Saturday, April 25, 2015

Moving on

I guess this is goodbye...
After six years at this fun little blog, I'm ready for a change. Come check out my new blog at small house, happy family!
There you can follow my blog Facebook page and also follow me on Bloglovin, Pinterest, and Instagram. I'll repost some of my favorites from the last few years here, but there will also be new content several times a week!
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

pretty little home

It's no secret that I love my house.
And I never love it more than in the springtime when it looks it's best!
This month I did just a few small projects to spruce up the outside of the house.

First up, this very sad pillar on our front steps. Wow. I didn't realize how TERRIBLE it looked until I put the before and after pictures together! Unfortunately, the wood was rotted in places, so I got a hard drying, paintable wood filler and filled in all the cracks and holes. I sanded everything completely smooth and used Behr's best quality exterior paint in my favorite white (Creamy White). It's not perfect and it's not a long term solution, but it looks so much better and it's a quick fix until we can replace the wood on the pillars. 

My second project is one of my favorite things I've ever done to my little house: windowboxes!! I fell in love with the idea of windowboxes just this spring and found all kinds of great, easy tutorials on how to make them. I used cedar fence posts, sanded them nice and smooth, and screwed them together, then used the same Behr exterior paint to paint them white. The biggest mistake I made was cutting the wood myself. When I went to Home Depot to buy it, it was close to closing time and I couldn't find an employee to cut it for me. I got tired of waiting, so I decided to just take it home and do it myself. It's much harder to cut wood perfectly straight and exactly the same length than I thought, so the first windowbox I made is definetely not perfect. I did better on the second one!
To hang these, I screwed metal L-brackets into the studs under the window. My original plan was to just put the boxes on the brackets and screw them in from the bottom, but they didn't feel very sturdy that way because the windowbox wasn't secured to the house. I ended up taking them off the brackets and drilling holes through the windowbox, then screwing through the windowbox, through the brackets, and into the studs. They feel much more secure now!
Here's how I found the studs: If you look at house framing diagrams, you'll see that there are studs framing the window on all sides. Studs are generally 16 or 24 inches apart. My window is 48 inches wide, so I took a guess that the studs were placed 16 inches apart, putting two studs under the window instead of just one. So I simply measured 16 inches from where I guessed the king studs (side studs) were and drilled holes there. I hit the studs on the first try for all of my brackets, which honestly, was pretty lucky!
Drilling through aluminum siding (yes, we have aluminum siding) was simple. You just want to make sure that you don't tighten your screws flush, because the aluminum siding will buckle. It needs room to move.

Here's the view from the street. I love how much character and charm they add! Here's to hoping I can keep the plants alive and that they really fill in.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

the blink of an eye

One year ago today we welcomed our sweet Pearl Diana into our family.
I truly can't believe it's been a whole year. She completes our family just perfectly. Our family just didn't feel all the way "right" until she came along and filled our hearts. We love our little Polly so much!

Pearl is about 16 pounds now. She has four teeth--but instead of getting her front teeth on top, she has her two side teeth, like a little vampire. She isn't saying any words yet, but she can wave, nod, and shake her head and she's working on blowing kisses and clapping, too. She does call Jason "Da" and she is always super happy to see him. She's probably our only child that is a Mama's girl, though. She sometimes will let me put her down and play happily, but most often, if I'm around, she wants me to be interacting with her. I have to catch her in the right mood to try to make dinner or clean!
She's not a super smiley girl--she's very serious and always has a look of intense concentration. She reminds us a lot of Helena as a baby, in looks and personality. She likes to play peekaboo with her sisters and get into their things. She always wants to be on the move. Some of her favorite things are: taking all the recycling out of the bin, playing in the hose in the front yard, taking a bath, digging in the flower pot on the front steps, climbing up the little slide in the backyard, climbing the stairs, and sitting on Mom's feet and crying while Mom is trying to make dinner. She loves touch and feel books. Her favorite foods are buttery noodles, Ritz crackers, lunch meat, any kind of berry, milk, and chocolate. 
She's day-weaned, but we're still working on nights. Much as I would love an uninterrupted night's sleep, I'll admit that we haven't tried very hard to night-wean her yet because I'm not quite ready to give up nursing completely and cuddling with her at night. Someday! As long as she's only waking up twice a night, I'm fine with nursing longer.
And here she is showing off her newest trick!!

She's been able to take steps on her own for quite a while now, but this week she made the switch from crawling to walking. I don't think I've seen her crawl at all in the last two days. She's still unsteady, but look at her go--even in pants that are way too long!

Pearl and her cousin Cutler were born just 9 hours apart. We call them cousin-twins. We had to get some pictures of them together for their first birthday! Isn't he the cutest little boy??

So how do I feel now that my last baby is one?
Relief. Regret. Excitement for the next chapter of our lives. 
I was so worried that I would really want another baby and be so sad to say goodbye to the baby-raising days when Pearl turned one. We know we don't want any more children, but I was worried that my emotions might take over. I am happy to announce that I do not feel that, even one bit! You know you're done when you are just relieved to move on from the baby phase of life.
But there's still a little regret. Pearl was super easy, super chill, and super happy for the first six months of her life, plus I was still so overjoyed to have her after wanting another child for several years that it was really easy for me to enjoy everything, even the crying and sleepless nights. I did a great job letting other, less important things go so I could just enjoy my baby for those first six months. But then she got much more difficult (I don't know why), school started again, and I got busier. I have not spent as much time just sitting and holding her this second half of the year as I should have. And now that the year is over, I wish I had put those things aside more and just held her. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Natural History Museum of Utah: take 2

 Do you remember when I took my kids to the Natural History Museum in January? It wasn't a good experience (completely my fault, not the museum's). We've been looking forward to trying again on their next free day--did you know that they have four free days every year? Thanks, ZAP!
This time, we decided to give ourselves plenty of time, so I checked the girls out of school right after lunch and we got to the musuem at 1. I knew it would be a better trip when I found a parking spot in the main lot right when we got there!

