Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our Little Scarecrow...

...wishes you a very safe {and apparently serious} Halloween.
This kid is very uncertain about Halloween in general. He has been around two years of the shenanigans and he's still not buying the whole process. Remember last year? We had ourselves an angry lion. He's quite the trooper with this year's costume, however. We've done two events while wearing the costume and he'll be wearing it this evening for a final wear before all the patches fall off. For $2 and a little naptime crafting, I'd say this one was a winner.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Palm Desert, CA Trip

Well, this was already three weeks ago, but here are some photos! The husband had a business conference in Palm Desert, which is about 2 hours from where my parents live in Southern California. We flew out a day early to spend time with my parents and then we were off to Palm Desert the next day for the rest of the weekend. My parents joined us out there and we had a great time exploring the area.

The conference kept Ray quite busy, so Benjamin and I were with my parents most of the time during our Palm Desert stay. Luckily, we had a nice hotel room and an enormous hotel area to roam about. We also explored the Living Desert (zoo), a large Farmer's Market at the local college, ate lots of delicious food I miss so much and took advantage of some hotel perks.

Before heading to Palm Desert during Benjamin's naptime (he's a great car sleeper), we visited Grandpa at work and got to go in a "kuck!" Basically the highlight of Benjamin's life right there.
The Living Desert was fun to visit and we each were able to feed a real, live giraffe! My dad shot a video of the feeding, too.
Our hotel had boats that took you out into the marina area and we went on that a few times. Lots of shoulder rides from grandpa.
We played some mini golf at our hotel, rode the boat with Dad when he was off work for the weekend and did a little swimming before heading back to LA to catch our flight.
Another California trip down. Another couple plane flights on the books. I really wish I would've kept track of all Benjamin's traveling... would've been cool to count up the hours and note that in his journal. Our next flight will be in 1.5 weeks! We're off to Puerto Rico for what will be Benjamin's final flight as a kid under 2 (otherwise known as his last free flight). Traveling will be a lot less frequent now that our plane costs are increasing 33%. Gulp.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Broke & Yuck

Two of Benjamin’s favorite words right now are broke and yuck. He intentionally chooses to break things just so he can say the word broke.

I bet you can imagine just how fun that it is for us. I recently posted on IG that I bought Benjamin some of those Halloween window clings from the Target dollar spot. I broke them out after naptime that day and He was smitten. The skeleton heads and spiders all took a ride in his hand-me-down blue truck from his Dad’s childhood toys. He loves that truck. He also loves the word truck and says it loudly and excitedly when playing with one of his trucks.
Once they were done taking a ride in the truck, I found the window clings on many different windows over the course of a few days. He moved them, toted them, and took them for rides.

The mail arrived one day last week and his CA grandparents sent him a Halloween package with his first magazine subscription (so advanced!) to Highlights and a few fun Halloween items. One being more window clings. This time, pumpkins. I opened the package and gave them to him right away.
Within a minute, he pulled the face apart on one of them, brought it to me and told me it was broke. I don’t think he meant to, but now he learned that he could and was determined to make sure the others were put to the same quality tests. One-by-one, each pumpkin gel cling earned its death sentence. I stuck them up high on the glass sliding doors on ones that weren't too far gone. Each day he points and tells me they are broke, like he has no idea how that happened. Just like the books he manages to ruin on a regular basis. He calls those broke, too.

Another favorite word? Yuck. Usually pronounced uck.
I’ll randomly catch him pulling out the garbage drawer in our kitchen, proclaiming something is yuck and then dropping it into the trash. We’ve had a variety of things found in the trashcan recently: Sharpie markers, food he didn’t want, plastic teacups from his play kitchen and random containers for Playdough and other toys.

This kid.

p.s. Who knew so many of you would purchase a second crib (and who knew so few of you cared about the tree in the middle of our deck. Hah! I get it, I'm no DIY blogger...taking the hint)! I'd say 75% commented on my last post that you'd buy an additional crib. You people love your sleep. I recently lost understanding of what sleep is like because pregnancy insomnia has struck once again...dum...dum...dum. Will keep you posted on our progress/decisions!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Big Boy Room

Benjamin is still in his crib. And he loves it. Like, so much that I worry about switching him to a toddler bed because he sleeps so well and clearly feels very comfortable in his crib. Sleep at night ranges from 10-12 hours and naps are usually 2-3 hours long. When sleep is over, he often asks to be put back in his crib (after unsuccessfully trying to get in himself) to either jump, walk around, or lay down.

With the hope that we'll have a baby coming home to eventually take over said crib this winter, we're struggling with what to do with Benjamin. I don't want to buy two cribs, especially since Claire will hopefully be transitioned to that crib well past Benjamin turning two. If we're lucky, she'll be in the co-sleeper Benjamin used in our room for the first 3 months. And just like Benjamin, we'd like to transition her sometime at the end of spring into the real crib.

Which means he needs to get the boot. But sooner probably. Because we're concerned that he'll feel like he really is getting the proverbial boot because he has a little sister who is now invading his life and space. We don't want him to feel that way. Like, at all.

So our plan is to transition him before (if) she comes home. He'll have his own new room that are independent of her. After all, the crib will remain empty until months after she comes home, so the transition will be well in place and the thought of replacing him in the crib won't take place. Right?

