Some Playroom Ideas

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Posted by Rebecca, January 29th, 2013

Ever since we added the SmartStrand carpet to the playroom, we have been living in there. Like, Mike and I literally sit on the floor in there all the time and we hardly use our family room anymore. I bring my coffee in there on the weekends (or if Easton wakes up ridiculously early during the week) and we just play.

Just before Christmas, we temporarily moved the Expedit that used to live in the office back into the playroom, but we placed it horizontally rather than vertically.

We placed it on the wall that you don’t see when you look in, just to keep the clutter out of sight for now.

Yes, I took these pictures around Christmas time and never got around to writing this post. Whoops.

While it works temporarily, Christmas brought along loads of Fisher Price and about 4 toys that require different sizes of balls that are currently thrown all over the room. Easton throws just like Mariano Rivera, watch for yourself!

YouTube Preview Image

And then applauds himself. Humble, yet proud :)

When he’s not hurling fast balls, Easton is at such a great age that he is able to entertain himself for a few minutes at a time. He loves his playroom. His latest trick is crawling away from us and proceeding to pull toys out of the baskets and Expedit…resulting in a giant mess already.

He has some toy cars in one of the bottom cubes that he likes to play with, while actually laying in the cube.

Our original plan, over a year ago, was to add some Ikea bookcases turned built-ins to the room ala Centsational Girl.

(via Centsational Girl)

I still love this idea but the problem is, building in storage is relatively permanent. The room also has a floor vent in the corner that would make this project less than easy. The more we’ve thought about it, the more we think it’s a good idea to do something that is easy to remove. Let’s face it, this room won’t be a playroom forever and it will evolve as Easton and his future siblings grow. Maybe we’ll want to add a table? Or a couch? The room is relatively small (about 11′x13′ I believe) so we think that having more of a modular storage system would accomodate any changes we want to make.

Cue the Cameron storage system from Pottery Barn Kids.

(via Pottery Barn Kids)

While I like all of the storage that these units would provide, what I like more is the fact that they have straight lines and would be easy to DIY since the price is frightening. While I would like some closed storage mixed in, right now Easton is a pro at opening doors and getting his fingers stuck. Being able to add closed drawers/doors as he gets older and can manuever them would be great.

As for what direction I’m thinking for the rest of the room, we already own two pieces that have inspired me for this space. The first one is this New York print I picked up on Fab over a month ago. I ordered Mike some things for Christmas and I was close to free shipping, so I added this adorable $15 print I fell in love with.

I love the mix of neutrals and the bright yellow taxi. The grays and browns bring in the next thing we have for the room, this metal imagine sign.

We bought this piece literally years ago at a shop in New Hope, PA and it is handmade. We planned to hang it in the office when this room was the office, but the copperish line on the bottom always threw me off with the gray stripes (the sign was purchased even before we painted the stripes). But, with the addition of the taxi print, everything seems to be falling into place.

Please ignore the awful picture, but you can see how it all sort of works.

I haven’t yet decided how to hang all of the things I want to add to the room (gallery wall? clothes line? shelves? leaning on bookcases?), but that’s something to worry about later. For now, I just want a fun space full of garland (since I loved our xmas version), a play tent, fun art and one ball throwing baby.

And a hard surface for my coffee mug… :)

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Austin Or Bust

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Posted by Rebecca, January 24th, 2013

I’ve been missing for a bit around here. Last week, we took a little family vacation. I planned to schedule some posts before I left (ha!), but that never works out for me. I’m always just a blog in real-time type of person and in real-time, I was running around like a looney doing laundry and making packing lists.

Where did we go you ask? Austin, Texas.

I went there with a completely empty head. I didn’t plan to get any sort of blog material or take pictures. This may be the first time we’ve gone on vacation where I wasn’t looking for cool things to blog about. I think maybe it’s because a very popular blog was just in Austin and once something’s been done, it ruins the blog post appeal for me. I don’t want to be a copy cat despite the fact that this trip was booked long before Young House Love ventured to Austin.

But, you guys, Austin is awesome. It has earned it’s own post (though this is not necessarily a sightseeing post). On everyone’s blog…go to Austin and blog about it.

I guess I should start at the beginning? We planned to leave for the airport at 4am on Thursday. I woke up at 3:30 with an awful case of mastitis. Really, really awful, and I’ve done this many times before. I couldn’t stand up straight and I was shaking from the chills. How I was supposed to get myself straightened out, wake up Easton and get us both out the door in a half hour was beyond me. I knew that in a few hours I’d likely be okay, so Mike got on the phone with the airline and tried to move us to a later flight. The flight change fees were ridiculous (over $500), plus we wouldn’t sit together and the flight wasn’t direct. Plus for our second flight (Houston to Austin), we’d be on standby. I popped some Motrin, made a poor attempt to pump, then woke up Easton to see if he could fix my problem. He helped a little and I made the game time decision to head to the airport rather than cancel our whole vacation.

