Tuesday, July 24, 2012

one year later: part 1 - downstairs

Ok, it's really hard to believe that we've been in the house for a year as of today.*  This also means that it's been approximately 15 months since I've held a paying job.  Both facts are odd in a way but good too.

I haven't been that great at posting our progress on the house.  So I'm going to try to just keep this quick and dirty.  When we moved in and what it looks like now.

Outside front THEN:

Ok... and actually the front of the house looks nearly identical except that my car goes in the garage and it's Will's that sits in the driveway.  And I redid the house numbers but actually, I'm not going to show you a close up of that.  I've been toying with 2 ideas though: 1. paint the garage door green to match the front door which you can't see and 2. spray paint the light fixtures black.

oh, here's a picture of the front door.

Backyard THEN:

I actually don't have any pictures of the deck pre-"awesome craigslist teak deck furniture" since we went out to Golden to get it the day after we moved in.  We haven't done much out here either though we need to repaint/stain/take your pick the deck badly.

Kitchen THEN: 

Ah, the kitchen... It needs so much work that it hasn't even gotten touched yet.

Kitchen NOW:

We've done basically nothing. And there's so much that I want to do.

Living room THEN:

Living room NOW:

Obviously better with furniture and sans gross country curtains and wood trim (not that you can see much in this picture.  Take a look at the window sills).  There are only a few things that we know we need here: mantle, a picture over the TV (it arrived yesterday!), a slipcover for the chair in the corner, and Roman shades and wood blinds for the windows (shades have been in the works since September but they're out of my hands so.... we'll see when we get them).

Guest Room THEN:

Guest Room NOW:

I have a few plans.  I'm going to paint the walls to match the bathroom below, maybe a headboard, maybe a window treatment, and a few accessories.  Well, and finish my gallery wall.

Downstairs Bathroom THEN:

Downstairs Bathroom NOW:

This is one of the more completed rooms in the house.  Mostly achieved through paint and accessories.  We finished laying the floor this weekend and then it's just touching up the baseboard paint (it's amazing how much baseboard that nasty carpet covered) and adding some quarter round.

Dining Room THEN:

Dining Room NOW: 

There's not too much more I want to do here.  Wood blinds.  Crown molding.  Maybe wood floors to match the kitchen and foyer and then area rugs as appropriate down the road.

Laundry Room THEN:

Laundry Room NOW:

All I've managed to do is get new machines since the ones they left us were literally shrinking our clothes even though they were on the lowest possible dryer setting.  I've got plans.  Most of them start with putting a slab of counter over the top of the machines.  But that's just the beginning ;-)

Foyer THEN:

Foyer NOW:

You might say it hasn't changed much and it's just the foyer but I painted all those dang spindles myself!  And the army of doors that you can just partially see some of in the second picture - if you include the front door, we have FIVE doors marching in a row.  I swear I'm going to get cutesy signs to put on all of them one day.

* I really did start this on the 12th, the anniversary of the day we moved in but then I realized I didn't have any pictures that were even vaguely current.  So now it's 2 weeks later.  oops.

Oh and I seriously HATE the online blogger interface - I have no idea where all that space came from or how to get rid of it!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

baby crap: health and grooming

Ok... I'll tell you what I bought (or registered for) and then what we actually use.

You feel like you need to get the grooming kit like so...

It includes tiny nail files, nail scissors, safety nail clippers, comb, and brush.

We never use it.  Ok, we used the brush and comb but then we lost the brush in the hotel in L.A. and had to buy another brush and comb set.

The nail clippers are too dull to comfortably use - we just got a brand new less than a dollar pair of Trim nail clippers which work perfectly when I can get her to sit still long enough to trim her nails.

The nail files are too small to be comfortable so I just use mine when I feel it's necessary.  I didn't try to use the nail scissors since I found the clippers to be easier.

And then there is the "essential" heathcare kit.

This kit includes:
  • Nasal aspirator - they give you better ones in the hospital.
  • medicine syringe - you get one every time you get a prescription and one comes with every package of the infant tylenol/ibuprofen
  • tooth brush - they are really cheap to buy and we got a crazy looking one from our dentist.
  • thermometer - you probably should have an oral/rectal thermometer but you don't really want to have to use it.
  • and a few other things that we've never used.
Ok... thermometer.  We have a Braun Ear Thermometer.  LOVE IT!  It's just so easy to use and quick.  I don't think I would get anything different unless they made this one better (which they might have since the description in the link is slightly different than what we have).  Namely, if they made the display light up - you can't read it in the dark.  My mom and I had to take Pea to the ER last weekend because she was running about 105.1 and the ER doctor told me to not bother with the temporal ones (the one you swipe across the forehead) because they give falsely high readings. 

