Wednesday, October 9, 2013

urban rehab: our soon-to-be home {part 1}

this has been the craziest year of my life, hands down. 

shortly after getting out of the NICU in May, Andrew asks out of the blue, if i'm up for moving to midtown this year.

if you know us personally, you probably know we've wanted to move for several years now, but the timing hasn't been right. we've come up with about 87 different plans for when we're going to move and where - the most recent being that we would move as early as June 2014.

after my crazy pregnancy and our stressful NICU stay, i seriously don't remember what a normal life feels like anymore. so why not move and continue on with the roller coaster life?

we toured 3 houses and quickly knew which one we preferred. we hit a few obstacles, but seriously, doors were flying open for us to proceed. We would think we ran into a problem and were ready to sit back and wait on God's timing again, but then someone would approach us, saying, "did you know about such and such organization?" "have you heard of such and such new program?" 

we're being very cautious, but so far it seems like this is the right time and the right place for our family.

a few random facts:

  • the home was built in 1905
  • a company called Ribbon Cutters bought the house and is remodeling it for us, to our specific standards.
  • We will be involved in as much of the process as we can. We will be doing all the painting, building a new fence, sanding the hardwood floors, painting all the trim, etc.
  • we are in the beginning stages of the process. We meet with the company to do our final walk through this friday, October 11th and then the work should begin shortly after that!
  • we are tentatively moving in on Dec 2013
  • we are under no obligation to buy the house when they are done, even though they're rehabbing it to our standards. if something unexpected comes up, we can choose not to buy the house from them.

without further ado, here is the first floor of our new abode, pre-rehab. i'll share the 2nd and 3rd floors in the next few days so this isn't an annoyingly long post ;-)

Exterior - 1st Floor:
clearly we have a lot of yard work to do. we plan to cut down the pine tree and plant a fruit tree in its place. we need to rebuild the retaining wall and eventually we'll repaint. The Ribbon Cutters will be repairing all the damaged wood. I CAN'T WAIT to put a rocking chair on that killer porch.
we will be keeping the windows with character, but all other windows will be replaced.


we plan to knock out the awkward wall in the middle and have the only entrance be the opening on the right. the space on the left will become a large counter work space with a stove, to keep the space open. In my perfect world, we would be continuing the counter tops/cabinets to go all the way to the wall {under the window, where that step ladder is}, but i'm pretty positive it wont fit in the budget. it's such wasted space though! hopefully we can finish it in the future.
this is on the other side of the dining room. the photo on the bottom right is taken while standing in the kitchen. i'm excited for emery's play space to be right next to the kitchen, for the times she doesn't want to help me cook :-) i love having her nearby!

can't wait to post the progress and end result photos! i'm soooo excited to own our home, despite all the grumbling i hear from home owners about the bummers of responsibility ;-)

love and new adventures, 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

color & shape theme for toddlers: beads and pipe cleaners.

sometimes i make blogging complicated.

i follow tons of bloggers that i love and admire, who do fairly elaborate posts 5 days a week and i wonder when they ever get sleep. or when they play with their kids. they must be way more efficient that i am!

i always want to post, but have been telling myself i can't right now because i have 2 kids that take up 90% of my day. They will ALWAYS be a priority over blogging, but i do love blogging. the 5 days a week of elaborate posting is not what's best for me and my family. it's not what works for me, but for some reason i've had it in my head that it's what i wanted to strive for.

silly me.

epiphany of the week: do what i have time for. this doesn't need to be an all or nothing thing. if i don't have time for an 80 page tutorial, blog anyway. 

+  +  +  +  +

so here's a little something emery loves to do every few days:

color bead sorting. she sorts them onto pipe cleaners, she sorts them in muffin tins, she sorts them in piles on the floor. the girl has found a way to combine her OCD personality with her love colors.

