Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Outsmarting the toddler

Toddlers are stubborn little things sometimes. My days usually consist of trying to stop tantrums in their tracks now. Which basically means tricking him into thinking he's helping or doing things his way.

Some of the ways I've outsmarted him this week include: 

He kept wanting Josh's chips at lunch. But I realized when I actually tried to give him one, not in the bag, he had no interest. So, clearly the allure was eating out of a bag. I took his sandwich that he wouldn't touch and tore it into pieces. I put it in the bag and gave it to him. He was then excited to eat his sandwich. 

His new thing when getting to the car has been to try to run off while I'm carrying Emma or trying to put her carseat in. I started telling him her carseat was soo heavy and asked him to help me carry it. He loves being a big brother so this worked perfectly. He now holds onto the carrier all the way to the car and waits at the door to make sure she's clicked in all the way. No more chasing him or yelling for him to stop. 

I rarely go to Starbucks, but when I do, Ethan always wants my drink. Pretty much anything we're drinking, he wants really. So, I started asking for a cup of water with ice from them and I tell him it's his special drink. He's happy to have a grown up drink and he doesn't get mad that I won't share my coffee. 

Anytime he starts to get fussy while shopping now, I ask him to help. He loves to feel like he's doing something to help out. I'll ask him to help me find things from the cart sometimes. Other times, I let him get out and get items off the shelf and put them in the cart. He loves that best since then he can also help push the cart. Sure, grocery shopping takes a little more time, but there's no tantrums so it's more enjoyable. 

He's gotten a bit more picky with eating. Some days he'll eat great, other days not so much. I've found he eats things that he helped pick out at the store better than things I just throw in without him seeing. I let him grab the apples and bananas and give him a choice between other items.

I also let him help make the food when I can. I'll set him up on the counter and have him sprinkle cheese in or I'll give him the measuring cup of spices to toss in. He loves eating veggies right as I'm cutting them up now. He'll stand there waiting to get some freshly diced peppers or tomatoes. 

Anyone else have tips for how to outsmart their toddler? I'm sure I'll need more ideas since this kid keeps me on my toes. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Latt Hack

Ethan's big Christmas present from us is going to be a table and chairs. I was checking Amazon and most were $100+. Then I remembered seeing a set at Ikea last time we were there so we made a trip out. We picked up the popular Latt table. Only problem, it's pretty boring on it's own. But for only $20, I figured we could make it more fun.

Before: simple, but plain table

I headed off to Pinterest for some ideas. We still had green paint leftover from the bookshelf Josh made so we figured we'd just use that. I decided to stick with the robot theme since Ethan is still a big robot fan.

I used the seat bottom to trace the fabric and then cut it out. I didn't worry too much about perfect lines since the ends would be covered when they slide into the wood. We used spray adhesive to attach the fabric to the top. A lot of people mentioned it didn't fit well with the fabric or they had to cut it down, but it fit fine for us since we didn't fold the fabric over the edge.

We decided to combine a few different ideas we saw. We did a chalkboard table top using the Rustoleum spray paint. Then we added plexiglass on top of the table top and the seat tops (easy to remove). This way if he eats or does other crafts, the chalkboard doesn't get ruined and it's easy to wipe clean. It will also keep the fabric in better condition on the chairs. Bonus: He can use dry erase crayons/markers on the plexi for another work surface.

After: bright colors and chalkboard paint

The bar and orange/green buckets were from Ikea also. They'll hold his chalk, markers, crayons, and paint. I like that I can easily remove all of it when he's not using the table so there's less chance of writing on the wall. We were going to attach a roll of easel paper, but I felt like it would get in the way, so instead I bought a Crayola easel paper pad. The sheets are pretty much the perfect size for the tabletop and half the cost of the Melissa and Doug pad.

After: robot chairs with plexi

I LOVE how it turned out! Josh did a great job painting it and putting it all together. I can't wait til he gets up Christmas morning and sees this. He loves sitting in chairs his size and each trip to Ikea, he runs right up to the table and sits down.

It ended up costing probably around $75 after all materials so it wasn't super cheap, but it was still less than any I saw elsewhere and it's got more features and it's personalized. The highest cost was the plexiglass so you could save around $20 by skipping that. If you do decide to do the plexi, go to Lowes. They'll cut it to size for you, Home Depot said they wouldn't cut it for us.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unicorn Princess Nursery

We finally finished our last DIY item for little Emma's room. With 2 under 2 and a husband doing his MBA, everything takes way longer than it should. But, now her room is finally complete! Just in time for her to move up to her crib since she's just about outgrowing her bassinet.

