Monday, September 21, 2015

Dining Room - 2 Years Later

I thought it might be fun to show you guys what we've been doing on our house in the past two years. The blog has sort of taken a hit in this area, as I've just simply lacked energy and time to document everything. But I'm hoping now that I'm back on the blog bandwagon I can slowly roll out these house update posts. I love documenting our house projects because it's a great way for me to look back and see just how far we've come (esp on days like today when the house looks like a bomb went off...and the insides of that bomb just so happened to be toys...grin). 

As I was preparing to do this post, and scanning through old photos, I realized: we have done significantly less updates in two years here in TN than we did in NY. I'm thinking that's probably because our family grew by two little people who take up most of our day. :) 

At any rate, here's the progress we've made in one of the most used rooms in our home - the Dining Room. 

This is what the space looked like before we moved in:

This was one month in...don't judge

I don't have many photos after that period, but here's what the space looks like today:

We still haven't painted the room or removed the carpet, but Nathan did build me a gigantic farmhouse table (plans via Ana White), and we purchased a hutch as well as added a few pieces on the wall. We also changed out the light fixture, and hung some new curtains. 

I love my table!! It seats 8 very comfortably, and I love all of the knots and details that make it unique. Nathan put a lot of work into it, and it's the first thing people see and compliment when they come in. We have a mix of chairs around the table, but I wanted something a bit more formal for the head chairs. 

We bought these on sale at World Market, and I couldn't be happier. They are super comfortable, and whenever we have a big crowd over I can easily pull them into the living room to seat more people in there. 

The hutch was a Craigslist find, and it's very practical - I store my cookbooks, china, and extra cooking stuff (Crock Pot, Rice Cooker, Serving Bowls, table runners and napkins, etc) in there, and there's also a drawer at the bottom that's reserved for William and Lydia - it houses some coloring stuff, paper, play doh etc, that we break out in the dining room during dinner prep to keep them busy :) 

Our plans for this room have been coming along slowly, because we're thinking we may tear down 1/2 of the wall that leads into the living room to open the space up more. We're still contemplating and configuring everything, so that's why we've waiting to do flooring and painting just yet. 

We do love the way Glidden's May Tulip Yellow looks splashed on the wall. It has a nice golden undertone, which compliments our blue in the kitchen well. I'd really like to do the Yellow 1/2 way up, with a chair rail and then a nice white on the bottom 1/2. 

I'd also like to paint the hutch to help break up some of that wood in the room (esp once we get hardwoods, I think it'll just look to heavy). I've found a few ideas on Pinterest I really like the look of. I love the idea of painting it white, with the blue from our kitchen as the backsplash. Here's a photo of how that might look...

colors for banquette Young House Love | House Crashing: The Whole Show |

And another (with the darker blue instead)
Blue Painted Inlay Within A White Hutch

Since this is a space we spend roughly 3 hours or more in per day, we really wanted it to be cozy. I'm so thankful Nathan worked so hard to make our table - it's so wonderful to have so much seating and still plenty of room to pull the kids' booster seats up too. It is solid wood (he even had to have friends come over to help him bring it inside!), and has a lot of cool details. I love his can-do personality, and that he doesn't get tired of my crazy ideas. ;) 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Daddy's Taking Us to the Zoo Tomorrow...

Nathan had the morning off this week so we decided to treat the kids to a trip to the zoo. It's about 45-minutes away from our town, so we loaded up the car with plenty of snacks, the wagon, picnic lunches and two cuties who make any adventure fun. ;) 

This was our first trip to the zoo as a family of a four, and it was the perfect day to go - cloudy (but not rainy) and a high of 80 degrees. There was hardly anyone there, so we got to really explore and see all of the exhibits. 

The kids really enjoyed being able to pet the goats and brush their hair. :) 

Lydia kept saying "Go! Go!" for goat. And every time she petted one, so got all squealy and excited. 

The kangaroos were also a big hit - the kids enjoyed seeing them hop around and eat food...William even did a hopping demonstration for the 8-month old baby kangaroo ;) 

Nathan and I both really liked how the zoo was so interactive. There were so many animals the kids could touch and feed. The tortoises were Lydia's favorite - she got really bold and started chasing them around :)

There was also a whole "unseen world" indoor exhibit where they had fresh and saltwater tanks with lots of colorful fish, reptiles and insects. 

So thankful for these rare stolen moments away as a family to take a timeout on life and enjoy something fun and new. Next stop....the pumpkin patch!! :)

Friday, September 4, 2015

First Day of Preschool

It's hard to believe my baby is old enough to start preschool, but here we are!

