Month: April 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things….

(disclosure: this post contains links to Amazon.com, of which I am now an Amazon Affiliate.  A (very) small portion of anything you purchase through these links comes back to me in the form of an Amazon gift card.  I figured since 90% of my online purchases come from there, it was about time.  Happy Shopping!  (for both of us 🙂)

Well the year is barely underneath us, but I thought I’d share with you some of the things that have made my favorite things list this year (and before all of my favorites are consumed by baby items):

elliptical machine: Once I became pregnant, I no longer felt safe doing cardio runs (but that may not apply to you, check with your doctor, everyone is different).    I decided to take a plunge and invest in this elliptical machine.

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(source: Amazon.com)

I purchased mine from Amazon (prime member = free shipping) and have been extremely happy with it.  I love it for a few reasons: it doesn’t take up much room, it is easy to “hide”, it is relatively cheap for exercise equipment, and considering the weather we’ve had this winter/spring, I’ve used it nearly everyday and it is still working great!   The only thing I miss is that you cannot change the incline but you are able to adjust the tension as you need too.  This was definitely $100 well spent.

handheld Dyson vac: N surprised me with this for Christmas.  And it actually was a good surprise because I’d been wanting one for a long time and he gave me a few other really nice gifts too–so it wasn’t like “oh you got a vacuum for Christmas?”

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This has been a delight to use (as much as you can say that about a piece of cleaning equipment).  It charges on the wall when not in use and runs for 20 minutes fully charged.  It comes with three different attachments and I use them all pretty consistently, especially considering 75% of our house is not carpeted.   I use it at least once, but often twice (once for the cat, once for the child) a day.  It picks up pet food, cat hair, bugs (!), crumbs, and we’ve even been known to use it to clean up our child after a meal too 🙂 (And it is a thing of beauty on the stairs!!!).  The price tag is definitely a little spendy, but it comes with the Dyson lifetime warranty AND Mother’s day is right around the corner 🙂

Foscam: When MG became mobile and a frequent nap-skipper, I began the search for a video monitor.  My goal was to get one before we moved her into her Big Girl room so that I could keep an eye on her when she had “quiet time” in there.  I began asking around to all of my mommy groups because I wanted one that had a few unique features.  Within a matter a time, we landed on the perfect one to fit our needs:

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The Foscam has served us very well.  It has an extremely low price tag ($80) especially when you compare it to video monitors designed for babies (average around $250).  You purchase an app ($5) and then you can view the picture on your mobile device (iPad, smart phone, etc).  The camera has night vision, pans/tilts/zooms on command, and has 2-way talk so you can scold talk to your child from the next room if need be.  Besides the price tag I especially love that it is in a completely closed circuit (you must have the network name/password to access it), it works on your wifi (nice range), you can view it away from home, two people can access the app at once, and it has an amazingly clear picture:

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night

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The only negative about it is that it took about 30 minutes for us to completely activate it (i.e. a little computer knowledge helps) and we’ve had a few minor technology snafus that we’ve been able to remedy very quickly (once again, being a little Internet savvy helps).  None of these have ever made us regret our decision in the least.

N’s woodworking: Since a little before Christmas, N has had a new hobby—woodworking.  He has made multiple things for our house and I have been keeping him busy with honey-do’s.  Here are some of his recent and beautiful creations:

a (collapsible and moving) sewing table:

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a trunk:

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a coffee table with built in storage:

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a nightstand for the nursery:

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Not to mention: MG’s kitchen and stools

He also created a bunch of first initials for Mayby’s name in the nursery…but I can’t reveal those to you just yet.

I would have to say that these favorites have significantly improved my quality of life this year and that is why they made the list.

(Caveat: I’ve in no way been endorsed  to share these with you, nor am I affiliated with Amazon.com…just a huge fan!)

Happy shopping!

Baby Name Game: Clue #7

By now, you can probably guess where this is headed….especially since I’ve mentioned that the name is old-fashioned, feminine, and a little off-the-grid.  If you haven’t noticed, we’re theme-y people.  These qualities are all shared by MG’s name–and almost all by our own as well.

Along those lines, both N’s and my parents gave us names that honored special people in their lives.  One of N’s middle names is a tribute to a close family friend.

My given middle name is after my great-aunt.  She was also the inspiration behind the G in MG’s name.  The M follows after both my sister and N’s grandma.

It should come as no surprise that Mayby’s name will follow suit.

Clue #7

We are family.

Two of Mayby’s names can be found on our family tree.  The other one is a “tribute” name of sorts.

I realize that this isn’t a very helpful clue, so I will give you another bonus hint: three of our inspirational females are still alive. 

(and now for some cute pictures):

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Seven clues down, three more clues remain.   Any guesses?

