Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Picture Perfect

**Found an older post I never published**

Every time I log into my blog, I am reminded how far overdue my family is for photos.  The pictures in my header were taken last August.  LAST AUGUST!  Last summer my baby was just that - a baby!  She hadn't been home two months.  Boy, was life different then!  It almost exhausts me just thinking about our life last summer.  Although I wouldn't trade it for the world!

But funny enough, that's not what I see when I look at those photos.  Maybe it's deceiving to others when they see the "picture perfect" family, but when I look at those photos I see joy.  I see love.  I see my two little darlings and remember that the best thing about last summer was bringing our little Cocoa home.

As I prepare with eager excitement for the next shoot (am I weird that this is that exciting for me?!?) my mind keeps me up late at night thinking of all the possibilities.  I'm planning hairstyles, color schemes, locations, props, and of course - the wardrobe!

As I was scrolling through our photographer's online portfolio, I paused to show my husband one spectacular wedding shot.  Although he agreed that it was a beautiful photo, he added "Wow, that is impossible to live up to though."  I stopped to think about it before asking him what exactly he meant by that, to which he explained that it was almost like a fairy tale.

No, real life isn't dressed to the nines in the moonlight, gazing into each other's eyes under twinkling lights, is it?  Nor is it lounging in a vintage chair in the middle of the woods.  Real life isn't picture perfect.  Nor would I want it to be.  Real life is hard work.  It is sweat and tears and heartache.  Real life can be stretching and overwhelming.  But through those hard times comes the true beauty.  In those hard times come the redemption and reward that is only found by walking it with Him by your side.

So yes, maybe I am dreaming of a fairy tale.  But whenever I look back on our life, I will choose to look at the beauty.  I won't forget the hard times, but I will dwell on the beauty that emerged from it.


Where Am I?

It's a fair question.  I finally started getting back to kinda normal posting speed and then dropped off the face of the planet, right?  I just want you to know I haven't given up on this blog.  I'm not going anywhere.  The explanation is simple - I ran out of photo storage and I'm trying to figure out the next step!  I need a tech-y friend to walk me through this, not gonna lie.  But stay tuned, our family just had a photo shoot done so new pics ARE coming!!!! =)


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Lil' Diva Turns 1!!!

HOW is it that this much time has passed and I have STILL not blogged about my Lil Lady's first birthday bash?!?  Just realized it.  My deepest apologies.  Because I KNOOOOOW you all have been waiting =)

Well since there is now a limited amount of time before I have to bust out dinner in time for the Hubs to be home (not to mention before my co-writer, the diva herself, runs out of patience), I'll start by sharing with you our little family party on her ACTUAL birthday.  But gear up -- because her big birthday party was INSANE!!!  (I have no better word choice at the moment....fried mom brain at dinner time, what can I say??)

Good mornin' birthday girl!!!!

Excited for the PRESENTS!!!

Since I rarely have photos of me with the kids - I love this one!
Happy BERFDAY Baby Girl!!!

The Birthday Girl =)

Monkey REALLY wants to show her how its done...

She loved it as I knew she would =)

Girl's first jewelry =)

My version of the Pinterest pose....couldn't get the lighting quite right.

Okay...clean my hands now mama!!!

Messy baby!

Oooooh yeeeeaaaah!!!  That's the way a cake smash is SUPPOSED to go!!!
So there you go -- a diva's first birthday!  Obviously I didn't finish it in the timeframe I wanted considering its SEVERAL days later =)  But there you go nonetheless.  More birthday pictures coming soon.  And by "soon" I mean "when I have time".


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pinterest Project Gone Wrong

Organization is not my strong suit.  My closets are piled from top to bottom.  I have junk drawers in probably every room, not to mention junk corners for the larger items that don't fit into the drawers.  The small size of our house doesn't help.  Nor does the fact that it was built in 1926, when rooms were small and closets were smaller.  Despite the remodeling and add-ons, we simply could not find the room to store all our stuff.  When baby number two came into our lives, two things immediately had to happen:

1.) Project Simplify
2.) Project Build-A-Shed

The first is a work in progress, as it kinda commits to a lifestyle change, and not just a large seasonal donation to Goodwill.  The second was thankfully completed this past spring, aiding to a huge step towards my goal of organization.

However, since there is always room for improvement, I have been scouring the depths of Pinterest for some much needed help in this area.  Easily distracted as I am, I got lost looking at colorful home decor, baking goodies that will add inches to my muffin top, and diy projects for every piece of piled up junk in my home.  Feeling a lack of creative outlets with too many ideas swirling around this brain, I decided on a project and decided to get started (I mean, the weather is only conducive to painting for a very short period of time).

