Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One Bucket For Everything - A Decluttering DIY

I had a conversation with friends recently that inspired this DIY project for Easter.  One of the moms I was talking to mentioned that her kids are still running around the house with their pumpkin shaped Halloween buckets.  Another friend said she throws her daughter's gear from holidays away every year because she can't handle the clutter.
I thought it would be great if there was one multi-purpose item we could use for everything.  I wanted something Pearl could use for Easter egg hunting, trick-or-treating, collecting Valentine's Day cards, and for any other holiday related reason she might need a special place to keep things.
My solution was to purchase a plain metal bucket.  It's not a very festive item, but it is durable and cheap.  Plus she can also use it for pretend play and for helping out in the garden.
In order to make it festive, I decided to decorate it for Easter.  The metal is a perfect surface for chalk markers.  Once dry, it stays in place pretty well.  It is also extremely easy to clean off so we can decorate the bucket for every holiday.
My drawing was a five minute effort.  Nothing fancy.  Pearl loved it though.  She wanted to contribute to the artwork so I let her draw on the other side of the bucket.  Maybe we will make decorating her bucket a new tradition for every holiday.

Toddler Style #13 - Giveaway Winnings

I got this shirt for Pearl before I even knew she existed.  I won a giveaway on A CUP OF JO back in 2010.  It was for a children's clothing website that appears to not exist anymore.  I was so excited to win though, and the kids clothes were just so cute!  I didn't have any children at the time.  I decided to just buy a bunch of cute girl stuff and hope that I would someday have someone to wear it.  I gave it all to my niece to wear with the disclaimer that I get it all back someday if I had a daughter.  Most of the items are still too big for Pearl, but I was so excited to find that this top fits her now!
Shirt: Bonjour Annika, Pants: Crazy 8, Shoes: Smart Fit (handed down from older cousin)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pearl Plays PDX #4 - Mt Scott Community Center Indoor Pool

I took the kids to Mt. Scott Community Center in SE Portland a couple weeks ago for open swim hours.  The weekday "family swim" hours are not exactly ideal with nap time schedules, but I figured I would try to make it work.  Open swim goes from 11:30am - 1:00pm.  The cost was extremely reasonable because I only had to pay $5.50 for myself.  Kids under 3 swim for free.
I knew I wouldn't be able to manage two very little non-swimmers in a pool by myself so I enlisted some help.  My sister-in-law came with her daughter and my father-in-law came as well.  I did not consider the locker room logistics of getting two kids ready to swim and also getting us all showered and dressed after the fact on my own though.  That was rough, but we got through it.
It was relatively busy, but not packed.  I didn't feel stressed out about the number of kids there.  The pool is set up perfectly for families with kids of all ages.  There are plenty of shallow areas where both kids could reach the bottom.  Pearl was able to walk around a lot.  There is a fun, colorful area with lots of spraying water that the kids liked to play in.
They had plenty of foam kick boards available for anyone who wanted to use them.  There is a current area for floating and the kids enjoyed us taking them through on the kick boards.  That area was mostly full of older kids as school wasn't in session that day, but we didn't have much trouble maneuvering through them.  They were thankfully all well behaved.
By the end of open swim, the kids were tired and starting to melt down a bit.  Pearl especially had fun though and didn't want to leave.  It was also an added bonus that both of them had great naps after all of that activity.
I absolutely recommend Mt. Scott Community Center.  I hear there are other similar community centers in the area worth checking out too.  My only warning is that if you have more than one kid, enlist help.  You will need it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Multipurpose Room Remodel

