Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baby Animals

This last Saturday we took the boys to Hee Haw Farms here in American Fork. We go every fall, but I got an email earlier this month stating that they would be open for a short period of time in April so everyone could see the baby animals. Now I'm not a huge pet person, but I'm an absolute sucker for tiny little farm animals. So away we went!

It was a bit chilly and it rained on and off, but we had a really great time! I think Taylor's favorite part was going down the big slide with Daddy. They went down it about a zillion times while we were there.

Here's a super cool picture Sean took of Tay going down the tube slide. Want to blow the picture up and frame it; I think it's so awesome!

They have a big pen you can go in and walk around to see the baby animals. They were so cute! Here's Tay feeding a baby goat.

Mommy, Taylor, and Oliver with a baby cow. She was so calm!

Taylor held a baby goat all by himself, but it was a little too heavy for him.

Then Mommy took over and fell in love. I want a goat!

Sean and I took turns going on the tractor ride with Tay. Taylor is now too big to ride on Daddy's lap, so they had to take separate animals.

This is what the chub-a-lub thought of everything. He wasn't too happy with the cold weather, and then he got bored and fell asleep in the stroller. Don't you just want to pinch those cheeks!

They've got a bunch of animal cut-outs that the kids can put their faces through, and Taylor wanted to do all of them.

We had so much fun, and I can't wait to go back this fall to pick out our pumpkins!

Easter 2011

Easter this year was so much fun! It's really exciting to get things for two little boys; it really makes me feel like our family is complete.

Here are their baskets.

Taylor got squirt guns, his very own green bell pepper plant kit, stickers, a kite, a bucket and shovel, army guys, and some other small miscellaneous goodies. He also got a cute outfit and new sandals for the summer.

Oliver got a stuffed lamb (that he absolutely ADORES), a blanket, cereal, teething toys, a rubber ducky, and his very own plant (that Mommy will take care of for him). He also got a new little romper and sandals.

How cute are these boys?

All Oliver wanted to do was eat his shoes.

I just love doing fun stuff like this for my kiddos. I hope you all had a great Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

This is my breakfast every morning. Doesn't look very appetizing, does it? It's actually really good though! It's also super nutritious. Here's how I make it.

Blend the following together:
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups frozen fruit (I really like Costco's Festival Blend)
- 2 big handfuls of bagged spinach (trust me, you'll never taste it)
- 1 sliced banana
- 1-2 cups orange juice - enough to blend the mixture thoroughly
- 2-3 tablespoons agave nectar (tastes similar to honey, but not as messy. Also it's vegan.)

I usually blend everything on a lower setting until it's combined, then I switch to the "liquify" setting for about a minute to make sure it's really well blended.

Taylor and I share one of these smoothies every day. It's super yummy and I'm glad that we both get a big dose of vitamins first thing in the morning.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Being a mom is hard...

...but I sure love being at home with these two cuties every day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Apartment Makeover

Sean and I spent a good portion of the beginning of the year house-hunting. We felt like it was a good time to buy, and it felt like we were just bursting at the seams in our current apartment. Sean felt claustrophobic with our living space, and I hated the lack of counter space I had in the kitchen. All of our storage spaces were completely packed with boxes and we had no room to grow.

As we started looking at houses we quickly realized that our budget (which we thought was pretty good) could only buy us homes that needed major work. One home we looked at was great but needed the roof completely torn off and replaced; another one we just absolutely loved but the entire yard needed to be dug up and re-sodded. In a nutshell all the houses that we could afford were money pits. We spent countless nights stressing about mortgages and house maintenance and when on earth we would be able to take our family on a vacation if we were completely house-poor. We went back and forth about all different scenarios and finally had a very serious conversation about what we really wanted for us and our family. When it really came down to it, we realized we don't care all that much about owning our own house. What we really want is freedom from debt and the ability to take our kids on vacations every year. We want to have money to buy clothes and get haircuts when we need them; we want to be able to replace our car's tires or windshield when needed without worrying about where we'll get the money to do it. We finally made the decision to stay put; our apartment is great and has plenty of space, we just didn't feel like we were using it very well.

The first thing I did was go through everything we had in storage and in our closets and do a major purge of things we don't need or use anymore. I think we probably took about five or six carloads to Savers to donate and with each load we took I felt better and better. We also decided to start with a clean slate in our living/dining/kitchen space. We sold all of our living room furniture and sat down on Ikea's website to decide what would best work in our space. We decided on a grey, orange, and green color scheme (sounds weird, but it definitely worked). Sean built a 3D model of our apartment in Google Sketch-up so we could see how everything fit, and when we were happy with the layout we sat down and made a shopping list. We decided we'd take most of the money we got back from taxes this year and rather than putting it toward a down payment on a house we'd spruce up our current place.

It took us about two to three weeks to completely finish our makeover, but we're so happy with the results and feel like we could stay here for at least a few more years. As someone with a degree in Interior Design it sure feels great to put my skills to the test in my own home. Here are some pictures of all the things we did.