We hauled all of our stuff, which was a lot when traveling with an 8 month old, to the airport. We got there a half hour before our flight and they told us they couldn’t let us on. Newark airport requires you to arrive 45 minutes before your flight. So now we were at the airport, baby in Ergo, bags in hand and no flight. I was on about an hour of sleep, no food, fighting infection and… no flight. Mike asked if I just wanted to go home and cancel our trip and I was like oh no, we are here, we are packed, we’re going somewhere.

We talked to the airline and got on the later flight without change fees (woohoo!). But, we were still sitting 5 rows apart, each in middle seats, and we were on standby for our connecting flight. We figured worst case scenario, we could rent a car and drive from Houston to Austin. So we did it.

By the time we dealt with all of that, made it through security, hauled to a distant gate, changed Easton, fed Easton… It was time to board and I was still exhausted and starving. We got on the plane and Mike very nicely asked the woman sitting next to me if she’d trade seats with him so he could sit next to Easton and I. She not so nicely said that she was not sitting in a center seat for 4 hours, then proceeded to be the least helpful person for that 4 hour flight. I did not get up once because she wouldn’t move. Combine that with lack of food, sleep, infection and the fact that I’m flying with an infant and it was not something I’d want to do again. Thankfull the easiest part of this whole experience was….. Easton. He was a saint through it all and didn’t cry once all morning. I’m not lying.

We got off the flight from hell and hauled it to another terminal to pick up our connection. We were told there were no seats for us and we’d have to wait. I was actually relieved because I had to pee, eat, change Easton and feed Easton. I started to take things out of my diaper bag when surprise! They DID have seats for us, if we get on the plane right that second, without even closing up our stroller, with a baby dangling from my arms in a dirty diaper. I think I would have preferred to walk to Austin at that point.

It was the shortest flight in the history of the world (20 minutes) and I was able to change Easton on my lap, feed him and he passed out until the plane stopped moving. We finally made it to Austin many foodless and sleepless hours after the whole fiasco began. We met up with our friends and headed to our hotel, where I ate french fries and collapsed for 2? 3? hours.

Thankfully, the rest of our trip was smooth sailing, even though we were traveling with two 8 month olds and a 2 year old. Easton loved meeting his friends and he and Hadley are only 10 days apart. They somehow stayed on basically the same eating and sleeping schedule, so it made our outings easier.

That being said, we hit up the kid circuit of Austin. And ate lots of food inbetween. I had so many breakfast tacos it is embarassing, but they were unbelievable. I love a city that’s full of brunch and non-chain restaurants.

Easton had a week of firsts, which he mostly slept through. First was his first trip to the zoo.

Then we went to the children’s museum where he was due for a nap, but I made him play in the infant section for 5 minutes. His face says it all.

Then he went to sleep, but woke up just in time for brunch.

Note to self: Dolman sleeve shirts add 100lbs.

We also took Easton to the park for the first time that he could actually enjoy it. It was 75 degrees in Austin on Sunday so the fresh air felt wonderful.

He got to experience swings for the first time. I’m pretty sure he loved the 5 minutes he was in it.

This is pretty much the only time all vacation that we busted out the big camera.

Naps and feedings in the van made up most of our trip (we rented a giant church style van to accomodate 3 car seats and 4 adults)

We really just went with the flow and enjoyed the weather and city. I didn’t shop because I knew I couldn’t bring anything home. I just ate a lot because I knew my belly had a large storage capacity…

We reluctantly came back to NJ and it’s 15 degree weather on Monday. Our flight home was thankfully uneventful, but both Easton and I ended up with colds. Easton’s popped up just yesterday, so he’s still fighting it more so than I am. It’s his first time being sick and even though the doctor said it’s just nasal congestion, seeing him uncomfortable sucks. All of those Clorox wipes on the plane failed me!

My advice for those flying with an infant?

1) Don’t miss your flight and get stuck sitting alone, in a center seat. This was my carry on…

I was able to reach down and grab Sophie, with Easton on my lap, not bumping into my reluctant neighbor and that was it. I couldn’t get into my bag. Easton didn’t get changed (because I couldn’t get up either). Thankfully Mike came up and got him and entertained him for a bit.

2) Get an Ergo, it’s a lifesaver. Even boarding a plane is much easier when you have two free hands. You don’t realize how long it takes people to get situated in their seats until you’re waiting behind them with a 22lb infant on your hip and a carry on in your other arm.

