Tuesday, July 30, 2013

{Years in Review}

There's no denying it; we are in the dog days of summer. I think my initial assumption was that these months would move slowly, characterized by days with no real agenda. But that hasn't been the case at all. Instead, our days are full. Full of life, friends, sunshine, and growth. Full of activity. And let's be honest, with a toddler and a baby in the house our days are also full of disciplining, correcting, feeding, and diaper changing. These things take time. I'm not blogging as regularly as I would like to be, but I'm motivated to improve. I like the accountability frequent blogging provides, the challenge to capture our life with images and document it with words.

When I was pregnant with Anders we purchased a 4-session photography package: maternity, newborn, 6 month, and 1 year photos. As usual, time slipped away from us and what was intended to take one year was extended to almost two. We recently received our final album, and it made me reminisce. What a difference two years can make.

 8 Months Pregnant, Grapevine Vintage Railroad, Grapevine
***All photo credits go to Janice Barrett of JJ Barrett Photography***

1 Week Old, Our Home  
***All photo credits go to Janice Barrett of JJ Barrett Photography***

 8 Months Old, Nash Farm, Grapevine
***All photo credits go to Janice Barrett of JJ Barrett Photography***

1 Year and 8 Months Old, Montgomery Street Antique Mall and Hale House Vintage Living, Fort Worth
***All photo credits go to Janice Barrett of JJ Barrett Photography***

It is so hard to imagine how our family will change over the next two years. Sadly we haven't gotten any professional pictures taken since Aksel was born, but since I like a comparison I pulled one of the newborn photos I took of him. Anders is above, Aksel is below.

***Top photo credit goes to Janice Barrett of JJ Barrett Photography***

It's my goal to get a picture of the four of us this weekend, our first family photo. Hold me to that, internet. Hopefully I can share the results with you next week!

Monday, July 22, 2013

{Week in Review}

It's been two weeks since my last post. Two eventful, fun-filled weeks. You'll have to forgive me though because too much has happened since then to accurately document everything. Instead, I'll do my best to recap the better part of last week, which we spent in West Palm Beach visiting Andreas' family.

We were able to coordinate our trip to Florida with Michael and Signe, which meant Michael was able to meet Aksel for the first time! But let's be honest, the others weren't about to let Michael steal all the cuddles.

The visit was typical of every visit with Andreas' parents, full of coffee, cake, and conversation. As usual, they were amazing hosts and did their best to spoil us and especially their grandkids.

The majority of our afternoons were spent in the pool, taking advantage of the time when Aksel was happily napping inside. It was so fun to see Anders becoming more comfortable in the water, enjoying himself, blowing bubbles, and venturing out on his own.

He hoarded every toy and raft in the pool, gleefully shot water guns, and proudly performed new tricks.

Between dips in the pool we took time to celebrate a few of our birthdays with a classic Danish layer cake.

Liselotte was kind enough to bake the cake for Andreas, Michael, and me (mostly me since it was thisclose to my actual birthday!), and Anders was happy to help us eat it.

The weather during our visit was a bit unpredictable, but one afternoon we decided to take a chance and head out to the beach. Last time we visited, Anders did not enjoy the sand at all and was equally uncertain about the water itself. It took him a bit of time to warm up to the idea this time as well, but he couldn't resist running in the shoreline with Andreas.

And the water was so pleasant, he didn't mind it a bit either!

Aksel spent the majority of the beach trip sleeping in the Baby Bjorn, but he did wake long enough to look around and sink his feet into the sand once before the dark storm clouds rolled in.

One morning we all headed out to Benny's for breakfast, where the food is delicious and the view is breathtaking. On this particular visit, there were pigeons everywhere! Literally, everywhere. They were hopping up the stairs of the restaurant and boldly scurrying across our feet under the table on the pier. For those of you who know me well, you know that I have a strong aversion towards birds. I did my best to be brave though because Anders thought they were the most entertaining and exciting creatures he had ever seen. And let me tell you, nothing attracts birds more than a toddler dropping crumbs between every bite of breakfast. *shudder* While I huddled timidly in a corner, Farfar took turns hanging out with the boys.

The rest of the trip was spent lounging around and enjoying time with one another. Anders spent hours playing with Andreas and Signe's old toys and even spent one afternoon introducing Michael to one of his favorite tv shows

It was an amazingly relaxing trip, and I'm so happy we all got to spend some much needed time together!

