I think all of us parents start off with the same smug resolution of not letting our homes become a wasteland of primary colored plastic in the name of childhood entertainment. Then we have kids. Or maybe you were able to stave off the invasion of Little Tykes longer than we were but somehow, the garish crap arrives and takes over.
Exhibit A, my children making me regret my child will never pre-baby words for the first (definitely not the last!) time.
For the most part I don’t mind as it won’t be like this for long and all that carpe the diem motherhood crap you read on Pinterest. Plus, most of our toys are returned to their baskets by the end of the day so it’s not always crazy town up in here.
BUUUT…That being said, I do appreciate when designers take the time to take some aesthetic considerations for baby items and toys that tend to take up residence in the living room for a longer duration (swings/exercise mats/jumpers/etc). I ran across a truly beautiful wooden baby gym online but of course it is made and sold only in Australia. It is also upwards of $300 and I frankly, I have better things to be spending that kind of money on. So, to the internet I went in search of something more reasonably priced and actually available in our country and I came up pretty empty handed.
I did run across this pin of an IKEA wood baby gym hack that I thought had some great potential. I didn’t care for the finished black and white of the original (Not that it is bad. It just wasn’t the look I was going for) so I decided to try and hack the IKEA Leka gym and mimic the dip dyed look I loved of the Bella Buttercup toy.
I don’t really have any process pictures as it is pretty self explanatory. I painted the two leg supports with pink non-voc paint leftover from Harper’s dresser. I decided against trying to remove the spinning toys on either side based on the tutorial above. I just covered the birch wood with butcher paper to protect it and then just painted them while attached (to be clear, the toys come attached to the bar). It worked really well!
I cut the plastic toys off of their holders and strung some felt wool balls from the top. The bar also holds those ubiquitous plastic rings too. So we use those for hanging our other favorite toys.
I think it turned out so cute! I love pairing it with the sheepskin rug, also hailing from IKEA. Lucy seems to like staring up at all her little toys and of course the big kids love it since it’s a new toy that isn’t theirs. 🙂
Ikea is seriously my favorite place to find streamlined, cute toys (and home stuff) that can totally be customized. Tell me you’ve seen our play kitchen? It is seriously my pride and joy. 😉 I’ve got a few other Ikea makeovers for you coming up soon!
We recently headed south to San Diego for a dual sayonara/first birthday fiesta and I managed to strong arm the family into a side trip on the way home.
I had seen families frolicking in flower fields all over Instagram (Texas bluebells, anyone?!) and hit up my trusty know-it-all, Google to find some flowers in our area for this snap happy mama. Ain’t no shame in my instagram-mom game. I came across the Carlsbad Flower Fields and our road trip detour was officially scheduled.
Pro-tip: skip the ticket line and buy online. Since we went on a weekend, it was PACKED and the line was wrapped around the parking lot (and we were there early, thanks to our little chickens cockadoodle-dooing at an ungodly hour). I ended up buying our tickets on my phone and we smugly waltz on it ahead of the crowds. I’m assuming weekdays would be a little less intense with the hordes of people but these fields are only open a few months a year so, maybe not.
I wish I could say the kids were as thrilled as I was to see my favorite flowers in glorious bloom but…toddlers don’t care.
They were perfectly happy with just the wagon ride around the grounds and pose for all the photos, so long as it involved a piece of large farming machinery.
The amount of cajoling it took for these photos is ridiculous.
A stranger took pity on us and took a few family photos for us. Harper was obviously thrilled for this impromptu photo shoot. Thankfully my standards have sunk to laughably low in terms of what constitutes a keeper picture. Everyone in the frame? 2/3 kids looking at the camera? Perfect, basically Christmas card material.
I had to include this one because everybody wants to know if I “style” Lucy’s bouffant. All I can say is, she didn’t get it from her mama.
Of course I got suckered into the take-home bouquet and upon checkout the cashier cheerily informed us it was LADY BUG WEEKEND, ISN’T THAT FUN! What does that entail? Oh, a mesh bag of live lady bugs but did we mention, THEY ARE FREE, SO HOW FUN! Disgusted doesn’t quite cover our reaction to our newly acquired charges but we accepted our fate and prayed the entire ride home that those 367 bugs didn’t somehow escape into the back of the van because of course Hudson had to hold them the entire way home.
