Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Halloween Was (Mostly) Glorious!

Candy. Costumes. Kids. What's not to love about Halloween? Seriously. I love it. And this year was one of the best!

The morning of Halloween, I let the kids carve some more pumpkins. The pumpkin Jacob carved at the beginning of this month was a gift from a neighbor and had already rotted. Jacob traced the goblin pattern and carved his pumpkin entirely on his own while I helped Ryan carve a bat pumpkin:

Here are my little monsters: Hulk, monkey, and dinosaur:

Ryan does not have a poker face at all. His expression simply could not mask the fact that, at that very moment in time, he desperately wanted a new family.

But then Hulk made him laugh and he forgot his deep-set turmoils and we had a lovely time trick or treating in the middle of the day.

We left the house at 2 to do trick or treating in the downtown of our new city. It was the first time I'd had the opportunity to explore the waterfront downtown. I love the idea of daytime trick or treating. The kids had a blast. And the downtown was cute and adorable and all decked out for Halloween. 

I discovered three bookstores, a quilt/fabric shop (yay!), an old timey-ish general store, and many other shops to which I shall be returning on a rare, childfree day. The general store has a DRIVE THRU. For groceries. This is so amazing. I can't even tell you how many times I had wished that our local grocery store had a drive thru so that I could grab a gallon of milk on the way home without trudging three sleeping children in/out of car seats and down multiple store aisles. It's like the universe heard me!

It rained 99% of the day on Halloween, but like true Northwesterners, we put on our rainboots, grabbed an umbrella and marched onward with our plans without batting an eye. No one complained once. And the rain did NOT stop us from having fun and filling our bright orange pumpkins to the brim with candy.

I held Jon in his monkey costume as we marched from business to business to ensure that his bucket was also filled to the brim. Because the privilege of trick or treating is one of the many automatic childhood privileges bestowed upon you when you become a parent. 

Me: did not dress up. Have already eaten 2/3 of Jon's candy.

My cute little trick or treaters braving the rain:

Jon was wide awake in this picture but he looks like he was in mid-sugar coma.

Jon had been crabby off and on for four days with a fever here and there. I thought it was a side effect of his one year immunizations. I did NOT want to be the mom who took her kid to urgent care over a low grade fever. So I let it play out. HA. Almost a week later I finally took him to urgent care and he had a whopper of an ear infection. My poor, poor, overlooked third child. He's been a big ball of sadness and crabbiness the past two days.

But he was such a good trooper on Halloween and made one heck of a cute monkey. I had so much fun carrying him around down and watching him point and exclaim at everything in excitement. 

After trick or treating downtown we went to our neighbor's house for dinner and a Halloween party. It continue to downpour but this did not stop the kids and dads from doing one more round of trick or treating in the neighborhood. 

As we were wrapping up our visit with the neighbors Ryan fell asleep on my outstretched legs. I picked him up and set them on their couch. The second I did that, he immediately spewed five packages worth of fruit snack vomit all over the carpet and couch cushions, his pants, and me. The neighbors wouldn't even let me help clean it up but insisted I take Ryan home and take care of him. I'm still trying to think of a good "sorry my kid vomited all over your couch" gift. But I think a gift basket is in order. 

I cleaned up Ryan and we put the two little kids to bed. Then I made a fire in the fireplace and Jacob and I sorted his candy and played a game of chess fireside. 

It was an absolute perfect day and even a little bit of vomit and ear infection could not mar what had otherwise been a wonderfully magical Halloween! 


Here's some cool flaming pumpkins we saw downtown:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living Room Makeover

When we first moved into our new house, the living room drove me batty. The far end of the room has a large brick fireplace. It made the room feel dark. It seemed like it was in a constant standoff with the tv for attention. And most importantly, it was not centered on the wall! Dude. Where's my symmetry?

No matter what I did, I just couldn't get the furniture arrangement to look right. So I did what all people of my generation do when faced with an epic dilemma. I turned to Google. Thus began many nights spent pouring over blogs, forums, and interior design websites. I learned new words like "focal point." I became embroiled in the fascinatingly divisive issue of tv placement over the fireplace versus tv placement not over the fireplace. Turns out this issue is as divisive as how to replace a roll of toilet paper (over or under?!). Basically, for a long, long time, furniture arrangement consumed me. It was the biggest and most pressing problem in my life (first world problems). I would wake up pondering the dauntingly unsolvable puzzle of where to put the couch and fall asleep arranging all my actual and nonexistent furniture in my head.

This is what I had to work with. 


