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Friday, October 17, 2014

to the beach - with babies!

Today we head to the beach.  I love the beach.  Despite my northern roots (I'm a Minnesota native) I am pretty sure I was a beach bum in another life.

In any case,  I've always loved being outside in all forms possible.  My Dad made sure we hiked and camped and explored and canoed from the moment we could walk.  Most of our vacations involved sleeping in a tent or camper, and being surrounded by beautiful sights.

Sadly, all the photos from those trips are on slides at my parent's farm.  Yes, slides.  So here are a couple I have of little kiddo G, just hanging out outside, as was typical...
up north.
barefoot in a tree.  
But.  Today.  We head to the beach.  As in Florida.  A place my family did not go a lot when I was a kiddo. (our one Florida vacay happened when I was only 9 months old. *sad face*)

So I've been making up 'lost beach time' ever since Paul and I got married!
This is our first beach vacation with babies.  My in-laws recently bought a condo near St. Petersburg that they are letting us use for the week, so we will be road tripping that way, taking a tiny detour to visit my friend Kristina (see this post.)

My expectations of relaxation are low.  My expectations of the kids' loving the beach are high. Cormac seems really excited!  He has learned all about jellyfish and is convinced there will be many (and I am hoping there are not.)   Finola I'm sure will try to eat the sand and run straight into the ocean at every chance.  We shall see what happens!

If you are interested in following our adventures on Instagram, follow me as @modgardengirl.

Otherwise - beachy blog post to come!  :D

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

if we'd stopped at one...

You have one baby and it isn't long until folks start asking when you'll be having another.
I remember Cormac being six months old and thinking,  Man...we might be done.  This is tough and I cannot even imagine having two.  How in the world would I do it?

But then he turned one and it was suddenly as though I knew I could handle another.  Another sweet baby. Another adventure!  Our plan was always to have more than one, but we wanted at least 2 1/2 - 3 years apart.  I got so eager and overcome with baby-fever though that I went off birth control right after the little man's first birthday, figuring it may take some months.  Sure, it didn't take more than a month the first time...but I'd heard sometimes the second "try" can be harder.  So, ever the over-planner I decided to ditch my pill and start "natural family planning" until we were ready to conceive.  Okay, so many women are successful at this NFP thing, I know.  There are classes you can take and books you can read and it does really work.  If done properly.  My version of simply tracking and avoiding and sorta-kinda being more careful (with maybe an oops here and there) was definitely not effective, because --

I was pregnant less than two months after going off the pill.

I was shocked (though, really I shouldn't have been) and totally freaked out.   I honestly wasn't mentally prepared to be pregnant quite that quickly, and then I went through a phase where all I could think was: Whoa, maybe I will be terrible at this!  What have I done?  I need more time with just Cormac!

It took a while to be at peace with the pregnancy.  

Looking back now I realize how God's hand was in it all.  I needed to get pregnant before Cormac reached his "terrible twos" and it got much harder.  Heck, I may have decided to stop at one had we reached that phase!  But he needed a sibling so as to learn he is not the center of the universe.  I don't think all children need this...but he is one very bossy and ego-centric kid and I am watching him learn and grow and struggle to become the teacher + sharer + "kind boss" that I think it would have been hard to evolve into without a kid sister forcing him to.

And I needed a girl.  Though I thought I was a "boy mama" and was convinced the second child would be another boy throughout most of my pregnancy...God gave me a huge surprise when out popped a girl.  I was instantly in love.  I was instantly a "girl mama," too.  It has been the most natural and lovely experience having a girl.  

If we'd stopped at one 
I'd still have this face to look at all day...
 ...and yes, it is an awfully sweet face to look at.  My boy with the kissable cheeks and the eyes that twinkle both sweetly and devilishly when it suits them.  
 But, if we'd stopped at one I'd have missed out on this face...
 ...and that just wouldn't do at all.

She's got spunk that doesn't quit.  Her tantrums, while very seldom, put Cormac's loudest fits to shame.  She is adamant and feisty and I know I am in for some big trouble when she starts talking...and pretty much all throughout her adolescence.

She is also chill and sweet and silly and has a giggle that will melt your heart.  







Yeah, there are days when I feel pulled in two directions all day long.  Days when I feel like I am not giving either of them enough individually - enough love, attention, teaching, supervision, 'special time.'   Days when I reminisce about just how much easier it was with only one.

But then I see them hug each other, hear him apologize to her (without being prompted) and see the absolute joy on her face when she looks at him...because despite all the bickering they adore each other at the core.

So, I am glad we didn't stop at one.

The bigger question, which I get often now, is: "Are you done?

I haven't felt a strong pull to have a third yet, and am starting to think I never will...so we'll see what God has in store.  I was a third child, after all.

I mean, what if my parents had stopped at two?