You've all seen Monkey's adorable rock star room, right?!?  Well that adorable painted bedframe?  It was my husband and brother-in-law's bunk beds from back in the day.  It happened to have an attached dresser.  Which we detatched due to lack of space in his 1926 bedroom.  Aaaaand....I didn't really like the look to begin with.  But his once organized little closet is now piled with bins of clothes that fit him as an infant, blankets stacked so high one falls over every time you open the doors, and bulky Halloween costumes.  It needs help.  And here's where the dresser comes into play!

Combining my love of organization and diy projects, I am painting his dresser (to match his bed) but with chevron stenciled drawers!  I had leftover paint and the this looked like a time consuming, but FREE project!  SCORE!  I recruited begged my husband for help, since the first step of turning our junk into treasure was quite a deal of hard work.

Here is the before picture:

And I should add this is after a little work...

As you can see, my husband and his older brother spent quite the time covering every square inch of this dresser with stickers.  Stickers from the doctor, from the grocery store, from car repair shops, and even clothing inspection labels.  You name it...they stuck it.  It was ridiculous and tacky and I question my in-law's parenting skills.  Serious.  No, I'm kidding.  But yet serious.  (Mom...I love you!)

Since my husband's despicable behavior was mostly to blame, I let him do the grunt of the work.  But I did ruin my nails by peeling and scraping.  Some came off surprisingly well while others disintegrated as you attempted to pry them off.  Then came the tools as we tried to get an edge on them.  The most stubborn faced the fate of the sander, and then more scraping, and the more sanding, before finally revealing the original wood.

Since my husband invested in this awesome sprayer last year (you know, that you dump in your own bucket of paint, water it down a little, and shoot the stars??) that was my plan of action for this next step.  But he insisted that hand painting would work better.  Since I am an utter failure at hand painting, I let him at it without my assistance (which we all know would have created more work and frustration for him anyway).

And here comes spousal argument #1 -- (summarized)
Him: You always have these big projects and I end up doing the whole thing!
Me: I am perfectly happy doing the painting - SPRAY painting.  YOU are the one who insists on hand painting the darn thing and you KNOW you don't want my help with that.
Him: Eer Ugh Eeh (or something else unintelligible).
{**Okay, admittedly it might be slightly exaggerated too, but you get the gist.**}

I guess we primed THEN painted =)
We had decided on orange for the body of the dresser, and then white drawers with the orange chevron.  So we pulled out our old Behr paint in satin (I hate the finish, but oh well) and he went to work.  I kept the kids out of his hair until he was finished and then we called it a day.  When we had painted the bed frame we learned it really needed a couple days to cure, so we figured we would pick up where we left off next weekend.

I guess Monkey learned his posing skills from mama ;)

Next weekend:

Okay drawer fronts painted white - that was easy!  And since this was leftover Benjamin Moore paint (my FAAAAAVE) we knew we could get back to it the next day.

Two weekends later:

Okay.  You could technically insert spousal argument #2 here, but in all honesty we were BUSY the last couple weeks.  Though this bulky dresser sitting right outside my sliding glass door was driving me a bit bonkers, so I attempted to take matters into my own hands.  I got out the painters tape and the tutorial on Pinterest for the chevron and realized -- this looks like math.  This likes like over-Megan's-head-type-of-math.  Then I proceeded to put the tape away and give my husband some grace.  To add to that a bunch of our unessential to do list items got pushed on the back burner when great-grandma's health started to decline.  Family trumps all - end of story.  Well, except this isn't the end of our dresser's story, so I'll continue...

Out comes the painters tape, ruler, orange paint, paint get the picture.  Babe asks how big I want the chevrons, how many rows, ect.

Insert spousal argument #3:
I honestly don't even remember how the argument went exactly, but what it boils down to is that I know exactly what I want but sometimes, I have NO IDEA how to explain it.  I am a visual person so lets just say that he would spend the time and effort to tape it all out only for me to tell him it wasn't right.  Not good.

On our third try to communicate, my husband nailed it!  Then came the tedious process of peel and snip (go check out the tutorial HERE if you have no idea what I am talking about).  Again, I wasn't much help with this so I ran wild with the kids playing squirt guns while he labored over my project.  I was going to offer to paint but he was halfway finished before I noticed.  But I could see frustration on his face so I came over to check it out -- the paint was not going on smooth, was not covering evenly.  He added a second coat to try to make it look better (which it did, mostly) before peeling off the painters tape.  But when he started removing the painters tape, the paint literally started PEELING!  Now, we have ALWAYS had issues with Behr's satin paint, but this was ridiculous!!!!