// i kid you not, she really is OCD. when she cleans her toys and puts her 2 baskets away on the shelf, the baskets have to be lined up evenly. the shelf we use has no back to it, so last night she went back and forth between the two baskets, pushing them a little to get them even with the other one, until the baskets finally hit the wall and were perfectly lined up. she would push one, start to run off, and then realize they still weren't even and come back to push the other one a little. it took her 5 tries. i love her. //

{she normally sorts them by color...
i think this was the very first time
she did beads with a mini muffin tin,
so she didn't care what color went where}
so that's that. super simple, super easy, super fun for the toddler in your life.

love and OCD two year olds, 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

facial features + discussing emotions with toddlers.

emery has always loved pointing out and naming facial features when snuggling up with people. she likes to count people's eyes, nose, ears, chin, mouth, and eyebrows. just in the last few months though, she's been loving imitating emotions and facial expressions. 

i wanted to help her explore emotions more, so i dug up some fun things i pinned on my toddler and preK boards awhile back. i printed off the goods and got them laminated for 25 cents/foot at mardel! she's LoViNg it!

playdough faces:

Planet of the Apels has printable pages for playdough books! most of them are above emery's level right now, so i just printed off the 2 blank face pages. emery is definitely not to the stage of rolling a "snake" and bending it into a smile, or rolling up balls for eyes, but she pinched off chunks and put them in each spot, telling me which feature they were. she gave the girl a bunch of tiny balls for teeth instead of lips :-)

to discuss emotions, i plan to create the faces for her and chat with her from the dialog described below.

paper faces:

i found the idea at The Iowa Farmer's Wife and tweaked it a little bit to fit our needs. 

  • she found her features in magazines - i couldn't, for the life of me, find enough that were big enough and the same general size, so i gave up and got them off the internet. i didn't want to use the same features from the same people, so i copied each picture into paint, cropped off a different feature, pasted it into word, resized it to fit my preference. it took awhile and sure did pull up some gross faces. if anyone is interested in the word document i created, let me know and i'll email it to you!
  • all of her mouths were smiles - because i wanted to specifically talk with emery about emotions, i chose puckered lips, a tongue sticking out, a baby crying, and a smile. she loves imitating each one! (i also chose a nose with a nose ring because she loves touching mine and ears with earrings.)
  • she attached hers to a cookie sheet - i love this idea for things like the car, but for some reason i'm addicted to sticking things on our fridge! {see here and here} i love that the activity stays off my floor!
  • i taped heads onto the fridge for her to use as a guide on where to put the features. i found them here!

am i the only one with a toddler that likes
to dress herself like a goober? i sent her upstairs
 to get panties on and she came downstairs with an
extra headband on her head and
a head band around her waist like a belt!
discussing emotions with toddlers:
right now we're at a very basic level of talking about emotions. emery doesn't usually dialog about theoretical stuff, she mostly just answers black and white questions. here are some examples of how we chat:

with the sad face:

  • Is the boy crying? can you frown too? what do you think made him sad - do you think he got hurt? could it also make him sad if a friend took his toy? could he be sad if his mommy said "no more TV today"?

then we dialog about biblical responses:

  • if he got hurt, how can you make him feel better? if you hurt him, what should you say?
  • if you took his toy, should you give it back? should you say sorry? is it ok to take people's toys? no, it's not because God tells us to think of others as more important than our selves. You're thinking of your self as more important when you take a toy from someone. God wants us to love our friends and we can do that by sharing!
  • if his mommy said "no more TV," is it ok to throw a fit? no, he needs to respect his mommy! if his mommy says something, he needs to obey and say "yes, mommy!" God teaches us in the bible that we're supposed to be joyful in all things and to have self-control. Self-control is choosing not to throw a fit even if you're sad and joy is being happy even if you don't get what you want. i bet his mommy can help him find something else fun to do when he gets control, and stops crying!

with the happy face:

  • is the girl happy? can you smile like she is? what makes emery happy? are you happy when you ride your bike? are you happy when daddy tickles you? are you happy when you're holding cooper?

dialog with a biblical tie-in:

  • do you know what makes mommy and daddy happy? we're happy when we snuggle emery and cooper! we're happy when people come over to our house! we're happy when we're cooking with you in the kitchen! but what makes us happy more than anything is knowing that when we disobey God and ask him to forgive us, He does. that makes mommy and daddy so happy - we're so thankful God loves us!

with the kiss face:

  • what's he doing with his lips? can you make a kissing face? who can emery give kisses to?

with the silly face:
  • what's she doing with her tongue? can you stick your tongue out? what's another silly face you can make?
  • emery's not to the point of knowing that sticking your tongue out can be an attitude issue, but once she gets there i'll definitely address it! it would probably sound super similar to the chat above about a good response when mommy says no more tv :-)

she's mastering the silly faces with daddy!
i love when emery plays with this while i'm making dinner and being able to talk with her while i cook. she has fun mixing and matching all the features to create new "people!"

what are some ways you teach your toddler emotions??

love and silliness,

Friday, June 14, 2013

terra cotta: 3 ways.

my pots needed help. in a bad, bad way. i had painted them for an event several years ago with leftover paint from our old town home walls and the rain had started peeling it away.