3) Pack hard toys and Clorox wipes.

I didn’t bring any stuffed animal type of toys because I wouldn’t be able to clean them on the go. On the way back, Easton did play with his books and toys and I kept the disinfecting wipes on hand.

4) Puffs work wonders.

Maybe it’s just my kid, but he’ll do anything for a single puff. It worked well on the way back, until Mike dropped the entire supply I packed all over the floor. Whoops.

5) If you use a Boppy, get a travel one.

Easton is a big guy so I couldn’t imagine nursing him 6x a day, for multiple days, without one. It was also great for the plane and adding extra lap space, especially when I had to sit next to a woman that would not move. The travel Boppy zips up into a shoulder bag, which was easy to clip onto another bag or throw over the stroller handle. I kept it in the hotel once we were there and wished I brought it everywhere!

6) Gate check a stroller.

We originally weren’t going to do this and got the travel bag for our UppaBaby Vista. But the airline was going to charge us to check the stroller at the desk, so we kept it with us to save money. When we had to haul ourselves across the airport to pick up our connecting flight, we were thankful we had it to give our bodies a break. We still put it in the bag to protect it and took the wheels off, but at least we had it right away especially after the long day we had getting there.

7) Less is more.

I really packed minimally for both Easton and I and it worked out well. We brought our car seat and stroller, so the last thing we wanted to do was have more luggage than the two of us could carry. We still had a lot of crap but we were able to manage it well.

8) Be flexible.

Things will go wrong, naps will be missed, bed time will be screwed up and your kid will poop at the worst time, but none of that matters. As long as you’re all happy and enjoying your trip, you’ll be fine. And we were and we did.

I’m so happy that we managed to actually make it to Austin despite my rough start. Easton was phenomenal through the whole trip. Good thing, because guess who is going to the Haven Conference in Atlanta in August? Yes, Mr. Easton is :) Well, I’m going to the actual conference and Mike and Easton will be tagging along. At least now we have some flight experience under our belts. Which means the next trip will be a living hell, right?

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The Nursery Gallery Wall

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Posted by Rebecca, January 10th, 2013

This post has been a long time coming. As in, Easton is now 7.5 months old and I’ve been waiting to do something with this wall in his room since I was pregnant. It has been a thorn in my side– that project that always seems to have some issue that makes you delay it another week… then another… then another. But then finally, it’s done.

Wait, where did I last leave you? Oh yes, with a Corn Flakes box and some tissue paper.

I bought a black shadowbox and planned to paint it white. The Corn Flakes box and spray paint run was a major fail. The spray leaked through the glass and the paint didn’t adhere to the frame. Next I decided to just hand paint the whole thing. I bought some paint and primer in one, gave it a decent sanding then sat on the garage floor one night painting away. Have you ever painted a shadowbox? Yeah, don’t. There are way too many little ledges inside and out. I painted everything I could with the door of the thing open, then left it to dry before doing the next parts. When I saw that one coat of paint wouldn’t be enough to cover the black, I decided to try a new(er) approach.

I returned to spray paint, but this time I went with my usual Rustoleum Universal spray paint and I decided to Frog Tape the entire glass portion of the shadowbox, front and back. Why I didn’t think of this sooner, the world will never know.

First I had to do a lot of cleaning and scraping of the previous overspray.

FYI- the plastic knife worked the best since it didn’t scratch the glass :)

I used the razor to trim the tape perfectly so I didn’t have to scrape anymore paint off the glass.

Then it was back to the yard for the shadowbox and two smaller frames that I had sprayed with the previous spray paint. I could have lived with them, but they were chipping so easily that I figured I’d give them a good coat so I could stop handling them like they were a dozen eggs.

Once everything dried and sat in the garage for a few days, we were FINALLY ready to hang everything!

The gallery wall recipient so proudly watched from his crib.

He loved it before it was even done.

To hang everything, we had the awful tissue paper up, but I knew the real frames were likely to be off from that. So we didn’t nail into the templates or anything, but we just started with the most centered frame. From the tissue paper, I knew I wanted everything about 2 inches higher so we just eyeballed it. Once the first frame was up, we did the one above it– spacing it rather close to the first frame.

This part is personal preference, but I like gallery walls that have a tight arrangement. We then moved to either side, keeping everything spaced tight, until it looked like this.

Hanging everything took no time at all. After all of these months, we finally have a completed nursery.

Scatter brained sidenote:  I forgot to tell you guys that Easton had a little Christmas tree…

I took the tree away for the rest of the finished pictures so that it wouldn’t distract from the gallery wall.

