Monday, November 25, 2013

{DIY: Wreath Upgrade}

Friends, I was at Hobby Lobby today and became inspired to conquer a quick DIY project. It's nothing spectacular, but I thought I would share. 

Though not my original intent for visiting the store, I started perusing the Christmas aisles after noticing the brightly-colored 50% off signs plastered every three feet at eye level (score one for Hobby Lobby marketing). Anyway, I found myself wandering toward the holiday wreaths and innocently picked up a garland for closer inspection. That's when I quickly remembered why I had never purchased a wreath. $30?! For some plastic berries on a string?! Not a wreath in and of themselves, but intended to serve as one of many elements that when joined together with much attention and finesse could serve as a respectable door ornament?! I'll pass, thankyouverymuch. But it did get me thinking about the Christmas wreath I've uncerimoniously slapped on our front door the past several years. If I'm being honest, I don't even remember where it came from. Although, if I had to guess I would credit the woman whose collection of Christmas decor would put Mrs. Claus herself to shame. That's right, my mother. I don't know if this particular wreath was thrifted, gifted, or replaced, but somehow I became its owner. Sparse and smashed, it's served me well for five years. But today, I decided it was time for an upgrade. So there in Hobby Lobby I searched for a few decorative items that fit my qualifications: gold, glittery, and cheap. 

Once the littles were settled in for naptime, I began the makeover. First I removed all the old wreath decorations with the exception of the pinecones. It was at this point I realized I hadn't actually purchased anything to attach my new decorations to the evergreen wreath, so I did my best to salvage the fishing line and floral wire from the old stuff. Armed with scissors and my Hobby Lobby loot, I got to business. And 1 hour and about $10 later, I had my final product. Is it the cutest wreath ever? No. Will it be the cutest wreath on my street? Probably not. But people, it was under ten dollars!!! Compared to the triple digit prices I saw earlier this morning, I consider this a win. 

Here's a breakdown of the cost for anyone interested:
-Evergreen wreath: Free (reused)
-Pinecones: Free (reused)
-Gold wire ribbon: Free (flattened, recurled, and repurposed)
-Glittery, gold ornaments: $2.50 (after 50% off sale; there were actually 6 in the package but one was broken)
-Gold, bead rope: $1.50 (after 50% off sale)
-Glittery, gold leaves: $1.50 (2 at $0.75 each after 50% off sale)
-Wide, glittery, gold, wire-edged ribbon: $4.00 (after 40% off coupon; I still have several feet leftover)
Total cost: $9.50

Sometimes people try to tell me they aren't crafty. This project is proof that it does not always require a special skill set to take on a DIY project. Can you tie  knots in fishing line? Can you wrap ribbon around your finger? Can you deal with massive amounts of cheap glitter stuck to your hands? Then you're good to go! And that big bow on top? I just stapled a bunch of ribbon loops together. Don't tell anyone I cheated. 

So, if you have something laying around that is in need of a little TLC, maybe now is the time! There's nothing like a little Christmas crafting to get into the holiday spirit!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{Week in Review}

Texas weather can be a bit unpredictable, but that's nothing you didn't already know. This week, fall has been having a bit of an identity crisis, and we decided to take full advantage. The leaves are boasting their autumnal hues and temperatures are hovering in the upper 60s, an irresistible invitation to head outdoors. So today we packed up lunch and headed to the park. 

A bit of playtime was essential before filling our bellies. 

After we spread out our grub, Aksel kept climbing into my lap as if to say, 'Gimme dat food Momma.' Just look at that face.

In the meantime, this little guy was in PBJ heaven. Sidenote - can you imagine a more difficult way to eat a sandwich?!

After filling up on pretzels and clementines, it was back to the playground. Lucky for us, our neighborhood park has two swings!

Aksel and I retreated to the sidelines after a while to play in the grass and watch the colors dance above our heads. 

And Anders happily played with his monster trucks. 

In an effort to keep it real, I want to let you know that this particular outing ended with me wrapping my own pullover around a certain little boy after a potty accident threatened to leave him pantless. I then proceeded to quickly pack up our lunch and blanket and get the boys bundled into the stroller just in time to push them home in the rain. So I guess my point is, not everything is as picture perfect as it may seem on the internet!

Monday, November 11, 2013

{Week in Review}

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. That's my best Bowie impression, people.

Things are changing around here! One such change is our kitchen table seating arrangement. Until this week, Aksel had been using the Bumbo during mealtimes. It served as a good temporary solution, but it was definitely time to move him to a high chair.

However, moving Aksel into the high chair meant moving Anders out. Ours is an adjustable Tripp Trapp, so it's been perfectly capable of adapting to our needs as Anders grew taller, more coordinated, and more responsible (taking the child's seat and safety straps out altogether allowed him to climb up and down at will). 