Monday, July 8, 2013

{Week in Review}

Thursday morning we toyed with the idea of working in the yard, but eventually decided to celebrate our independence doing something other than mulching flower beds. It was definitely the right choice.

We spent the morning at a nearby park, which we had all to ourselves. The next few pictures were taken with my iPhone, so forgive me if they are a bit blurry!

Here Anders is showing off his skills on the monkey bars. Okay, so he didn't actually swing from bar to bar here, but he hung on like a champ.

One thing I love about this particular playground is that the equipment is covered, meaning Aksel is able to relax in the shade. There's nothing like lounging on a blanket over some cozy astroturf to start the day off right.

The park also boasts a splash pad. Anders utilized his morning to perfect the art of shooting a water gun, much to Aksel's dismay. Try as I might to encourage him to aim his water elsewhere, he found it most entertaining to use Andreas, Aksel, and me as target practice.

Later that afternoon we headed to a Fourth Festival in a nearby neighborhood. The first activity we enjoyed was sponsored by a local business with a sense of humor. I Like Big Bundts provided mini-bundts for young kids to frost, with a little assistance of course.

After adding some festive icing, Anders quickly got to business. I'm pretty sure he enjoyed eating the cake more than decorating it, but that's just a hunch.

From there we moved on to the face-painting station. Being Anders' first time, I was curious to see how he fared. I was hopeful since he had managed to sit still at the dentist, and he did a great job. He was so excited to see the result (Just trust me. He was too busy watching a cover band to give me a smile.)!

Anders made a pit stop to join Andreas and Aksel at a covered table while I perused vendor tables, signed up for raffle prizes, and collected a few free goodies like sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Anders charmed his way into a few freebies of his own, picking up some glow necklaces to demonstrate his patriotism.

There were also rides, bounce houses, games, and a water slide at the Festival, but Anders was a little too young to indulge. Instead we stopped by a food truck to pick up some delicious sliders for dinner, which we devoured on a green lawn amongst hundreds of others who were camped out waiting for the fireworks show. We completed the feast with our favorite summer treat, a strawberry daiquiri shaved ice with gummy bears. Don't knock it 'til you try it. It's amazingly good! 

We opted to skip out on fireworks this year. Even though I love fireworks, it was evident after a quick parental cost-benefit analysis that it wouldn't be in the best interest of the boys. Why do kids do that thing where the later they go to bed, the earlier they wake up the next morning?! Luckily, Andreas and I still managed to catch a decent show from our front sidewalk after the kids were asleep.

Andreas took the following Friday off to extend the holiday into a 4-day weekend. Knowing that it would be less crowded on a weekday, we decided to cash in our Groupons to the Dallas Arboretum. I know, wandering around acres of flowers during mid-July in Texas may not sound like the brightest idea, but it was a mild 95 degrees!

This summer's attraction is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Anders isn't familiar with the story, but he still appreciated the topiary houses. And the flamingos playing croquet. He thought they were awesome.

And even though he didn't know who the White Rabbit was, he was happy enough to take a picture by a white rabbit nonetheless.

Even though I had an unfortunate mosquito bite between my eyes and any makeup I had applied in the morning had long been sweated off, it's not often I get the chance for a mommy-son photo op so I had to take the chance.

We strolled around enjoying the scenery, and Aksel took in the view from his carseat.

The Arboretum has a special kids' area set up for the summer, so we decided to try face painting for the second day in a row. This time, however, we decided to go for something a little more advanced. Frankly I could think of nothing cuter than my toddler painted up like a puppy dog, so I strongly coerced encouraged Anders to choose that design. I'm glad because it turned out even cuter than i imagined it would be!

There was also a petting zoo complete with a chicken, rabbit, a cow that Anders was particularly enamored over, and a few goats amiable enough to allow small children to brush their coats.

We ate a picnic lunch, let Anders play in small water feature area, and headed home for much-needed naps.

It was a busy couple of days, but so fun to spend it as a family!

Monday, July 1, 2013

{DIY: Nursery Reveal}

On the cusp of his three-month birthday, I'm finally getting around to blogging about Aksel's nursery. It's actually fairly appropriate timing as he only recently moved out of our room and into his own. 