I already mentioned in my planning post how easy it was to actually decide what to put in the frames and where they would go.

On the far left is a photo from our maternity shoot. I wanted to remember what Easton looked like on the inside.

To the right of that, on top, is a print I made that says “You are the world and the world is yours”. It’s from a Jason Mraz song and since we went to two concerts when I was pregnant, plus I listened to his album while in labor and when Easton was a newborn, it will forever remind me of Easton. Thirty years from now I will hear some of those songs and remember walking my newborn around our neighborhood, with my iPhone in the stroller cup holder playing music.

Underneath that is just a spare piece of chevron fabric from the curtains and crib skirt I made.

Next to those, on the top, is a rocket I made out of scrapbook paper. I originally painted a rocket in muted blues and grays, but it was lacking the fun, vibrant color that I wanted to include in the nursery. I felt like there were enough sophisticated parts to this room, let the rocket be fun Rebecca. So I remade it.

Below that is one of Easton’s hospital pictures. It’s inclusion is self-explanatory.

On the end is a photo of Macky that we always refer to as Macky’s mugshot. It’s a few years old but we love it. When I was planning this wall, I wanted it to sort of be a “things we love” lesson to Easton. The cats are a huge part of our family and I wanted them to be included in his room. We used Macky has the ambassador because of this particular picture, but it turns out that Easton adores all of the cats, but especially loves (or is obsessed with), Macky. A dream come true for all of us.

And finally, up top is of course that effing shadowbox that has caused me so much work. But in the end, it was totally worth it. Just look at this little newborn sized onesie.

I originally planned to iron the onesie, but once it was in there I decided I liked the not perfectly pressed and flat look. The 3D appearance looks better to me.

I couldn’t be happier with how this wall (finally) turned out. Whenever I open Easton’s door, it makes me so happy to see his tiny little onesie and newborn picture up there. I cannot believe he’s almost 8 months old.

And with this wall, the nursery is officially complete! Final room reveal coming right up! I couldn’t snap anymore pictures, my assistant was demanding me.

Wait, he’s my boss.

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Our DIY Christmas Cards

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Posted by Rebecca, January 8th, 2013

Well, nothing like a Christmas post in January! I planned to post this before Christmas, but we wanted to wait until our family/friends received their actual cards and by then we were caught up in actual getting ready for Christmas. So even though you saw the finished product on Christmas day and no one is thinking Christmas right now, it’s pretty applicable to any card/occasion.

I started with an exact idea in my head of how I wanted the finished product to look. I kept telling Mike that “I had a vision!!!” By the end of this he probably wanted to be like, F your vision.

I knew I wanted Easton to wear a red hat and a green onesie. I had to order a solid green onesie from a tshirt supplier because I couldn’t find one anywhere. The red hat was an easy find at Baby Gap.

The next thing I needed was patterned wrapping paper that contained… red and green to match the baby. I knew Target always has a healthy supply of paper, so I headed there with Easton strapped to my chest. The options were endless and adorable. My only criteria were the red and green, plus nothing shiny or sparkly that would photograph poorly. I sent Mike these contenders.

I loved the Christmas lights one but I knew the black background would be too dark. My favorite was the one with the mix of tree shapes and ornaments. Mike agreed without me telling him which one I liked. I liked the fun, whimsy of it for a first Christmas card.

The weekend after Thanksgiving we decided to hold our photoshoot. We shot the pictures in our bedroom, which is when we removed all of our paper blinds for once and for all! We set up everything while Easton napped so that we could get him right at his best when he woke up.

I taped a piece of wrapping paper up. I also added some foam mats underneath just incase Easton decided to faceplant on our hardwood floors. He didn’t, but saftey first!

On top I added our white king sized comforter (which you can see hanging out off to the side in the above picture. I wanted the floor in the photo to look like a fluffy winter scene, so the comforter was perfect.

Once that was done, we had this. This picture actually shows a white, furry baby blanket over the comforter. We decided to scratch it because it was too small and Easton would have been yanking at it the whole time since that’s his usual blanky.

We tested everything out just like that before Easton woke up. We even threw in a model.

Once the human model woke up, we added him to the scene.

Which made for quite possibly my favorite picture of all time. If only they weren’t so serious and didn’t resemble the couple from that American Gothic painting.

Mike and I each had a camera and we snapped away. Easton was in a really good mood since we had waited until right after he woke up (with a feeding thrown in, which only made him happier). In the end, we took, no lie, over 1,000 photos in about an hour.

Here are some of our favorite shots that didn’t make the Christmas card cut, but you may have seen on our Christmas mantel

Once we chose a picture (which took forever becuase there were so many great ones), Mike Photoshopped the text on. Part of my “vision” was to have several fonts spell out “Merry Little Christmas”. Mike fiddled a little, sent me some files for suggestions/approval and we settled on the final product you saw.

