david's first birthday party!

As in, a fifth birthday party, for a friend from school, that was a first for him! It was all just so very big boy, the things that happened. He got an invitation in his school folder... only the boys were invited from his class... it was something else! He's been impatiently waiting for his own very first school birthday party since his sister went to the same place earlier in the year for a party. So he was ready!
It was at Go N' Bananas which for local people you have heard of I'm sure. They had pizza and cupcakes for the kids before gift opening. David should be hired out to build excitement in a crowd I'll tell you! Each gift he would go "Wow!!! That's AWESOME!" plus clapping. It was all very hysterical. 
The boys couldn't wait to get back out there and run around in that jungle gym-type situation. Climbing and sliding and running and getting super sweaty. They also got to ride bumper cars a whole bunch of times, go bowling, and play in the arcade. I didn't think we would make it till the end of the party which was at 9, but David showed me. That kid was having the time of his life being with his buddies out and about being a big kid.
Those two boys on either side of David? They are his very best friends at school. They are allowed in his wolfpack, those two. And they are just really sweet together and I love love love watching how they interact and the dynamic?! Waiting for each other to do things, making sure all are included, I mean.... The best. And their moms are pretty great too! Way to pick em David!

I do have to say that the girl's party in the fall at the same place was a totally different animal! Girls run away and scream and squeal and just overall the octave is a whole other level. These boys? They were down right calm in comparison.... Which I know, shouldn't compare. But I did.



Just around Valentine's Day David's school had this little game for the parents at pick up... guess your child's pucker. The only part of the child you saw was their kiss lips and well let me tell you, I've been kissed by David's lips a million times and I had no idea. So we lost. Parenting fail. This is what inspired my photos today...
Dominic, age 2 years: He does give kisses, on occasion. He prefers mouth to mouth rather than mouth to cheek but I'm just happy he likes to kiss me. What he doesn't like is when I bring out the camera for these weekly photos. My phone he seems to be totally fine with, even calling out "cheeeeeeese!" But not the actual camera. Ah well. And if he comes to hug you? Well just be sure you're braced for impact. Full contact hugging.

David, age 4 years: The sweetest little love bug there is. Always up for a hug and a kiss and preferably both and preferably every five minutes. You know in Trolls how they have scheduled hugging? He's the troll that would say I wish hug time was allllll the time. A hug and a kiss can really just make his day completely turn around. Who is going to kiss him next year? WHO!?

Letty, age 6 years: Oh her little pucker! I would recognize hers just about anywhere because of that little scar there on the left side of her mouth from when this happened.... Some days I can't see it at all and others I feel like it's all I see. She spent most of her Sunday just relaxing at home recovering from her week of fun so we will keep the actual kisses to a minimum.... Oh who am I kidding I'll always take a hug and a kiss from her!

Past weekly shots found here.


cruising with young children. lessons learned.

We have been on ten cruises, one of those we only had one child who happened to be only one year old at the time and then the tenth cruise we had a six year old, a four year old and a twenty-two month old. Let's just say cruising with kids is a totally different animal. 

Nine of our cruises have been with Carnival and one with Celebrity, just as an fyi.
Cruising with kids has always made me nervous. I was terrified of them falling overboard or if something happened to the ship and me not knowing where they were or if they made it to the life boat, those kind of sane and irrational thoughts. And being outnumbered the worries have just multiplied. Before we left on this most recent of cruises I spent a ton of time researching different policies and tips from every site I could get my fingers on. I wanted to be prepared. And in hindsight, I feel like I was more than that. So I thought I would share my lessons learned when cruising with young kids.

If you have an interior room (or exterior with curtains pulled) the room can be pitch black. I brought multiple night lights for the kids but they were not necessary unless you're a conservationist and have an issue with leaving the bathroom light on all night. That gave us just enough light to navigate. Plus the rooms are super small so it's enough for the kids. And electrical outlets are hard to come by.

iPads, small cars or trains, crayons, play packs and stickers were our saving grace at meal time. That and small boxes of CTC. And lots of rounds of I Spy.
Speaking of CTC, grab the day's snacks at breakfast. While food is aplenty all day there's nothing like whipping out a prepackaged box of Cheerios when in need. 