This post will be very picture heavy. I *think* I may have gone just a bit overboard when doing her room. But, Ethan's was so much fun that hers had to match and well, it's the room I would have loved to have as a kid. It's totally girly, fun, bright, and unique. I bounced around a ton of different ideas, then I found the unicorn fabric and knew I found the right theme. I mixed in chevrons, polka dots, and hearts to keep it from being too unicorn themed.

The view walking in. I smile every time I open the door.
Emma's door sign from her great aunt Betty.
Since we couldn't paint the room, I had to do lots of color elsewhere. This vinyl decal was an amazing custom design from WallDecalSource. I messaged them and we combined 3 of their designs to come up with this. I LOVE how it turned out and they were great to work with. 
The glider is the same one we recovered for Ethan's room. My mom saved the pattern and made me another set of slipcovers with the chevron print. I added the pom poms over it to give her something to look at while nursing. 
My mom made the pennant banner and my husband helped with the bow holders (I'll post the before/after in another post). I found the unicorn seat at Marshall's on clearance and the toy bin at Home Goods. This is my fave part of the room. 
The pennant sign was made by Christa's Creations, playroom sign from HomeGoods. We used furniture we already had.
My mom made the cover and diaper stack and we got the toy baskets from Big Lots
My husband helped me make the lamps. The prayer canvas was from Mager Dreams. The pink mask we bought in Venice a few years ago and the birdcage I've had for about 6 years waiting for the right space. My mom made the runner and valance. 
I adore this unicorn print from HRushtonArt. It's so beautiful in person with a little glitter in spots. They also have an amazing book with their prints that I soo want. The Emma hanging rack was a gift from my Aunt Sheila. Amazon had the hamper and the awesome unicorn towel.
The amazing quilt my mom made. She is so so talented. The other side is the unicorn print.
My mom also handmade the unicorns for the mobile. Adorable. Emma loves babbling up at them.
This area just makes me happy. We bought the dresser used and it was a light pink/gray combo. Josh and his dad re-painted it and added a hanging bar for me. This is her dresser for all the "fancy" clothes. The unicorn stand I bought a few years ago, but we painted it purple and added glitter spray paint. I keep her fancier bows on there. The princess bin holds the elastic to mix and match the plain bows. 
Her ridiculous shoe collection. 
Drawers hold her hats, cardigans, bloomers, and baby leggings.
Cold weather gear, towels, and blankets are kept in the closet. This stuff goes up to 24mos since I buy ahead of time when I see a good deal. 
Another view of the crib/glider. And a ridiculously giant stuffed unicorn. 
My mom did all the bedding. I have an extra sheet (and changing pad cover) in the pink polka dot. My talented friend, Ebeliz, made the unicorn lovie.

We added battery powered LED lights to the birdcage as a nightlight. 

Yup, I totally went a overboard in her room, but I absolutely love it. So all the work was worth it. I still love Ethan's room after almost 2 years and I'm sure I'll feel the same about hers. Ethan loves his room (robot was one of his first words), I hope she loves hers. A lot of love went into making everything. Once again, a HUGE thank you goes out to my amazingly talented mama for making so much in here! Without her, there's no way either of them would have such awesome rooms. I reused a lot of items that I already owned throughout the room, just added some spray paint when needed. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Custom Nursery Letters Airplane Theme

Since moving to Tx 2 years ago, I've barely done any crafts. I never really got around to unpacking my craft room and rarely had the time/energy with having a new baby and then getting pregnant again. So, when my friend, Tiffany, asked if I could make a set of letters for her new baby's room, I was excited for the excuse to finally break out the supplies.

I made her daughter's nursery letters 3 years ago so I was honored she asked me to make them again. These were her daughter's.

This time, she was having a boy and the theme was airplanes. Soo adorable right?! She sent a picture of the bedding and I went to work looking for paper/embellishments. Well, apparently airplane stuff is not easy to find in scrapbooking supplies unless it's military related or travel related. They were going for more of a vintage airplane theme. I even tried online stores with no luck. Then I randomly decided to check Etsy since I was already on there shopping for baby stuff.

I came across the perfect paper on Etsy! The colors were a match for the bedding and they had vintage airplanes. This is the paper pack I bought. It's from DewDropsDigital. It's a digital paper pack so I had to find somewhere to get it printed. I can't remember the site I ordered the paper from, but I wouldn't recommend them. The solid pages came out streaky and the quality wasn't great. I solved that problem by distressing the letters and covering any flaws with embellishments.