We cut them loose in the garden as soon as we parked the van in the driveway and they have since flown the coop to greener pastures gardens. I hope you caught all of the fun on snapchat.
I showed you Lucy’s little nursery nook awhile ago but wanted to share an easy peasy project that I thought added a lot of impact, her fabric mobile. It was super simple to throw together two of these in an hour (I used the set to decorate for Harper’s pancake party). I have seen a few tutorials on Pinterest but they all started with a wire fruit basket and that seemed like such a pain to procure so I just hacked it (as I do). Here’s how…
2 embroidery hoops in staggered sizes (small on the bottom/large on top)
Bakers twine/fishing wire/something to tie the two hoops together. I used bakers twine because that’s what I had on hand and it worked beautifully.
1-2 yards of fabric (I used inexpensive linen found at the DTLA fashion district)
Faux flowers, the amount and style is up to you. I could see this being really cute with paper flowers or even felt. I just used a few swags from Hobby Lobby. I want to say they were around $15 each.
**The cost for each mobile is really up to you. The faux flowers make up the bulk of the expense (save those 40% off Michael’s coupons). I happened to have quite a few leftover from a wedding shower I hosted a year ago so I wasn’t really out much. You could also do a pom pom trim or other inexpensive cover up if you don’t like the look of the flowers or need to cut costs.
Start by separating your embroidery hoops, you’ll want to use the inner rings, the ones without the hardware on it (although, if you need four mobiles you could totally cover the hardware with fabric).
Decide how much longer you would like your inner circle to be from your top. I just eyeballed it but would guess it is about 4 inches lower. Tie the two rings together with your twine (again, totally eye balled this). The picture below shows how the hoops are tied together from the inside. I apologize that I don’t have great process shots but I hadn’t planned on a tutorial so these were all taken after the mobiles were completed.
You’ll also want to cut two pieces of twine/ribbon to string up your finished mobile. They’ll cross in the middle of the hoop to create an X. I wanted mine to be really secure so I could use it outdoors so I cut three equal pieces of string and braided them together for a thicker support system. Fishing wire would also work great.
I used exactly two yards of fabric to outfit both mobiles, you can use more or less fabric depending on how sheer you would like it to be. Cut two inch strips of your fabric (for the love, do not measure!). This is where linen or really cheap cotton is a plus, it rips very easily. I just snipped across the top of my fabric in approximate two inch increments and then tore it all. I like the rustic feel of it but you could definitely use a rotary cutter if you want a cleaner look.
Fire up that hot glue gun and go nuts. I found it easiest to glue the fabric to the front of the hoop and then tuck a little bit up and over the top and glue to the backside of the hoop. I hope this photo makes that description a little clearer.
Once your fabric is adhered, decide on your trim pieces (I used the faux flowers). I thought it was helpful to start with the greenery. It covered a lot of my gluing sins and is much less expensive than the large flowers. Add the flowers last and any accent greenery pieces that you might want to hang a bit lower on the hoop.
That’s it! I hung mine from the ceiling using c-hooks. It makes it really easy to move around (if you’re planning on using for a nursery or party decor).
Have holiday pictures, will post. Sorry, not sorry. We survived outdoor (the only way!) egg dyeing with two toddlers and enjoyed planting our magic jelly beans again this year. We actually made it to early church (still making up for Christmas Eve). I smartly outsourced Easter brunch to our church youth group, pancake breakfast and no dishes for the win! Unfortunately, we failed at a full family photo, so children in coordinating outfits will have to do.
Ain’t no party like a toddler egg dyeing party. We were a bit overenthusiastic with the glitter and neon kits.
This year the kids sort of got the hang of an actual egg hunt. By that I mean they realized there was stuff in the eggs. Both preferred to open each egg, devour the spoils before moving on. Needless to say, we were not the big winners in the neighborhood hunt.
This is the second time we’ve planted the magic jelly beans that sprout into lollipops overnight. I admit that it is completely ridiculous and indulgent but I can’t help it. The kids love it and I am nothing if not over the top for holidays.
