Living with Kids

I love Design Mom’s Living with Kids series, which focuses on unique, beautiful, ultra-organized, inspiring spaces that have kids living in their midst. Sometimes I find them inspiring, but on a bad day I find them a bit depressing, so that’s why I decided to remodel the spaces, with these home remodeling contractors that help a lot with this. I try to remind myself that these Mamas are also changing diapers and in a constant state of near chaos and there are messes following them around as soon as one gets cleaned up in front of them. Right?! Please say so… Anyway, I thought since I usually just show snippets of beauty and smiles I should balance it by my own little “Living with Kids” tour on a normal day. At some moment every day, it looks somewhat like this so this is really Living with Kids. Maybe you’ll agree? Please say your house looks like a tornado went through at least at some point during the day? Or maybe it will make you feel better because your domestic skills are so superior to mine and your kids pick up all the toys right after playing with them? Take it, Mama, take it! More power to you, just don’t tell me about your nanny or your cleaning lady… or that you have a better organizational method than the Pile Method?

This is the usual state of my “croffice,” with kid stuff mixed with work stuff mixed with, well, life.

And here’s our beautifully-organized craft and game closet. Are you taking notes on the Pile Method? Thought so.

Trip over anything today while you were cooking?

Train of books, anyone? Choo choo!

Nothing escapes being cooked in the kitchen we made for Wren. It does get a lot of use, but is almost always a complete wreck. Note the missing faucet… It seems that Wren is picking up on my Pile Method of organization. Oops!

And sometimes it’s just too much to take and a birdie might be found passed out in her well-designed library. Aah, what a day.

it really sucks

Wren keeps asking, “is it pretend?!” No, it really sucks. I can’t believe people spend oodles of money on cool-looking pretend vacuums that do absolutely nothing when you can spend $19.99 on something that actually works. Just let your child go to work while you kick back and drink a mimosa, ha! Ahem. While it doesn’t work great on the two (!) small rugs we own, it’s perfect for the wood floors. And perfect for Wren. It’s much more fun to clean when Wren wants to participate. I really don’t like cleaning, but I’m trying to create a different attitude about it (boy, how many times have I said that?) It’s just never-ending… sigh. You know the drill, Mamas. You turn your attention to one area of the house and meanwhile another disaster zone is created. You can’t get to picking it up and directing your child to help because you’re helping another child, or making dinner, or trying to have a conversation with another adult. It just snowballs! And now we’re entering the world of toys with small parts and puzzles with lots of puzzle pieces and it’s gotten to be a bit overwhelming to me. Side note: I DID just take several boxes and bags of stuff to Goodwill because really, how many shape sorters does a family need?!

But did I tell you the fun (and sad) thing about this vacuum? This past fall I was a guest blogger on Moonfrye, Soleil Moonfrye’s blog. You know, Punky Brewster? Well, she sent me a handwritten note and Target gift card, yahoo! So I spent part of the gift card on this vacuum. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what Punky would’ve spent her money on, but this Mama has to be a bit more practical with her gifted cash. Boo!

Lovelies, have you cultivated a good attitude about cleaning? How do you do it with small children in your midst? It’s one thing to have things picked up, but I just can’t get to the real nitty gritty cleaning… any ideas? Do you involve your toddler in cleaning too? Thoughts?


nesting: salsa and pacifiers

I was gifted with a child-free day today and made use of my special (read: don’t know when this will ever happen again!) time on last-minute nesting projects like finally turning all those October tomatoes into roasted tomato salsa and a big batch of roasted tomato soup. Since I was in the mood to boil water, I also sterilized a bunch of pacifiers. Funny juxtaposition, isn’t it? Ah, well, such is life right now.

I can’t really even begin to describe the great sense of relief I have now that I don’t have to stare at all those tomatoes every time I come through the back door. I’m so grateful they didn’t go to waste because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to them once our babe arrived; I just dreaded the thought of having to see them again as I was walking through the door with a new little birdie. Whew!

