Monday, December 16, 2013

Rainy Day Camp Out

What an incredibly boring, rainy weekend. The horrible combination of rain and wanting to avoid the Christmas shoppers who have snuck into every corner of every shop made me feel pretty antisocial as well. What to do on a weekend such as this? 

In desperate boredom our little family ended up having a pretty good time after all camping out in our living room. Not bad for a $20 tent, and Lizzie couldn't get enough of brining her "friends" in to join her. And of course required snuggles with mommy and daddy. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toddler Christmas Pictures

Last year, I guess I had it easy. Who knew that it would be much better to take cute, posed pictures of a tiny human being who couldn't even crawl than an on-the-go toddler with opinions of her own?  (See last year's Christmas pictures.)

So I'm running a little late on the cards.

For our first attempt at cards, I thought it would be a good idea to simply take a ton of pictures at the tree farm when we cut down our tree. Cute, right? I think I took about 100 pictures and mostly ended up with what you see on the right. And the one or two cute ones that we did get have so much sass in them, we decided we would have to give it another go. 


From the tree farm experience, I decided that my strategy would need to be to simply snap pictures constantly. And feed her M&Ms. As she's never experienced the deliciousness of peanut butter M&Ms, they essentially worked well as toddler crack. She was hamming it up. 

By constantly snapping pictures, I missed out much less frequently on those rare, smile-at-the-camera shots that I lost out on our tree farm experience. Note: we have a Digital SLR so we can do this without getting blurry pictures. We even have one of those fancy settings that just automatically shoots 10 pictures with one click. If you have a small human and no high-speed camera, you will need to borrow one. I wish you luck. 

Eventually, through the right combination of M&Ms, luck, and great late-afternoon natural light, we managed to get the shots I needed for the Christmas card. I only took 300 or so this time. 

Here's my big winner this year:



I'm a fan of black and white, so while it looks good in color, this particular shot looks great this way. Though through the power of M&Ms, we did end up with quite a few to choose from. And I finally have the cards ordered. (Though I had to pay for express shipping. Boo!)





Saturday, December 7, 2013

Oh, You Feel Bad For My Daughter?

We are finally past Thanksgiving. Whoo! It was a busy last week to November with Andrew's mom and step dad visiting and Miss Lizzie playing and playing with grandma and papa. And shopping and shopping and shopping until I couldn't even stand to be in another store. But at least we are ahead for Christmas plans for a change. 

While it was nice to have guests for Thanksgiving, and let me say I really do have the best MIL in the world, she did say something that really rubbed me the wrong way and got me thinking about the huge differences between my parents and Andrews. 

She said she feels bad for Lizzie because she doesn't have enough toys. 

The reason that it rubbed me the wrong way is the way she phrased the statement. She "feels bad" for Lizzie. My MIL is very generous and loves to get things for people, but just doesn't seem to get it when I explain that we simply do not have enough space in our house for big toys (especially as we use one of our three rooms as a guest room so that they and others can visit!). She often forgets that in a few short months I'm going to have to move all of the many toys Lizzie really does have across the country to a still-unkown destination. And that a few years later I'll have to do it again. I'm not some Puritan parent who is denying my child for fun. 

Don't get me wrong. I know she meant it nicely, and in a grandma-wants-go-get-Elizabeth-something-cool kind of way. But "feeling bad" that mommy put a limit on how many stuffed animals Lizzie has because we already have two bins overflowing with them? "Feeling bad" because we don't have 1,000 Legos? Because she doesn't have a TV? (*cringe*) Come on. I love you my dear well-intentioned MIL but come on.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saving My Pots and Pans

How did I not know about this stuff? Seriously, I feel disgusting seeing the state of my pots and pans before I discovered this. Bar keeper's Friend. I thought I did a good job keeping them clean. I was wrong. Obviously.


Elbow grease and water!


I was about to quit my old pots and pans, but what a waste! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nursery to Toddler Room Redo

When planning Lizzie's nursery I wanted to make it as neutral as possible. I knew that anything pink and fluffy was out. It ended up being safari green with elephants and monkeys. I liked it at the time, but for the past six months it's been getting on my nerves. It was very blah, and my little baby was getting a little too old for cutesy, boring elephants. 

My mom gave me her old sewing machine back when I was on the vacation-that-would-never-end so I was excited for the opportunity to do some room redo myself. Good fabric makes everything better right?

I managed to snag all the fabric I used for around $25.