I was kinda worried that I could make it work since it was so difficult finding things to fit the theme, but after getting started, I think I was able to pull it all together. Here's the letters hanging in his adorable airplane nursery.

Closeup of them hanging

I kept the letters with the airplane paper very simple so I didn't take away from the print. I just added a few rub ons. On the solids and the stripe, I added some metal airplanes, twine, and dimensionals stickers with a baby/nursery theme. Hopefully they love them! I was so happy to get my mod podge out again and I need to find more time to get in there and make things.

Ruffle lamps

When we first found out we were having a girl, I started pinning cute nursery ideas like crazy. I originally planned on pink and blue for her room and came across these adorable DIY lamps at Ginger Snap Crafts. I pinned them and, like most things on Pinterest, I forgot about them.

When I couldn't find any inexpensive lamps that matched in her room, I remembered those cute ruffle lamps and set out to Big Lots to see if they had some simple lamps like I got for Ethan's nursery. Luckily, it was back to school time so they had all their dorm room stuff out. We got both for $24 since I had a 20% off coupon.


Then I went to hobby lobby for the ribbon. They were 50% off so $2 per color. I started with a roll each of hot pink, purple, and white. Then we just got to work with a glue gun.

After looking at it for a few days, I decided it was too much white in the middle. Since I couldn't start over, I ran out and got a light pink to add. It's kinda squeezed in since there wasn't space left, but I think it looks more complete with the white being separated. 

Here's a pic with them on. Love how they turned out. They're bright and girly. And for $22 per lamp ($30 + $8 in ribbon + $6 in hot glue) they were much more affordable than any other options I saw. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Toddlers are unpredictable

Ethan woke up this morning about an hour earlier than usual. I think it was too cold upstairs (Texas fall weather is just as unpredictable). He did not wake up happy. It was a chore just getting him downstairs for breakfast. None of the usual tricks were cheering him up and he ended up making a huge mess of his meal.

I tried just about every toy, his fave animal sound video, motorcycle videos, music and dancing, but he was having none of it. I almost decided to skip meeting Josh for lunch for Veterans Day. 

Then, just like that, he was back to sweet toddler. So I got them both dressed and into the car. He was great at lunch eating like a champ. We got home and played some more and he was still good.

Then came the absolute adorableness. I took him up for his nap and since Emma was happy in her swing (rare at naptime), I took the time to lay in the lounger with him first. He pulled open my cardigan so he could snuggle in close to me. Then he gave me sweet pats on my arm and back while "singing" to me. He was going ahh ahh ahh softly in time with the music. 

It was the sweetest thing ever and totally made up for the terror he was all morning. I swear this kid knows how to make me forget about how bad he can behave sometimes. He's totally a sour patch kid: first he's sour, then he's cute.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Aveeno review

I was sent the Aveeno Positively Radiant Targeted Tone Corrector to try out thanks to Influenster. I love Aveeno lotions, but have never really tried any of their other products. I also have never tried a tone corrector.

The product claims to help fade dark spots and uneven tone. I wanted to use it for a few weeks before reviewing to see if I noticed any difference. Overall, I didn't notice any change. Luckily, I don't really have any dark spots, but I do have some uneven skin tone where areas are redder.

While it didn't really live up to it's claims for me, it did feel smooth going on. It wasn't sticky like some products and it has a nice, light scent. I used it both morning and night and it didn't affect makeup at all. I was worried at first that it would make makeup more cake-y, but it didn't.

Most of the reviews on it are pretty positive in regards to fading dark spots so if this is something you struggle with, I'd say it's still worth a try since it's only around $15. It may just be better at that than fixing the skin tone unevenness.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Growing up

As we're getting ready to welcome out baby girl into this world (a little over 4 weeks!!), we've been reflecting on how much has changed in the last year and a half. It's hard to believe E was just a little baby so recently when he seems so grown up now. On one hand, it feels like we just had him, but on the other I can't even picture our lives without him.

He's always been in a hurry to get out of each baby stage. He was over his swing/bouncer by about 2.5 months, started crawling early, and quickly swapped to walking. He's always trying to grow up too fast for us. There are only about 2 things he does that are "baby" like: snuggling with his teddy bear and wanting to hold our hands when walking. He is soo happy when he gets to hold both mine and J's hands and will walk with his little hand outstretched until he has us both. It's the cutest thing ever. He's fearless and confident the rest of the time always in a rush to try new things and push himself.