Can we just talk about the size of these baskets?! They fit a baby. Literally. Lots of paper grass to fluff those suckers up. I thought about buying the smaller size this year but I already have the monogrammed liners for everyone. I’m in too far at this point. This has to be a ploy by PBK for me to buy more stuff, right? I mean, their Christmas stockings are just as ridiculously giant. At least they’re adorable and they fit a baby. 😉
I am not ashamed of the amount of candy bribery that was happening to catch these few pictures. I’m sure the neighbors were super impressed with our parenting skills.
And that’s all she wrote folks! It was a beautiful day celebrating with our little family. I hope your holiday was filled with just as much seersucker, matching outfits and treats as you could handle.
I think I’ve had the same conversation with Matt about a million times. After he gets home he usually asks what we did for the day. My usual answer is nothing? Everything? I don’t know but I am exhausted. Life with three minis means that we have a lot of around the house time sprinkled in with a lot of quality time with the washing machine. 😉 This maybe a little repetitive for my snapchat friends as this is what I post on the daily. All the fanciness over here.
I just downloaded the app one second everyday and am loving capturing our days and thought it would be fun to try and capture a regular old Tuesday. I love scrolling through Emily’s hashtag #itssimplytuesday on IG. Such a great reminder that we are doing important things in the small things. Enjoy the glamour that is a Real Housewife of Pasadena.
I think some clarification maybe needed…I was not cracking open a beer at 8 am. 😉 It’s Stumptown Coffee Nitro coffee and nitro it is! Ole! I also fell off the recording tracks around 5 pm since we were meeting up with our neighborhood mom’s group for Taco Tuesday. Just know that I took three children to a cantina and made it home alive!
I totally recommend the app. Reminds me on the daily, long (LONG) days, short years.
Easter is a hop, skip and a jump away this year so I’m working on rounding up a few goodies for the kids’ baskets. We use these big ones from Pottery Barn for Easter morning goodies.
It seems like Easter has turned into the new Christmas based on the gift suggestions at our local Target display (side eye). I have been trying my best to keep the toy influx to a minimum around here so I’m sticking with some old standbys for the big kids; some new sidewalk chalk, a swimsuit and sandals and maybe a kite or sand buckets. I’ll also probably fill up a couple of plastic eggs with hair clips for the girls and a new brio train for Hudson, cause it can’t be all candy all the time!
I posted a few Easter baskets from years past here. I’m doing a lot of the same this year, trying to keep it simple. It’s a little harder to find things for a baby basket but I have two suspicious toddlers and leaving Lucy out of the basket bounty isn’t really an option.
Here’s what the Easter bunny is dropping by in case you find yourself at loss for cute Easter goodies for the baby in your life. We needed the larger size bottles and I’m actually sneaking in a few bunny themed gifts we received when she was born that I hadn’t brought out yet. I am also not above tossing in a pack of wipes for some filler. 😉
I am obsessed with this adorable tutu swimsuit, I just love seeing a little baby squish shoved into a ridiculous suit. It is even cuter in person!
I also have a few Easter books and devotionals that the kids love and focus on God’s love and have cute stories and illustrations to go along with them. We’ve received a few as baptismal gifts and they usually get one each Easter.
You may have seen by all of the pictures and general gushing on every social media platform that our littlest gal pal, Lucy Anne arrived safe and sound on her due date, November 24th! To say the least, we are thrilled to pieces with her (and I am so, so, SO happy not to be pregnant anymore). She just turned three months old so better late than never (my new motto) …onward for the TMI novella!
This was such a hard pregnancy in every way. In the past, I always smugly (and wrongly. SO wrong.) scoffed at women complaining about being pregnant. Both of my previous pregnancies were a breeze in comparison and didn’t really affect my day to day life until the very end when like all women, I was waving the white flag to get.that.baby.out. Third time around in as many years was hard on my body, combined with a miscarriage the month before I found out we were expecting Lucy and sweet mother, it felt like I had been pregnant for a year. Which, seriously, I had been.
Her quick arrival and sweet temperament feels like a victory prize for enduring such a hard year.
Both of my older kids were born late, 10 days and 4 days respectively, so I was mentally ready to weather the storm and prepared for a December baby, not a late November arrival. My littlest sister (godsend!) had arrived the Saturday before my due date to help with the big kids until baby arrived and watch them while we were at the hospital.
