Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bittersweet Season

I have such a love/hate relationship with fall. I love pumpkin spice and the colors and the coziness of it all as much as the next guy. I even like getting to wear jeans and sweatshirts (for a few weeks anyway. Then I'm over it.) But I hate what it precedes. So its just a constant reminder that pool days and warm sun on my bare skin are over and the dreaded "W" word is coming soon. Ugh. I shiver just thinking about it.
But let's enjoy the moment, shall we? This weather is fantastic (although you need three outfit changes for one day). And all the apple orchards and pumpkin patches are so much fun. I've only been to a few different ones but Center Grove Orchard is definitely a favorite and well worth the 30 minute drive. We went there yesterday on a playdate. Sadly, this was the first big playdate we did without Bennett, who was in school :(  We'll definitely have to make another trip with him.
The Hay Maze (everything here is geared for young kids). He actually got lost in there the second time he went in alone and was getting quite distraught! Thankfully it was much easier to find him in here than in the cornfield he got lost in a couple weeks ago next to a park we were at with my mother-in-law. True story. So not cool. (It was only 10 minutes at the most. Thankfully no emergency services were contacted!)
 Such a beautiful place to take pictures. I've always had a huge thing for barns:
 The jumping pillow:
This isn't in focus but I just loved the look on his face. Pretending to not want his picture taken :)
 His profile just cracks me up. Chubby cheeks and his tiny nose and chin poking out:
A promised donut helped me get this shot:
 My lil punkin:
I don't know what it is about pumpkin patches that make the best picture spots. Had to share my favorite picture ever of baby Bennett and Piper:
I took a chance going on the playdate since Channing still requires two long naps a day. But I let him take about an hour morning nap before we left. He got pretty fussy after lunch in the stroller and he finally fell asleep in the sling. Not an easy feat to push the stroller around while carrying him but I promised Dawson I'd take him on the big slide before we left. Plus I knew Channing wouldn't stay asleep if I put him in the car to leave so I figured I'd just stay til he woke up on his own in the sling. Really wished I had an Ergo carrier for him! I've heard such great stuff about it and I've been carrying him way more than the other two. I have a baby Bjorn but he's so big in there now his head is hitting my chin. Not to mention there's no way he could sleep in it. Plus, I don't find those as comfortable as this (snapped with my phone):
We're taking a big family trip to Florida next week so he'll be in there a lot. Anyone have an Ergo I could borrow for a week???
I didn't know if Dawson would be ok on here by himself since he does get nervous up high but he did fine and went down four times!
 Getting tired:
 We picked an apple off a tree before we left, for the ride home (shhhh...don't tell):

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Home Improvement

I've been dying to change the light fixture in our dining room since we moved in. There was certainly nothing wrong with it, but it was just very average, lacking any sort of charm or style. My mom got a linen drum shade pendant in their last house for $100 so I was thinking eventually we'd just shell out the cash for the same one. Here's the before (the only picture I could find without spending a ton of time digging clicking through old photos, decorated for Bennett's 4th birthday):
When we went to Memphis for labor day weekend I got to go to the Pottery Barn/West Elm outlet and found this beauty for $50! (Just the shade. We bought the pendant kit separately.)  I had some cash to spend from my wedding hair gig and this was definitely worth the splurge (not that a $50 light fixture is a splurge but spending $50 of my own spending money on anything feels like a splurge!):
My hubby had it installed like, 5 minutes after we got home. He's a go-getter like no one else. Actually, exactly like someone else: his mom. I hope our boys all take after him in that department! (Ok, slight exaggeration. I think he had it hanging the very next day).
I absolutely love the look of it but think my whole house is way too simple and majorly lacking panache. I love choosing paint color and furniture but am terrible at accessorizing. I've had my eye on this pendant for a long time. What do you think? Should I take the risk and try to paint it??? Any opinions/advice is appreciated!
Majorly lacking some accessorizing but I'm happy with the "base":
I should clarify that I'm the type of person who likes to wait and find stuff I really love and want to live with for a  l o n g  time. Or forever. I'm not at all a rearranger. I'd rather a space sit empty than fill it with stuff that's just good and not great. The bad thing is that I don't get to spend money on the house that often so I usually wait til my birthday or Christmas if there's something I really want. My husband has this silly thing with only spending money on stuff that retains its value or is a true investment that we could potentially resell down the road. Psshh. That's no fun. (I kid. I'm so grateful to have a hubby who's so wise with our money!)

I finally got the boys bathroom decorated too! I always wanted to wait to decorate it until we'd had all our kids so I'd know if it needed to be gender neutral or just for boys. Boys it is.  
I debated getting three different color towels and designating one for each boy but the chances of finding 3 colors that matched the curtain perfectly seemed very slim. Initials work just as well and it'll be easier to just have all white towels in there.
All I did was find a font I liked on the computer, printed out one letter on a page in giant size font, cut it out, traced it onto the wall in pencil and painted it in by hand. Originally I was thinking of ordering a wall decal from Uppercase Living or something like that but realized it would probably be really expensive and I knew I could hand paint it (I'm cursed with crazy meticulousness. I say cursed because I can't do anything fast. I always joke if you want a job done fast, don't ask me. But if you want it done perfectly, I'm your gal ;) Oh, and I got a sample size paint from Home Depot, custom matched to the soap and toothbrush holders for only $2.48!
This shower curtain is from Land of Nod, the cutest kids store ever. I'd had my eye on it but it was expensive so I just asked for it as one of my Christmas gifts last year. (You know you're a mom when...)
Again, I wanted one that I loved and that could grow with the boys since I'm not ever redecorating it! :)
My sister, Claire, came over about 3 different times this past summer and helped me do all the painting! I would call her and say, "wanna come help me paint?" So we'd work together for like 5 minutes and then Channing would start crying and she'd be on her own :) Man, it was wonderful to have her help. We just made our own stencil for the waves and measured up from the floor and used a level. Relatively simple. I'm so happy with how it all turned out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Party Fit for a King (Kong)