Let's talk about our balcony. The original reservation had us in an indoor room. On the third day of the cruise we all decided to see if we could get an upgrade since so many people had cancelled on the cruise when it headed north instead of south.  We were all given new rooms and all were hastily moving our stuff after dinner one night. All very exciting. But the balcony! It gave me great fear late at night. What if the kids somehow got past me and opened it? What if they then moved a chair to the edge? What if they then fell over? Serious thoughts for sure. Well, now a few points. The kids could also just as easily have walked out into the halls as outside to the balcony. The hall door deadbolts but once you open the door from the inside the deadbolt opens automatically. The balcony door has a lock that does not do that. The kids would have to fiddle with the lock prior to opening. Let's say they do that? Well Letty could BARELY open it during the day. Like took all her strength and she moaned and groaned while trying. So that all helped ease some fears. We also moved a small end table in front of the door as further hindrance during the night once we were done out there. See also that even though the bathroom light provided enough light deeming a nightlight unnecessary it also did not even light up the room enough for a child to navigate much further than bathroom and back. See also also for months prior to cruising I continually barraged my children with what do we do on cruises? Not climb furniture. Where do we keep our feet? On the ground. Do we go on a balcony alone? Only with an adult. And so on and so forth. 

So why a balcony? Well well. No internet? No books? The horror! But I have not read a book on vacation since I had children. Literally not a page. But without internet and all being in the same room a book would have saved me with the kids early bed times. Rookie mistake on my end. Instead I found myself staring at a useless phone for two hours or Kung Fu Panda or whatever kids movie was on. Having the balcony allowed us not only more stateroom space and a view but also a place to go once we got the kids settled and asleep. Even though it was cold it was nice to sneak out there for a few minutes and have a conversation. With the door open mind you so we could keep an ear out. The kids loved having a balcony and watching all the comings and goings from out there.
We brought a laptop full of movies but between Camp Carnival and just otherwise being busy we weren't in the cabin that much. They changed the kid's movie daily so that was a huge help. It ended up not being necessary. 

Speaking of Camp Carnival I cannot rave about this enough! The kids were separated by age but all in one giant room. We had a phone so they could reach us or us them anytime. They had bands and name tags with muster stations on them. They had excellent security check-in and check-out strategies. And oh yeah the stuff for kids to do was crazy!  Face painting and games and crafts and and and the list goes on and on. They could not wait to go to camp. And I just pretended they were with a loving family member rather than strangers. 
You have to be two years old to go to Camp Carnival though. And they won't soothe your child much. So if your kid starts to cry and ask for mom they will be like sure! Yes! Let me get her on the phone. Which is nice, I personally think. Speaking of young kids, it didn't matter on this chilly cruise but if you have any unpotty trained little ones they aren't allowed in the pools or the water park area. It's a public safety thing, those diapers in those pools. Another lesson learned? You don't need to bring any flotation devices. They have plenty of life jackets in plenty of sizes. The Puddle Jumper was not needed.
I swore I would never attempt formal dining again on a cruise after we did it with just Letty but I was over ruled by the majority. It actually wasn't so bad. See aforementioned iPad and play pack paragraph. That and a nightly game of I Spy with Nonna got us through these meals. The staff in our experiences have always been fantastic, especially with children. They go above and beyond to make sure they have the stuff they like to eat and as quickly as they like to eat it.
Random Other Items to Pack:
- Power strip. There are only a few outlets in the rooms and when you have sound machines and night lights, camera batteries, the like, you'll be thankful.
- Blow-up pool. If you have a kid who hates showers you can fill this up in the shower and they can have a tiny little tubby. You can also use this if you have a balcony so the little ones can splash around out there. If your cruise heads somewhere warm.
- Umbrella stroller. Space is of the essence so the smaller the better. Ours fit real nicely into the closet. Right next to our dress clothes.
- Dish soap to wash out the sippy cups at the end of the day.
- Clothespins. They have a wire in the shower to dry wet suits but if there are five of you.... well it is just not large enough.