The everyday things that E does constantly surprise me. It's amazing how much kids learn and change in such a short amount of time. Our morning starts out with him (usually) happily babbling and talking to his teddy bear, then downstairs for breakfast. In the last week he's added his first "chore" because he'll feed the dog while I make him breakfast. Then we have play time until lunch/nap. E loves to pull every toy out normally, so we've started a system where we have things organized by type and he can't pull out more until we put the other away. The first few weeks were rough since he didn't understand really, but in the last week, he's already starting to help me put the toys away. Don't get me wrong, he's still a toddler so it's far from perfect. Some days there's still toys everywhere, but it's a work in progress and I'm trying to teach him good habits now.

When he's hungry, instead of just getting crabby, he now says "unch" for lunch (doesn't matter what meal lol) and heads to the gate at the kitchen. He's still eating pretty good, but goes through stages now we're he won't eat much. I think it has to do with teething since he's getting a ton of teeth lately. When it's time for bed, we say ready for bed and he heads up the stairs to the bathroom (for vitamins and teeth brushing). When he wants to go outside, he brings us his shoes and says bye bye. Now if he could only learn to listen when I saw "no"...

It's so weird to really be communicating with him. All his new words are adorable and his understanding of us is incredible. It's so cool to see someone who a little over a year ago couldn't do anything on his own become so smart and independent. I can't wait to see how he handles having a baby sister. And hopefully she isn't in as big of a rush to grow up as he is. Since she'll likely be our last, she needs to take her time.

Feeding Zuker

Friday, July 25, 2014


Life with a 1 year old is never predictable. Some days (like yesterday) go super smoothly. Lots of playing and having fun and happiness. Then there are days (like today) that are completely exhausting. E has been a crazy jumble of chaos today. If there's a way to get into things, he will.

This is partially my fault. After a breakfast of eggs, I gave him 2 mini donuts. He doesn't usually have sweets in the morning so I'm gonna blame the sugar.

So far today he has: cleaned out the toilet with the scrub brush (I'm usually really good at keeping the bathroom door closed), gone in the closet to grab an umbrella and try to bash the tv and speaker, threw a tantrum because I took away the umbrella before he could break anything, tried to lift his ride on motorcycle onto the entertainment center, ripped his diaper off, dumped my water on the carpet, climbed all over the furniture, unhooked the bottom of the baby gate, and reached over the gate to grab the lid off the trash to put on his head. All of this as I'm right next to him...that kid is quick (well and I'm slow right now with only 6 weeks left to go).

This looks like a good hat.

And this is just what I can remember. He's full of energy and mischief. We've also done multiple somersaults and played basketball to try to wear off some of this energy, but he's still running around in circles. Normally, I would take him to the park or outside, but it's WAY too hot for that. Or I would take him to an indoor play place, but as luck would have it, his carseat is in pieces since he threw up in it last night. (Note to self: no yogurt before swim class). I'm thinking once J gets home, I'll put the carseat back together and take him to open gym class at WinKids. I would do it during nap time, but I think I'll need a nap too.

What?! I shouldn't be up here mama?? 

I say this all the time, but it's a good thing he's cute. I can only imagine the kind of chaos the new baby will add to the mix. Can't wait for the craziness. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Up until last year, Father's Day was just another day to me. My dad hasn't been in my life for quite awhile so it just came and went. But, last year I finally got to really celebrate Father's Day since we finally had our little one. 

I'm so grateful that our E has such an amazing dad. Before we had him, J had only held a baby maybe once in his life for about 5 min where he was too scared I move. So he was definitely nervous about becoming a dad and afraid he was going to somehow break him. But once the little guy was here, he quickly became a natural. 

Their first pic together remains one of my all time faves. It shows how he instantly became a dad, totally in love with his kid. He seems so at ease holding him.

Not only is he an awesome dad, but he's supportive of me and helps with all the parenting decisions we make along the way. He embraced babywearing and wore E just about everywhere til he started walking. When I suggested baby led weaning, he let us give it a try even though it kinda freaked him out. He was my rock through the early struggles with breastfeeding and he's the calm one to tell me everything will be ok when I have those normal mama worries.

Even though he's a super busy dad with a full time job and going to school full time, he takes every chance he gets to spend quality daddy/son time together. They take trips to Home Depot, work in the garage, and wash the car. He does the bathing and nighttime routine. And he'll be the one taking him to swim classes next month. 

I'm super bummed that he's overseas this year for Father's Day and we aren't able to spoil him like he deserves. E is definitely missing his dad and gives him tons of kisses through the phone (thanks FaceTime!). We can't wait for him to get home. I'm excited to see what the future brings and how he handles being a dad to a little girl. 

