Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Peyton Keeps Me From Spending Money

The following is a little conversation that went down yesterday.

Me: Baby, I want an embroidery machine.
Peyton: Me too!
Me: It costs around $1300.
Peyton: Okay! I've told you I wanted one before.
Me (getting awfully suspicious at this point): Why? Isn't that a bit much right now...?
Peyton: No, it's fine. You know, then I could embroider Tennessee logos on everything. And I mean ev-er-y-thing. Dish towels, baby carriers, your apron. You name it, it's logoed.

Touché, Peyton, touché. If only you were bluffing.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Raising The Bar For Toys

I can not stand the masses of plastic toys that seem to come with babies. So while I cave on some, like the pretty hideous spinning music mobile that hangs above our bed to keep him occupied, I look for ways to keep them to a minimum.

I realized little D needed a toy bar to keep him entertained on places other than my bed, but couldn't stand spending money on the flip-out mat and bar combos. In enters pinterest. As I patiently scoured the site, my eyes met his woody frame, and it was love at first sight.

{credit: bare feet and a free spirit}

Be still my heart! Could I make him mine?!

I nervously checked the price, since all my other toy crushes were simply teases that cost more than my car payment, and saw that it was DIY. ha-lle-lu-jah.

The instructions were pretty straightforward- just get some wood, cut, sand, and screw. But there was a minor snafu: I don't cut, sand, or screw (ha. mind out of the gutters please). And that I'm haphazard about measuring. And that, as of today, power tools aren't my friend.

So what's a girl to do but call on her man? 

It's moments like these that I am so thankful to be married to Peyton. You see, I've come to accept that my husband is not romantic. (At least not overly so.) He gets away with this based on the simple fact that he is exceptional at fixing and making. Leaky faucet? No problem. Broken central air? Fixed. Need a new garbage disposal? Done and done. So yes, he doesn't write me love songs and give me mixed tapes cds playlists (?? clearly it's been a while.), but he makes my day-to-day existence a lot more comfortable, in more ways than one. He also saves us money. Can't forget that moola!

So I sweetly showed him this picture, reminding him that his child's brain development depended on having toys to bat around above his head and that plastic is awful and disgusting and grossly colored. It probably didn't hurt that I promised to watch that week's UT game either... But whatever it was, he agreed to do it. And when Peyton decides to make/fix/buy something, he does it right.

What I thought would be a few hour process took all day, so if you are a perfectionist like P without the proper tools and want it to be quick, don't bet on it. But the finished product is oh so sweet. 

We have it on a blanket that I made for Declan while pregnant and can switch out what toys we hang. Right now we chose some bunnies that I sewed for a mobile and a big bell ornament. He loves playing with it, as you can see, and really is trying to master that pesky motor control so he can accurately hit.

The one downside: not easily stored. While plastic flip-open mats can be folded up and tucked away, this bad boy is out for good. But it's beautiful wood grain and simplicity makes me okay with that, happy in fact, since Peyton's work gets to be on display.

So this is where we would place our tutorial, but we didn't make one. The instructions on the site were clear and thorough so we thought we'd leave it to them. And we didn't take pictures of the process. Sooo yeah, there's that...

Click here for the instructions. And I recommend you do. It is so refreshing to have a homemade, high quality toy around for Declan without having to shell out lots of dough.

Do you have any great DIY kid's gear? A love/hate relationship with the loads of mass produced "necessities" thrown upon us? I'm always looking for new projects to start (and sometimes finish) to keep plastics at bay. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weekly Photos- 17 & 18

And with these, we are now up to date! Check out the double wrist roll. It's like a scrumptious freshly baked bun. yummmmmies.

He had his four month appointment the other day and is 85% in length and 50% (14 lb 12 oz) in weight. Right where that little munchkin should be!

And as a cute little extra, here is a video from Declan's first swim class a few weeks ago. I love taking him to these baby classes, whether here or yoga or music, just to have a fun baby community, but it totally takes me to the Babies documentary when the little hippy baby in California is trying to make a break for it from the music class as everyone sings all sweetly. I'll enjoy his immobility while I can. :)

(To see past photos, click here!)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly Photos- 14,15,16

Slackers, slackers, SLACKERS! There, I said it. Now can we please move on?