The window was in desperate need of curtains. I despise the cheap plastic shades that are standard equipped in every new place. I call them "renters' paradise" shades and normally they are the first thing to go. Unfortunately I didn't have a sewing machine handy or they would have been gone a year ago. I found some cute fabric for a window cushion that I thought would make a nice addition. I love how this area turned out! 

For the bed/dresser area, I ditched the elephant blanket and replaced it with a cute gray knit blanket. Luckily the sheets that went with the elephant were the same dark green that matched everything else so they were allowed to stay. 

The chevron rug from Pottery Barn was generously supplied by grandma, so I didn't have to spend money there. I used the same fabric from the window cushion and sewed a new changing pad cover using this tutorial. I ditched the diaper caddy and am putting all her changing stuff on that green shelf so she no longer squirms and wiggles trying to grab it. And I get kicked in the face less often. 


The picture frame was something I had hanging around. I just used some leftover paint from the window bench to make it match. I even made a READ sign for above her bookshelf that also matches. 





Unfortunately, we still have this ugly side rail on the bed. I will definitely be replacing that with the right type to make it less of an eye sore ASAP. 

My next project is also to redo her reading shelf. Unfortunately it looks something like this. 


We read a ton of books every day and I'd much rather pick up books for her at the store than more stupid toys. So this $5 ugly painted bookshelf isn't cutting it. (Look, it leans!) I'm not sure if I'm going to DIY this yet or bite the bullet and buy a nice new shelf. But either way, we need one that will hold all her books. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Great Wool Experiment

Bought my first ever wool diaper cover today! While I love my prefolds, we've never had luck with a great overnight diaper that doesn't leave her feeling sopping wet with a diaper rash on the way. May they live up to the hype. :)




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Never Lose Your Child's Gloves Again


Here's a trick my mom used to do with my gloves…sew a piece of ribbon to each glove and thread inside the jacket. Guaranteed to never lose those gloves. 

As I've all ready lost two pair of gloves this year under mysterious circumstances (I suspect the dog of foul play) it was high time I put this trick into effect. 

Just in time too, it's FREEZING for Charleston today. I actually had to wear pants! :) 





Tuesday, November 12, 2013

No, We Won't Be Home For the Holidays

'Tis the season…for military families to get the guilt trip. It should come as no surprise for to certain family members that after years of being in the military, we just aren't coming home this year. We love Christmas and Thanksgiving. We love spending time with our families. However, it's hard for Andrew to get leave, and we really don't want to spend hundreds of additional dollars to fly or drive back to Wisconsin. 

We've done it. And we're over the holiday travel crap. The 5,000 required family events. Driving on icy roads. Our mothers going head to head about which one gets Christmas eve. 

This year I get Christmas eve. (Ha!) We can still watch It's a Wonderful Life, we can make hot cocoa, and we can open presents via Skype. We are good at Skype. We're military. Heck, we are still going to a tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree. Even though it will have to be Carolina Pine because Fraser Fir doesn't grow in the Lowcountry.

So sorry grumpy relative. Your selfish blow up about us not being at grandma's Christmas day will not change our mind. (You only want our presence on the holidays anyway.) We are going to have a peaceful, relaxing holiday with our little lady. 

And of course, Christmas feels just a little lame without snow. But we can always decorate our palm tree.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why is Everyone Obsessed with Disney?

My friends visit Disneyland at least once a year. They post Disney-related pictures or pins at least once a week. Their children are raised on a generous helping of Disney movies, toys, even Disney snacks. Their children were dressed as Mickey and Minnie, Woody and Buzz, or any of a number of Disney princesses for Halloween. 

I like Disney movies. I grew up in the 90s. Of course my family had well-handled VHS tapes of Disney classics. I now have a few special Blu Rays of my favorite Disney movies. But I'm not obsessed. I don't want my daughter to get obsessed.

I hope Lizzie doesn't get to the point where she "needs" a Disney princess-themed room. Where we make the long trek to Disneyland so often that it becomes commonplace instead of a special family memory. Where she only will eat her dinner off a very special Cinderella plate  or only sleep in her Rapunzel pajamas. 


The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think think anyone's childhood should be defined by Disney. It should not get to the point where there is so much Disney loyalty that even creative play becomes a matter of rescuing Prince Eric and the only songs they know are from the Disney channel.  Let Disney be a part of childhood, not the only part.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Easy Custom "READ" Sign

I'm in the middle of redoing Lizzie's room and am trying to come up with creative ways to recycle some of our old picture frames and home decor items. This "READ" sign I simply painted with matching color, added some of the spare fabric from the cushions, and used very heavy-duty double sided tape from Stampin' Up! to attach the letters on top of the glass. This will look great in her room! 









Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reuse That Diaper Caddy

I'm currently in the middle of redoing Lizzie's room, and I'm discovering that I no longer have use for much of the crap baby stuff that we've been using. Knowing how much it cost though, makes me hesitate to just toss it. So I'm trying to reuse where I can. The diaper caddy really came in handy organizing my sewing area and giving me back some space again! 


Before:



After:

Yay for organization! 



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Should You Live On Base?

It's one of the most frustrating questions a military family faces. Should we live on base? 

One of my old high school friends, (and a new mil spouse) recently asked me this same question. And I wish I could give her a straight answer. But I can't. I can only give my solid opinion about Joint Base Charleston.

Andrew and I have had the good fortune to be stationed only at Joint Base Charleston so far. We've lived in two very different houses here, one in "old housing," and one in "new housing." 

Our first two years were spent in old housing. As a young married couple fresh from our college apartment, we were just excited to have parking spots we didn't have to pay for. And washer/dryer hookups. And a dishwasher. And more than one room. However, two years of small windows, mold problems, and a paint color that can only be described as "snot," were more than enough. So we moved to the "new" housing when Andrew received another two years here.

New housing has been great. Yes, they take all our housing allowance, but in return we don't pay for any upkeep, we don't mow lawn or pay for utilities, and we are so close to the commissary and the Navy Exchange that we can walk there. Most of my military friends have lived on base, and it is easy to meet up for walks or playdates and meet other milspouses when they are right around the corner. 

So, to answer the question, "should you live on Joint Base Charleston?," I would have to say yes. We find it well worth our money, especially in new housing. 

To answer the general question, "Should We Live On Base?," you have to consider a lot of different variables.

  • How much space do you need?
  • How far is the commute to base?
  • How long is the wait to get base housing?
  • How new are the houses?
  • Pet policy?
  • What amenities do they have on base?
  • How long might you be stationed there? 
It would also be a good idea to stalk some of the Facebook Groups and get their opinions. Yes, people love to talk trash and will be arguing, but at least if seven people tell you the base smells like a rotting pig carcass, you can take that as a good indicator that there may be some truth to it. It's good to do your research. And not just on the base website, as those lovely images are probably pictures of the best the base has to offer. Just Remember: 



Monday, November 4, 2013

A Very "Monday" Post

Some days you just need some time to yourself. Yesterday was one of those days. Andrew worked all day and had tons of homework when he finally did get home. So no help there. My beautiful homemade chicken and stuffing dinner was taking 2x as long due to the fact that I had a busy toddler asking demanding a drink, a cracker, help with her shoes, or to be held. And I had no wine in the house.

So here's my desperate version of the "I JUST NEED 10 MINUTES OF PEACE AND QUIET" game. 



10 blissfully quiet minutes of Lizzie peeling painter's tape off the wall. Thank goodness she is still entertained by simple things.

I'd love to hear how you play the game too! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Daylight Savings Time Sucks

daylight savings time
After hearing complaints from my friends with kids for years, I finally understand why they hate daylight savings time so much. It sucks.

We had just finally managed to get Lizzie on some semblance of a bed time routine, and now nap, lunch, dinner, and bed all feel one hour earlier. 

Sure, it was nice getting an extra hour last night. But it's hard to wrap your brain around when your child's internal clock tells her she's waking at 7:00, but it's now suddenly 6:00. In the a.m. 

I know, it's not as upsetting as I'm making it sound. But after well over a year of a difficult sleep schedule with Lizzie, it was finally nice to have some routine, and some time to myself at night. 

The only benefit to this is that this may be a good opportunity to get her up to an 8:00 bedtime. If I'm lucky.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Please, Don't Talk to My Daughter

This is a DOG, not a Woof-Woof.
No, I'm not antisocial. I really don't mind other parents or people talking to my daughter, in spite of the title of this post. The title refers very specifically to anyone who tries to baby talk my child.

Let me clarify. When I mean baby talk, I'm talking very specifically about using nonsense words like "nunu," whatever that means. 

Nothing gets under my skin quite like baby talk. Creepy when used by adults to other adults and condescending when used by adults to children, it not only insults my child's intelligence, but also forces me to question the intelligence of the speaker.

To the mother at the playgroup who "helpfully" pointed out the "swide" and "baba" for my daughter, please stop talking. As terrible as it sounds, those two words alone insure that I will not be seeking your friendship. (What were you referring to when you were talking about "baba" anyway?) 

