Thursday, July 30, 2015

11 Years!

11 years, wow!  Sam, I'm enjoying growing old with you and can't think of anyone I would rather be on this journey with.  We were young and naive when we started out, but have grown together over the last 11 years.  Here's to many more!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sarah is 18 Months Old

Wow, it's hard to believe my baby is 18 months old already!  I always think of her as the baby and even feel like she's not very mature for her age, but then we do something like go to the park with some of Joseph's friends and I realize (as she's climbing up the stairs and sliding by herself and running around without a care about where I am) she's more developed than I realize.  In fact, just this morning as I was picking her up from the child watch at the gym the lady asked me how old she is.  When I said 18 months today her reply was, "I thought that's what I heard you tell someone.  She seems so mature and always plays with the older kids."  I guess that's what happens when you have a brother older, but not too much older than you. 

In January, I took Sarah to Oklahoma City for a hearing test since she still has never passed (You might remember that since she was a NICU baby she had to have her hearing tested at 6 and 12 months as well as a couple of times in between, but never passed so we had tubes put in in August when she was about 11 months old to help with the fluid build up in her ears.) Now she will acknowledge them when they talk to her and follow verbal commands, but refuses to acknowledge the beeps after the first couple of times.  We know she can hear now because her vocabulary has grown too much for her not to, but she is stubborn.  Luckily the people at the hearing place recognize this and haven't even suggested we take further steps with her ears. 

Speaking of her vocabulary, her favorite word are uh-uh and uh-hu so we're really working on getting her to say yes and no (she can say them, she just prefers the others).  She knows lots of animals (birds (especially ducks) are her favorite right now) including some animal sounds, body parts, clothing pieces, food items, and many basic words like thank you, more, blanket, out, go, up, and nap.  She has a super cute way of saying "There go" when she hands you something and often tries to say sentences that we can sometimes understand but most often we only pick up on the key words.

As I started looking for pictures for this post, I was surprised with how many I found because her new thing is charging me while repeatedly saying "uh-uh" when she sees me trying to take her picture (particularly with my phone).  The first few are from a day when I happened to take my good camera with me to the park when the weather was awesome (knowing I probably wouldn't get around to an actual 18 month shoot).  Luckily she was too busy eating and playing to worry about me taking pictures.

Her mannerisms crack me up because she puckers her lips a lot and walks with a leaned forward, head out stance often. 

This girl loves her accessories!  If it's a hat, purse, bracelet, hairbow, or shoes, Sarah willingly lets you put it on her and even requests it often like on this day when she wanted a hairbow. 
Here she is with her jacket, bracelet, purse, and car telling my "uh-uh" about taking her picture.  It does show off her recent addition of four molars, though. 

In keeping with the girlyness and loving accessories, Sarah is also fond of "Baby" and carries her around with her bottle and special little blanket great-grandma Jean made her.

It comes as no surprise that our fearless child loves swimming (and looks super cute in her ear plug head band thing :).

But what did we expect from the kid that picks the tallest slide on the playground to climb up on her own.

Sarah tries to do or say anything her brother does or says no matter if it's good or bad. 

Even though she tends to be a girly-girl, Sarah isn't above playing in the dirt.

She and her brother spend many hours playing in their sandbox and she can entertain herself with a gravel driveway. 

She's interested in so much more than she was even just a few months ago and I love watching the world through her eyes.

She has a smile that melts my heart (as well as her Daddy's and brother's), the only problem is that she knows it.

Sarah, I love you and your brother more than you can ever imagine!  You bring so much joy to our lives!  You are definitely one of the best surprises ever.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Want to hear something amazing?  My kids are fortunate enough to have eight great-grandparents in their lives!  Eight!  Can you believe it!  I sat down to write this post fully intending to talk about how they don't know how truly awesome and rare it is to have that many great-grandparents, then it dawned on me that I also take it for granted.  So often I just think of them as my grandparents and imagine them as they were when I was growing up.  Isn't that how you think of your grandparents?  But then it dawned on me (during a conversation with my husband), that my parents are now the grandparents like I remember and my grandparents are now the great-grandparents.  Wow, talk about a reality check.  I have many friends who have multiple grandparents and even parents who are already deceased (trust me, I'm very familiar with the fact that death has no age requirements), it's just easy to forget that it could happen to you and go on living your life as if they'll always be there. 

Last weekend I realized that we had the opportunity to see six of the eight great-grandparents in a matter of days, so I set out on a mission to visit them all.

Our first set of visits came during my nephew's birthday party.  I didn't think to take pictures of the kids with each set of great-grandparents at the party, so you'll have to settle for these pictures I already had.

First up, Grandma Margie and Papa Don (my dad's parents).  I was saddened to realize this picture is a year old, we need to fix that.

Also at Bryar's party were Grandma Jean and Grandpa Dennis (my mom's parents).  This picture is also almost a year old, we'll have to fix that too.