Since we sold all of our living room furniture, the first thing we needed to do is decide on a sofa to buy. We went with a Karlstad sectional in Sivik Dark Grey from Ikea. We absolutely LOVE this sofa! It gave us a lot more seating, it's big enough that even Sean can stretch out on it with room to spare, and every inch of fabric is removable and machine washable. We also bought a Karlstad ottoman, but didn't want it to match perfectly with the sofa so we got a green cover for it. I love how the two pieces go together.

We couldn't find any pillows at Ikea that we really liked for the sofa, so we wandered over to their fabric department and found the perfect fabric. I bought a couple of yards of two different patterns and some pillow forms and made the pillows myself. It was a bit more time consuming but I love the way they turned out.

My mom bought us some storage bins that fit perfectly underneath the sofa. Half of them are for Taylor's toys and make living room clean-up super quick. The other half are for Oliver's toys, diapers and wipes, and other baby essentials. Even my Boppy pillow fits under the sofa!

I decided to go bold with the drapes and bought a set of bright orange panels to go with our color scheme. I repainted our existing drapery rod and brackets in a medium grey, and I love how the two colors go together.

I placed one of our existing side tables next to the sofa with one of my favorite vases, a framed picture of Taylor, and a plant my aunt gave me after Oliver was born. When she gave it to me it was in a little ceramic baby bootie - cute, but not really the style I was going for. So I transplanted it into a vintage Pyrex beaker I found at a thrift store. Love it!

On the opposite wall from the sofa we centered our TV stand and hung a matching floating shelf above the television. This was Sean's splurge - he got a 50-inch Panasonic 1080p plasma TV. He was (and still is) in absolute geek heaven. On either side of the entertainment center we put a super stylish floor lamp. I wasn't sure how they'd look in the space, but I absolutely love them. I also like that they're height-adjustable.

On the floating shelf above the TV I put a 1960s globe I found at a cute consignment shop (that I just happened to work at a few years ago when I was in college). Next to the globe I put a framed photo that I took at Liberty Park in SLC, a green pillar candle on a stand I made from an old candlestick and plate, and an orange frame of Sean and I in high school.

I can't believe we were this young!

On the wall adjacent to the kitchen we hung a framed poster we found at Ikea. I love the graphic numbers, and the greens go perfectly with the color scheme. Next to the poster I put a floor clock we've had in our bathroom. I love it in this space; it's another consignment store find I bought a few years ago.

One of the biggest complaints I've had with our kitchen (and most kitchens we've had in our past apartments) is the lack of counter space. It's hard to cook much of anything when you've only got two little 3x3-foot areas of counter to work on. Our solution was to get a freestanding kitchen island that would fit perfectly next to our stove. It would give me about five feet of counter space and also give us a lot more storage. We bought a larger countertop than the one made to fit the island so that it would protrude into the living room about 16 inches, creating a bar area. Sean cut a notch in the countertop so it would wrap perfectly around the wall separating the kitchen from the living room, and it turned out even better than we thought it would!

It's great to have all that counter space, and paired with a couple of Asian-style barstools from Walmart it looks fantastic. It's also nice to have another place to eat if the dining table is covered with other things.

We needed some storage for our camera, computer cords, iPods, and other things we need on hand at the bar, and we found this cool metal breadbox at Target in the clearance section that worked just perfect.

We decided we needed some extra lighting over the bar, but obviously we can't hard-wire anything in the ceiling because we're renting. We bought a Basisk track light from Ikea and a flat extension cord and switch from Home Depot, and my genius husband was able to convert the light fixture to be able to plug in to the wall. We ran the cord along the ceiling and down the wall in the kitchen, attaching it with removable double-stick Command strips and cord tacks.

He was able to attach the switch along the cord so it was even with the other light switches in the kitchen. It makes it so simple to turn the light on and off, and everything is removable when we move!

I bought this dining table last year at a yard sale. It was a natural pine color and was stained and marred pretty badly. I sanded it down and painted it with a black lacquer-based spray paint. It turned out pretty good, but it's already chipping in some places, so I may have to re-finish it at some point in the next couple of years. We bought the chairs on Walmart's website and I love the style of them. They match the table perfectly and are really comfortable. Above the table I hung my oversized wall clock I've had for years (another consignment store find).

On the table I put a large black vase I bought a few years ago at Tai Pan Trading, a glass hurricane glass filled with limes, and a metal bird figurine I found at a thrift store and spray painted grey.

To add more storage to our kitchen we hung shelves above the dishwasher and sink. The one above the sink holds all our glasses and cups so that we've got more room in the cupboards for food.

The shelves above the dishwasher hold four decorative boxes full of office supplies and all most miscellaneous things you have in your kitchen (batteries, flashlights, sticky notes, etc.).