We started out with the dinosaurs. The girls all had fun watching the scientists work on some fossils...

... and then standing in a dinosaur footprint! All four of them fit!

There are several parts of the dinosaur exhibit that have glass floors with a dinosaur fossil "dig" that you can walk right over. Tempe laid right down on the floor so she could get an up close look.

Even Pearl took a look through the floor.

Fossils don't come out of the ground all in one piece, so how do the huge skeletons get put together? Like a puzzle! Helena and Natalia are trying to put together this rubber mold of a skull over the fossil. It was harder than it looked!

Here's another puzzle activity up in the "First People" exhibit--Helena's putting the pieces of this vase back together.

We spent about 2 1/2 hours at the museum. It was crowded, but not unmanageable. We had so much fun exploring the different exhibits, and ended up in this little "backyard" room. Pearl was happy to get out of the stroller and crawl around while Tempe, Helena, Juno, and Natalia played dress up.
So much better than our first disastrous trip in January! Thanks, NHMU!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Utah State Capital + Ensign Peak

You know me, I love taking my kids on special outings!
Last week was spring break. We did our best to do lots of fun stuff, but we were all passing around colds + Pearl was teething like whoa, so it was hard BUT we did manage to go to the park, do tons of yard work, go to Night at the Museum 3 at the dollar theater and the zoo, and have a little field trip to the Utah State capital and Ensign Peak with some friends.

Did you know that the state capital is open to the public? And it's freeeeeeeeeee! If you ask at the front desk, they will even give you an architectural scavenger hunt to do for a prize (spoiler alert, the prize is just a sucker like the kind they give you at the bank). We went up to the second floor and spent 20 minutes finding all the different windows, statues, murals, niches, etc. 

It was a cold, blustery day, so we didn't spend much time walking around the grounds, but I hope to go back this summer and do more exploring!

We also went to Ensign Peak and "hiked" up to the overlook. Look at that view of the city! We live in such a beautiful place. The good thing about all the wind is that there is no smog or pollution right now! There is also great hiking at Ensign Peak that I hope to do more of this summer with my girls. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

::: 10 years :::

Jason and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on March 26!
10 years! I can't believe it. We've been married for 1/3 of my life. I'm so grateful that we found each other back at Liberty Square in 2004. Now we've got four beautiful daughters and such a happy life together!
To celebrate, we went on an overnight getaway. We've gone on two getaways in the past: once to the Anniversary Inn, where we were kept awake half the night by... er.... other guests and left at 3 in the morning; and once to a hotel in Provo, which was better, but we had to take Juno, who was currently in her body cast and woke up every hour or so all night, so still not great.
We were really, really looking forward to this getaway! How did it go? 
Well, maybe getaways just aren't our thing.
We started out at a restaurant in Ogden, Hearth on 25th. It had a fun atmosphere/vibe and they sell 20+ flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils on tap. We tried a couple; the blackberry ginger was my favorite!

We ordered this super fancy cheese and cured meats plate to start with and it was so good. It came with three cheeses and four cured meats (one was wild boar) and also had apple butter, balsamic vinegar, local honey, and cashew butter. 

The rest of our food was ok, but not great and definitely not worth the hefty price tag. 
Then we headed to our hotel, the Alaskan Inn in Ogden Canyon. LOVED it. It was such a fun, rustic themed hotel. Plus, they serve breakfast to your room in the morning (you choose the time!) and the food was really good. I wasn't expecting much, but Jason had biscuits and gravy and I had french toast and they were both delicious. 

We stayed in the Bears Den room--don't you love the "cave" bathtub!

So why did I say getaways aren't our thing? I didn't bring any melatonin and I was struck by a major case of insomnia. I was so looking forward to a good night's sleep (Pearl still gets me up 3+ times a night) and I ended up not falling asleep until about 4--I got less sleep that night than I do at home :( We also didn't really plan anything to do in the morning and so we ended up just lounging in bed for a while and then going home. I didn't realize how pretty Ogden Canyon is--next time we go (and I'm determined we'll have a do over later this year!), we'll find some good hiking for the morning!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Helena's soda shop birthday party

Helena recently turned seven years old!
We celebrated with an old-fashioned soda shop birthday party and it was so fun!
There's a local soda shop here called Fiiz that Helena loves to go to, so we decided to take some friends out for drinks and then watch a movie at our house. I even talked to one of the owners at Fiiz and she custom designed a special drink for Helena, called the Fairy Godmother.
To go along with the old fashioned soda shop theme, Helena wore a poodle skirt and we included some records in the decorations.

A few weeks before the party, we went to Fiiz and took this adorable picture...

... for the "album cover" for the record invitations. The information was on the back side of the record (cut out of sparkly black cardstock with a hole punched and white "glare" marks on the edges). We slid them into cardstock cd sleeves that I got at Walmart and finished by gluing the picture of Helena on the front. They turned out so cute!

The cupcakes were chocolate cherry Coke float cupcakes, complete with maraschino cherries and paper straws--yum! We got a couple of cheap records from DI to set them on.

I turned our black paper plates into faux records as well, with hand drawn holes and glare marks. A bunch of old soda bottles lined the pink polka dot runner.

The birthday girl eagerly awaiting the arrival of her friends! I even hung an old record on the front door to round out the theme!

And here she is with her pink cotton candy Italian Soda (ew), the Fairy Godmother. The girls had so much fun at Fiiz, and bonus,we filled up a whole punch card buying all their drinks!
Big thanks to Fiiz for their help with this super fun party for my special girl!