Actually we are way crazy slacking over here because the big guy is 18 weeks old now, not 16, so we still owe you two more photos! They'll be coming up in the next day or two. So in the meantime, enjoy these cuties, and go ahead and take a look at this giggle if you haven't (or even if you have!) already.

And of course, in the spirit of Tennessee-Florida game day, GO VOLS!

(To see past photos, click here!)

A Morning Chuckle

Not his best, but he gets a bit shy for the camera. His laugh is like an elusive puma in the jungle. Which, by the way, my dad and I were convinced that one was once running towards us in Costa Rica. Not sure what to do as this golden beast made it's way through the lush foliage, we froze. (Always a good plan for attacks.) As it got closer our excitement and fear mounted. With cameras ready and prayers said, we came to find that it was... the local farmer's golden retriever. womp, womp, womp.

But hey, I bet you've never seen a dog in the jungle. Just sayin'...

Enjoy your day with lots of giggles. And stripes. Apparently they are very in at this abode.


Friday, September 14, 2012

4 Months

Sweet Declan-

My goodness how time flies. One month ago I had words to write and a picture to post about your three month birthday, and now here I sit finally getting to it! Baby development is so swift and subtle all at once. I don't feel like much changes each day, but I go back to journal entries and realize you are getting so big.

Last I wrote you were just learning to chuckle, and now your laugh fills the room throughout the day. Your ticklishness arrived and ribs and feet are the place to attack. The daily ebb and flow of what you find funny keeps us on our toes, always trying to get that big gummy grin complete with sound. Sometimes you want to bounce on the bed, or hear a song, or see a tongue sticking out, or have your chin grabbed. But sure enough, as soon as one of us is called in to see your overwhelming cuteness you decide that that's enough, thank you very much.

A few weeks ago you rolled over for the first time. Luckily it was from stomach to back, so no worries yet of uncontrolled motion across the room. In fact, you are quite content on your back and have shown no desire to reposition. But that tummy turn, you just get up on your arm and pop!- you're over. When it's not executed properly, you flop over halfway and lay your fuzzy head on your arm, not sure what went wrong but content at having a resting spot.

You are trying to talk up a storm, really learning to communicate with sounds. You still aren't a crier, but sure are learning how to work us when you do. You might not have a huge array of desires yet, but those that are there seem to get filled pretty quickly using your limited Declan vocabulary.

Your favorite toy is the rubber giraffe. You love to watch the dogs play, laughing sometimes as they come close. Once your fingers hit your mouth for the first time a few weeks ago, it was love at first taste. You honed in on that skill in a jiffy. You have stayed awake on both a grocery store trip and a car ride, two small but impressive feats for your easily lulled self. And you are a chunk, chunk, chunk- of the cutest variety, of course.

Your next month includes two weeks in Baltimore. Possibly my favorite two weeks of the entire year, season wise. I'm excited to show you fall colors, smells, and air, and even more excited to see what you throw back in return.

All my love-


Tuesday, September 11, 2012



To all of those whose lives were impacted by the attacks on 9/11, I apologize for my actions that day. I'm sorry I didn't respect the enormity of what was happening, or the lives that were lost, or the courage and bravery that was shown. I'm sorry that I sat and wondered what I would do on my day off rather than cry for the thousands of shattered lives. It's no excuse, but I was young and oblivious, and I see now just what that day was. I wish I could say that I understood in those moments, that I mourned with fellow Americans and wondered why, but I didn't. All I can say is that I'm sorry and I feel it now. I remember and I replay.  And I am grateful to those who gave up their lives for us, those who trade their safety day in and out for mine, and those who let their loved ones follow this call. You are heroes and will not be forgotten.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Should I Sty Or Should I Go (Clean the House?)

Way back in the days before I was a mama bear I wrote these new year's resolutions. It might seem to those twenty people who glanced at them that I've forgotten and put them aside, but that is simply not the case. I have remembered them every day that I fail to live up to their incredibly high standards. Next year is simple- eat breakfast and love on Declan. Done and done.