Oh, and our girl is weird and likes to take her medicine.

baby crap: a word about blankets

I was a blanket kid so I'm a little biased when it comes to the topic of blankets.  And I'm even more so now.

Yes, I realize that I am posting pictorial evidence of the fact that I had a blanket and sucked my thumb at 6.

Ok, first point is a big sanity making one.

Swaddling blankets.

You want a life saver in those early days when the baby will NOT stop crying - learn to swaddle and learn to swaddle well.  Reading Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block is great but even better - watch the video!  Unfortunately, we didn't do this until after the baby was born which meant that we'd also already done all of our sorting, returning, and washing of baby stuff including all the blankets.  Watching the video made me realize that we'd kept all the wrong blankets!

See, in the hospital the nurses are experts at wrapping the newborns up in flannel blankets.

Let me tell you that this is nearly impossible a skill to perfect when you really need it.  And if you have a houdini like we did, the swaddle won't last.  Dr. Karp's suggestion in the video is to use a blanket with some stretch.  Holy cow!  Total lifesaver!  Just that one little suggestion made all the difference.

Gerber thermal blankets were really good but they tended to be on the small side so they only worked when she was tiny.  The Carters receiving blankets are really nice as well and a little bigger so they lasted longer.  As the weather got warmer and she got bigger, the Aden and Anais for Target muslin blankets became indispensable.  I even used them as a nursing cover when we were on planes.  I'd love to try these from Etsy for the next time.

Now don't get me wrong, flannel receiving blankets - whether it's the 4 pack from Carters, homemade (so much cuter if someone you know has the skills), or the Swaddle Designs blankets (super cute but really, save your money) - have a lot of uses.  Ground cover.  Sun Shade.  Light warmth.  They just don't really cut it as swaddling blankets.

We did also have a couple Summer Infant SwaddleMe swaddle blankets.  They were easier to deal with in the middle of the night but Sweet Pea is a houdini and they never held her for long.  So those were kind of hit or miss.

The other big consideration about blankets is the security blanket or lovey.  I will admit that I am weird and I hate, hate, hate those lovies that are little chunks of blanket with a stuffed animal head on it.

Like this little guy.  Cute, right?  I just find it weird and oddly disturbing.  We have two that were given to us as gifts.  One oddly enough has different washing instructions for the head and blanket parts.  You can machine wash/dry the blanket part but not the head part.  What?!

As for nice soft blankets, there are plenty of options.  Just a few words to the wise - decide which one you might want to encourage a few months down the line (people say you can't choose a child's lovey but you can certainly encourage or discourage whatever you want) and make sure sure you have or can get more than one.  As a woman who spent a good 2 hours today trying to track down potential replacements, trust me on this one.  Also consider that you will potentially have to take the lovey everywhere for several years to come.

Bottom line....
  • Flannel receiving blankets have their uses but not as swaddling blankets.
  • Swaddling blankets need, need, need some stretch.
  • Choose your lovey/security object wisely.  By "choose" of course, I mean only offer things that you can handle baby becoming attached to.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

baby crap: feeding solids

ok, after a long break... another installment of baby crap...

We didn't start P on solids until she was just shy of 6 months old and really that was mostly because we were going to the pediatrician for her well baby visit soon and I didn't want to have to explain that I hadn't even tried to give her solid foods yet.  We were doing so well with the breast feeding that I really  wasn't keen on introducing another aspect of mess to my life.

Ok, so some people would say that we're "bad parents" because we didn't have a high chair and fed her sitting in the Bumbo on the kitchen table for about a month.  Go search the internet for all the opinions on why Bumbos are terrible.  Personally I say, know your kid and don't leave them in the Bumbo unattended (duh.).
This was our set up.

As you can see, like all good parents who have an IKEA nearby we have the IKEA bowls (and the plates and cups too).  At $1.99 for a set of six (each for the bowls, plates, and cups) in every color in the rainbow practically, it's a tough deal to beat.  We got the Munchkin spoons as a gift and have really liked them.  The Munchkin travel bowls, however, have not fared so well.  The edges of the lids started cracking not too long after we started using them so we got a very similar set from Gerber/Nuk (here is a link but ours are slightly different) that we've had no problems with.

Oh, so you want to know how that first bite went over.... like this...