They'd have missed out on this face...
I like the hands folded angelically.
Ha ha.  I think back on my family of four kiddos and while it was super fun at many times to have a bunch of siblings around, especially at family gatherings...it was also pretty chaotic!

I don't do super well with chaos...nor do I think my third child would be any different than my first two, in terms of energy level and spirit.   So I think "chaos" would be a given.

Could I handle the chaos of three kids?  Yes.  Could I handle it well?  Probably not - and my position as "third-born" may contribute to my longing to have just two kiddos that I can focus on.

Anyway, I love the topic of birth order and hearing what thought-process mamas go through when deciding to be "done" or have more sweet babies.

If you are a mama (or dad!) how did/do you go about making this huge decision?   

Friday, October 3, 2014

design rule to break : separating kid + adult spaces

If you have a smaller home without a bonus room to fully dedicate to toys/kiddos stuff you may be tempted to sacrifice one of your "adult rooms" (dining room, main floor guest room, office) to make way for a convenient "play room." 

Parents want a room near their kitchen to spend time in (talk to other adults, get stuff done) while the kids play.  A room that houses an unspeakable amount of toys, that perhaps does not have to be fully cleaned up.  Ever.  It tends to be an "all or nothing" situation.  Explosion of toys or fancy adult room.

I have to challenge this.  Do we really need to completely eliminate a main adult space to make a giant space for kid play?
Through creative design can we make our living rooms do double duty - in a stylish way?

Can a living room be adult chic and kid-friendly?

Yes to all of this!

The modern furniture store Modani Modern Furniture is currently featuring 'design rules to break' -- and this is mine: You don't need to separate you adult spaces + kid spaces.  Make one space do both! 

A living room can be a fun, modern, playful, yet chic spot for everyone. One that still reflects your adult decor style while housing a copious amount of toys. (Well, maybe not. You might be over-run by toys.  It happens.  Perhaps consider keeping the majority of toys in their bedroom...or if you truly feel you need an entire room - besides their bedroom - to house toys...consider a purge!  Donate, have a yard sale, or sort everything into bins and keep some bins in storage, rotating them on occasion to keep things interesting for your little ones.)


We are currently working on making our back living room a double-duty, kid-friendly space.  This post shows how far we've come in the dream home with transforming it.  We still aren't using the room fully as we need to over-haul the built-in cabinet so that it can house the TV and become our main family space...but, it is close. 
The kids already have a TON of fun playing here.  They go crazy wrestling/throwing pillows on the sectional. They love the soft rug to tumble on, and of course have various bins of toys that get strewn everywhere most days.  That is just life when you stay at home with two kids.

I love that my little ones adore the room already -- it is bright and cheerful and I want to keep it colorful and fun!  However, I also want it to be stylish and reflect my decor style/personality.  

Here are some of my picks from Modani for combining the current black + white trend (which I adore, clearly!) with playful pops of color that work in a playroom...while also mixing curves and straight lines.  You know, for all you artful types that notice stuff like that.

paris print // bright pillow // LOVE pillows // coffee table
I think any of these could work in our space, and prove that even if you love sleek and chic you can still have a kid-friendly vibe.

Here is what needs to happen (and some things we've already done) to accomplish this in our living room: 
  • Toy storage . That will be in this built-in cabinet that will be re-done to house the TV + toys/games.  I think to quickly convert the space to adult-chic you need to be able to quickly stash all the kiddo stuff away out of view!   
  • A play tent - I really want a fun play tent for the kids...that can house (hide!) more toys and/or be taken down easily if needed.  I love this striped one!
  • A play mat (again, can be easily put away) for extra "tumbling" space.  If your space is carpeted this is not as crucial, but we have hardwoods throughout our home, so I am always on the hunt for fun + reasonably-priced rugs.
  • Lots of fun pillows!  Kids loooove to throw pillows and build forts in living rooms.  (Or at least mine do.)  So just mentally prepare yourself for this and buy pillows you are okay with getting thrown everywhere.  I am going with black + white right alongside bright teal + chartreuse solids and prints.  I like the bright color and playfulness of these as well:

  • Bold artwork.  I need to fill that blank wall so I plan combining more black and white photography with pops of color and some large letters in a mix of materials.  It is interesting how observant kids are about photos and art.  It really does matter what you put up - they will ask questions and be influenced by it all!  Make it fun!
  • A coffee table for family games (and adult game nights, too.)  The plan is to make one our of reclaimed barn wood from the farm I grew up on...but this one is pretty cute and only $99 right now.  I love the glam + fun legs on this!
  • A sectional for maximum seating - and playing!  We definitely considered "kid-friendliness" when furniture shopping for this space.  Pushing that ottoman up next to the chaise creates a large "bed" for family snuggling during movie nights...or just a large area for the kiddos to wrestle!  If you are creating a kid-friendly space in your living room I suggest maximizing seating with a sectional!!!  Then during adult entertaining the ottoman can be moved for an extra seat in the arrangement.  We got our couch at Macy's Home after scouring every furniture store in the Cincinnati area.  Make sure when you go looking you have exact measurements of your space and take into consideration floor registers and whether or not you want room for end tables.
    yeah...this happens a lot.
    the look of a kid who adores whacking + burying his sister with pillows...boy bliss!
Do you have a room that does double duty as a kiddo 'play room'?  What are some ways you keep your home both "kid-friendly" and "adult chic" ?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

a simple + cozy porch makeover

When we moved into the 'dream home' I knew that making the outside a useable, inviting space would take a while -- mainly because we had soooo much to do on the inside (catch up here.)