Also a shout out to J's dad/E's grandpa. So happy that he has such an amazing grandpa as well. E just loves him and gets so excited when we get to see him, either in person or on FaceTime. These 3 guys are soo similar it's scary. That Mincher gene is strong I tell ya.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Toddler Travels

Every 6 months of so, my husband has to go overseas for work. It normally lasts 2 weeks to a month so I usually use this as an excuse to go see family. Neither of our parents live anywhere close to us so it makes sense that since he'll be gone, we might as well get some family time for the little guy. Well, that may come to an end after the last 2 trips. Unfortunately, he is so used to his room and routine at home, that the change completely throws him off. He seems to have a harder time adjusting with each trip.

The hardest part is his sleep. He has barely been sleeping at all and nothing seems to help. He's only been sleeping maybe 8 hrs a night instead of his usual 11-12 and his napping is almost non existent. He only napped about 30-40min today. Not nearly enough. Even with that little bit of sleep, he wouldn't go to bed tonight. I think a big part of it is that he's just more aware now. He's used to his dad doing his bedtime routine and I'm sure now he realizes that his dad isn't here. So, he's extra attached to me like he's afraid I'm going to leave also. He's NEVER been the type of baby who wants to sleep in bed with us. We've tried co sleeping a few times and he has wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. But, the last few days, he can't/won't sleep unless he's in bed with me. And the second I move or get up, he freaks out.

Obviously, this lack of sleep ends up with a super cranky baby. During the morning and early afternoon nothing makes him happy. Luckily, by around 4ish he starts to deal and get happier. But it's making for a super stressed out me. I haven't really gotten any time to myself. Normally, I have a few hours after he goes to bed and nap times to get things done. The mornings and afternoons are the hardest since I'm exhausted and just want him to take a nap and he's unhappy. At night, he totally makes up for it and is super duper adorable though and it makes me feel so bad for being frustrated with him during the day. Each night, he holds on to me tight, smiles at me, stares into my eyes like he's trying to tell me something, and "sings" along with the bedtime music.

Hopefully as the days go on, he'll get a bit more used to being in a new place, but I'm not getting my hopes up. This is gonna be a long 3 weeks and I can't wait until the hubster is back so we can get back to normal.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fun on the farm

This morning we went on a field trip to Homestead Farms in Keller with the NISD Family Involvement program. I've never heard of Homestead Farms and I've probably passed by it about a dozen times. It's definitely hidden away if you don't know what you're looking for. Ethan LOVES his books and youtube videos with animals so I figured he'd enjoy going.

When we first got there, as usual, he was pretty overwhelmed by all the people and so much going on. He kinda stood back and took it all in. But then he saw the chickens and went running over trying to make little chicken noises. He spent a lot of time just watching them, until we noticed there were little baby chicks and we got to hold one.

They had an area where kids could plant a seed. He just wanted to play with the shovel and dirt so I let him get dirty for a little while before we headed over to see the goats. As usual, he got distracted by anything with wheels. He saw the tractor and went running for it, then tried to pull it.

At first he was a little scared of the goats and kept hiding by me and wanting to be held, esp when they'd come really close to him to say hi. But once we got over by the smaller baby goats, he got a bit more comfortable. He kept pointing and squealing and even ended up petting them. I loved seeing his smiles as they would pop their heads out.

When we were getting ready to head out, we saw the hayride was about to start so we decided we might as well do that too. It was only $1 a piece so why not? Make sure you bring some singles with you so you can take a ride around the farm. He wasn't too into the hayride since he's so little, but it gave us a nice break to sit down and chat with other moms.

The farm also has a bunch of goodies to buy. This is always a fave for me since you get to try different things and support local businesses. The farm itself has goats milk, fruits/veggies, and meats. But they also have stuff from other vendors in the area too, like local honey, granola, salsas and jams. My fave was "In a Pickle" foods. They had a booth so you could try samples first-always a plus. We loved every kind we tried, but ended up buying the Apple Bourbon Cinnamon and the Lemony Pear Vanilla Bean since they were soo delicious and they had unique flavors. I also got a jar of sweet and spicy pickles for Josh. When I was checking out the store, I also grabbed some Chipolte Corn Salsa from Renfro foods for Josh. He loves his salsa.

We only ended up staying for about an hour, but we had a blast. I loved seeing him warm up to the animals and experience something new. We've taken him to the zoo a few times, but he was really little and didn't really know about animals yet. Also loved getting to meet some new people and getting some new treats from local places. I'm so glad we found out about the NISD program since it's getting Ethan used to other kids and learning with hands on play.

Here's a link to Homestead Farms
The yummy stuff we bought from In A Pickle
And the salsa from Mrs. Renfro's

Images by Freepik