I went back and forth all summer on what we should do this fall - keep things the way they were, start William in a formal preschool program, enroll him in MDO, do something from home, etc. More than anything I felt like I was the one who needed something. Don't get me wrong, I love staying home, but I was getting a tad burned out on playing hot wheels, swimming, throwing frisbee's, and making pillow piles. I just felt like our days needed a little bit more structure to them, but not too much - I still want him to be a kid, and to not get burned out on school before he even starts! 

That's when I heard about God's Little Explorers from a friend. It's a homeschool preschool Bible-based curriculum created and designed by a mom. It's only $17 for the download, and I love it! She is creative and organized and crafty (none of which I am), so the work is already done for me. All I have to do is execute. And the activities are really fun

Today was our first day, and one of the activities required William to create "binoculars" and go on a "treasure hunt" outside to find certain items that I had hid. I gave him clues by marking the spots where the items were hidden with a red "X". 

He loves finding stuff, and got so excited and proud of himself when he would locate another red X around the yard. ;) 

One of the main things I enjoy about the curriculum is that it only takes us about an hour to get through. Lydia joins us for our Bible Story, songs, and prayer but then she goes down for her nap and William and I finish up the rest of the activities and crafts together. The last thing I wanted to do was plan a half-day of stuff for us to do and lose his attention 30 minutes in. This curriculum is great for keeping his attention, but also understands that toddlers only have so much attention to give certain things :) 

I'm really looking forward to having some extra fun with my sweet, silly boy this year! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Life Lately...

Hi there! We're still here...I can't believe it has been five months since our last update. It has been a beautifully busy summer around here, and we've been soaking up every minute. Last summer, we felt like we didn't get to enjoy much of the hot southern weather because of a little newborn who hated her car seat and kept us indoors. ;) This summer, that little newborn has grown into a big girl and between her and big brother, I am running at 100mph most days. I wouldn't have it any other way! They are my most favorite occupation. 

In an effort to catch you up to speed without spanning this out over 500 blog posts, or bombarding you with 7,000 photos, I'll just summarize some highlights that have happened in the few months I've been MIA. 

Lydia turned 1 at the end of May. We kept it really simple with both kids' birthdays this summer, and just invited immediate family. 

Right around the 13.5 month mark, she began walking. She's 15 months now, and practically running. She loves to climb, is quite an adventure seeker, but is also your typical snuggly, sensitive, tender-hearted little girl. She's got the sweetest demeanor, and is already such a little helper around the house. She has too many teeth to count anymore, and has handled teething like a champ! She has a small obsession with purses, shoes, hats, and toothbrushes and loves to groom herself :) She lights up our days with her contagious smile!

William turned 3 at the end of June. As an early birthday present for him, Nathan and I dug out an old tractor tire that we found in the woods behind our house and we upcycled it into a sandbox for the kids. We gave it to him at the beginning of summer so he could enjoy it before it got too hot. He (and his friends) have really enjoyed it! 

It's hard to believe that when we moved into this house, William was the size Lydia is right now. He has grown so much over the past two years. This fall, we've started him in AWANA at our church, and he starts "school" next week. When given the choice if he wanted to go to actual pre-school with other kids, or stay home and let Mommy be his teacher he surprisingly chose me. I was flattered and terrified all at once ;) 

He is turning into a really funny kid, and sometimes I'm awe that someone that funny came from me. He changes the words to some of our favorite tunes and creates really funny song lyrics. He dances like Elvis. Talks in accents (his favorite is southern, but he has also been known to do a really convincing Italian accent). Has a wild imagination, and is just plain fun to be around. Most days. He's three, after all. ;) 

As for Nathan and I...we managed to sneak away without the kids for a week to celebrate our anniversary in Amelia Island. It was heavenly. We're already planning a trip back there next year. 

House projects are still coming along (albeit slowly). We're currently working on reconstructing one of the barns to turn it into a workshop for Nathan, as well as remodeling the kitchen (not a total gut job like our last house - just a facelift), and we've also got plans to start in on William's Big Boy Room this fall. Outdoor projects have kept us consumed this summer - we've got one heck of a yard to maintain! But it happens to be one of the things I love most about our little spot here in the country.

Right after these two cuties, of course ;)

Here's hoping it's not another five months between posts! 


Friday, May 1, 2015

9/10/11 Months


I have an almost one year old. And an almost three year old. 

That might explain why I'm doing huge blog posts like this every....4 months....instead of moderately sized ones every few days like I used to. 

These kids keep me busy y'all. Life is keeping me busy lately. But a wonderful, happy, overflowing kind of busy that I just really love right now. There's just a lot of excitement buzzing around here as of opportunities, creative outlets, and really cool doors God is opening. It's actually very refreshing after a cold winter stuck indoors wiping poopy bottoms. Don't get me wrong...I love those cute bottoms. But momma was starting to get a bit stir crazy. I'm thankful for all the neat things God is doing and prayers He's answering for me/us lately. One day I hope to catch you up on all of it. But today, I'll switch the focus to our sweet girl. :) 

I hope Lydia doesn't stumble across this blog one day when she's older and ask why I have about 647 posts on her brother's first year of life, and only 8 posts about her. We're very diligent about taking photos and videos of her and capturing her life, but not so great about documenting on this here blog lately. That's my fault. And partly hers...she is the busiest little bee there ever was, and between her and her big brother, I am ON. THE. GO. all the time. 