Anders wasn't too thrilled the evening we informed him of the news. We encouraged him to choose his own chair from the two unoccupied seats at the table, but that didn't have him convinced either. We finally pulled out the big guns and suggested that perhaps he should test out his new big boy chair with a (tiiiny) bowl of ice cream. And of course that worked. Because when all else fails, ice cream. Get your parenting truths and tips here, folks

The next morning at breakfast, he seemed to have no trouble accepting the transition. He even took a few cereal-chewing breaks to give me some 'cheese'.

Aksel was pretty satisfied with the new arrangement, too. 

Another thing that's changing is Aksel's mobility. He is really keeping us on our standing on his.

He loves pulling up on anything he can grip. This office trash can is one of his favorite platforms, although he's quickly learning that it isn't his most stable option. That being said, I must admit the picture above is staged. Bless his heart, he loves that trash can, but I am really trying to convince him that the exersaucer is a more appealing base. 

Here he is excitedly demonstrating his new skills. 

Now, please don't consider me discussing my children's physicality a humblebrag, or not-so-humblebrag, as the case may be. In fact, whenever I dialogue with my mommy friends, I jokingly attribute their early mobility to bad parenting rather than good. I believe it was James Earl Jones who first said, 'Ignore them, and they will come.' (Please don't ignore your kids. That was a joke...and a really bad Field of Dreams reference.) All kids develop physically and mentally at a different pace. Oftentimes this is the result of our parenting, but oftentimes it is not.

Moving on. A fun effect of Aksel's growth is that Anders is starting to view him as a playmate. Let me tell you, nothing warms my mama heart like seeing these two forming their friendship. 

This is currently their preferred method of communication. They stare at each other and alternate high-pitched screams with high-pitched giggles. And who am I to stop them?! 

Watching their strange and special interactions is incredibly entertaining. I'm so thankful for these little buddies. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

{Holiday: Halloween 2013}

For some reason Blogger is uploading my photos with a brown tint, but because I'm impatient I decided to go ahead and publish the post anyway. Once it starts working correctly I'll reload them (if anyone knows how to fix this, please let me know!).

When Andreas' parents were here, we visited Frisco Fire Safety Town one night for their annual Trick or Treat event. It was a lot of fun, but as a rookie parent, I learned a few valuable lessons. First, that is a popular event. We waited in line forty-five minutes before we even made it in to Safety Town! Second, it gets dark pretty early in late October. Even with my DSLR in tow, the dim lighting really limited my opportunities for a good photo. Which leads me to my third, and final, point. Toddler obedience decreases dramatically in the presence of other children, fire trucks, and free candy. The lighting was definitely not my biggest problem. With so many things to observe and explore, Anders wanted nothing to do with posing or sitting still for the camera, even for a second. And who could blame him? With the odds stacked against me, I still managed to get a couple decent pictures of Anders in costume. I especially like the image on the left. It reminds me of Batman caught in the spotlight.

With that experience under my belt, I decided to take a few pictures of the kids in their costumes on Halloween afternoon. The sun was out, and recent naps led to much improved attitudes.

What's that in the sky? It's a bird. It's a plane.

No. It's SuperAksel!

Never fear! Batman is here!

Anders is on watch, keeping your neighborhoods crime free.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing better than one superhero is two.

We took the boys Trick-or-Treating with several friends last night, and it was a huge success. We kept it short and sweet, walking one heavily-lit street, and the kids did so well. They were courteous and overall adorable. What a fun night!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

{Around Town: Pumpkin Patch}

Dear readers, breathe easy. The radio blog silence is over. I just know you were all wringing your hands anticipating our return. I really hope you are picking up on the sarcasm here...

Anyway, during the past few Octobers we've visited the pumpkin patch at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church in Frisco, which perfectly meets our family criteria. There are so many options around the metroplex that pumpkin patch selection can feel reminiscent of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some are too big, some are too small, but for us, this one is juuuust right. There's an abundant pumpkin selection, plenty of photo ops, entertainment for small kids in the form of hay rides, pumpkin launching, and bounce houses, and it's not too far from our house.

Adding to the fun, Andreas' parents have been in town and were able to accompany us on our annual pumpkin adventure. Disclaimer: please do not judge our hairstyles by any of these pictures. The wind is a cruel stylist.

One of the many perks of having the grandparents along - a family pic! Okay, sure, Anders is looking overly enthusiastic and Aksel a bit goofy, but all four of us are looking in the general direction of the camera! Success!

Anders mostly darted around the patch, inspecting pumpkins and observing other children, while I hurriedly trailed behind, begging him to be still long enough for a picture. Most of the time he couldn't be bothered, but I caught a smile directed my way on rare occasion. 

Aksel gave smiles away much more freely. The challenge with him was moving fast enough to catch a photo before the handfulls of hay he was scooping up made it to his gaping grin.

I attempted to take a picture of the brothers together, but soon discovered that was a mistake. They are usually more cooperative, but both boys were sleepy and sick of posing for photos by this point. This is real life, people.

We didn't take advantage of many activities this year, but Anders did get to test out the bouncehouse for the first time. He absolutely loved it! 

And just as Anders climbed out of the bouncehouse and I laced up his shoes, the skies opened and rain poured. Luckily, we managed to make it to the car without getting too wet. It was a fun afternoon, and we will definitely be back next year!