The furniture and arrangement is the same as when Anders occupied the room, but we added different details and decorations to customize the space for Aksel. I like modern nurseries with clean lines, rooms that are fun and bold, but not too busy. And for us it's important that our nursery isn't overtly masculine or feminine so that it is easily adaptable for future occupants or purposes. I should also mention that while we wanted to update the room for Aksel, we intended to do so on a very limited budget. I crafted several small projects to help us achieve our desired aesthetic without breaking the bank.

I don't recall what first inspired me, but once I formulated this pegboard idea in my mind, I was hooked. Get it? Hooked? Oh yeah, I just included an intentional pun. If this blog wasn't lame before, it definitely is now. Anyway, to create Aksel's name I decoupaged coordinating scrapbook paper onto cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby and attached ribbons with hot glue. You could certainly stop there and hang the letters directly on the wall, but I wanted them to stand out more. The pegboard created contrast and allowed me to fill a large amount of wall space for under $20. 

When we originally furnished the nursery, we opted not to purchase a changing table. Instead we chose this 40" tall dresser, which serves as the changing station when we have guests and are pretending like we are too classy to change diapers on the floor. Just kidding...sort of. Andreas changes Aksel on the changing pad pretty regularly, but during the day I change diapers wherever it is most convenient at the time! For anyone who is curious, the fabrics for the changing pad were also purchased at Hobby Lobby. 

Not surprisingly, I spend quite a bit of time in this corner of the room. The chair is comfortable to nurse in and will easily transition into a room other than a nursery when the time comes. It's also perfect for reading bedtime stories and durable enough to withstand a toddler who enjoys using the arms as ramps for his matchbox cars, that is when he's not jumping off the ottoman. Luckily for me, the window provides a steady stream of natural light during the majority of the day and a decent view of our miniature sideyard. 

A closeup of some of the details. I hand-painted the trees and have marked Anders' height on them on each of his birthdays. I plan to continue the tradition with Aksel. The subway art was a sweet baby gift from my sister. The fabric for the Boppy cover and pillows was purchased at Hobby Lobby.

When I was pregnant with Anders, I found instructions on Martha Stewart's website for a children's bookshelf that I couldn't get out of my head. Isn't that strange? A pregnant woman fixating on something that she simply must have? For me, apparently, it wasn't food cravings but furniture cravings. (Really though, I didn't have any specific food cravings with either pregnancy. Although with Anders I chugged ice water all day, every day for the entire third trimester. I just couldn't ever seem to get enough.) Andreas obliged and crafted this awesome shelf. I loved it then and I love it now. My hope is to instill a love of reading in my children by keeping them surrounded by books. Also, I read to them. (This probably helps more, but please do not consider this site a guide to parenting. I apologize if you've somehow mistakenly happened upon this post after Googling 'how to instill a love of reading in my children'.)

Here is the corner opposite the chair and ottoman. The crib, like the dresser, is from WalMart. I know! WalMart! Who knew you could find beautiful, modern furniture at WalMart? Well, WalMart online, but whatever. The two floating shelves are from Ikea, and the chevron blanket is from Target. Please do not interpret this as me bragging about my WalMart, Ikea, and Target purchases. It just always frustrates me when I happen upon something I really like online and can't find the source!

To spruce up the shelves, I made a couple of simple garlands with yarn poms. Be warned, they are delicate and will not stand up to tugging or pulling. What these photographs strategically do not depict are the messy bins of toys just beneath the garlands that prevent little hands from reaching the decorations. Next, I freehanded a couple of animal silhouettes on construction paper. By layering construction and scrapbook paper in these frames (which I already had on hand), I was able to come up with some super cute wall art that cost me less than $2. The mobile might actually be my favorite project in the room, partially because it is so fun and different looking and partially because it embodied the enviable DIY trifecta: cheap, quick, and easy. I simply cut construction paper rectangles with my paper cutter, sewed them down the middle with my sewing machine, and hung them with a ribbon. No, seriously. That's it.

The last nursery project took a bit more time and effort. Cutting the moose pattern with my band saw was a long and grueling process.


Okay, surely no one was believing that. C'mon, people. That awesome rocking moose is from Ikea! I resisted buying it for a while, but when my mom offered to go halvsies, it was a no brainer. It's like it was made with Aksel's nursery in mind!

Well folks, that concludes the nursery tour. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!

And because I just think they are the cutest brothers ever, I'll end with this picture. Ignore the fact that they both seem to have perfected the deer-in-the-headlights gaze, and delight that I actually managed to get both of them in focus in the same photo. Also, don't look now but there's one of those messy toy bins I mentioned earlier!