P.S. this day, April 26, is always a sad day for Taylor students and alumni.  Last year I wrote out my thoughts on that tragedy here.

clue #8

Spring Break

As I said on Monday, I had to grieve the loss of our family unit before I could fully embrace what is to come.  I know what is coming is going to be beautiful, but as N eloquently put it, “We have to wreck it only to have it rebuilt into something better.”

Now that I have grieved, I feel as though I am truly ready for what is to come.  Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.  I am excited about our family’s future and can’t wait to see how God will recreate what we know and love into something better.

Here is a little video I made of our Spring Break fun:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/64507752%5D

A Letter to My First Born

Over Spring Break, after much quality family time together, I realized that a dark cloud was hanging over me.  Before I could move on and fully embrace the new life and family that was to come, I had to mourn the one I was leaving behind.  

The grief surprised me, and although short-lived, it was profound. 

Out of that sadness came this:

Dearest MG,

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Though you ask questions all the time and wonder often about your little sister, I suspect that you do not realize that your life is about to change.

Change is good.  It brings us things like seasons and birthdays and new favorites.

But change can also be hard.  Especially for people like you and I, who thrive on our notions and routine.

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Once this change comes, there are a few things I will miss about our routine.  I will miss our easy mornings.  I will miss our leisurely, hour long baths.  I will miss your constant musings about Mayby.  I will miss our grab-and-go last-minute dashes out of the house.  I will miss giving you my full attention during our lunch time conversation.  I will miss our weekly dates to the doctor.  I will miss you giving Mayby kisses on my belly button every night.

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But I hope and pray that this change will bring about some beautiful things too.  That it will strengthen our relationship, that it will teach both of us invaluable lessons, and that it will deepen our love; both for each other and for the third member that will be joining our collective “Daddy’s girls”.

All I know is that when you came into our lives, we found places in our heart to love you that we never knew existed.  You opened our eyes in new ways to the world.  Something deep down and buried in our souls was touched.

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You rocked our world but we never regretted it for an instant.

I can only imagine that there is room for more.  In all of us.

I love you, sweet girl.  You are and will always be my Big Girl, my first born, my perfectly-crafted  MG.

Baby Name Game: Clue #6

So far we’ve revealed that baby girl will have 3 names.

The third name will be a color name.

The other two names will be considerably feminine sounding.

She will have a formal name with a nickname.

Two out of the three of these names will have a vintage flair to them.

This week, we’d like to spoil that:

CLUE #6

                                      Neither N or I have ever had a student by any of Mayby’s names.

Seeing as we have both spent a combined 11 years as teachers, plus another 5 in education-related jobs, both N and I have had our fair share of “I will never, ever be able to name a child that” moments.

These moments are the exception rather than the norm,

however:

This means two things:

1) we don’t have any associations with her name (something that is important to me, simply for the unique factor.)

and

2) her name isn’t all that common right now (although I don’t necessarily see it staying that way…I have my eye on you, spawn of Kim Kardashian/Kate Middleton.

**Bonus hint: Jenna Bush Hager’s naming style is right down my alley.

Bonus hint #2: none of her 3 names nor nickname cracked the top 100 list last year.**)

Still intrigued? More next week,

clue #7

The List {an update}

Here is my pre-Mayby list that I posted back in January:

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In three months, I’ve been busy…or should I say…motivated.  I’ve checked off all but #13.  (you can read about #1; 2, 3 &4;, & 10 here) and even added a few more things to it.

Granny is here this week (hurray!), and we crossed off #9 thanks to an invaluable Costco run.

We’ve also been busy shuttling MG on all sorts of fun field trips,

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she gave us a (much-needed) date night (I got to eat without interruptions and eat a fro-yo entirely by myself), she’s been making meals for us, and right now she is cleaning our bathrooms.  What a blessing!

It’s funny how the thought of  adding a new member brings about an incessant urge to fix/clean/change things.  Even stranger, N and I both have been feeling it.  It’s as if we are preparing for the world to stop for about 6 weeks after her birth.  Thankfully, if it does, we won’t have to do anything but keep our children (mostly) alive.

Baby Name Game: Clue #5

I can’t say that I’ve always loved my given name (I remember asking my mom around the age of 6 why she didn’t name me Aurora)

I especially didn’t like that in middle school and high school my name was one of dozens in my class.  When I went to college, I made the executive decision to shorten it from its already shortened version and have loved it ever since.  I think “Kate” just fits me.

The best part about my name though, in my opinion, is its versatility.  I have the option of my formal given name or dozens of nicknames.  For a girl who likes and knows her options, this has always been extremely appealing.

Clue #5

A nickname she will have.