None too pleased with the avocado (admittedly the avocados we had at the time were weird and she LOVES avocado now) or the homemade brown rice cereal.  I gave up on making my own rice cereal and we started using the Earth's Best Organic Brown Rice Cereal and eventually moved on to giving her the oatmeal and multigrain cereals as well.  She actually still eats the multigrain cereal for breakfast most days.

We started out only giving her dinner at the same time we ate and over time I added lunch, breakfast and an afternoon snack.  I only started giving her an afternoon snack shortly after she was a year old and I can't remember how long it took me to ramp up to 3 meals a day.

I feel like here is where I should mention that I made her most of her baby food.  I kept doing the math and it just made sense to me to just make the food myself.  I didn't buy too much to do it either.  I got a Kitchen Aid immersion blender which I wanted anyway but was aided by the fact that our regular blender died.  I also got the OXO baby blocks 2oz storage set which in the end was totally unnecessary because I ended up just buying more regular Rubbermaid 2 and 4 oz food storage containers and using those.  She was really only on straight pureed baby food from early October until after the start of the new year.  Oh and check out Wholesome Baby Food's website for some good ideas on what to feed babies when.

I know that I started giving her a sippy cup (or trying to) at about 7 months.

The first attempts, she didn't get it.

A little better about 3 weeks later.  

These sippy cups are made by Playtex and are virtually spill proof because they have valves in them which can make it a little challenging to figure out how to drink out of them.  So we switched over to the First Years Take & Toss cups which are intended to be travel cups though oddly we never travel with them since we just take one of the "regular" ones.  These cups don't have valves but they also don't have the handles so I guess it's a toss up as to which is easier for the child to master - holding the cup or drinking from it.  P's issue was the drinking from so the Take & Toss were easier for her and once she got the hang of those, she had no problems with the others.  I've heard a lot about babies having issues transitioning to sippy cups, we didn't have that problem which I think is entirely because she didn't have to make the switch from a bottle.  She hardly ever got bottles because that was just how our life worked out for her.

Let's see... we do like both sets of cups.  Neither are leak proof but the Playtex ones are better.  She is kind of destroying the tops of those with her teeth and her new habit of dropping them on the sidewalk during our morning walks.  So I think I will have to replace them for any future children.  The Take & Toss ones are easy to use (the lids on the others can sometimes be near impossible to get off but we've learned to just close them to the click and not keep going) but when she drops them, which is often, the lids can pop open making a mess.

As she's gotten older, she gets a lot more finger foods and feeds herself a lot.  As such we've been using the IKEA plates a lot more.  We've also been working on having her feed herself.  The Munchkin spoons are a little long for her to use so we have the Take & Toss forks and spoons which have much shorter handles.  She's been doing really well with them lately.

Here's an early attempt:

I just got her the Gerber Kiddy Cutlery forks (link is for the fork, knife, and spoon but you can get a 3 pack of forks) and gave her a fork for the first time last night.  She was confused.  I could have given her the forks from the Take & Toss set but they're plastic and don't look like they'd spear anything.

As for what she eats now at 14 months... just about anything we eat.  We try to give her whatever we are eating for dinner which doesn't always go over well.  I'm starting to come to the conclusion that she likes things that have a ton of flavor - taco meat, kebabs we made the other day that were smothered in Old Bay.  She loves fruit and will eat grapes, blackberries, and raspberries whole.  She tries with the strawberries but it's just easier to cut those for her.  Of course, if we would let her live on buttered English muffins, meat and cheese, she'd be pretty happy.

Back soon maybe...

Saturday, June 16, 2012


well... it would appear that I totally fell off the face of the planet over here.

1. I got a new computer.  Yay!   But in doing so I made the jump to Apple.

Isn't she pretty?  I LOVE her except for one huge, gaping problem - an Apple equivalent of Windows Live Writer absolutely does not exist.  I'm weird and I really don't like having to be chained to the internet to write blog posts.  I also didn't know that they'd done a major upgrade to the Blogger interface (now I do.).  Mars Edit isn't a terrible substitute but it costs money :(

2.  I've been writing a bunch over at Sisterhood of the Whispering Crowns.  We may even finally get a new look over there too!!

3.  Someone may not be technically a toddler since she's not toddling but she's sure got the attitude of one.  Yikes!  I am NOT prepared for a toddler.  I had a clue about what to do with an infant.  I am at a total loss with a toddler.  I think I spent a few weeks wallowing over that realization but I'm doing my reading (parenting books are awesome) and we're just going to move forward.  And she's probably going to walk soon though I have a feeling that it won't be until after Will goes to Australia (yeah - lucky duck gets the government to pay him to go to Australia).

