Friday, December 31, 2010

I want this so bad it hurts...
(er, I mean Elijah wants this...he told me)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New wall decor. Score! Happy birthday to me! (plus I got my nose pierced!..again...) (this wall is the beginnings a non-matchy picture collage...and yes, I am obsessed with gold initials)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Choosing Holiday Traditions for the Family

....beyond just thanksgiving football.
 Apparently equals

Lately I have been trying to think of holiday traditions to start. This is my first year to have a family, and I (tending to err more on the cheesy side in the christmas department) love having a 'thing' we always do. I want to make new memories. So I've been taking a poll of cool holiday-tradition-ideas.

*note*: Not just traditions for families, mind you, I totally should have started thinking about this topic pre-baby, pre-Justin....

My process--To Santa or not to Santa...
I am still deciding if we are doing the whole Santa thing. I want to, I grew up doing it, I love fantasy. Yes, there's the anti-santa argument of the Lying Factor (going along with something that could eventually 'break their hearts'...). I've considered the Distraction Factor (Santa distracts from the reason for the season), etc.I still wanted to do Santa. However recently I had a friend that (I am grateful for this) recently made me think once again about the decision to santa or not to santa. It was the way she phrased the question that resounded with me. She asked me innocently in conversation, "Are you going to teach your children to believe in Santa Claus?" Teach? Including santa in the festivities had felt almost passive, of course our kids would believe because they would learn from the rest of the world. But, I realized, everything you say or do as a parent, santa or not, is intentional. A parent is a teacher at all times. Ouch. I'm still processing, I haven't decided either way still. 

So, Santa or not, I decided that we need to choose traditions that are in line with our family mission statement (see post on how to keep life simple). So I've taken a Holiday Poll and found 7 of my favorite tradition ideas.
In order of favorites:

I got this tradition from a friend via facebook. 

(do not click to look inside...obviously)

A devotional for children you read as a family every day of December. Each day discusses the story of Jesus from the perspective of the Jesse tree. There is an ornament for each day that goes along with the devo from that day, and the ornament can either be made (craft time!) or can be purchased.
where to buy the book
 or you can read more about the book & download the ornaments here
jesse tree online
2) Multi-Cultural Christmas (my own version)

Thanks to Stephie, who grew up doing this. Every year, a different member of the family gets to pick a country (they rotate). The family (or the person who picked the country)gets to research the history, politics, cultural aspects, cuisine of that country. Mom (or dad) starts a couple days before Christmas Eve dinner, gathering all the ingredients to make an 8 course meal from that country. Someone from the family reads about the politics and culture to the rest of the family and they enjoy that country together. Also, every year, Stephie's mom buys a little Santa figurine from that country (they have a huge display by now). Tada
 My version: Instead of doing this Christmas eve, I want to do it Thanksgiving meal. Not huge fans of turkey and stuffing anyway, so we would like to start doing this tradition in lieu of tryptophanfest. Also, we'll do more like a THREE course meal, we're gonna scale it down (remember my 2hour prep rule). We really want to expose our kids to other cultures and teach respect for, so this is one way we can accomplish that.
3. Christmas Eve Santa Hunting 
On Christmas Eve, my friend's family goes out to "look for Santa". Everyone gets in the car and drives around looking for Santa. Meanwhile other family members stay at home and put all the gifts under the tree. Every year when the kids return with grandpa or father or whoever, they JUST MISSED Santa again! This family also eats tamales for dinner that night and sings carols together. My friend's now 'all grown up' ;) and still looks forward to it every year. 

(she doesn't do this, but it would be amazing if she did)
4. Christmas Tree Decorating
I read about this online. The family goes out to the near-by 'forest-y' park (for us, Brushy creek has a deer park around the corner). The family goes out with peanut-butter-birdseed pine cones, popcorn and cranberry garlands and orange and apple slices suspended from pipe cleaners. They pick a 'christmas' tree for the animals, and decorate it for the animals to enjoy! (make sure this is safe&legal....)
5. Open up one gift Christmas Eve--New Pj's! 
(it's the little things...) Wear them Christmas morning. If you're as cool as these people, your family will match.

6. Gingerbread Man Contest!

My family does this. Every year we make homemade gingerbread and everyone makes two gingerbread men. Then everyone votes for their favorite (can't be your own). The winner gets something amazing. Like a harry potter book collection or teen moms season 1 on dvd.   