In truth, I have given some attempts at following through. I've walked more, sent some birthday cards full of x's and o's, and blogged lots of pictures. I'd forgotten about a few, such as work on our landscape and join a CSA, but luckily enough hit those nails on the head this morning when we picked up our first veggie box and later raised the backyard from an F to a D-. So not so bad I'd say. It's good to still have goals, right? Keeps life interesting.

The resolution that I have really focused on is keeping the house clean. Since many people do this automatically, I thought that it was time I give it a go. Let's start by clarifying: Peyton, no comments allowed, for obvious reasons. Apparently men have ridiculously high standards of clean, like more than one room at a time be orderly or have folded laundry. As I said, ridiculous.

So anyway, you fine folks, I think I'm getting this cleaning thing down. I've realized that keeping the house orderly ties in with my happiness and productivity, which then keeps it more orderly. Viscious cycle. So in my research on how to obtain this dream while keeping sane, I came upon six techniques that really help.

1. Make the bed. Here's a two-minute strategy that pays back ten-fold. Seeing it neatly made makes me want to tidy the rest of the room, which leads me to return the dirty glass to the dishwasher, put in some laundry, you name it. Plus it keeps me from lying down in bed, because who likes to make a bed twice in one day??

2. Always leave the room with one item. Anytime you leave a room, take an item with you. Obviously this only works if you are going to the room where it goes, so don't just grab any item for any room. It is mind blowing to me how lazy I am about carrying a plate in to the kitchen. Yet clearly, once I've accomplished such a feat I deserve some cookies. Some extra motivation never hurts.

3. dishes.laundry.bath.bed.living. I stumbled upon this lovely "Chaos Control Cycle" via 4SmartyPants and decided to give it a whirl. While I still haven't made it to bath yet, the bed is luckily done because of #1 and the living is often tidier due to #2. (Clearly, it would be wise to use the bathroom before coming over here.) The idea is that when you are starting to clean, begin with making sure dishes are in the dishwasher, the sink is empty, and counters are wiped down. Once accomplished, pop in a load of laundry, followed up by quickly cleaning items in the bath, bed, and living rooms. If at any point you are sidetracked, start at dishes and you will find where you left off. For me, it just breaks it into manageable chunks instead of a whole overwhelming mess of things to do. And it also makes me feel accomplished when I get even one done since I know it's something off my list.

4. Vacuum. Ok, grossness alert- I'm not great at dealing with dog fur. Poor Peyton dislikes fur so much that he has not only owned dobermans for this reason (among others), but has chosen the particular type that goes bald. Enter Tegan, a ninety pound mass of fur with four seperate coats; my sweet shepherd that I neglect in the grooming area a tad and only brush every few months. (Was going to add to resolutions, but honestly? Not going to happen.) So you can only imagine the fur buildup that occurs. I still have some improvement in this area. I'm thinking our spiffy new vacuum will help since it won't sound like a cat in heat, but that's putting a lot of pressure on the poor thing. When the house is vacuumed, it inevitably looks better and more put together.

5. Wash windows. It amazes me every, single time how much clean windows improve a room. It's a bit embarrasing how dirty they can get before I even notice they need cleaning, but I give myself a pat on the back every time that I do. Because yowzers. A little alcohol-vinegar water and a good scrub is all I need to take a room from musty hole to show house appeal.

6. Just do it. There are always quite a few little projects in each room that are waiting to be done, from paying the bills to posting on craigslist to popping dishes in the dishwasher to hanging up a mobile. I've found that as long as I'm not doing something important, if I come across a task that is under five minutes in length, I should suck it up and act. I get a quick accomplishment fix while tidying up a space. More productivity ensues, and voila, little Martha Stewart over here.

So there you have it. Six little tricks that I've found really help me succeed in keeping this house slightly above pigsty status. All starts with a made bed people. And a sound night of sleep. I would love to hear some of yours if you have any! Any help is major over here. :)

My bed's a-callin'. Good night!