*hangs head in shame* 
yes, this was sitting on my deck.
thankfully, after a massive pinterest hunt for DiY flower pot ideas, i transformed my sad herb garden into something a lot more perky!

#1 - hemp and hot glue
idea from {exact link is broken}. this is pretty self explanatory. the original idea kept the terra cotta unfinished on the top, but clearly i didn't have that option. plus, i like the pop of color! 

#2 - toddler art
i used to be obsessed with everything in my house matching perfectly. if something was going to be on display, it had to coordinate with my decor. mommyhood gave me a radical change of heart - emery's creations are like gold to me - there's no way it has to match my house for me to want to set it out to be seen everyday! she made a flower pot for each of her grandma's for mother's day and i was so sad to see them leave our house that i quickly ran to the store and got a pot for her to paint for me!
can anyone tell me why my dill
 is dying at the bottom but
continuing to grow at the top?
i'm a newbie and confused..
#3 - free-hand stripes
this one is original...i  liked the bright colors combined with neutrals of the color blocked pots i was finding on pinterest, but i didn't want it to look too similar to pot #1. i only wish i had fewer stripes, more spaced out, but i'm too busy with 2 kiddos now to even day dream about redoing it!

i'm loving using fresh herbs in my cooking! i just started culturing some pickles with our dill a few days ago and can't wait to make pesto with my 2 basil plants! i'm also going to try my second attempt at mint extract...i tried it once with store bought mint, right before all the hospital stuff happened, but it smelled weird. hope it works this time around!

emery loves helping in the garden &
is great at watering the plants everyday!
i have to tell her to stop stealing herbs
 from the garden - she could eat them all day!
love and fresh picked deliciousness,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NICU stay + emery's birthday weekend.

this has been quite the blogging hiatus! for those that don't know me personally, our little peanut, that was due May 17th, decided to come April 4th!

{emery's first time meeting cooper!}
FEB 22nd - i went to the ER {at 28 weeks} with a sharp and increasing pain in my side that had been happening for 3 days. I thought the dr's were going to laugh at me and send me home, but apparently i was having the pain with contractions i couldn't feel. i was in the hospital for 5 days - we stayed longer than we needed to because of a snow storm. 

i came home on bed rest and our amazing church and family took great care of us for 5 weeks.

MAR 25th - my water broke at 32 weeks and 3 days. after chilling in my luxurious hospital room for almost 2 weeks, cooper decided to finally make his appearance {the day before they planned to induce me}.

{easter sunday!}
APRIL 4th - he's here! 4 lbs 3 oz of pure sweetness.

{photo therapy
for a few days}
he never needed any oxygen, they took out his IV after 2 days, and he nursed like a champ after a week or so.

however, the stinker decided to hava bad apnea the day before we were supposed to get discharged. for those that don't know, each time they have one, you can't leave the NICU for 5-7 days.

after 3 attempts to go home, cooper finally decided he was ready after 5 weeks in the NICU. we decided to come home on an apnea monitor, which is bitter sweet. i love the security of knowing when he needs help, but man oh man, i'll be glad when i don't have to lug the thing around everywhere and make sure i'm near an outlet to plug it in while i hold him. 
{explaining the monitor to emery}

and, not gonna lie, i do not miss having to drive 15 minutes, ride an elevator, sign in to the NICU, and scrub my hands for 3 minutes every time i want to feed my baby!

my math oriented husband just realized last night that either cooper or I have been in the hospital a total of 54 days. and praise the Lord for insurance, these bills are unbelievable!

+  +  +  +  +

the day we got home we had a super small ice cream birthday party for emery with some left over decor from her party last year! she was just as giddy about her party as she was for cooper to be home :-)

emery and andrew are ice cream addicts. my parents got me an ice cream
maker for christmas and i'm so excited to be making
healthier dessert for my sweet tooth family!

emery and cooper picked out presents for each other {;-)} ahead of time and exchanged them on sunday.

cooper got emery a stroller for her baby dolls!
and emery got cooper a toy for his car seat and an elephant rattle!
monday was her actual birthday - since we'd been dying for months to have some fun family outings, we decided to brave Deanna Rose Farmstead and were thankful both kiddos did great! emery was most excited about the chickens, because she was hoping to see baby chicks, but sadly there weren't any :-/

we let her push her baby doll around the farmstead
and she loved it! cooper knew just what she wanted ;-)
i was super impressed that she wasn't scared!

