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Souper Recipe

This has been the wettest, dreariest, most disgusting spring I can remember. Constantly cold. Constantly raining. Need proof?

Yeah that's our (blurry) backyard. No, we don't live next to a lake, that's just what happens when it rains for 47 days straight. Hey, Mother Nature! If I wanted to live in England, I would live in England (and I would be paying a lot less in taxes too). I know I got wrapped up in all that Royal Wedding stuff, but I'm over it. You don't need to continue providing that extra-special London ambiance. Sheesh.

Anyway, with all the cold, damp, why-is-my-child-still-wearing-fleece-pajamas-when-it's-nearly-June weather we've been having, it's only natural that I'm still making soup for dinner. What's not to love? It's hot, it's satisfying, it's healthy, and Carl (my Crockpot) cooks it for me. Nothing will combat walking in the door from a chilly, drenching rain with a baby carrier on one arm, 4 bags on the other and a dog jonesing to go out and play in the wet grass like the smell of a slow cooker full of delicious soup that's ready to eat. Now if you're anything like me, you're going to read the title of this recipe and go "ew, curry, nasty!" But wait...let that thought marinate for a minute while I tell you that I despise curry but I am in love with this soup, mainly because if I didn't know there was curry in it I wouldn't know there was curry in it ;-) It's ridiculously healthy, it's perfect for the Crockpot, and the spices provide just enough warmth without being overpowering. I serve it with a generous dollop of sour cream on top (sour cream is my second favorite dairy product behind ice cream. If they made frozen sour cream and served it to me on a waffle cone it would be a tough call). Sweets totally digs this soup and I feel great about feeding it to him!

Now I know you didn't ask for my two cents on slow cooker recipes, but I'm going to give them to you anyway. I just say no to any crockpot recipe that calls for pre-cooking any ingredient. The beauty of the slow cooker is in its simplicity. Dump some ingredients in. Turn on. Get dinner. If I have to brown turkey or saute veggies, that simplicity is lost and that recipe is in my garbage can. Also, pretty much the only way I can manage to get dinner into the crockpot in the morning ('cause my mornings are like a 50 yard dash) is by cutting up the ingredients the night before so I can just just toss them in, give them a quick stir and get out the door. Believe me, a few minutes of slicing carrots in the p.m is well worth the time saved in the a.m! But I digress...try this soup!

Curried Lentil Soup
From Everyday Slow Cooker & One Dish Recipes

4 cups hot water
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients in a 3 qt slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until the vegetables and lentils are tender. Eat some with your bowl of sour cream ;-) Oh wait, that's just me...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Recap

I hate Sunday nights. The whole weekend is behind me and there’s five long workdays until the next one. Lunches to pack and laundry to fold…ug. Instead of dwelling on it, let’s review our fun but soggy weekend. It started with sleep for everyone. Sweetie Pea slept through the night TWICE in a row, until 7:45 am, no less! This is what a well-rested little boy looks like:  

Good times. Saturday was a day of pampering for my mom and me and it was bliss. She treated us to Mother's Day pedicures and then we had haircuts and lunch together. Sweets was with Hubs the whole day and you know I love my kid to bits but it was really nice not to have to worry about planning the day around his naps, or whether he would be in a good mood. Don't get me wrong, I still worried about his naps, and his meals, and whether Hubs picked out an outfit for him that matched but in the end, everything was fine and I came home totally revitalized. Saturday we also celebrated Mother's Day with Hubs' family. It was kind of rainy and cool out but we still had fun grilling and chilling on the porch:

With Grandma G

With GiGi (Great Grandma G)

Sunday we went to church in the morning and it was awesome. We always have a hard time motivating ourselves to get out the door to service (hey, don't judge. It's a lot of work with a baby) but once we're there we're always happy we went. Our church has a nursing mother's room with gliding rockers and a flat screen TV to watch the service, plus a changing station and some toys, which makes life so much easier. Hubs had plans to work in the yard but it was pouring rain all day. So we had lunch together instead. Sweets' new favorite thing is sharing. It's A.DORABLE.

Want a Cheerio, Daddy?

Then Sweets and I made a grocery store run. I love taking him shopping with me. He is so much fun! We chat about colors and shapes and he charms the old ladies and the cashier. 

Ready to brave the elements

I swear he was having fun

Do you come here often?

I totally thought those shopping cart covers were a gimmick until I had a baby. I was all "really? who uses those?" Well, let me tell you. The first time you see your sweet baby's mouth headed for the Ebola-infested shopping cart handle, you will want to pull out your cell phone and thank the person who bought it off your registry. 

We rounded out the day with me attempting to work on my grad class (snooze), while Hubs chased Sweets around. The two of them were having quite the time chasing the pets, and it was really entertaining, which *may* have been the reason I only got one chapter finished...

I also had dinner this weekend with my grad school girls and it was awesome! It was before the weather tanked, so we sat outside and had a delicious meal, drinks and girl talk. I love that in addition to staying friends since graduation, we're colleagues in education as well; three of us work in local school districts and one at a local university. Can't wait for our next ladies night!