It was the week of Thanksgiving so we were doing last minute errands and keeping the kids busy. I was getting anxious about not having the baby before her departure (she was on break from school) so I scheduled an acupuncture appointment on Monday morning. Call it hippie dippie voodoo but it worked like a charm to kick start Harper’s labor so I was willing to try again. I had a few contractions on the way home of the braxton hicks variety but nothing too exciting.
Tuesday morning…no baby. We walked Hudson to preschool (3 miles!), hit up the park with Harper and even stopped for coffee. I had a few contractions but they felt like all the prodromal labor I had been having for a week. When we got home I decided to finish up the Thanksgiving casseroles and pumpkin pie as it looked like we were going to be celebrating without a new baby. By 11:30, I was still having contractions albeit spaced really far apart (like 1 every hour) and able to function just fine through them. I decided another 3 mile walk wasn’t the best idea, just in case, so I sent Brianne back to fetch Hudson from school while I laid down to rest. I figured that they’d either pick up and I’d be in real deal labor or peter out like the times before.
When Brianne returned home around 1 pm, I figured I was in super early labor. I hopped in the tub and cranked my hypnobabies soundtrack like the crunchy, hippie mother I am. Harper’s labor was about 12 hours from the very early start to delivery, with about 6 hours at the hospital, so that’s what I was expecting this time around. I called Matt and told him to head home but we weren’t in emergency mode and would he be a dear and stop at Whole Foods to pick up the turkey? <—things crazy pregnant women do. Didn’t want to ruin the holiday or anything.
Matt arrived home around 2:30 with turkey in tow. I was still in the tub with contractions only coming about a half hour together and still very manageable. I sent him away and decided to lie down again to rest as it looked like I was in for a long day. At 3:30 pm I just wasn’t feeling great, kind of flu-y but contractions were still 12/15 minutes apart. I thought if maybe I was settled at the hospital I could focus on laboring instead of worrying when we should or shouldn’t head in. Matt agreed and I said we could always come back if I wasn’t dilated very much. Because no one wants to be the baby mama who cried wolf labor with her third baby.
After packing last minute items and kissing our kids goodbye we took off for the hospital at around 4:10. We ran into some rush hour traffic making our 3 minute drive more like 20 and my contractions really started to ramp up. I had three in the car on the way in. We pulled into the wrong valet parking because of course we didn’t tour the hospital or even know where to check in. Around the block we went and I started to get a leeettle panicky. It was about 4:30 when we hopped out of the car at the right entrance and I was practically sprinting to the door. Matt was leisurely walking over to the valet stand saying, “I’m just going to check in”. I turned to him and just shouted in my best crazy voice “LEAVE THE CAR!” while struggling through two more contractions. Thankfully, the check in desk sent me right over to L&D which was blessedly on the first floor and right around the corner.
The L&D nurses at check in were asking all the usual name/age song and dance questions that you fill out in the pre-registration packet but apparently doesn’t seem to matter upon arrival. I mean, why have we not streamlined this process, America? I was huffing and puffing and not answering while the nurse smiled oh so sweetly while asking, oh, this must be your first baby? We replied, “THIRD!” which got me a fast pass to the triage room with a side of “oh, crap” from the nurses. I was given a gown and checked and it was announced I was already 8 cm dilated. Even with the increase in contractions I was totally shocked. I hunch/shuffled while my water started leaking everywhere as I made my way across the hall to the delivery room. Nothing like birthing a baby to make you check your humility at the door.
Again, I had to answer all of my medical history questions (why?!) while getting an IV put in my hand. It seemed like there were twelve nurses standing around and no one really doing anything. Except the lead nurse who I swear was an angel straight from heaven. She took charge of the situation and was SO helpful. I hopped up on bed again on my side and she checked me again…10! At that exact instant my water exploded everywhere. It sprayed all of the student nurses lined up against the wall. It was ridiculous and sort of mortifying. I had my water broken by the OB in both of my other labors which resulted in a small leak but this was so powerful that for a second I thought the baby had shot out of my body. Sorry for the tmi but that’s why we read all the birth stories, amiright?