A big pile of ew. The ew was so great, I didn't even know where to begin. My furniture was (obviously) purchased to fit my old house and just didn't seem to work in the new place. At least not in a way that I could envision. Nothing seemed to fit. It was like an absurd and unwinnable game of furniture Tetris. 

My living room in it's awkward, teenage stage:

Hey living room, there's a pimple on your forehead. Oh nevermind. That's just a visually cumbersome couch. 

I was kind of stumped for a while so I decided to let go of furniture placement and do something bold. For several weeks I had played with the idea of white washing that dark brick. So I just went for it! It was scary at first. I mean, when you go white, you go white. You can't dip your toe in and test the waters. You have to put your big girl panties on and straight-up commit. 

I initially tried to white wash the brick using 50% paint and 50% water. I read so many "before and after" blog posts that made the whole process seem so easy. But it was much harder than the pictures showed (or I'm just unusually inept at white washing brick, which could totally be the case. I'll just add it to the list of other important things I cannot do, like roll my "r's," eat anchovies, and say "facetious"). After one coat of white wash, my fireplace just looked....weird. "Hey, I like your fireplace. Is it intentionally blotchy or did a giant seagull have explosive diarrhea in here?" So I ended up doing three coats of the white wash and in the end it just looked white. Next time, I'll just do my whole family (who had to listen to me complain about my sore painting hand and swear over my excessive paint spillage for five hours) a favor and I'll just paint it straight out of the can!

Pshhh. White wash. Whatevs. Sounds like something British people during their afternoon tea. 

With the painted fireplace under my belt, I decided to tackle the furniture placement one more time. Since we just bought a house and are a little strapped for cash, I wanted to make the furniture that we already have work as much as possible. With that goal in mind, I employed a couple interior designer "tips" that seemed to keep cropping up all over the internet. I was skeptical...but you know what? The tips actually worked! Internet - 1,000 bonus points!

1) Le Focal Point

First tip was to find the focal point of the room. Obviously that was the very large (and now bright white) fireplace. With the focal point in mind, I arranged the largest piece of furniture to face the focal point and then placed the rest of the furniture around that configuration. The best tip I read regarding furniture placement was to consider your furniture from two points- 1) facing the focal point and 2) from the entrance of the room. You want the room to look nice from these two perspectives. 

2) Take Out Your Competition 

If you have a room with a TV AND a fireplace, these two elements seem to want to compete. To solve this, you CAN put the tv above the fireplace. But that's typically not ideal tv-viewing height. You could put the tv on a completely different wall but your room may seem off-balance or as if it is lacking a focal point. I scoured and scoured the internet and the best solution I could find was to have the tv either built in next to the fireplace or placed at an angle. The fireplace can still be the focus but you can comfortably view tv while facing the focal point.

3) No Wallflower Furniture

The hardest tip for me to follow was to pull furniture away from the walls. Apparently shoving furniture against the wall is kind of a designer no-no. Ooops. That's what I've done basically my entire life. But I tried it and it actually worked! By bringing the furniture away from the wall and closer together, the entire room seemed cozier. I am now a huge fan of this tip.

4) I like Big Rugs (And I Cannot Lie)

All the interior design tips I read said that your rug should be large enough that at the front two legs of your furniture pieces (or at least the couch) are on top of the rug. This seemed weird to me. I always had my rug free floating in the middle of the room. But when I tried it, I found that this tip was golden. Eventually, I had to go buy a bigger rug. But I don't regret it in the tiniest bit!

And TA-DA! Here is the end result (ignore the blue garland).

It's not 100% complete. I still need to find some art to go on the other side of the TV to balance everything out and get rid of the empty wall space (who am I kidding, I probably won't touch it again for like ten years). But it's such a huge improvement over how it was before. It is now my favorite room in the house!


(except technically, the green chair should be moved a little to the left and a little farther from the wall. STOP OCD. STOP IT!)

And this rug is ah-mazing. It's like laying on a bed of brand new stuffed animals. The blue color is pretty fun too. I want to roll around in it and eat fishy crackers. Cause that would be totally glamorous.

Tonight, I put on a fire and sprawled out all over the rug. I just couldn't help myself.

I envision many living room camp-outs in our future!

Or I can just put the kids to bed and roast marshmallows by myself. That way I don't have to share. And none of the marshmallows get burnt.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkin Patch - Pacific Northwest Style!

Last week, pumpkin patch day dawned with an onslaught of rain. But like true Pacific Northwest troopers, we grabbed some rain jackets and marched onward! A little rain can't scare us away! 