Needless to say, we did not do the rest of the drawers.  And I am totally BUMMED!  Every now and then I will peek at it from a distance and smile because it is exactly what I had pictured....until you get close that is.  And you see the hideousness of it.  =(  So I'm not sure what the next step is.  The rest of his dresser is in his closet, with bare white drawers.  The chevron drawer is sitting outside awaiting its fate.  I would love to see chevrons, but we're not going to repaint all the bedroom furniture.

Anyway.  In hindsight, I'm not exactly sure why I thought this was such a great solution for closet organization anyway.  All his clothes fit in his dresser great, are easier for Monkey to reach, and stay organized longer.  But the dresser is so bulky, I can no longer fit anything on the bottom of his closet (which used to contain tubs of his baby clothes).  On the bright side, it has forced me to go through the closet, get rid of stuff we don't need, and make it easier for him.  But I can fit much less in the closet now.  My husband and I both agreed that overall it was for the best, but just didn't fit my original goal.  That's okay though, I'm still happy we did it.

So tell me....what are your tips and tricks for organizing closets and what lengths have you gone to to get it that way?  OR...what are your Pinterest fails?!?  Please tell me I'm not alone here.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall is Time to be FashionABLE!

I can't deny it anymore.  Despite the afternoon warmth on my cheeks and the sun shining through my windows, you can feel fall in the air with the frosty mornings and breezy evenings.  My house almost stays cool enough to turn the heater on for good.  Once again, summer swept through Washington far too quickly.  I feel disappointed.  Unfortunately, all efforts to convince my husband of a sunny vacation have been in vain.  So far.  (I'm not giving up easily.)

Regardless of what our vacation plans may be (or lack there of), I am making all efforts to embrace fall and all the wonderful things that come with it...

First being, our very first year of preschool for our Lil' Man!  I am a firm believer in at-home preschool (Although I'm not judging!  I don't know your circumstances...this is just what is in the best interest of our family.) so I am focusing on structured activities with my little guy.  It takes some effort on all our parts, but he seems to enjoy it more each day.

So excited to take a pic with his backpack for going no where.  =)
Cocoa couldn't resist sneaking in a pic as well =)

Second is the fall decor.  Aside from Christmas, fall just might be my favorite season of home decor!  The colors are so beautiful and I love the natural elements to design around -- pumpkins, squash, leaves, twigs.  Not to mention burlap.  I love burlap.  =)  {I just can't wait to get working on this year's fall wreath.}

Third is the start of festivities -- Halloween, harvest parties, pumpkin patches....and before you know it we've got Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years (not to mention both of my kids' birthday parties thrown in between now and then).  It's just a celebratory time of year!

Last but not least is the fall fashion.  I know this will come as a HUGE shock to ya'll!  ;)  I am known to wear boots and scarves all year long, but once fall hits it starts to become a necessity more than just a fashion statement (or at least in Seattle it does).  But as much as I dread the cooler weather, I really do look forward to leg warmers, cozy sweaters, fingerless gloves, leather jackets, pea coats, and beanies (not to mention Pumpkin Spice Lattes!  Can I get an "AMEN"!!!)!  So needless to say I've been browsing Pinterest and all my favorite online shops for inspiration for my 2012 fall style.  Out of all the color palettes, layers, and texture combinations swirling around in this chaotic head of mine...the fall staples jumping out at me MOST this season are the scarves from FashionABLE's new fall line.  Seriously ya' good I can't HELP but share it with you!

Saba Infinity {Great for guys AND girls!}

Feleku in Navy/Orchid

Abeba in Marigold {Can't WAIT!!}

{And you can check out the rest of their collection HERE.}

For those of you who haven't heard of FashionABLE, it is a company that is very near and dear to our hearts.  They partner with "Women at Risk" in Ethiopia to get women off the streets, out of prostitution, and give them a sustainable business making scarves.  I encourage you to read more about their mission and commitment to these women HERE.

I'm sure if you are a regular around here you know our hearts for Ethiopia and see why this is so close to our hearts.  But if that weren't enough, our dear friends Ian and Brittany Bentley live in Ethiopia and work with FashionABLE and have developed close relationships with these brave women.  They have shared just a smidgen with us on what an impact this business is for these women, and it is truly a beautiful thing, and something I want to support.

So check them out!  It is seriously worth your time.  With each purchase you are giving these women the ability to choose a new life.  I don't know about you, but that speaks volumes to me.                    