The doctor on call still hadn’t arrived (mine was on vacation) and baby was well on the way. The nurses were pleading with me not to push but if you’ve ever delivered a baby without an epidural you know that is not actually an option. Matt was starting to freak out at this point, “where IS THE DOCTOR?!” while one of the other nurses was gowning up for the big catch.
The doctor waltzed in, gave the A-Ok to push and out she came at 5:05 pm weighing 7 pounds, 14.5 ounces (my smallest yet!) and 20.5 inches long. I was asking everyone boy or girl, since we were surprised this time but no one was answering me. Unbeknownst to me, she actually had the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck twice so they were working on getting her some oxygen. The doctor actually had to cut it off of her before delivering her body and Matt said it was pretty terrifying to see her so blue after delivery. Her Apgar scores were 7/8 but after she pinked up and cried, she looked perfect to us. After the smoke cleared and we were settled into our recovery room we were both sitting there stunned looking at each other and wondering, did we just have a baby in a half an hour?
The most difficult part was picking a name for her. Since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl we had a short list of names for both. It was surprisingly easy to just not talk about a favorite name my entire pregnancy since we didn’t know what we were having. We were back and forth for the day and then the charge nurse announced we couldn’t leave until we named her. In the end, Lucy just felt right. Her name means light and she really is a little light after a long road. Anne is in honor of some the special women in our lives. Since we had settled on a name for her they checked us out early and we were home 23 hours after delivery.
First family picture of five. Everyone looking a little dazed, confused and hoping for the best. It has definitely been a three ring circus since she arrived but what can I say? It’s our kind of crazy.
And just for the record, everyone was super happy I finished those casseroles and pies!
Lucy hit the two month mark and I am still looking very, very postpartum. This three baby business is no joke. I’m ready to hit the gym and get back into my pre-baby jeans. I find that a little accountability does wonders for my willpower so I use a few apps to keep me moving and thought I’d share.
Run keeper//Right now it is really tough to get to the gym. Lucy can’t go until she’s 6 months old so that means a 5 am gym call or an 8:30 pm stop. Both of which feel impossible when I’m still getting up a couple times a night to nurse her. I try to get my exercise in pushing that behemoth of a stroller, filled up with 80 pound of kid + gear. I love being able to track my walks and see my miles add up through the week.
FitBit//Obviously you’ll have to buy the actual fitbit but I find this fun because you can connect with your friends (find me here!) that also have a fitbit and a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. It definitely makes me get up and move a bit more if I’m thiiiis close to hitting my 10k steps for the day.
Gym Pact//I really like this one. You start with a “free” $5 from the company and set your own pact. Mine is workout (30 minutes=workout) 3x a week with a $5 loss via PayPal if I don’t hit my pact. You can adjust your number of workout day or loss payment amount to whatever makes you the most motivated. I like that the app syncs with Runkeeper and FitBit. So if I don’t make it to the gym, my 10K steps count as my activity.
DietBet//Another competition app, specifically targeting weight loss. You can join a diet bet for a weight loss of 4 or 10 percent of your body weight, depended on the length of the diet bet. If you hit your goal, you win money from the pot and if you don’t, you can kiss those dolla dolla bills goodbye. If money is your motivation, this one is for you.
Any apps that I’m missing? What motivates you to get to the gym? Help a mother out.
This weekend we celebrated our little lady turning 2! I always say that 0-1 is a quick year but 1-2 flies by for me. She is such a funny little lady, she has so much to say (she comes by it honestly) and I love seeing her personality break out.
This year I decided to throw toddler party customs out the window and hold a morning shindig. We invited all of our best pals over for pancakes and cupcakes before naps. You’re welcome parents! 🙂
Jillian designed the cutest little invites that had a floral/woodland theme so I just sort of ran with that. We started the party at 10 so we had pancakes + toppings, donut holes, bacon, and yogurt parfaits for brunch. Mimosas and coffee kept the mamas and dads bright eyed and bushy tailed.
We went round and round if we should hire some sort of entertainment (it’s pretty standard round these party parts). In the end, laziness (and cheapness!) won out. We just put out the teepee and our new (to us) slide and let the kids run amok. It was honestly the best decision. A bunch of the kids built a fort with the outdoor furniture cushions and the others just ran around the yard just burning off that syrup high!