7. Go Listen to Handel's Messiah as a Family
 I personally love this one. Used to do this as a family in Oklahoma. I checked online and the Austin Symphony is performing it several dates in Dec.
(Long Sidenote Warning: I found a lot of other fun things to do in Austin over the holidays such as:

-->Relive a turn-of-the-century Christmas on historic Sixth Street during the 12th annual Victorian Christmas on Sixth Street. Artists and craftspeople display their work in more than 150 booths (

--->The German-Texan Heritage Society offers handmade and imported wooden German ornaments and other gifts. "Enjoy refreshments, live music and German Christmas caroling".

-->The former home of short story writer O'Henry, located at 409 East 5th St., is decorated for a Victorian Christmas reception (what what) ((I'm a sucker for victorian anything)) and an open house on December 4 from 3-5 p.m. that features refreshments and live music.

And I know it's already past but.....

7. Some Thanksgiving Traditions
   a) Make homemade pumpkin bars and cards to deliver to your neighbors (thanks cousin)
   b) Everyone share one thing you are thankful for each day and write it on a huge thanksgiving pumpkin that sits at your table all month.
   c) If you're not anal about decor--buy a white tablecloth and put an indelible marker at each table setting, and ask everyone to write a list or draw a picture of things they are grateful for during dinner. (Later in dinner, everyone can share what they are thankful for)
   d) Invite new people to thanksgiving dinner. People you may not normally hang out with or foreign exchange students

Welp, that's all I have so far. If anyone has any other good traditions, please email me, would love to hear them since we're trying to decide!

hopefully doesn't =

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joint Compound: Transforming Nastiness

Dear Joint Compound,
About six months ago, my MIL introduced me to you. Not exactly the home-builder-y, heidi the-tool-man-assistant kind of girl, I had no idea what you were. Little did I know you would transform my life--er, bathroom (and kitchen, and half-bath and guest-bath) forever. Love you
Hugs, Thanks, and Gig 'em,

Clueless Mom

My new bathroom:

Some other examples:

 (this texture was done with butterknives!)
 (the color of our baby room)
All it takes is one day, two (cheap) purchases, and paint.

Adds texture to any wall, or pic frame or art project and makes it look amaaaazing. (I am an Anti-Matchy-Matchy when it comes to decor) Or, as in my case-JC gets rid of nasty 80s-looking wallpaper.

All you need:
(and--of course--it's super cheap, like $13 for the whole tub which should do a whole bathroom (my bathroom is fairly large. A tub and a half for a room, pending)
(Could substitute with another tool that gives cool texture, but the texturing really needs to be consistent so it doesn't look janky).
3) Boring or ugly room
(the second one makes me want to poke out my retinas, please)

All you do:
1) If you're not sealing in wallpaper, put the JC in a trough or container and mix it with a little water to get it creamy.

**Note Regarding the Wallpaper Scenario: I am personally not completely anti-wallpaper. It's actually coming back in and a lot of designers are using it now. (moderation is the key word...) My wallpaper...was def. not designer caliber****

2) Go to town. Start making a pattern on the wall, it does help if the pattern is somewhat consistent but it doesn't have to be. (I find retexturing really therapeutic and a creative outlet)

3) Paint over with the glorious color of your choice!

easy peasy. 
It takes about a day to finish. (apply, wait a day for it to dry, then painting).
((if you are going over wall paper, you will need an oil-based primer before adding texture and to seal it with water based primer, THEN you paint. Still takes about a day maybe two.))

My Bathroom Before: (insert gagging-noises here)(we tried to peel off the wallpaper before we discovered JC)

80s wallpaper on crack, yes I know
And after: 

And yes, we're planning on keeping the brass. My inspiration for this room is 1930s hollywood, so I'm going to look for antiqued brass fixtures, and the colors will be light pink (curtains are light pink silk, which we got for free:) and brown with powder blue accents. Crystal chandelier EVENtually--will find one on craigslist & refurbish

We also textured the guest bathroom:
Wish I had before and after of our kitchen because it was even more transformational.  
There you have it. 
My bathroom no longer feels like