Friday, October 11, 2013

{Week in Review}

One of the inevitable effects of having out-of-town visitors in our home is that Anders becomes overwhelmingly curious about all of their possessions. That makeup brush you innocently left on the bathroom counter? He'll use it to sweep the floor. Those shoes you left in the hallway? He might take them for a spin around the house. He'll also be happy to taste-test your Chapstick, reposition your bookmark, and secretly drink from your water glass. The situation is only compounded by the fact that our guests share a bathroom with the boys. One item Anders became particularly enamored with during my mom's visit was her electric toothbrush. She begrudgingly let him try it out, but went and bought him one of his own as soon as she had the chance. Who could blame her, really? I honestly couldn't believe she let him try it out in the first place. It is so fun to watch children receive gifts. His response was an exaggerated, 'I looooove this.'

But the fun didn't stop there. It was such a great visit. My mom had the opportunity to spend quality time with each of the boys individually, and on a couple of occasions I snuck away to hang out with friends and participate in uninterrupted conversation! But back to Nina and Anders...

One of their activities Anders especially enjoyed was making pigs in a blanket. Look at that concentration!

He was so excited, talking on and on about his piggies, and he could barely wait to let them cool before diving in to gobble a few. 

We've been exercising our creative muscles other ways too. 

A couple of grandparent birthdays are coming up, so we've had our paints out daily. I've given up on paintbrushes. Q-tips are fun to use and make cleanup a little simpler. 

And we spent one morning transforming a large cardboard box (from a recent chair purchase) into a cozy house for Anders. He tells me those yellow blobs are butterflies by the way. 

He especially loved giving Andreas the grand tour once he got home from work. 

Aksel loved watching them play peek-a-boo!

Speaking of Aksel, he's been busy too. He's learning to eat solids and developing his opinions. He had a strong aversion to carrots, but seems to like sweet potatoes and zucchini just fine. He also cut his first two teeth this week! He had one terribly difficult night but has been a champ for the most part. He's been working on his fitness too, improving his crawling skills as well as sitting upright. 

I love these brothers!

Friday, October 4, 2013

{Years in Review: Not of My Lifetime}

My mom is visiting (yay! more on this later). When she flew in earlier this week, my aunt generously offered to pick her up from the airport, driving a couple of hours into town for a quick day trip to catch up with us girls and cuddle my boys. To make the day even sweeter, she brought with her a box of treasures in the form of antique books. I spent a little time yesterday combing through the loot, selecting my portion and admiring the volumes already spoken for by my mom and sister.  

Sadly, this first book isn't one I could claim as my own. It was one of my mom's favorites to read as a child when visiting her grandmother's house, and she quickly called dibs. 

With recipes for Fried Water and Gravel en Casserole, who could blame her for succumbing to its irresistible charm?

'A woman is known by the stationary she uses. Paper talks. We read between the lines, along the margin, and across the envelope, the story of good or bad taste which speaks in tone, texture, and design.'

The author of the following book sure knew how to write an opening paragraph, didn't she?

While we'll never know her opinion on blogging, we don't have to wonder about her thoughts on yacht stationary

And there must have been a time when Benjamin Franklin's autobiography was a standard component of the school curriculum. I found several variations of the following book, although none with an inscription I enjoyed more than the one written by Miss Varina Pegues. 

While the 'new and revised' description on the book cover below may be outdated, there's no question that the stories are timeless.

I found this image on a bookmark tucked between the pages. It piqued my interest, a glimpse into my city's history. I wanted to compare it to the building today, but a quick Google search confirmed that the church is no longer at the listed address. 

Vintage books can provide so much insight on the shifting desires and careabouts of a culture. I found this page in the Girl Scout Leadership book to be particularly interesting. 

While homemaking used to be a key endeavor within troops, I'm grateful for progress and an increased effort to include lessons in technology, science and math, athletism, and leadership for young girls. However, I hope we incorporate the old skills as opposed to replacing them. There is still much value in knowing how to be a good host, prepare a meal, and sew a button!

This may be the favorite item I discovered, because it was written by a family member, someone whom I actually had the pleasure of knowing and spending time with. 

The words of Charles Spurgeon regularly appear on my social media feeds, quoted by various friends and family. A man and preacher who remains relevant nearly 200 years after his death, it's no wonder my great uncle found him thesis-worthy.  

What fun it is to find a few old and special pieces to add to our home!

Monday, September 30, 2013

{Real Life: I'm Tired}

Where Anders somehow manages to look adorable in his sweaty, tired, somewhat disoriented post-nap state, I fall short, so he's acting as my stand-in. I'm missing out on the nap aspect also, but the point is this. The end of summer has left me sweaty, tired, and somewhat disoriented.

Although we haven't quite found our new seasonal rhythm, we happily welcome fall. With promises of cooler weather and crisp leaves, pumpkin lattes and warm cider, kids in costumes and giving thanks, there is much excitement to come!

I'll be back later this week with a full post!