Have a great weekend in your nest, lovelies! Here in Traverse City there are a couple really cool things happening that I just had to mention: an indie art fair and the nation’s first XC ski race of the season, for which they are hauling in shaved zamboni snow from the local ice rinks. Something for everyone…

a gift from the baby

I’ve been reading a lot lately about ideas for welcoming a new baby into your family and thinking about how to best prepare Wren for her new little birdie friend. There is a great discussion on preparing siblings for the birth of a new baby with lots of different ideas over at Design Mom that have inspired some of my thoughts. One simple thing someone shared was to have a small gift for the sibling FROM the baby and I thought this was a great idea. So I went downtown today to one of my favorite shops and found a cuddly, sweet little bear for Wren that will be given to her when she visits us in the hospital. Soon!

Have any traditions in your nest when you welcome a new baby home, lovelies?


still pregnant

A few people got to wondering if we had welcomed another little birdie into the world because I haven’t posted in a few days. Well, I’m here to tell you that the babe is still tucked safely inside at 38.5 weeks and counting! Feeling (almost) ready for this new adventure, or as ready as I think we can be…

Chris and I finally agreed on boy and girl names, which shall remain a secret for a little while longer. Hey, a girl’s got to have some secrets!

And I finally finished covering the rocking chair cushions that have been waiting for me for months in the basement. They used to be white in Wren’s room and not able to be removed, but they had gotten so stained and yucky after almost 2.5 years of continuous use that I couldn’t take it anymore and tore them off. Now that they’re back on and look great because of some fabric that my friend, Sandy, gifted me, I’m ready to rock away with a new babe in my arms. What do you think?

Oh! I also just realized I must really be craving iron and getting my body ready because yesterday I cooked beef for dinner, which I almost never do (Chris wondered if it was his birthday!), and today I’m making a big batch of molasses cookies, along with a slew of from-the-garden beet & chocolate muffins. IRON!

So there’s a brief update for you, lovelies. Yup, still here. How is your week going? What’s been happening in your nest?

Happily cool and rainy

Wet, cool fall has decided to officially arrive in northern Michigan after making a brief appearance then quickly running away for the blazing hills for about two weeks. It’s actually quite a relief because I don’t have the guilt of not playing in the backyard when I’ve got a mountain of indoor projects that I’d like to tackle. Funny how that works, isn’t it? After a trip to the grocery store and long enough at our local children’s museum, we’re settled back in our nest while the rain coats the windows outside. It feels good. Looks like this weekend will be chilly and rainy too and I’m looking forward to lots of indoor (nesting) projects like figuring out what I want to do with this surprise bounty of October tomatoes. I’m starting with about six pints of salsa and then moving on to tomato jam if I have some tomatoes left. Any other ideas, lovelies?

What fun things do you have planned for your weekend? Are you looking forward to a lazy weekend in your nest? I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Bundling up in northern Michigan…

scenes from the nest

How’s your week going, lovelies? It’s been another glorious week in northern Michigan. I realize it seems trite to use the word “glorious,” but it’s true. More blue skies, more sunshine, more gasp-worthy fall color, more 70s, more tomatoes! This might be it for our “Indian Summer,” but it will not be forgotten any time soon. And I’ve got the mosquito bites to prove it – strange in mid-October, no? And that too, after using the best sunscreen mosquito repellent I could find. I’m in the midst of a bunch of nesting projects and thought I would just share a glimpse of some of them with you, along with a few shots from around the nest that we’ve been loving. Enjoy!

1) Wasabi Powder.

We decided to paint our house a light chartreuse-y green that’s called “Wasabi Powder” and we love it. The little birdie calls it yellow, but it’s decidedly not yellow. The pictures also turned out a bit on the mint-y side, but I know you can use your imagination. Ahem. Nothing like a really big project right before the baby is born, right? Ha!

2) Harvest Time.

I was thinking about cleaning out the garden earlier last week when things were wet and chilly, but 70 and sunny arrived–and stayed–bringing with it a slew of ripened tomatoes. I can’t quite believe I’m admitting this, but I’m a bit sick of fresh tomatoes. Salsa, anyone?

3) Bulbs!

Our bulb order finally arrived. I am especially excited about the orange tulips that I plan to plunk in the front. Won’t they look great with the new green if they squirrels don’t get to them first?!

4) Leafy greens.

