Friday, October 31, 2014

beach vacay : part one (the drive + georgia fun)

Before all the memories fade away I need to post about our beach vacation to Florida.
Our very first family vacation ever.
As in, just us.  
Without grandparents there to help.
I went into it a little nervous.  I'm a pretty selfish person when it comes to vacation.  I have it in my head that it is a time for me to relax.  Contemplate life.  Enjoy the scenery.  Re-charge.  Have romantic time with my husband.  Eat fancy food.
Not so when you have two little ones.
Totally different sort of vacation.
Well, I guess you can do all those things with babies is just more difficult.  (Unless you bring along a babysitter.  Which we didn't.)

Despite being different, we actually had a really awesome time together!
We started our journey on a Friday afternoon.   Our hope was to leave at nap time, the kids would sleep a couple hours, and that we would make it down to my friend Kristina's house in Georgia by about 9pm.
our dog travelled with us the first couple hours.  then the grandparents got him.
Well, let's just say this: minimal napping happened, a dinner stop at Chik-fil-A somehow stretched to almost two hours, and we didn't arrive at our friends' home until 1am.  

Trying to situate two kiddos in a new sleeping situation at 1am is not so fun...but it all worked out in the end.  Sleep happened for all.

Then we had a really great Saturday with our friends!  Kristina made amazing pumpkin pancakes, we walked around their sweet Southern neighborhood and played with the kiddos at a park, then the girls grabbed coffee and had a lovely time touring downtown and antiquing in the afternoon.
cormac + lincoln enjoyed a few meals at their own private table
I sort of fell in love with this painted brick wall.
I took photos of random mansions.
The night involved a babysitter putting all the kiddos to bed while the adults got a light dinner (ps -never eat a big salad before a race!!!!)  and then ran in a 5K in their sweet little town.   I was pretty nervous because I hadn't done a 5K race in years and had no idea what my time would be.  So I bounced around with all my crazy energy and psyched myself out and then ended up running much faster than I anticipated!  The course had some crazy hills but since Kristina and I had driven the course earlier I was somewhat prepared (even though I am not a good hill runner.) 
My time ended up being 22:45 (or close to that...under 23 for sure) and I got third place overall female -- I've never placed before so pretty exciting!  Yay for small town races!
about to cross the finish line - beast mode! (ps I hate running pictures of myself.  I never look cute.)

top three female finishers - a first for me!  we won fabulous travel mugs :D
the male and female top finishers.  um.  I feel old. 
top guys in their division -- my Hubby(c) and Kristina's hubby Mike (r)!!!!
enjoying some cold brew after the race.
The next morning we bid farewell to our friends and continued on our road trip.
The following pics are at a pretty rest area in Georgia.  I have an appreciation for interesting and scenic rest areas (oh, and clean ones!!!) Some rest areas are boring and horrible.  (There were a few of those on this trip.)  This one had huge area for the kids to roam, a path shaped like a snake (I guess there are a lot of snakes in GA?) with a beautiful grove of Spanish moss trees.  I kind of fell in love with these trees...and so did Finola.  She grabbed a huge glob of Spanish moss off the ground and carried it around for about twenty minutes.
It wasn't long until the kiddos (and us!) were ready to finally be at the beach.  Even a McD's stop didn't help.  We were restless!

But finally, at about 8pm we arrived in Treasure Island, tired from our journey and just happy to pick up some pizza and get settled into the condo.

Beach adventure post Monday!
+ + + + + + 

Hope everyone has an awesome Halloween night!

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 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 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" ?