we're loving being under the same roof! emery smothers cooper with hugs and kisses, constantly asking "hold you? hold you?" can't wait for them to play and interact together as he gets older! 

hoping to get back into a routine with blogging! now you know why i've been MIA

love and 4 pound babies, 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

garlic oil for ear infections.

as i slowly get off the mainstream path, i'm constantly fascinated by the gobs of information on natural remedies. i used to often think about how lucky i was to be alive in the current era with all the modern science of care. not to say that doctors aren't a huge blessing when truly needed, but i'm surprised it never occurred to me that all the generations before us "somehow" survived. it seems the only things you hear about are the bubonic plague and how no pioneer ever showered or washed their hands and come to the conclusion that society as a whole was completely ignorant before modern care came around. at least that's what i thought.

one of the most basic and common remedies i've found is homemade garlic oil for ear infections. i've found several websites and blog posts about it, but all were a little different. if i'm going to attempt to heal my family naturally, i want to read everything i can! this is a collection of my findings.


  1. heat 4 TB olive or coconut oil on low. once warm, add 2 cloves minced garlic and remove from heat. let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. i read different places that it can be stored in fridge for 4 - 14 days {range from 3 different sources}. just to be on the safe side, i opted for the smaller number {i only needed it for 3 days anyway}. either way, when you apply it to the ear, this article warns that if done while oil is cold, can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and pain. heating in the microwave can cause hot spots, which would also be awful. i warmed my oil the same way you would warm a baby bottle - in a container of warm water, to bring it to room temp.
  3. you don't want to get garlic chunks in the ear! strain your oil through a cheese cloth or clean, fine mesh towel and squeeze all the excess into a bowl.
  4. now you're ready to go. i used a dropper from Whole Foods that cost about $2. {but i kept the oil stored in the glass bowl out of personal preference. i wanted to be able to feel that all the oil was the right temp, which i didn't feel like i could do if i stored and warmed the oil in a dropper bottle.} Apply 3-4 drops of oil per ear, about 20 minutes apart. this was not the easiest thing to do with a toddler, but she also had RSV so she was super lethargic and fell asleep in daddy's arms while he read her books. Andrew would hold her while she laid on one side, i'd add the drops, and they would read books or watch a movie until it was time to switch to the next ear.
  5. this is something i haven't come across on a blog, but that a friend {who's been doing this for years with her 4 boys} recommended - she slices a piece of garlic, sticks it over  the ear {large enough that it wont go in the canal},covers it with a bandaid, and leaves it for the day. While i'm sure it helped, i probably wont do this with a female toddler again. she was squirmy enough that i caught her hair in the bandaid which made her even more miserable during naps {she couldn't move her head without it pulling her hair}. If she was a boy with short hair or old enough to understand what was going on and hold still, i wouldn't have had the same problems and would do it again.
Misc. Notes:
  • our chiropractor told me a few days ago that a simple adjustment will often heal an ear infection. He explained that in young children, their ear canal is horizontal and often has a hard time draining properly. He said eventually, the canal forms a slant that enables easier drainage {which is why younger people tend to get infections more often.} He said that if a certain disk in the neck is slightly out of place, it can also effect the drainage. He said it's one of the most common reason he sees kids for adjustments and that it's simple and effective. We'll definitely be trying this next time!
  • garlic oil is the most basic way i've read to treat an infection on your own. it worked great for emery and i didn't have any concerns. if you feel like you need to do more, or that things aren't getting better, check out Creative Christian Mama's post on healing ear infections naturally. She did several things above and beyond the garlic oil that helped achieve a speedy recovery. She also notes several warning signs to look out for that might indicate the need for doctor's care.
  • i've considered buying an otoscope for personal use and reading up on what a healthy and infected ear look like for the times i can't tell and my kids can't communicate it to me. If we hadn't gone to the ER for emery's RSV, i would have had no idea she had the infection. She never tugged on her ears or acted like they were bothering her. i think i would be more comfortable being able to check her ears when she's acting differently just to make sure i'm not missing the signs!
  • if you're looking for natural remedies for other things, check out my pinterest collection! i've been gathering all sorts of information on treating different illnesses and have pinned them under several boards labeled "body care". If i have need for them in the future, i plan to post about my experiences with each of them.
what natural remedies have you tried? have they worked? i'd love to hear your experiences!

love and healthy toddlers,