Dawson turned three on Friday! I'm so in love with each of my boys for different reasons. It's becoming increasingly clear why God has placed this little individual in our family. He sees the world so differently than his brother, Bennett, and I love his point-of-view.
taken with Instagram:
Bennett and I decorated Dawson's door that morning while he was still sleeping (this boy sleeps late!). Bennett went in first and said, "Look, Dawson! We decorated your door!" And I heard Dawson in such a sweet, excited voice say, "Sanks, Bennett!" Its the saddest thing ever when your kids grow out of all their little speech impediments. 

Starting the day off right with a donut (I didn't start the cereal tradition with Bennett until he was four so we'll do it next year with Dawson. I wanted to make sure they were old enough to understand its a privilege, not a given!):
We ended his actual birthday with a family trip to (where else?) McDonald's playplace. Its actually kind of relaxing there which is all you can really ask for when you're dining out with three kids (relaxing environment takes priority over food quality these days. Chick-fil-A offers the best of both worlds but it's so dang far away from our house.)

And on to the party!! (Sorry, this is going to be a super long post. Come back when your kids are sleeping.)
I debated back and forth on the theme for Dawson's party. I convinced him to just have a Cars party since it would be easy. I even started buying stuff for it. But frankly, I just couldn't get past the thought that he's not really obsessed with Cars. I want my kids parties to be whatever they're obsessed with at the moment and something that feels a little more homemade (but on a very small budget). Dawson's been obsessed with King Kong forever. Ok, yes, it was going to take way more creativity and effort to pull it off but I seriously felt bad doing something just because it was easier for me so I returned all the Cars stuff and told my mother-in-law/party-planning-associate that somehow we needed to make a King Kong party happen.** His love affair started one Sunday afternoon last winter sometime when the 1976 film version was on TV. Jon watched most of it with the boys that day and Dawson was devastated when we had to turn it off. So the next day Jon got out the new version that we happened to own and showed him a select few scenes. That was it. Dawson fell head over heels in love with the giant ape and has been ever since. For several months he asked to watch "the T-Reck part" every day. It was like his drug. He'd be in a horrible mood, screaming and crying all day and then sit perfectly quiet watching parts of that movie. (He's since mellowed out a little)
The invitations--we just used an image we found online and personalized it a bit, printed it in color on cardstock and pasted it on a notecard. (I already had a giant box of plain cards and envelopes in cool colors from Target). We designed them together and Judie printed them up for me:

 Hard to see but Jon drew "King Kong prints" up the sidewalk:

My sister, Claire, and her boyfriend, Michael, couldn't come to the party but they came that afternoon for a few hours and helped a ton. Claire made the entire skyline backdrop for me:
Judie bought these New York City blocks as part of Dawson's gift and we used them to decorate the cake:
The treat bags-- It was a little tricky to find stuff to fit with the theme but they turned out ok.Wish I could have found a little gorilla to stick in there. The airplane kit was such a lucky find after wandering through Target for an hour!:
 Oh boy...the party hasn't started and he's tired already:
"Jungle Juice" labels made by Judie, with a screen print of a scene from the movie:
The spread. I really wanted a full dinner but wanted to keep it really simple so I decided on an appetizer sort of meal. I stocked up on good stuff from Trader Joe's. Fresh fruit, veggies, bagel chips with TJ's Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt dip (it was delicious), TJ's Mac & Cheese bites (I needed a party as an excuse to buy these. Worth every calorie laden bite), peanut butter and banana pita pockets for the kids, monkey tails made by Judie and meatballs with a mixture of TJ's General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce, barbecue sauce and a little honey. It was all so delicious and the best part, quick and easy, besides chopping up the fruits and veggies.
 On the monkey bars after dinner. Where's the birthday boy?
 Its my party and I'll pout if I want to:
 There he is, back in action:
I just love this picture:
Judie printed pictures of jungle animals and the kids played charades. It was a nice and quick game that the two year olds and seven year olds had fun with:
Dawson's turn. Or not...
And of course, my go-to party activity--storytime. This book was appropriately called, Gorilla, and was about a little girl who wanted a gorilla for her birthday. It was perfect:
 Judie made these fun masks for the kids:
 Not too much of a stretch for these monkeys:
When I handed Dawson his first present to open he looked at me and said with disbelief, "is it mine?" It was so sweet. And after presents (and promptly putting on his new "Super Dawson" costume), it was time for cake:
It was such a fun party for this wild man. So sad my parents couldn't be there for it. I think three is the best birthday party age. They finally understand it all but are still so little and adorable!
**Let me just clarify that I absolutely do not AT ALL think you're less of a mom if you choose to do commercial character parties for your kids. I believe we all need some sort of outlet for our creativity and talents as mothers. Being a stay at home mom is a draining job with very little instant gratification or praise. Planning parties for me is a huge creative outlet and something that I find fun (that and blogging!). Plus my mother-in-law loves it too so its something fun for us to do together. My husband thinks they're kinda pointless and not at all worth the hard work but he loves me enough to accept the fact that its important to me and so he helps me a ton with the setup. And I love him all the more for that.