While the rain didn't cause us to cancel our plans, it did make us rush through most of our picture taking. As much as I can withstand storm, and cold, and wet, and misery in order to achieve a picture perfect pose, three little kids cooped up for a long car ride most definitely CANNOT. So we rushed under a rain tent and snapped some shots. The rain tent was no where near the pumpkins. So I made the kids hold a pumpkin in their laps so we could legitimately call these photos "pumpkin patch photos."

Jon's new thing is to point at everything and exclaim "dah!" in the most excited, high pitched voice. It makes me want to squeeze his cute little head in a vice-like grip and kiss his fat cheeks. Which I do. All the time.

Spider bales! 

Jacob assured me that he could hold Jon and just as soon as I'd snapped the picture above, down Jon fell into the mud. 

Below: me holding a muddy Jon.

Ryan, unimpressed with the pumpkins all around us ("Mom, they have pumpkins at the store.") would not get out of the stroller. Jon was happy to wave and point at everything. 

"Look at these bright orange drums!"

He loved the pumpkin so much, he wanted to try to take one home. The pumpkin won.

Sometimes at the pumpkin patch, you lose your pants. It's just happens. Like when you dip an oreo into a glass of milk and the oreo dissolves from your grip and sinks to the bottom. Why fight the inevitable?

I have no idea how, but some force of magic or divine intercession convinced Ryan to get out of the stroller long enough to take a picture next to his favorite pumpkin. I swear he was only three when I snapped the picture but somehow the image depicts a little man.

Jacob wanted to pose with a spider. Even though last night he stayed up until 10:30 because he thought there was a spider somewhere in his room and just knowing this fact made the task of sleeping far too scary.

We didn't actually buy any pumpkins here (duh, there are pumpkins at the grocery store). Or eat any fun pumpkin patch food (oh my gawd, I'm the worst line-waiter in the entire world). But we did ride some go karts!

And then my squishy Mr. Grumpy No Pants took a nice long nap on the ride home.

I have to confess that I really honestly love the rain. There's nothing quite like seeing the expanses of the sky reflecting from the wet surfaces of the earth. Or sloshing through newly formed streams of water. Or the therapeutic sounds of rain pittering and pattering and clonking onto objects around you.  Everything smells so fresh and clean. It's like nature's version of a cleanse. And the best part is coming inside to warm up by the heater while the world outside is still rumbling under the weight and force of blankets of falling water.

Ha! Nice try rain. Can't scare us away!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Third Child Birthday Party Problems

I walked into the grocery store last night at 8:30pm. Because it was the day before my third child's first birthday party and I still hadn't purchased a cake. The sliding doors opened for me and I strutted through the entrance pushing an empty grocery cart. Eye of the Tiger could have been playing n my mind. The details are still fuzzy. But I was a woman on a mission and ready to kill it with my mommy party planning muscles. Nothing could stop or deter me from the shopping tasks at hand.

And then the smell of cinnamon scented pine cones wafted my way and the menacing mommy shopper disappeared for 32 seconds while I detoured to put one or two packages in my cart.

Because it's never too early for cinnamon scented pinecones. 

Then it was game time again. I whizzed up and down the aisles (many of them multiple times- I decided x-ray vision scanning up and down four aisles was the tipping point at which it is no longer desirable to have sauerkraut), grabbed the most glamorous veggie tray I could find (note: was not very glamorous), two packages of meatballs, chips, spinach dip, cheese, and mini hotdogs assortments, and juice boxes for appetizing. I was very proud of my efficiency and shopping prowess (despite the sauerkraut) and got in line to check out. Luckily, in total Santa fashion, I checked my list one more time.

Cake. CAKE!

I turned the shopping cart around and headed back to the bakery section. Just grab a large cake and out we go! Except. Except. EXCEPT. Halloween. Halloween had totally consumed all things bakery. A (hellaciously hideous) spider web cake. A pumpkin cake. And three varieties of ugly-ass brown and orange fall leaf cakes. Not exactly gonna cut it for a one year old birthday party.

So I went back to the aisles and bought boxed cakes and frosting containers. Hey, this could still work! I was starting to get cocky. I can make a bad ass homemade beautiful cake. And all the parents will be like, "look at that working mom. She actually MADE her own cake. And it's AMAZING." You know, something like this:

And I slaved away mixing eggs and oil into that boxed cake mix before pouring it into a cake pan. And I set the timer. And it cooked perfectly. I was already raving about the beauteous cake that was going to be artfully crafted before my very eyes. 

Except. Except. EXCEPT.

It looked like a toddler had carefully shat all over it to spell a well-intentioned birthday greeting.

Should have bought that hellaciously hideous spider

And, my friends, from there the homemade theme kinda went down hill. I tried to make majestic hanging clouds by hot glue gunning quilt batting onto paper lanterns. It looked like Frosty the Snowman got tangled in a lawn mower, died, and someone hung his body from the ceiling as a warning to other snowmen. 