You can see the post I wrote after our last cruise when we just had Letty here.

Now after typing this all up I really want to go on another vacation! Right?


the living room got painted! again!

I mentioned last month that I have been wanting to paint our living room/eat-in kitchen/kitchen for awhile now but Matt was dragging his feet about the color situation.... He didn't want gray. Buuuuut he gave in finally stating, happy wife, happy life! 

Everyone thinks we are crazy, painting a room and then repainting it within a few years. We have painted every single wall in this home (minus closets), and now we have redone six of those original rooms (dining roommaster bathroompowder roomkid's bathroom, laundry room, and now this space). I know it's nuts, but it is such a relatively easy and affordable way to totally change the look of a room. When you consider that it took us maybe five hours of painting (we were up very late) and only two gallons of paint to do what we did here of course we would do it only though the green paint was there for just three years.

This was a bear of a job though, with a ton of cutting in and then don't get me started in the taking down of the gallery wall! But we did it. On a Friday. And I love the way it turned out.
The paint color is Silver Marlin by Behr. Gray is an interesting thing, everyone who has seen it says it has a different undertone. I just am so happy to have lightened up the space. Everything pops now I think. Especially the black wall! All of the wood furniture in these spaces was made by Matt, the entertainment center, the end tables, the sofa table and the kitchen table. The coffee mug rack, the growth ruler, the pallet skinny box, the tray on the ottoman, the blanket ladder, the tobacco basket, all were made by Matt. The EAT letters I made here. The curtains I did here. Boxwood wreath from Target. Faux greens from Ikea and I just distressed the pots myself. Little topiaries that I am obsessed with from Amazon. Moss balls I made myself here. The galvanized milk jug and olive basket were Target Dollar Spot finds that I distressed myself with bleach and vinegar (Target please bring them back to the Dollar Spot please please please!). Round galvanized serving tray at Walmart. Three-Tiered Galvanized Tray from Sam's Club. Throw blankets from Ikea. The globe was an antique my mother found me. Pillow covers! The old map and the plant print were both from Ikea, no longer available. No. 7, Bicycle, Compass, Grain Sack covers, all from Amazon. 

As with most of the things we do, we try and make it ourselves or redo existing things with some spray paint. If all else fails we head up the street to the Home Decor Warehouse where they take all my money (jugs, lanterns, florals, ampersand, milk jug, ceramics above cabinets, etc.). But a lot of things didn't cost me a penny, or very very little.... my Grammy's old suitcase with her maiden name initials on the front as the base to a side table, wine crates from wine and liquor stores, an old terracotta pot I scrubbed and scrubbed for our utensils, free printables from Pinterest, old mason jars from my Grammy, old books, old candlesticks I just spray painted and distressed... and my newest favorite, the two silver serving pieces that I mounted in that basket in the kitchen. They belonged to Matt's grandmother and have been sitting in storage since his father passed away ten years ago, gorgeous silver pieces just sitting away unseen! My mind is really working trying to figure out other ways I could use those family heirlooms in a pretty way. Point being, shop your own home. Or your Grammy's home.... Plus the family pieces are just the best pieces right? Who would have thought... Laurie.... the owner of a few antiques...

Is this room done? Hardly. I want to get a neutral jute rug most likely that I will put on top of the red one. Just to neutralize some of it, leaving a border of the old rug visible. I'll also be wanting more pillow covers for the four large pillows on the couches, most likely these ones from H&M.

This is the original before and after of our living room...When we added our black wall here...Here is our kitchen after we did our major redo of last winter...Here is our kitchen upon moving in...

Goodness. So that's that. What do you guys think? I need therapy? Yup, I know. 