William really spoiled us to a certain degree. He was a very cautious, observant, quiet, laid-back baby for the longest time. Lydia is miss independent, daredevil, always on the go, wants to be in the middle of the action, squealy little ham. ;) 

It is so neat to sit back and watch their differences. And it's hard to believe I can love two kids equally who are so polar opposite of each other. 

The past three months, Lydia has learned to crawl, pull up to standing, sprouted several new teeth, dropped a few nursing sessions, and started trialing some new foods she was previously allergic to. She has been sticking to her normal sleeping pattern...12 hours at night and 2 long naps per day. She loves to be outdoors, listen to music, be everywhere William is, eat, sleep, smile, and play dress up :) She doesn't like to sit still for books (or sit still at all really), when William has to potty (she's often crouched down peeking underneath the door...just waiting for him to hurry up and get done so she can play with him again), or anything on her feet. 

She has places to go and things to explore, and obstacles are something she has no concept of. She'll scale and climb and maneuver herself into all sorts of positions to get to where she wants to be. If we're outside, she'll crawl in mulch, dirt, gravel and any other surface to reach what she wants. She has no fear of getting dirty, or eating dirt, or crawling in dirt. I'm afraid prim and proper will need to be taught, because she has so far embraced living in the country and shows no signs of being a girly girl. ;) We are in for quite an adventure when she learns to walk (which I'm sure will be sooner rather than later). 

And lucky me, it just so happens that her mobility has taken off just as soon as William has decided to have a wild courageous streak. Most days I feel like I've conquered a lot if Lydia hasn't swallowed a rock and William hasn't destroyed something valuable. It really is a mad house around here most days. But would you call me crazy if I said I love it this way?? The past few months have shaped up to quite possibly be one of my favorite chapters in life. They are just plain fun. There are seasons where being a stay-at-home-mom is not glamorous and I really have to beg God to give me a renewed desire for this calling of motherhood. But this season my cup is running over. 

I love these silly kids, and my man who works so hard for me to stay home with them. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

7/8 Months

I've been pretty bad at keeping the blog updated lately. Life with two small kiddos is busy, fun, tiring, rewarding, and speeds by at a very fast pace. I feel like I blinked and my toddler is almost 3, and Lydia is mobile. 

The past two months with Lydia have been so fun. She has gotten so "vocal", and her personality is really starting to shine. It's so cute to watch her interact (somewhat) with William. They are definitely not playing together yet, but they do enjoy each other's company quite a bit during the day. I remember when William was a baby, I would do all of these things that I found online to entertain him...I printed off black/white contrast photos, made sensory bins, took him on baby "play dates" etc. I felt like a cruise ship director most days as I constantly entertained him. It has been nice adding a second child to the mix and not being so worried about her lack of entertainment...William is an endless source of entertainment for her! ;) 

7-8 months brought a lot of new development milestones for Miss Lydia. She started sitting unassisted, army crawling, and this week is up on all fours rocking back and forth and starting to figure out how to crawl that way. She also babbles a lot more...says "Da Da" and "Ma Ma" (mostly Da Da), smiles 98% of the day, and has dropped one of her naps. 

Over the past month, Lydia has decided to drop her cat nap before bed. Now she is officially on two naps/day - a morning nap around 9:30 and an afternoon nap around 2:00. Unfortunately, this means less "down time" for me as William's nap ends about an hour after I put Lydia down, but it's what works for her right now so we're rolling with it. She goes to bed around 7:00/7:30 and sleeps until 7:00/7:30 in the morning. 

The biggest change with sleep since our last update was dropping the swaddle. Lydia loved being swaddle (total opposite of her big brother), so we kept the swaddle until close to 8 months. Then she started rolling in it, so we were forced to move her out of it. We heard rave reviews about the Zipadee Zip so a friend let us borrow one to try and Lydia hated it :( Finally I broke out William's old fleece sleep sack and we just decided to go with it. It took her a good 2 weeks for her to get used to it, but now she's sleeping in it full-time and prefers to sleep on her belly. I love sneaking in and seeing her curled up on her belly snoozing :) 

Lydia's still nursing 4-5 times/day (every four hours mostly), and eating solids 3 times/day. We haven't started a lot of finger foods with her yet because she has a bad gag reflex so we're slowly working our way towards that by thickening some of her purees. 