Following in the footsteps of older sis (and, okay, both of her parents), Mayby will have a formal name that we will use rarely and a nickname that we will introduce her as.

Last week, when I referred to three parts of her name, I actually meant her two given names and her nickname.  Not her color name.  Felt like I had to clear that up since more than a few people thought my reference to gem meant we were naming her Ruby :).

More hints next week,

clue #6

Only-Child-Moon {Cincy Trip}

(disclosure: this post contains links to Amazon.com, of which I am now an Amazon Affiliate.  A (very) small portion of anything you purchase through these links comes back to me in the form of an Amazon gift card.  I figured since 90% of my online purchases come from there, it was about time.  Happy Shopping!  (for both of us :) )

One of the things on my list was to take MG on an only-child vacation before the upheaval…ahem arrival of Mayby.

We quickly decided on Cincinnati as our destination for a few reasons: close, affordable, lots of family-fun, and neither of us had spent an extensive amount of time there.

When we started planning the trip in January, we knew we were looking for a few important details:

a suite-style room (so MG could nap/go to bed and we wouldn’t have to tiptoe around in the dark)

an indoor swimming pool (girl loves to swim)

one main event each day (we were there for three days and two nights but we didn’t want to cram in too much going/doing and not enough resting/relaxing)

a few special surprises (totally not necessary as being in the hotel was entertainment enough, but I had been looking for an excuse to by MG a dollhouse and this was the perfect time to give it to her.  It provided great entertainment during downtime and when we returned home, I put it away to pull out after the baby comes or for special occasions)

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a focus on quality time with our little family (no distractions,  lots of two-on-one time, and creating lots of memories)

So the fun began on Monday morning.  Daddy made a special breakfast for us and shortly thereafter, we were on the road.  Normally, I ride in the passenger seat and occasionally pass back books and toys.  But this time, I wanted to soak up all of the one-on-one time I could, so I rode in the back with her.  Plus, our days together are often filled with me saying “Maybe in a little bit”, “not right now”, and “no”.  I may or may not have good justifications behind these excuses, but on this trip in particular, I wanted to make sure that I said, “yes”  a lot.

I purchased this car seat tray before our trip and I highly recommend!  We did play-doh, practiced cutting with scissors, drew pictures with dry-erase markers,

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played with magnets, and before we knew it, we were pulling into our first destination: IKEA.

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The purpose of this destination was more so because I needed just a few more items since our last visit, but MG didn’t mind playing in the toddler paradise with Daddy while I zipped through the store (who knew if you get all the way to the end and aren’t ready to check-out, you have to weave your way back through the entire maze of a store).  We also ate lunch there (death by chocolate cake included) and made it out  in record time.

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Next stop was Jungle Jim’s.  If you ever go to Cincinnati, definitely stop here!  From the outside, it is a huge grocery store, but on the inside it is a foodie paradise.  They have all of your normal go-to items, plus specialty items (like a Trader Joe’s), PLUS an international section with a portion of an aisle devoted to each country.  For example, in the Caribbean section, we found a few items from Jamaica that were authentic from our honeymoon. So cool!

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At JJ’s, we stocked up on items to make lunch for the next two days and I was elated when I found what I thought to be the gluten-free (whole) aisle but was actually 5 aisles deep.

Realistically, we could have spent the whole afternoon there, but little one was tiring out quickly and we needed to get checked into the hotel so she could nap.  We made it to our room around 3:30pm and she hit the hay without so much as a whimper.

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Our hotel stay at Homewood Suites was perfect. While MG slept in our room, we shut the door and watched tv and lounged.  We had a full-sized refrigerator in our kitchenette that held our JJ purchases.  We also dined on complimentary breakfast both mornings AND dinner one evening.  They have a rotating menu for dinner M-F.  The food was actually pretty good (stuffed tortellini shells, bread sticks, salad, steamed vegetables, etc.) and it was nice to get the service of a restaurant without having to actually do the restaurant thing.  Plus, we felt we were really getting our money’s worth out of our stay.  To top it off, they had an indoor pool that we used both Monday night and Tuesday afternoon.  The water was a little frigid for N and I, but MG didn’t care—blue lips and all.

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We all slept well that night.

Day 2 started off with a delicious breakfast and then we headed to the Cincinnati Aquarium.  Our main goal was to get there before the 10:15am penguin parade.  But our course took us to two different welcome centers (in attempt to get discounted tickets) and we left with only an expired coupon (thankfully, the aquarium did accept it) and barely enough time to spare before the penguins arrived.

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The parade was…well…lame.  (they may as well have been statues in those glass tubes).

But we carried on.