So, I've been thinking a lot lately about a bunch of posts that I want to write - seriously, if I could just think it and have it show up on the internet, I would never disappear - and maybe I'll write a few here soon.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

our PW adventure

A few weeks ago I discovered that Ree Drummond – The Pioneer Woman was going to be in Denver for a book signing for her new cookbook – Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier

Um, yes please.  I want to go to there.

The day of the signing (last Saturday) finally rolled around and we had planned our day around heading to the Tradesmart book store in Littleton for the event which started at 4pm. 

Sweet Pea took her nap and got up with plenty of time for us to stop off to check out a couple of cross stitch shops before going to the book store but we didn’t get out of the house in a timely manner – I mean, really, I should be used to how long it takes to get out of the house with her but I seem to end up about a half hour behind schedule (unless there’s an appointment involved) no matter what I do.  So we decided to only hit one of the shops – thank goodness we did!  I finally found a good Christmas stocking kit for Miss P and a really great shop (Fancimats & More in downtown Littleton).

We walked in to discover that the ladies (one employee and one customer) were discussing, what else than the very same book signing that we were headed to.  I thought that was funny.  We found out from the ladies that the book store had been giving out numbers all day.  Great.

We decided to press on figuring that if we got there and we were way far back in line, we would just stay for the presentation, buy the new cookbook and go home.  So we got there a little before 3:30.  I staked out a spot and waited while Will wandered around with the baby.

The crowd anxiously waiting her presentation.

And then she finally appeared!

Her presentation is just a little history of her life and blog.DSC_0189 
She talks a lot on her blog about how she’s terrible at public speaking… well, it’s true!  But she’s funny and nervous in a very endearing way.

And then she sang to Charlie.  ha!

After her “song,” she came right over to begin signing books.  At this point it was about 4:30. 
My spot won me a perfect vantage point for when she started signing books.  Unfortunately, our number was 248.  We were going to be waiting for quite a while so we actually left and went up the street for dinner.  We’re still not sure why more people didn’t do the same.

DSC_0196 DSC_0197
Basically, all these people were just camped out in the store waiting to be called to get in line.  We grabbed a chunk of floor and let the girl crawl around for awhile.
DSC_0198 DSC_0199 DSC_0208
They’d been playing an awesome country playlist but eventually the bookstore folks and the publisher folks got smart and they put The Muppets on one of the 2 screens that had been put up for the presentation.DSC_0218
Eventually, our number got called.  Not before the bookstore started announcing that if you needed to leave you could leave your books on a cart and Ree would sign them and you could come back and get them the next day.  A lot of people were taking advantage of that. DSC_0219
Aaaaaaand she fell asleep.  I was so hoping to have her meet Ree too. :(  But she was a little tuckered out by that point.
Finally we made it! 

It was about 8:30, 4 hours from when she’d started signing books and she was still so upbeat and nice.  AMAZING.  I was so excited to introduce her to our Sweet Pea since I know that Ree loves babies.  She told us how beautiful she was and that she looked like Snow White and just wanted to pet her.  Ree has to be used to people coming up and stammering at her because she just started asking questions while she signed the books.  Where did we live?  When we told her that we’d just moved to the area, she asked where from and then was joking that she was interrogating us.  Really, she’s just as nice in person as you would expect her to be if you’ve watched her show.  She even patted the babe on the leg.

Oh and thanks to the Tradesmart employee for taking the picture!  Our original plan was for me to have the baby and Will to take the picture but as you saw… she was asleep so Will had to get in the picture with us.

I had 3 books signed  - the original cookbook, Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.
The new cookbook – Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier.DSC_0225
And Charlie the Ranch Dog which we had signed for Miss P.  DSC_0228DSC_0231

If I knew where it was, I probably would have thought to bring The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – A Love Story too but God only knows which of the bajillion boxes of books that’s in.

I actually bought the new cookbook at the event so I didn’t know what was in it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find two of my favorite recipes from her website. 

Pork Chops with Apples and Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits which if you’ve visited since November, I’ve probably served it to you in all of its delicious glory.  Though one of these days, I’ll finally make the whole thing correct from start to finish.  I haven’t done it yet.


And Summer Stir Fry.  The pictures are different from the recipe version that I’ve used but this is such a tasty summery dish.  I can even get Will to eat tomatoes!

So that’s how I got to meet Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman. 

Well, Pioneer Lady in our house.  Damn you, Will!