We're also trying to find a sippy cup she will drink water from, but so far all she does is chew on the spouts/straws. Any recommendations for a sippy cup for a baby who has never taken a bottle/pacifier? 

Sitting, crawling, scooting, rolling, and getting into everything. I never really baby proofed the house when William started crawling...he just wasn't that curious about opening cabinets or getting into drawers until much later. But Lydia is Miss Adventurous - I have a feeling she's going to be our little dare devil ;) She loves taking all of the diapers out of the box, pulling all of the books off of the shelves, playing with the plastic bottles in the recycling, and has a radar up any time William leaves his snack bowl/sippy cup within her reach. 

Favorite Features
We absolutely love how happy our girl is. We lovingly call her our "joy baby" because she is always so content, so happy, and gives out 1,000 watt smiles all day long. She is quite an easy baby to mother and I'm so so thankful for her pleasant demeanor. 

Sweet girl - my prayer for you is that you never ever lose that magnetic smile and joyful spirit. And that one day, you learn that Jesus is the source of a joy that never ends. We are so proud to be your parents. (And your daddy is just plain crazy about you!). 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

6 Months

Our sweet girl just turned six months old this week! That's 1/2 year. She has suddenly, right before our very eyes, turned into an interactive, giggly, wiggly little lady and I find it really hard to believe. It seems like it was just yesterday I was pregnant with her and wondering what position she was in, wondering what color eyes she'd have and hoping beyond hope that she'd get her daddy's red hair gene (we're so happy she did!). And now she's already six months old

I remember with William around six weeks old, I wanted so desperately for him to be six months old already. When you're a first time mom, so many people give you lame advice like "it goes by so fast! cherish these days!" And I also remembered many of my mom friends saying that it would get better around the six month mark. Looking back, I really wished his newborn days was very hard, I found myself in a new role as a stay-at-home mom which was rather lonely, I also had a harder time recovering from his birth and we had a lot of feeding issues. 

But now I'm here. With my second babe. And I can say with assurance that it really does go by fast. And you really should cherish the days. If you're a first time mom, it's hard to see that through the foggy new lenses of motherhood - you're not used to getting so little sleep, so little time for yourself, having someone else depend on you so much, and you feel insecure most of the time; wondering if the method you're using (or not using) is going to totally screw your kid up.

Sure, I still fight feelings of insecurity in my mothering, but the one important thing I learned the second time around was to slow down and embrace the baby phase. For all that it is. The sleepless nights, the difficult napping days, the clinginess, every first milestone, and every single moment my baby needs me to do something for her. Because one day (not too far from now), she'll be 2.5 years old and she'll be telling me what her big brother tells me right now - "me do it" - and it will be the start of her needing me less and less. 

Enough of the sap. ;) Here's some more updates from Lydia's sixth month.

Still sleeping through the night from 7:30p-7:30a. She was off a few days when we were to NY on vacation to visit my family, but she bounced right back once home. 

Naps have also been getting more consistent. She has been pretty regularly taking a good long morning nap starting around 9:15a and then she takes another longer nap in the afternoon starting around 1:30p. She still need a little cat nap in the early evening before bed, but it's getting shorter and shorter. Right now, it's about 30 mins. 

We started solids with Lydia this month. Since she has some known food allergies we're going slowly. We introduced squash and had mixed results, so we stopped that and started sweet potato. It has been a success so far, and she really likes it! Next week we'll try avocado. She is such a pro at didn't take her any time at all to realize how to swallow the food off of the spoon, and she has even wanted to take charge and grab the spoon from us! :) 

She's still nursing 4-5 times per day, and has also started wanting a little snack nursing before her naps. I'm expecting these to taper off once she's well established on solids, so right now the extra feeds don't bother me. 

This month, Lydia learned how to roll from belly to back. She has only done it three times so is definitely more of a challenge for her than going from back to belly...but if she works really hard she can do it! Oftentimes, when she rolls to her belly and stays there for a while she'll start fussing and William will run over and flip her back over. She's at a disadvantage for learning the skill on her own since big brother is so helpful ;) 

Favorite Features
This month we've noticed Lydia is getting more vocal. When we were visiting my parents in NY, we went to their church and Lydia stayed with us during the singing. When the congregation started to sing "Amazing Grace" Lydia cooed and "aaahhh'd" through the entire song. She also makes lots of noise in the car now, and we love to hear her sweet voice!

Life with Big Brother
This month I've noticed William is really more aware of Lydia and starting to become quite the little protector. He still very much needs to be reminded to be gentle around her, but many times a day he asks "Where's baby?" or if it's time for Lydia to take a nap, he will say "No! Baby not take a nap!" because he wants her to stay up with him. ;) He's also very sweet to give her some of his smaller toys to play with, and he shares with ease (I'm hoping this continues as she gets older and more mobile!)

Our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm - so thankful for our growing family!