Remember when the little birdie and I planted some dark, leafy greens? Our kale has arrived so that means that little birdie #2 will arrive shortly too. Wow!

5) Taking time to enjoy the flowers.

We’ve had a crazy morning glory crop this year. In fact, I have to remind myself next year to provide them with some thread/twine so they can more freely climb the fence and not just each other. And the mums have been lovely too. So nice to have such bright spots of color here and there.

What’s been happening in your nest, lovelies? How are you enjoying this beautiful time of year in your neck of the woods? I hope you’ve been having a good week!

Nesting in the nursery: veg out

This weekend I had some toddler-free time to work on little birdie #2’s room. Although we probably won’t move the new babe into its own room until about the time our new orange tulips (!) begin to pop next spring, I’ve been anxious to get a few nesting projects done in there. I’ve moved the rocking chair and changing table in, along with the baby’s clothes and diapers. Just the basics. Knowing that these little things are taken care helps me sleep a little better at night.

I wanted to create a unique, fun space for our new little one, but I also didn’t want to completely reinvent the wheel since we’ll just be reusing most of the things from Wren’s original nest. Had some paint left in the basement and then I was inspired to create a vegetable garden theme in the baby’s room when my Mom decided she wanted to make the baby this a-door-bell wall hanging we spotted over at PurlBee. I can’t wait to see it in person; I know it will be just perfect. Don’t you think?

So to carry out this veggie theme, I wanted to add a couple more details without being too cutesy, too baby, or too gender-specific. So I’ve been painting a fun carrot and beets border! Here are a few little sneak peeks:

I also wanted to create a little memento of this year’s garden, which helped to nourish the new little birdie so I saved some seed packets and framed them all together. I love that they say “packed for 2011.” Nothing fancy, but a nice little, meaningful addition to the new space.

Maybe if I *find* some extra time I will make a carrot pillow, or something fun like that. What do you think, lovelies? Have any other ideas for this space?

nesting: dark, leafy greens

The little birdie and I worked in the empty patches of our garden yesterday afternoon. Early summer’s bright greens and peas are only a healthy memory now. It was time to turn our minds and spades toward fall. We weeded, turned soil, dug trenches, planted seeds and watered. Hardy, healthy, robust, iron-rich kale and spinach will take up a couple rows. We threw in a couple rows of beans too because somehow I forgot to plant them earlier this year. We’ll see how they do…

It dawned on me as the little birdie was burying the seeds with soil (her favorite part of gardening so far) that–with a bit of luck–we’ll be harvesting these dark, leafy greens right around the time little birdie #2 is due to arrive. Must have been on my mind as I chose these particular things to plant. Probably what my body will need most. And, who am I kidding?, some halloween candy to balance things out…

this week

We thankfully felt a bit of September on our skin this week and as I write this, I’m still wearing fuzzy slippers, a fleece jacket and clasping a hot mug of coffee. Ahhhh. With the cooler temps and plunging humidity levels, we’re all sleeping better at night and I have to believe that the week has been a lot more easy-going and less edgy because of it. 85 with 80% humidity really takes it out of you, eh? I even told a few people last week to remind me never to be pregnant in the summer again. And today, I’m feeling at ease. 60 degrees and a full night’s sleep will do that to a mama at 29 weeks.

With a bit more pep in our step, we had a full week of nesting and playing…

  • painted the front porch of 605 with my Dad and watched the neighbor cat walk across it
  • grilled more pizza
  • enjoyed our first backyard tomato (“Mama, it’s RED! We can pick it!!!!”)
  • ate my body weight in fresh peaches and the season’s last sweet cherries
  • sorted through more baby clothes, shoes, toys, diapers
  • swam with the evening’s long shadows
  • began to transform the guest room into a cozy space for little birdie #2
  • moved one of the guest beds into Wren’s room and she decided to sleep in it (!) instead of her crib
  • shopped for a leotard, tights and ballet slippers for the little birdie’s first dance class
  • paid off my car loan (yesssssssss!)
  • started planning a mini babymoon/anniversary getaway for late September
  • made a peach pie and a fresh green bean salad to take to my Grandma’s 90th birthday party tomorrow
Happy weekend to you! Any big plans? May you enjoy some relaxing moments in your nest. XO