Next we had to decide how to print these things. I was sad to find out that services like Shutterfly (we were just going to get 5×7 prints) were about $1 each. We knew we could get a premade card where we just uploaded an image for the same price, so we were a bit discouraged. We needed about 75 of these things and really didn’t want to spend $100 on Christmas cards. The cheapest option I found was to do cardstock on Vistaprint.com and spend about 60 cents/card.

Then I received a Groupon for Vista Print, as if someone knew we needed it. It was for $75 worth of merchandise for $17! There were no restrictions for what we wanted to do, so we ordered them. Turns out, the custom holiday cards we ordered also came with envelopes. Yeeeees!

So that is how we got 100 Christmas cards for $17. Or 17 cents each. Vision achieved.

Now I just need to come up with a vision for first birthday invites :)

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Christmas Decor

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Posted by Rebecca, January 3rd, 2013

Whoa there, 2013! I hope you guys had a great holiday week! Because we were so chaotic just trying to get ready for Christmas, I majorly failed at posting anything Christmas related. But it’s only January 2nd, right? Better late than never?? Maybe?

Since I changed up our Christmas decor this year, I couldn’t just skip over it like it didn’t happen. I planned to start decorating early (and did). I also planned to do a less is more approach (which I did). Even with all of that, I still didn’t do everything I wanted to. But that’s okay, no one noticed that I never DIYed that new wreath for the front door.

Anyway, I started by wanting some felted wool garland and at first I was going to make it. After a day I realized I was insane and I would just buy some felted balls and string them myself. After another day I realized that was also a bad idea with all I had on my plate so I just bought some. I had a Land of Nod gift card from last Christmas (I’m a serious gift card hoarder), plus I caught a sale and got free shipping. In the end I ordered 3 strands of goody gumball garland in red, green and white for about $20. I originally wanted to do a mix of fun colors for Easton’s first Christmas, but then I changed my mind and went traditional.

I first hung a strand on the mantel (right after Thanksgiving, this decorating thing literally took me a month to nail down), then everything just kind of evolved.

The second strand of garland went on the entertainment center, after realizing that I didn’t have enough to decorate the tree. I put my white spray painted deer bookends up here and planned to add some ribbon or something to make them more festive, but never got around to it.

I bought some red pillows at Target to stick on the couch. They ended up being one of my favorite parts.

The red stockings are new this year and from Target. I replaced Easton’s newborn pictures with some Christmas pictures we took for our Christmas card. I already told you guys about the chalkboard that’s on the mantel.

The two small trees are from Target about 2 years ago and the large tree on the floor I got from West Elm last year on super clearance (I think it was $7).

My other favorite part this year is our stockings. I was going to make some chalkboard tags or something until I found these pins at Target.

Mike and I had stocking pins since our first stockings and I just love them. They’re so clean and minimalist, thankfully we all have different first initials. Oh and the “M” and “D” are mommy and daddy, that one confused a lot of friends and family.

Since I didn’t buy these ones the week after Christmas when I usually buy my new decorations, I didn’t have to buy a “W’ and flip it upside down to make a “M” like I did last time :)

If the memory card our Christmas pictures are sitting on will cooperate, I can show you the outtakes and behind the scenes shots from our Christmas card. We took some of the additional shots we loved and placed them in the frames that were holding some of Easton’s newborn pics.

One of my ideas I never got around to was to cover these mats with wrapping paper to add some more color to the mantel. In the end I think I like them without it.

I also updated our chalkboard for Christmas Eve (which we hosted). I seriously love this thing. It takes me 10 minutes each time and it’s so much fun for me.

The tree this year was something I was just winging, but I love how the color scheme worked out.

I used the dark blue/gray ornaments from about 5 years ago only because I wanted to use our old tree topper and skirt. I’m usually not one to change up Christmas decorations too much since you use them for only a few weeks a year. I mostly repeat color schemes and just move things around. Last year I used a combo of the dark blue/gray, green, silver and aqua, which I loved. After Christmas last year, I picked up the red snowflake ornaments, which were 25 cents for 4. They jump started this whole red revolution (redvolution? too far?).

Since the playroom is in the entryway and it is now the room we spend the most time in, I decided to take the last strand of garland and hang it over the door. I loved it right away.

Easton had a great first Christmas and I’ll have to share some of his pictures in another post. He was a pro at opening gifts after 3 days of celebrations.

I hope you all had a great last week of December, full of naps and good food!

ps- Dear god why am I up past midnight??

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