If you've ever spent any real time around a toddler learning to speak, you'll realize that baby talk is completely unnecessary. Sure, it's cute when Lizzie calls her drink a "dink." That doesn't mean I ask her if she wants a dink. I don't correct her mispronunciation. I simply ask if she would like a drink. 

The only people who should be allowed to use baby talk are babies. But if you insist on using baby talk with children, please don't talk to my daughter.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaBloPoMo

I'm so excited to be participating in BlogHer's NaBloPoMo this month! This will give me a great opportunity to get into the habit of posting more frequently, and will teach me how to get more involved in the blogging community. 

I plan on sharing a lot more about myself this month, especially sharing more of my experiences as a Navy wife. With the holidays rapidly approaching, I also have a lot of "to-do" holiday projects that I'll also be sharing. As goal of NaBloPoMo is to write every day you'll be hearing a lot more from me! It's time to get started...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Thumb Sucking Fiasco

I swear, this child has a need to suck that rivals vampires. Or the Chicago Bears. It was an epic struggle to break the pacifier habit and weaning was so difficult that she decided to take up thumb sucking. I was okay with the thumb. It was free, she couldn't lose it, and unlike a pacifier I wouldn't have to worry about the dog chewing it up. 

For two months she sucked the heck out of that thumb. It got a little red, then a little calloused. The doctor gave it the okay. And then it got infected. She sucked her thumb so much it got infected. What the heck? 

After a trip to urgent care (don't these things always seem to happen on the weekend?) her disgusting puss-filled thumb was drained and looked better almost instantly. The real question now is whether or not I try and call off the thumb-sucking thing all together and if so, how?

Lizzie isn't even a year and a half. I think that is still an appropriate age to be sucking her thumb, but she is almost violent about it. The poor thumb that wasn't infected got all the love while the infection was healing and it looks raw. Thumb sucking has been a blessing since moving her from the family bed, and I really don't want to backtrack on that amazing progress. Unfortunately going by the red, raw state of her thumbs, I'm thinking that there may be no other choice.

I've heard aloe vera is very effective. Maybe I'll try that first.

Anyone else have thumb sucking trouble? I'd love to hear how you managed to break the habit!

Related Posts:
Cold Turkey
Relapse
Weaned: Aka My Baby  Doesn't Want Me Anymore


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood Toddler Halloween Costume

Yay for sewing machines! Though it's been years and years since I've sewed anything I finally have a sewing machine again. And I'm going to use it.

As I mentioned in my DIY Big Bad Wolf Post, we are doing the Little Red Riding Hood family costume this year. While the wolf was an easy project, I was a little nervous about attempting a cape. 

It ended up being really easy! I found a great tutorial from Martha Stewart which can be used for a lot of different types of capes. My favorite part was that this whole project cost me around $2 as I had some old fabric lying around. 

Turned out pretty good, huh? I can't wait until next week to get some great family pictures as Little Red, the Wolf, and Grandma! 



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DIY Simple Big Bad Wolf Mask For Halloween


After much consideration, we've decided to do family costumes for Halloween. Normally I don't bother dressing up but we thought it would be fun to do Little Red Riding Hood while Lizzie is still too young to have a preference on costume ideas. 

Instead of spending a lot of money on a wolf costume for Andrew, I decided to make a simple mask. 

Here's my supplies: 



A plain mask, four things of faux fur, felt, elastic, a scissors, and a glue gun. 

The Head

  • If your mask doesn't have a headband, attach the elastic headband.
  • On the back side of one of the pieces of fur, use a sharpie and draw around the outline of the mask. Cut out. If the faux fur is very furry, make sure to cut slightly inside the lines or you will obscure some of the eye slits.
  • Draw a simple outline of some ears in sharpie and cut out. I used a little of the black felt and drew two little slivers to glue on top of the ears for definition.


  • Super glue the felt to the ears, then super glue the ears to the back of the mask. Though the super glue would have been enough, I also stapled the ears to the mask to be certain.
  • Super glue the fur to the mask.
  • Use a small bit of the black felt and cut out a small nose. Super glue nose to front.



  • Scare your toddler! ;)

I used the remaining pieces of fur and sewed a simple tail (which we will pin to the back) and two simple front paws. 

Andrew gets the pleasure of wearing this for Halloween while I have to be lame-o grandma. We have a plain grey shirt that will pair nicely with this. 

Overall, this whole project cost less than $10, which I of course LOVE. I'm also glad that with this South Carolina heat we can get something cute that's not bulky or hot. Now for the Red Riding Hood hood...

So scary right?