As a little activity, I had woodland animal face masks that the kids could color + fairy wands (that I made, thankyouverymuch, hope you caught that snap) and party crowns. I would say about half of the kids were into the coloring. The other half enjoyed beating each other with the wands. That’s my event pro tip, if you can make your favors or party activity pull double duty as decor, do it! I would much rather spend time + money on something that adds to the party table than a bunch of throw away theme decorations. Just my opinion though, so you do you!
I was SO happy that we didn’t get rained out this year. It made decorating so easy. I used the DIY fabric mobiles (does anyone want a tutorial on this?) on the pergola above the patio. We cleared out the patio furniture and added kid tables and about 20 balloons to disguise our prison yard chic cement wall.
I love our magnetic chalkboard, probably more than the kids. It’s super easy to make, using Stefanie’s tutorial here. I threw on a floral swag from the Michael’s clearance section (I have big plans for it later) and called it a day.
I used pink kraft paper for make our kiddie tables look a little more festive. It’s the best for kids’ parties, roll that business up and toss it out, making clean up a breeze.
Mom fail on the candle. I did not realize it was an actual sparkler. We had to sing happy birthday a few times before it fizzled out. Harper’s face looks like…”well this is awkward”.
All in all, it was a great little party celebrating our girl. We’re so thankful for our family and friends for helping us celebrate.
Happy Birthday Harper! We love you so much, we can’t believe you’re two! We can’t wait to see what this year has in store for you.
I know I promised pictures of Hudson’s room but it’s not finished yet (just being consistent here!). I do have a fun update for you though, Lucy’s little nursery nook. We have three bedrooms in our little rental and two are currently occupied by toddlers with finicky sleep habits. I am all for sharing rooms but until Lucy is sleeping through the night we’ll be sharing our room with our littlest lady.
Our upstairs “suite” is a converted attic. As thankful as we are to have the extra space, air quotes are completely necessary here as the room is the most inefficiently designed room ever. There is no full wall to put our bed against and the pitched ceilings make arranging any other furniture pretty impossible. BUT! Silver lining here, the awkward roof shape and room design made a perfectly cozy area to house Lucy’s crib and a rocking chair.
I was overzealous to get this project started so the before pictures are a little more like in progress pictures.
I wanted to make this little area special for our girl since she doesn’t have a nursery to call her own but was pretty limited in terms of decorating since it’s our room too (nothing too babyish) and we’re renting. So, nothing permanent. Enter…removable(!!) wallpaper. I loved how the vinyl stars turned out in Harper’s room so I was up for another foray into adhesive wall decor. I ordered the gold peonies wallpaper from Chasing Paper and it is amazing.
Forget the days of wallpapering = marriage enders. I had this up by myself in less than an hour. It’s easy to cut (use a sharp exacto knife) and easy to stick and readjust if necessary. The pattern is extremely forgiving which I would not have guessed. I had to do a lot of cutting for all of the windows and awkward angles. Below is a picture where there are about 5 seams. If you squint and look very closely you can see where the pattern doesn’t match exactly. They are essentially invisible in person.
I used three sheets of the paper, which isn’t exactly inexpensive but since I had to buy exactly zero nursery or baby items this time around I felt like splurging. The paper is so beautiful, I would do my whole room if I had a million dollars lying around. It feels like very thick fabric printed on contact paper. I’m sure that description is as clear as mud but you can just tell it is well made and doesn’t feel like it will rip if you pull on it or move it around.
Without sounding like a big bad bragger, I really love the way this turned out. It’s better than I thought it was going to be which feels like winning when you take a risk (money/time) like this. I recently participated in the Nester’s Cozy Minimalist course and she really encouraged investing in large scale pieces for small spaces instead of trying to over-decorate with a million tiny tchotchkes. So in the end, $100 for a big impact space was well worth it to me.
So, all we need now is for Lucy to sleep through the night and we’ll all be happy campers.
If you’re interested in the decorating course (which I highly recommend!) and would like a $10 discount, just enter my name: Brittney Ahrens as the coupon code. You’ll get $10 and I’ll get $10.