Then, Grandma Bennett and Grandpa Bennett (Sam's maternal grandparents) were down visiting from Oregon, so we definitely had to take advantage of the opportunity to see them. They came to Stillwater to see us Monday evening, then the kids and I drove up to Sam's parents house to see them again before they headed out.

Our visit with Grandma Marjorie (my step-dad's mom) was a surprise for her.  It was a fun little stop on our way to my in-laws.

We even got to eat lunch with Grandpa Parks (Sam's paternal grandpa) on St. Patrick's Day rounding out the Tour de Great-Grandparents.

As we were driving down the road during our cross-Oklahoma adventure, Joseph asked me something about why he had so many grandmas (the grandpas go by a variety of names).  I simply responded "Because you have a bunch of people in your life that love you very much."  He took this answer to heart and even relayed  it to his dad at dinner that night.  Of course we talked about how grandmas are related and all that jazz, but his favorite part was simply that they love him. 

I was talking to Sam about how much the kids and I enjoyed visiting with all of their grandparents and great-grandparents over the last few days and we decided that many more day trips (and longer, especially for the out of state relatives) need to happen.  So, grandparents and great-grandparents, you heard it here, go ahead and hold me accountable, we will be visiting more this year.  We're all very lucky to have you in our lives and I want our kids to actually know you, not just know of you. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Joseph's Travel and Transportation Bedroom

Since Joseph will be 3 in May, the husband and I have been talking about finally converting his crib into a bed (although I'm not sure he wants that based on some comments he's made) and it's been brought to my attention that I never blogged about his room.  This is a little sad because it is probably my favorite room in the whole house (decor wise, at least), so I don't know how I've neglected to document it for so long.

When we were planning what to do with his room, Sam and I both agreed we didn't want to do a baby-ish nursery because we wanted it to be something he could use for a while.  Since we weren't willing to do ANY work on it before he has born, we spent many evenings and weekends gathering pieces and sanding and painting away.  We had some awesome neighbors at the time (they're still awesome, they just aren't neighbors anymore) that even watched him for a bit one weekend so we could paint the walls. 

So, without further ado, I present to you Joseph's bedroom.  Please ignore the fact that I had a crazy hard time getting my lighting to be consistent throughout the room as I was taking pictures.  Oh, and the fact that both kids were suddenly interested in being in pictures since I wasn't trying to take any of them.

We decided on a travel/transportation theme with orange, light blue, and light green as our colors.   

Here's the view as you walk in.

I always loved the design of this three drawer piece Sam had when I met him, so he painted it to put next to the chair for me as a table. 

On top is a globe from a long time ago (the base says the 1930s, but the map is more recent than that, so we're not sure when it was recovered) from my grandpa's days as a teacher.  The picture is the first one we took as a family, I had texted it to a friend who framed it and had it on the mantle when we came home with him. 

This chair holds a special place in my heart.  One time my sister and I were visiting our great-grandma in her assisted living home.  As we were sitting in her room talking to her, rocking in these chairs, she randomly commented that she didn't know what would happen to the rest of her stuff when she passed.  "Like those chairs" she said "who would want those chairs?"  Mindy and I looked at each other then told her we would lovingly give them a home.  Neither of us had babies on the radar at the time, but we both knew that every time we visited her and rocked in those chairs we almost fell asleep because they were that comfortable. 

When the time came for her to move to a nursing home, she made sure my sister and I received the chairs, this happened to be just in time for us to get Mindy's chair in shape for Bryar's arrival and store mine for a few months until Joseph came along.  Sam sanded and painted it for me and I recovered all the cushions. 

Behind the chair I made use of the crib bumper I had but was always too scared to use and created a reading knook.  I can't tell you the number of times I've been missing a kid and have found him or her in one of the reading knooks (there is one in Sarah's room, too).
On one wall above the chair are these prints a friend had made for Joseph.

On the other wall are these.  Remember the great-grandma that I mentioned the chairs came from?  Well, she loved to travel (in fact, love might be an understatement).  She traveled all over the US and beyond on bus trips and everywhere she went she bought a magnet.  The fridge at her house was COVERED in them.  When she was moving to the assisted living center and the decision was made to go ahead and sell her house, many of us asked what we were going to do with her magnets.  My great-uncle (her son-in-law) had the wonderful idea of creating shadow boxes with them.  These two shadow boxes hung in her room at the assisted living center (Shadow boxes were also made for each of her daughters as well as all of her grandkids and great-grandkids, she had a lot of magnets!  My original one is still in my hallway).  The fact that my great-uncle (who was very much like another grandpa to me taking us to the lake in the summer and stuff) made these makes them even more special as he passed away suddenly a few years ago. 

Under the window is the toy box that Sam designed and built for Joseph (Sarah has one, too) to help hide the mess a toddler can create.

On top are a cushion I made so it can be used as a bench (I've since added a Velcro closure to keep the fabric tight) as well as a few of Joseph's favorite animals. 