On the chalkboard: The biggest of my many chalkboards will stay pretty basic here for a bit. As the number of chalkboard things has increased in my home the frequency with which I update them has decreased. That makes total sense, right?
Reading: I swear I am almost done with this book! I've been reading it for like two years or something ridiculous but I am just so so close. I've tried barefoot running because of this book. It's sort of a big deal. And I promised it to Steph after I'm done so I really should just bite the bullet and finish it already.
Watching with Matt: I know. Like the hundredth time viewing. But it's always just so good! We also are all caught up on This Is Us and Homeland soo... we were waiting for Billions to start so we needed something good. Sensing a Damian Lewis theme here....
Eating: Just ask Matt, I could have cheese and pretzels at every meal and I would never tire of it. My preferred way is cheddar with pretzels dipped in honey mustard but as I basically bathe in the honey mustard I'm trying to be better by removing that part of it. Just such a tasty snack in my opinion.
Drinking: The amount of damage I can do to a case of soda with this cup around is deadly. Matt will randomly surprise me with a fountain soda and I'll be all oh! Yum! I'll finish that cup and then refill it that weekend with oh about 938948 other cans of Diet Pepsi. It's an issue.
Planning: On getting a neutral rug to go on top of this red one. No spend February is almost over people! I'm just so close! Any suggestions for kid friendly neutral affordable rugs and I'm all ears!
Thinking about: Summer! This weekend was such a tease! 
Watching on the treadmill: I find it hard to enjoy being in the basement running for 45 minutes all before 6:30 a.m. each day... shows like this really entertain and distract so, I'm a fan. And believe it or not I've never seen the entire show, just a few episodes here and there so I'm loving seeing where it all began.
As I type this: Yeah, he is the destructor. I didn't leave it this way for long though because wow, it gives me anxiety.
On the letterboard: It's a new thing! Yes! I love this board! And all the different ways I can use it! Despite what people may believe I do just love being at home. I love our home. I also love to go an adventure so... home is where I'm with you? That? This is a Laura Ingalls Wilder quote and I am sort of on a Laura kick lately so...
Past currently posts here.


our warm weekend.

We had just the nicest warmest most lovely long weekend that a February could ask for! The temperatures rose above sixty, the sun was shining, the kids played outside long and hard and they came in dirty and tired and happy. It was the perfect little reminder that Spring will come and summer will be awesome and that we can do this! The vitamin d did a body good!

Friday was our standard see our best friends night. Steph made a lovely soup that I always think is just so pretty. We had ourselves a nice night until Matt got a ticket on the way home... the kids were just certain that Matt was going to be arrested and or sent to jail forever and ever and ever. Letty can't wait to write about the whole ordeal in her journal when she gets back to school.
We had done the first coat of paint in our living room/kitchen area over Dom's nap on Friday and we spent the final hours of that evening finishing it all up. A second coat and returning all the things to their rightful place. Including the gallery wall...
Saturday Letty and I went and watched Avery's basketball game because well, she asked us too and if you are asked to go cheer on Avery you just go. We loved seeing her play and she even scored her first basket! Go Avery!! On the way home we had the windows down and the music going and it was just so refreshing!
We spent the rest of the afternoon outside, trying out the kid's various Christmas gifts. Skates for Letty, David's remote controlled truck, and Dom's scooter. The kids took the party out back and they played hard, getting super dirty and loving life!
We had Matt's brother and his family over for dinner that night and it was an early to bed for all after that day of fresh air and sunshine!

Sunday Dom woke up with a small low grade fever so we decided to keep him at home with Matt while I took the big kids to church. It was so bizarre walking in to church with nothing but my car keys, chapstick and cell phone. Priorities, right? And look! No jackets!
After church we went to my parent's house for our weekly brunch date. So yum. After we ate the kids ran all over my parent's property and around the development just stretching those little legs.
Followed by lots more outdoor play! Soaking up that sun was the name to my game if I'm being honest. I know it won't last and that the cold air will return so for now I was so thrilled to have something, you know!!
What about you all? How was your weekend? Letty was back to school today, but David doesn't return until Friday as it is conference week! Yay!

Linking up with Biana on this lovely Tuesday.