It's been so much fun to work together with Sean to create a space that we're really proud of and love spending time in. Everything we've had in our living and dining rooms have been hand-me-down pieces that weren't really our style, so it's been really exciting to pick out things that we love. I feel like our home reflects us so much more now, and I can definitely picture us staying here for at least a few more years now. Plus we'll be saving a ton of money every month that would have gone to a mortgage payment, and we'll get our debt paid off much faster now.

I've learned so much these past couple of months about how to live in a small space and still be comfortable: purge unused and unwanted items, come up with creative ideas to use every square inch of space, and pick out pieces that fit the space well and reflect your personal style. Simple!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No more living things.

I absolutely adore this little boy. He says the craziest things most of the time, but then there are those little moments when he says something so profound that it amazes me.

As some of you know, I've been trying for years now to switch to a vegetarian diet. I think it's a healthier and more compassionate way to live, and it's something I've been struggling to reach. There are several reasons why it's hard to eliminate meat from your diet, especially when you have little ones and there are just those nights when you don't want to cook and the only fast food available (in my mind, at least) is burgers or chicken.

Well the other day Tay and I were watching a cooking show. They were making chicken and dumplings and were showing the proper way to carve a chicken. Something clicked inside Taylor's little almost-four-year-old brain and he realized that the chicken he eats is made from real chickens. He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, "Mommy, they're eating a living thing!" I told him yes, that they were cooking a chicken. He looked really confused and hurt and then started to cry. "I don't want to eat living things anymore," he said as tears rolled down his face. In that moment I decided that it's finally time. It's time that I stop making up excuses and taking the easy road when I know what I want for me and my family.

Yesterday I went over all my favorite recipes and realized that I can still make most of them with meatless alternatives, and I packed the boys in the car and headed for Sunflower Market. Taylor was so excited to see that we could get "chicken nuggets" that aren't made of chicken, and he loved them even more than regular chicken nuggets! Last night I got out my baked chimichangas recipe (a favorite in our house) and made it using veggie crumbles instead of ground turkey. It tasted the same and I felt good knowing I'm finally on my way to converting my home to a vegetarian lifestyle.

I'm so grateful that my little boy helped me finally make the leap, and I know we'll all be happier and healthier because he has so much compassion in his little heart for all living things.

Four Months

As of this last Sunday my chubber is officially four months old. He has grown so much this past month and is doing a lot of new tricks.

His four month appointment was yesterday afternoon and BOY this baby doesn't like his doctor. He started screaming as soon as the nurse put the thermometer in his ear. I finally got him calmed down but then he started screaming again when the doctor put his stethoscope against his chest. He screamed the rest of the exam, then finally calmed down just in time to get two shots. Needless to say, it was quite an eventful experience.

Here are his stats this month -
Weight: 15 lbs, 15 oz. (72nd %tile)
Length: 26.25 inches (90th %tile)
Head: 16.6 inches (48th %tile)

His growth has slowed a bit in the weight department, but he's still pretty chunky and the doctor said he's growing well and has no concerns about his health. He also gave us the go-ahead to start him on rice cereal. Woo!

Here are some more little tidbits about Oliver.

A couple of weeks ago he rolled over from his tummy to his back for the first time. He's really getting the hang of it now and will roll over whenever he has the opportunity because he hates being on his stomach.

We pulled out the jumper this month and I was surprised how much he loved it. The first time we put him in it he laughed hysterically for almost ten minutes straight. He's good at turning himself around to see all the toys, but hasn't got the hang of actually jumping in it yet.

He slept seven hours straight a few months ago - technically the first time he's slept through the night. I'm pretty sure it was just a fluke though as he's up every few hours most nights. We're still co-sleeping and I'm a huge fan. I feel like both baby and I get more sleep, and it's definitely worth sharing my bed with a squirmy little munchkin.

Oliver loves his baths. He gets so excited when I put him in the water and starts kicking like crazy. He's also a big fan of stealing my washcloth and sucking on it. The only time he really freaks out is when I'm washing his hair. He's a lot like his big brother that way.

Ollie's fine motor skills have really developed this month and he's now batting at objects, holding toys, and bringing them to his mouth. I have to be careful if I'm drinking something while holding him because he'll grab the rim of my cup and pull it toward him, resulting in Mommy getting very wet.

Taylor and Oliver are huge fans of one another. Oliver spends a lot of his day just watching his big brother and laughing at his shenanigans. I especially love when we're driving in the car and Taylor makes the baby laugh if he's getting fussy. It sure pays off to have a little person in the back seat to keep the baby entertained.

He's developing a more regular nap schedule, which has been nice. I like knowing about what time he'll go down and when he'll wake up. It's been harder to plan my day around his nap times though. Guess I better get used to it!

He thinks hair is hilarious. Sean or I will hold him and rub our hair on his chest and he'll grab little fistfuls of hair and laugh hysterically. It's fun until we can't get him to let go.

It's so fun watching Oliver grow. I love my boys and I'm so glad I get to be home with them every day. I wouldn't want to do anything else.