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Bear Grylls Project

I have successfully completed two weeks of baking soda/vinegar shampoo/conditioner-ing my hair! (see previous post on going green)
I vote yes, on a mostly consistent basis.(how's that for ambiguity, spoken like a true member of generation y)  
I say it works AMAZING--For thick, dry hair types. (can't say for others...) It made my hair bouncy, shiny and feel lightweight for entire duration.Just like salon-hair. I also felt better about  blow-drying, because I knew my hair wasn't getting fried. 
Hair is on the mildly acidic side of the pH scale and has an ideal pH of 4.5 to 5.5, which is close to that of an apple cider vinegar rinse (pH 2.9). On the other hand, many of the hair care products we use, such as soap-based shampoos, bleaches, hair colors, and permanents are strongly alkaline. Rinsing with apple cider vinegar will help balance the pH of your hair and remove the buildup that can result from the use of these styling products and inexpensive shampoos. Rinsing with vinegar will also close the numerous cuticle scales which cover and protect the surface of each hair shaft. This imparts a smoother surface which reflects more light and as a result leaves your hair shinier, smoother and easier to manage.
yadda yadda. 
So, bear grylls project=win. 
I will continue to replenish our supply on a weekly basis. **However, for days with an intense run, or if I go a couple days without shampooing, or go on an intense run, I think I will use normal shampoo, perhaps once every week and a half. Other than that, I'm a convert.

Number one question I get about vinegar hair wash: No, the vinegar does not make my hair smell like vinegar. At all. Maybe a little in the shower, but after that, zero vinegar smell. (actually, since I re-used an old conditioner bottle, my Vinegar Conditioner actually smells like coconut).  (PS, I really do love Pres. Bush..)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mom Essentials and Epic fails...

Short list of things that I find fairly essential for being a mom and things I purchased that were epic fails.....
1)Ten million nipples. Not two, not five, ten million. Each worth every penny and each a valuable member of the team.
So no:

(note the progression in creepiness..the last two, you can't blame them...I'd cry in the same way too)
2)IPhone/ or Phone with good camera capacity. As a mom, I never have a free hand or free sec to go grab a camera, and each moment is PRICELESS. If I didn't have my phone, I wouldn't have countless videos of Eli as a new baby that still bring tears to my eyes..
3)Good slip on shoes. For me, these are danskos. I hate danskos. They are not very cute. But, they are incredibly comfortable and well made, so, they are my personal mom jeans.
4) Kid books with a Christian message.Since most days lately I don't read on my own, they minister to my heart as well as Elijah's. Spoken words are so powerful.
5) Good monitor. Mine isn't pricey, but plays classical music while Elijah goes down, turns itself off, and drowns out any noise but baby cry. It has a sensitivity switch too.
6)Plastic bibs. As Elijah is now eating, these are great. I don't need a ton, just three or four last a long time. 

= Uneccessary. )

7) SweetTulip's diaper wipes case, aka "Mommy Clutch". You can purchase them here:  . It's great because it has a pouch for diapers attached. 

8) PEAPOD!!! This thing=bff. We purchased the phil and ted's travel play pen and I'm not going to lie, I did it because it was cute and a good brand. However, it does NOT stack up to the peapod (which is cheaper) You can take the peapod everywhere/anywhere. Self-inflating mattress, and sleeping bag (if you get the camo color, each color has diff features of course, the cutest color (yellow, in my opinion) does NOT have self-inflating mattress or sleeping bad inside)) UV protected. You can take it outside when you garden, you can take it to grandparents to sleep in as a bed (that way they have something in diff environment they are familiar with, a "totem" if you will (Inception, anyone?). They make a Plus size, which is needed for my kid, since he's such a big boy :)

That's absolutely it. Besides crib, and car seat.
Epic fails:
1) Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. Too small. Not totally my style. Doesn't match with enough stuff. Overall, $150 (sometimes more), I would rather go to target and buy a new oversized purse every season. 

2)Special bottles. It's all a bit of scam. (in terms of certain formats reducing colic or gas) At least that's what 3 pediatrician's I've talked to say, and what I have found with Elijah.

3)Pricey light up toys. They don't force him to create and think, they just make noise at him and make him dumber. 

4) Earth-tone Anything. You know, the cute, trendy, brown and teal, brown and pink, brown brown brown. There's a reason why everything comes in primary colors--that's what stimulates baby! Don't get me wrong, I loathe primary colors. I swore I would never buy a single item that was bright yellow red green etc...but, Elijah gets super bored super fast to the point I don't even bother putting him in his cute playthings. So I suck it up and keep all child/baby items in one designated, color-claustrophobic room, leaving the rest of my house free of baby stuff.   

5) Newborn clothes. Born at almost 9lbs he didn't even get to wear half of it. He wore the other quarter and the last quarter he grew out of too quickly to wear either. Really, he didn't get to wear a lot of the clothes I bought him from 1-3 months. The 3-6 months he still fits in a lot of, even though he's big so I would have focused more on those months.

6) If you cloth diaper it...diaper covers with velcro. #epicfail. They fray asap. I was even told they didn't, and they did.  #epicepicfail.