I also tried to make a tulle garland. But after two hours, I only got about ten feet of a stringy, sad looking garland. Although it doesn't look like it, I promise that no ballerinas were assaulted in the making of this garland. 

And finally, I tried to make a paper airplane garland. It worked out ok. But I'm no origami ninja and several nights of toiling away folding little bastard sheets of gold paper yielded ONE measly strip of garland that was really too heavy to hang anywhere.

At least my fireplace looks nice. I painted the brick last weekend.

At that point, I was kind of like "screw pinterest worthy parties." I didn't even bother with some of the fancy kid games and activities I had originally planned. I threw some empty moving boxes in the basement and shooed the kids down to play as guests arrived. We served Papa John's pizza, appetizers, and cans of Fresca and soda and called it a party. 

That's pretty much what you get when you're a third child. But don't worry Jon, 18 years of spoiling you rotten as the baby should offset these rag-tag third child birthday parties.

At least he thoroughly enjoyed the poop cake. At first, he ate it so daintily. Well, as daintily as possible with plastic cutlery.

Then he gave up and began fisting it into his mouth. Which, I might add, is the only appropriate way to eat cake when it's your birthday.

At the point, the cutlery was only used for cramming as much frosting-covered spongey goodness into his mouth as possible. CAKE. GLORIOUS CAKE!

"What? Is there something on my face or something?"

Happy Birthday Jon Jon!!

And here are our perfectly imperfect, frienzied family photos.

 Peace out. And always beware of The Pinterest. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Playroom In Progress

One of the reasons we bought our new house is because it has a basement. And because it is a split level home, the basement is one and a HALF floors away from the kitchen/dinning room. In theory, the kids could play as loud and obnoxiously as they want and I wouldn't have to hear it.

Great plan, right?

Except the kids didn't ever go in the basement.

We had just doubled our square footage. Tripled the number of bathrooms (thereby increasing the odds that I could pee ALONE). And tripled the number of floors in our house. And yet, the kids followed me around the new house like a troupe of mesmerized ducklings.

Whenever I turned around, I'd be stepping on a child or knocking one over. You could find me sitting on the toilet with the door half open and 1.5 kids spilling onto the tiled bathroom floor. I'd walk into my closet to pick out an outfit, turn around and find that I was suddenly dressing to an audience. The kids would shoot hairbands back and forth across my face as I tried to flat iron my hair. I couldn't eat a single morsel without someone yelling, "What's that? I want one. I'm hungry too. Can I have one? Make me one!"

The kids never wanted to go to the basement to play. For them, being sent to the basement to play was equivalent to a timeout sentence. I seriously didn't get it. When I was a kid, I LOVED having a room devoted just to my toys. So what was the friggen deal? Turns out, the kids simply thought the basement was "creepy." I went down to survey the situation and decided that the piles of kids toys thrown haphazrdly around the room wasn't exactly inviting.

And that is how the Great Playroom Design Plan was born. This design is still in the midst of the implementation phase. But the room's as finished as it's going to be for a while. So I thought I could unveil our Playroom In Progress.

Prep work: applying the painter's tape. This is my least favorite part about painting but Jacob offered a decent amount of help.

The kids begged and begged to help. So I gave them a mini lesson in painting. They had so much fun painting that they keep offering (unhelpful) suggestions about new walls to paint around the house. I'm currently working on a Craigslist Ad to farm out their skills (read: noise) to other homes. ("Painters for hire. Free labor in exchange for a meal of fish crackers and apple slices. May follow you to the bathroom and belt out fart songs without warning").

Serious business. 

The finished blue walls. 

Then I sent the kids to bed, tuned the radio to catch the commentary at the end of that day's Seahawks game, opened a can of Diet Dr. Pepper, and got to work painting some clouds. These clouds have been brought to you by several viewings of "how to pain clouds" youtube videos (and maybe one or two funny cat videos for good measure and a much needed down time activity).

There is a closet in the basement. I have big plans for this closet. But for now, it's houses a kitchen playset that I found used on the internet. 

I played around with toy storage ideas for several day before finally settling on these book cases from Target with special storage cubes These shelves were SO easy to put together. And you don't need any extra tools. Well, you do need a drill to anchor it to the wall...which is why it remains unanchored. I'm too afraid to touch my husband's tools. If I used one and didn't put it back exactly the way he likes it, I could be blacklisted from ever touching his nice things ever again. (Note to self, buy own set a tools.)

And is phase I of the playroom roll out. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. And the kids actually play down there now!!