We quickly discovered that we weren’t the only ones on Spring Break that week and we found ourselves fighting a massive swell of people.  We decided to sit it out on the bench for a little hoping the main group would clear out.  After about 30 minutes, things improved, somewhat.  But my main beef with the aquarium is that there is one escalator entrance into the “lobby” (and one very slow elevator for those of us toting strollers).  The lobby is closed in and tight and you must snake your way through the various exhibits with very little room to stand back and admire.  If you hate crowds (us), you may get to the end and realize that if you had simply taken a right turn instead of a left, you could have done the maze backwards (and completely upstream), but you would have mostly had the entire place to yourself.

Still kicking ourselves.

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The total admission price (not minus our coupons) was $61.  We found the aquarium to be small (we ending up going through the maze twice) and a little disappointing considering the price.  All that being said, we were still glad we went because it was a new and fun experience for MG.

Some of the neater features included glass tunnels where you  are surrounded by fish and lots of exotic creatures.

I really wanted to opt out of “gator alley” , but the maze does not afford any going off-course.  I turned away from the 14-foot saltwater croc (a thing of my nightmares) and focused on these cuties instead:

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Afterward, we got some much needed fresh air and enjoyed a “pic-a-nic” outside.

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After naps and an hour or so of swimming,

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we had the privilege of dining with some friends from Taylor.  It was so fun meeting their two kids and swapping ideas about how we want to raise our families.

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Day 3 was sadly, our last.  We ate, packed up, and met our friends at the Cincinnati Children’s Museum.

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We loved this place!!  It was converted from an old train station and connected to several other museums that time did not afford us to peruse.  But the children’s section was a blast.  The 5 & under area was perfectly tailored for adults to sit and chat while the kids roamed freely.  There was a huge “imagination” area with a vet office, nursery (guess who loved), a grocery store, a restaurant, etc, etc.  We could have spent the entire day there.  But sadly, we had to leave for home shortly after another JJ’s picnic lunch.

Cincinnati, you were good to us!   We hope we haven’t seen the last of you!

Sneak Peak {MG’s New Room & Bathroom}

She hasn’t officially moved in…

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But her room is all ready for her!

It’s been a work in progress for a few months now.  My inspiration started with the quilt.  I had seen a few on Pinterest that I loved and even though I never imagined I would be, I was drawn to the ones that were loud and bright.

It turned into a kaleidoscope of pinks, yellows, and oranges.

N painted the wall a lovely shade of grey and I think it is the perfect neutral backdrop for the circus effect of the colors.

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The furniture is heirloom (we’re talking real wood :)) passed down from my great-aunt.  And while the  cherry finish didn’t seem to jive at first, I couldn’t bear the thought of painting it.  When it all came together, however, I loved the complement of the finished wood with the white trim and curtains and the blue and yellow accents with the collage of colors on the bed.  Classic with a touch of whimsy.

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Special touches include: a collage of pictures & a jewelry box given to her by her great-Grandma Mary, a step stool handcrafted by Daddy and painted by me, the quilt & almost all the shams sewn by me, and the finishing touch: a bunny painting for the wall by yours truly (inspired by a compilation of some I’d seen on Pinterest and Etsy).

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Daddy is working on some sort of storage container/trunk to go at the foot of her bed.  And I think the N’s need a bit of straightening out, but other than that, it is move-in ready!

For the bathroom, we painted it the same shade of grey and accented with pink (just so happens to be her favorite color).

Small touches include the monogrammed towels, another big girl stool made by Daddy and painted by Mama, and an elephant painting (she finds hilarious that the elephant is in the bathtub WITH A toothbrush :))

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Over Spring Break, I switched out the girls’ closets and dressers so all of MG’s things are currently being housed in her new room.

However, I think we are going to wait until after Mayby’s arrival to officially move her over because 1) she is still doing so well in her crib and 2) the baby will sleep in our room for a few months so it doesn’t feel like a pressing need.  I’m sure you can expect some updates when that happens!

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Baby Name Game: Clue #4

Don’t you just love the Smucker’s birthday announcements on Good Morning America?  The endearing nature of  Willard Scott, the difference in pictures (glamour shots vs. 30 years younger vs. the non-smilers), and most of all the names.  I just love those “century-old” names that you rarely hear on anyone outside of the assisted livings today.

Can you guess where this is going?

Last week, we revealed that Mayby’s name will sound frilly and feminine.  This week, I’d like to add that:

Clue #4

Mayby’s name(s) will have a vintage flair.

One  part of her name has vintage appeal that traces the height of its popularity all the way back to the 1880’s.

A second part of her name has a more classic sound that has seen increasing popularity in recent years.

A third part of her name peaked in popularity in the 1910’s.  However, it too has steadily seen some growth in numbers by parents who are looking for a throw-back gem.

But why three parts?  More to come on that next week,

clue #5

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