Next we have the wall with Joseph's bed.  This crib was actually purchased over two years before Joseph was born as it was supposed to be Aubrey's.  When we pulled it out to put it together, I was glad it was a design I still liked :).

For the name above his bed, I covered letters from Hobby Lobby with maps from various states.

I tried to place them so you could see large or important cities and interesting geographical features (like Colorado on the 'E').

Inside the bed is nothing too special; I found these sheets in the correct theme and color scheme at Target (I also made some using fabric in the correct colors), my grandma made Joseph that blanket (he has a couple of other similar ones he loves also), and the dino-light is a favorite thing right now.

Moving on, you see a another dresser that Sam sanded and painted.  We were having a hard time deciding on handle pulls when he came up with the great idea of cutting down a stairway railing and using that.  I think it looks great!

Above the dresser are a series of shelves and a dive bombing plane.  The shelves were supposed to be floating vintage suitcases, my grandma even gave me a matching set she received in high school as well as her father's briefcase, but we were a.) hesitant to cut them and b.) unsure how to hang them.  I'm still trying to think of something super awesome to do with them. 

The first shelf holds one of Joseph's newborn pictures, a cigar box I found at a thrift shop, and a little bus that is actually a perfume bottle Sam found when we were cleaning out my great-grandma's house.

The second shelf contains a couple of picture frames I love but have never put pictures in (oops!), Joseph's piggy bank, and a fuel tank that was on the mantle with Joseph's family picture and the truck from the third shelf when we came home from the hospital (my friend that decorated it for us knew that I like to decorate my mantle for various holidays and the theme we were planning for Joseph's room).

The final shelf simply contains the truck that was on the mantle and a gas tank perfume bottle also found at my great-grandma's house.  The funny thing about the perfume bottles is that I had them long, long before we ever thought about a transportation themed room.  I actually put them in a closet and forgot about them.  Then, when Joseph was almost a year old, I happened upon them and decided it was destiny they be placed in his room.  I have their boxes too, but I think they look better out of the box. 

For Joseph's bookshelf, we painted a white bookshelf with the same blue paint we used on other items in the room.  We also covered the back part of it with a piece of the fabric I used on his chair cushions.

On top of the bookshelf are a few more sentimental items as well as another old globe.  The little tractor is a Piggies and Paws print made using Joseph's footprint from when he was just a couple of months old.  The little white blob is a turtle thing Joseph made at Octoberfest and decided needed to live on top of the bookshelf.

The little frame contains a charm that was ordered for Joseph as soon as he was born by a friend.  In case you can't see it, it has a large A in the middle and says little brother around that.  To help it be a little more visually pleasing, I covered the back of the frame with a little piece of fabric.  Billy the Bison was purchased by Sam for Joseph while we were still in the hospital.  Sam wanted him to have something to symbolize where he was born and found this guy in the hospital gift shop (near Lawton is a large wildlife refuge that contains many animals including bison).

This sweet bear was given to Joseph by his birth mom at the hospital.  It had a balloon with it that is now tucked away safely in his closet. 

On the next wall, is a large map.  We went the cheap route with this one and bought a map from the back to school section one August.  We just adhered it to a thin board with mod podge and Sam made a frame for it.  Since I wanted a very large map and all the ones were very expensive online, I was psyched when a friend called with this suggestion. At $8 it was worth a try.

The short dresser was used as a changing table when Joseph was a baby, but we've since removed the changing pad.  You can't see it in this picture, but the guitar is actually his most recent Piggies and Paws print (I let him choose the design this time).  I also have a small globe and an old wooden car that he occasionally plays with up there.  I knew that both of the dressers we were painting for Joseph's room were given to us by family members over the years, but they were never in the same room and it didn't occur to me that they might be a matching set.  When Sam started sanding them, we realized they are a pair.  Pretty cool (although they still would have both been in there had they not been a matching set).     

The light switch plate is the first "craft" project I did for this room.  I wasn't sure if Sam would like it or not, but decided to go for it since light switch plates can be replaced inexpensively.  Sam liked it and it ended up being my inspiration for the letters above the bed.

Behind each kid's bedroom door I've placed two hooks at their level.  One is for his coat, the other for his back pack.  It's their responsibility to get their coats and backpacks when we leave the house and return them to their hooks when we get back.  I love that they have a spot and it's not something I have to look at all the time.  Yes, I know Joseph's name shouldn't be on his backpack, but it's not something he wears around, it really just stays in the car in case I need his extra clothes.

In case you're wondering if the reading knooks really get used, this is what I found when I turned around after finishing taking pictures.

And because I like to keep it real here, no matter how organized you are, by the time your child is a toddler, you will end up with unsightly plastic toys in at least a couple of spots in your house (and cushions will get thrown off of stools).

Well, there you have it, Joseph's bedroom.  I LOVE how it turned out and the fact that we used lots of old items in there (either in their previous state or after a little TLC), so it didn't cost a fortune.  So what if I'm posting it three years after a normal person would write a blog post about their child's nursery.