This multipurpose room remodel was mostly finished a few months ago.  It has been such an amazing space for us.  A very long time ago, this was actually the garage.  By the time we moved in, it had been converted into a dark and cold windowless space.  At some point, a previous owner had walled off a corner of it to create an extra bedroom.  Both "rooms" had no heat source.  For us, it was only used as storage up until the remodel was complete.
Jeremy had ambitious plans.  It was to be an office for the both of us.  It was also meant to replace my sewing room and was somehow going to be a playroom for the kids.  No matter how many times he explained how it was going to work, I didn't understand how everything could fit.  I was also worried that the various uses wouldn't co-exist well.  By this point I have learned to trust him though because he is ridiculously good at this stuff.  He always made sure I had my input, but the vision was all his.
Besides having no heat source, it also wasn't insulated well.  Jeremy tore the ceiling and Sheetrock off so he could insulate it.  He stripped everything.  He tore out the room that had been added to create a large open space.  The closet was torn out and a new, more efficient one, was built in a different location.  He added windows which not only gave us natural light, but also greatly improved the look of our house from the exterior.
The space was finished a week before I started a freelance job.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.  I was immediately able to appreciate what my husband had built for us.  When I needed to get work done while it was just me and the kids at home, it was actually possible.  They could occupy themselves in the play area while I worked on my laptop.  Previously, I would sit on the couch to work and the kids would climb all over me.  For the first time, I was able to do efficient work and not feel like I was upsetting the kids.
My tall work table is perfect for screen printing, cutting out sewing projects, and for ironing.  All of the things I don't want the kids to touch while I am in the middle of a project are high enough that they can't reach them.  I also love that it's easier for me to stand to work because the table is at a comfortable height.
Everyone in the house loves the space.  I also can't believe how much easier it is to keep the rest of the house clean because all of the toys are in this one room now.  It is amazing.
There are still a few small things to finish.  We are going to add a large game cabinet by the piano (as you can see above, we have a lot of board games).  Jeremy also has plans to eventually put in a wet bar on the same wall.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

10 Months Pearl and Axel

I want to give them big hugs right now, but they are asleep.  I love these happy babies!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

10 Months Old!

Axel is ten months old!
Axel has four teeth now.  His top ones are ridiculously adorable which is good because they gave us a lot of trouble.  Night time has been rough this month.  I was hoping it would get better once those teeth came in, but it really hasn't.  He wants to nurse all night long and gets really upset when I don't let that happen.  He scratched his face last night pretty bad in a rage while I took a break from middle-of-the-night nursing.  I didn't realize it happened until this morning and quickly cut his one jagged little fingernail.
His new favorite thing is to shake his head "no" while eating to evade the spoon.  He thinks it is hilarious, and we think so too.  Feeding him is sometimes difficult because of his game though.  Axel knows that I am "mom" and often says it now to me.  He woke up really early once this month and Jeremy tried to cuddle him back to sleep.  Axel looked at me with a worried look on his face and screamed "mom!".  It was really funny.  He also says "da" for both dad and for the dogs.
He is obsessed with any drum or thing he can hit to make a loud noise.  He also loves taking baths with Pearl and playing with her training potty seat.  I have to make sure that thing gets really clean in between each use.
Axel still hates bottles although he is better about drinking one or two ounces from them when I have to be away.  He hasn't really figured out sippy cups yet and has no desire to try.  This one might be nursing forever.
See how much he has grown!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pearl Plays PDX #3 - The Portland Youth Philharmonic Cushion Concert

We took both kids to their first concert on Sunday.  I received an e-mail earlier in the week from a PR rep for The Portland Youth Philharmonic telling me about their Cushion Concert.  It was actually put together with an audience of children ages 2-8 in mind.  It seemed like a great opportunity to review something a little out of the box for us.  Pearl is unpredictable (as are most toddlers), so taking her to a concert is not something I probably would have done otherwise.
The concert was planned very thoughtfully.  All attendees were told to bring comfy cushions from home.  Seating was on the floor which was great for kids because they didn't feel confined to a chair.  Pearl brought snacks in her backpack, but there were also tons of snacks available for purchase.  Jeremy bought some cookies to share.  Lots of families had popcorn.
They had an "instrument petting zoo" before the show started.  Good spots to sit were being taken up quickly, so I took Axel with me to get our seats.  Jeremy and Pearl went over to play the instruments.  She loved it.  He even got video of her playing a cello.
The concert length was great.  It lasted around an hour.  Pearl (and lots of other kids) started to get pretty wiggly near the end.  I'm glad it didn't go any longer.  The kids performing were so talented, and somehow even in a room full of children, I never felt like anything going on around me was overshadowing their performance.  There was a question and answer section that could have been shortened, but otherwise those who planned the event did a great job considering their target audience.
I would definitely recommend these performances to parents with young children.  We would love to go again.

**I was not compensated for this post or asked to review it, but was given free tickets to the event.  All opinions are my own.