Two years later we still done much to the outside.  A complete overhaul of the backyard is now slated to begin in the spring. 

However, the one area we have done a little something to is our little side porch.  Not a lot, but definitely have transformed it from the dull space it was to a bright and cozy spot to drink a glass of wine and read a book.

Here are some views of the little porch when we first bought the place...

Not exactly a space where I'd like to hang out with my loved ones and enjoy a nice summer evening.  (I especially like the old sink and random plywood just hanging out.)

Thankfully, Hubby and I were able to envision this porch (former entrance to the second unit) as a lovely asset to our home -- someday.   Since we don't have a cool rooftop deck or a big wrap around porch like many homes in our historic neighborhood, we really have to take advantage of the space we do have -- this porch, the little deck above it (Finola's little 'Juliet' balcony!) and our decently sized backyard.

In July, for my birthday, Hubby purchased two lovely white porch rockers and a porch swing.

Even before adding some cozy accessories these additions made me very happy.  My two tiny ones love to sit out there with me during the day.  Sometimes we will all get on the porch swing and rock and I swear they are silent and content for at least three solid minutes.

After we got the rockers/swing I knew it was time to add some personality and coziness if we were to entertain out there...so I tossed on some of my current favorite pillows, a striped throw, and added a little metal table for the aforementioned wine (or beer! or coffee!)

The 'Happy Home' pillow is from Tinyprints.  I didn't even know they sold really cute pillows until I was scouring their website something altogether different.  I fell in love with this one because I could basically put it in any room in our home and like it - the bold typography in black and white...these elements are found in every room in our home.  I personalized the pillow with the year we moved into the 'dream home' which make me love it even more.

The geometric print black and white pillow and striped throw are from Ikea (which, again, I could put in any room in our home and get warm fuzzies from) as well as the round metal table and galvanized pot.  The furniture is from Lowe's.  The rug and teal pillow are from Target.
 I added a few cloth blooms that matched my color scheme to a plain twig wreath to add a little something to the door.  (Pre-made wreaths are expensive! Much better to do it yourself...pretty easy and a fraction of the price!)


BEFORE + AFTER
Clearly there is a lot you can do to any space by painting and adding minimalist yet lovely furniture...and a few styling details to make it personal, of course!   
Linking this post up at...Whipperberry
and Liz Marie Blog and Stephanie Lynn!
By Stephanie Lynn


+ + + + + +

Fall is here! 

The temp finally dipped to the sixties and it feels so crisp + refreshing outside.

I am excited for wine on the porch, fire in the chiminea, kiddos jumping into mountains of crunchy leaves, and sweaters.  Oh, the sweaters!

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Monday, September 15, 2014

a little bachelorette party

Now that I am in my thirties fun events such as bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and weddings even are much more few+far between.  Therefore, I now cherish each event so much more than I ever did in my twenties.

This past weekend I had the honor of hosting a little bachelorette party / girls night out soiree for my dear friend Rebecca, who is marrying the love of her life next month.  Yay!

While I knew plainly that phallic symbols would be out for the night (thirty-something bachelorette parties need to be a bit more classy, right?) I still did my best to make it simple + sassy + fun for all.

We had a signature drink (essentially a champagne cosmo.)
The girls all brought sweet little gifts to fill up a 'Bridal Swag Bag' (and got mini bags of their own.)
please ignore the giant power saw in the background.

 Then we took some fun mug shot photos before our cabs to head to dinner arrived.  Don't we look so very criminal?

Next we we headed to a trendy area of Cincy for a sushi dinner, and then some more drinking and dancing afterward (aka 'subsequent shenanigans.')
These ladies are so warm and sweet and definitely showered our Bex with a lot of love + laughter that night.
There were some very funny moments (mostly involving our super fun Bride-to-Be)...and some not so funny (um, my wallet got stolen right out of my purse while on my arm, engrossed in dancing to eighties music.)

Despite that icky fiasco - overall everyone had a pretty great time celebrating this lady:

Rebecca, I love how much you have grown and evolved in the years I have known you.  You are a sweet and positive light to many!  Yet, you remain your hilarious, outlandish and 'real' self...thank goodness.  

So thank you, my gym 'warrior' friend for letting my throw you a par-tay...it was a grand time and I love you!  Less than one month til wedded bliss!