Friday, August 17, 2012

Deception Pass

Every July, my mom and her sisters enjoy a week of camping at Deception Pass.  Being an approximate halfway point between our home and our parent's home, it's often a great place to meet up.  Although we absolutely LOVE camping there, the reservations need to be made months in advance.  With some pretty significant schedule changes at work (not to mention an adoption that rocked our world), it was just not possible this last year to plan that far in advance.  

Uncle Dean showing Cocoa the dog and how to be gentle (she LOVES puppies).
 Thankfully, my parents offered to let us camp on their site.  Now, I am by no means a "diva camper" (which may surprise several of you)....but a tent has proved unsuccessful with our two little monkeys.  Okay....if I'm being completely honest with you, the last time we tried it was when Lil Man was a babe, but it was SO AWFUL we have no desire to attempt that again.  Props for all you families that make it work!  We just decided it was not in our best interest.

So how do we camp?  No we're not "glampers" (but again, if I was completely honest I am not at all opposed to the idea).  We prefer the tent-trailer method.  My husband's parents own one that they have used since they had little kids and they graciously lend it to us each year.  But again....this was not a planned camping trip, so we didn't have time to make the two hour trek to pick it up, pack it, and tow it to Deception Pass.

My ultimate favorite picture of my Lil Man right now =)
So where exactly did we sleep for our one-night adventure?  In my parents' trailer - which is admittedly a "glamping" situation.  It is roomy enough to pull out the couch, add a blow-up mattress, shove Cocoa's pack-in-play in the corner, and a sleeping bag on the floor for Lil Man.  All within the kitching/living area.  And my parents still have their own bedroom!  Perfect for a one night stay....although if we had chosen to stay any longer we would have needed to come up with a new plan.

The best part about the campground at Deception Pass is the easy access to two beautiful beaches (separated by a small rocky cliff).  The north beach, which we favor for the privacy, has a stunning view of the bridge, which makes an excellent backdrop for photos.  (Although I don't have any good ones from this year, you may remember from our first family photos last summer.)

My favorite of Cocoa from the weekend
We were blessed with a beautiful weekend.  Some of our first consistent warm weather of the summer! I tried to keep Cocoa's hair protected from all the sand, but it was a lost cause.  I told you this girl likes to get dirty, right?  She was dumping buckets of water all over to make mud and then would throw the mixture into her hair!  (The bottom of the tub was COVERED with sand when we got home.)

Lil Miss looked like a baby model in her gap bikini and polka dot head scarf (in my very humble opinion that is not at all biased =) and strutted her stuff along the rocky shore!  She's one of those kids that gets a constant stream of lingering stares, pointing, and whispers about her evident adorableness.  Sometimes I pretend like I don't hear it (I don't want her to get a big head after all...well, bigger than it already is with that 'fro).

Cocoa deep in conversation with her oldest cousin, Caleb
 Mama thankfully got a little time to lay out.  But a tan was kind of out of the question thanks to a certain little lady covering me in sand, mud, peanut butter, and salad dressing (weird combination, I know).  Grandma had lots of toys to distract her, but the girl can't stay away from touching me for too long!  =)

After several escape attempts to the shore, I begged daddy to talk Cocoa into the water (a panic swept over me every time she got near, and my heart couldn't handle it).  After her toes took their first dip, she had a moment of panic at the freezing temps of the water (Remember - this was our first WARM week...water hadn't warmed up in the slightest yet.  Wait.  What am I saying?  The water never warms up here.) before she decided she didn't care and splashed around like nobody's business.

And where was Monkey during all of this?  Well...he spent a lot of the time in time out for being a cranky butt and then several hours playing cars in grandma's trailer.  Like I said.  Cranky butt.  Hence the lack of pictures of my Lil Man.  But I have plenty of Cocoa!!!

Back at the trailer we noticed a vast change in temperature.  And a huge rise in the number of mosquitos.  That is why Lil Miss is covered head to toe.  We grilled up some hot dogs and chicken nuggets and had a quick dinner before we put the kids down for bed.  Thankfully, there was no fight in that area.  Then it was back out to the fire where my aunts and uncles and cousins and their kids all gathered for smores and a trip down memory lane =)  Kids slept peacefully...then again, I did shush the crowd on multiple occasions =)

Grandpa and his princess

The grill masters (hubs and my oldest brother and his two kids)

Playing peek-a-boo from the trailer

Monkey's cozy corner
And so goes Cocoa's first camping trip EVER!!!  I don't know if it counts since we just stayed the night with grandpa and grandma....but it was a great test for the UPCOMING camping trip in the tent trailer!!  And now that Monkey has had his taste, he can't WAIT to get going!!!