But I'm nervous. He sleeps so well, you guys. And he loves that bed. And the transition plan we currently have in place is for DECEMBER. Like just a few weeks away.

In order to hopefully get the ball rolling on things and get him excited about the process and new things, we painted his eventual big boy room, bought a bed, new bedding, and moved many of the wall hangings and toys in there from the nursery. Some things stay behind as nursery decor, but other things are his for the win. We did this in September because I had a gift card paired with a sale at Sherwin-Williams to use for the paint. And if you know anything about Chicago weather, you know painting in the winter is not ideal because windows cannot be opened without reducing yourself to an icicle. And I'm not about letting that warm air we spend gobs on each month. Even with no-VOC paint, the primer was not no-VOC and it is still smelly to me. In fact, months later and I still think it stinks like new paint.

We got to work patching and cleaning the walls. The little boy who lived in there before really liked putting masking tape on his walls, which required a bit of sanding. There is a white chair rail in the room already, so we kept it. The room was already blue on bottom and white on top, but they used a thick brush to make textured brush lines that were just... ugly.

For a whole month after we finished his room, he was elated to go in there. He still likes it, but it's lost some of its luster. We even call it his big boy room and when we ask if he'd like to play in his big boy room, he runs, heads upstairs and charges down the hall to his room. He jumps on the bed. He lays on the bed. He plays with his toys. He pulls every single person anywhere within 50 feet of him into the closet where he has designated himself a fort. And closes the closet.

But I'm not sure he gets that the big boy room means no more sleeping in his beloved crib, in his beloved nursery.

These pictures are after I cleaned the train-wreck that it was yesterday. Just waiting for him to discover it's been cleaned and clear the books off the shelf in 4 seconds flat.
view from the hall

Toddler bed purchased because it was a floor model clearance from IKEA.
The cushion under is more for fort playing and is actually for outdoor chairs of which we don't own.
Will make for a good padding if he rolls off... or to help him up or out of the bed.
The white dresser is the one I refinished. It's bolted to the wall in three places. As is that corner shelf .
Curtains are the same we have in our bedroom. We love them. They're dark, dark, dark.
Had this baby since high school.
Nothing on the walls where the bed resides.
We have two frames to hang but having trouble deciding where to hang without leaving too much wallspace bare.
The moose was transferred as we made it during Benjamin's newborn days and just love it.
We replaced it with the ol' ABC chart passed down from Ray's cousin. We love that, too.
Since we're pregnant with a girl, the blue trunk is officially Benjamin's.
Air Force Academy Cadets all receive one and this was his dad's...still with his squadron # written on with black sharpie.
New clock. Hopefully we can teach him that he can only come out of his room when the little hands reaches the 7?
The two frames we have yet to hang...a Bears frame and his first stock from Tootsie Roll (Chicago company)
The closet, aka Benjamin's fort. That's a mattress top padding thing we bought and always hated on our bed.
If he sees you, you will be in that closet with a book and stern directions to turn on the light, sit & read. Be warned.
Paint: Sherwin-Williams: {top}: Icicle {bottom}: Bracing Blue
Bed: IKEA Kritter toddler bed, white + side rail
Bedding: IKEA white fitted sheet & Vandring Skogsliv duvet & duvet interior
Clock: IKEA Pugg
Rug: IKEA Lekplats
Dresser: Refinished piece of furniture
Bookshelf: IKEA, but no longer carried item & I have no idea the name
Car: Gift from friends
Moose: Project ala Benjamin's dad and my awesome husband (inspired by Anthropologie)
Curtains: IKEA Werna; curtain rod also IKEA Racka
Holdbacks: Menards

All is ready, as you can see. Sheets are cleaned and curtains are hung. And yet we're hesitant. It's not like we can't make do with the pack'n'play if we must once/if Claire is here safely and needs to transition from the co-sleeper. But, we don't want to mess with the psyche of our kids and confuse both of them. We want him to ideally transition well, love his big boy bed as much as his crib and stay happily playing until 7:30 each morning.

And to bring a baby girl home, have her in the co-sleeper for 3 months and transition her easily to the crib where she will sleep full nights by at least 6 months of age. I know this is all probably a pipe-dream, but dreams are dreams.

Advice for the parents who are a little scared to rock the boat with our toddler?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ridiculously Long Post About Trees

With fall officially here, we're looking to have the four large trees in the front trimmed. We had to wait until the first freeze (which happens nightly now at 20+ degrees) to assure the Emerald Ash Borer beetles that are invading our trees (to the tune of $150 injections) die first. If we trimmed the trees early, the sap would attract those little bugs and cause more issues.

We recently knocked the small maple we had in the front yard ourselves because it just adds to the amount of leaves, kills the grass, and makes our house feel more like we're in the middle of a forest...which would be cool if we actually were. It makes our yard look bigger without it, provides more natural light during the day-- which I must have in the winter, and is one less thing to maintain. It's just a bummer because we did love the tree itself... just not the location. It's the same tree where we planted Andrew's bulbs and we'll be replanting those this winter/spring. The only bad thing about axing that tree is that it's making the paint on our front doors bubble. That's for another blog post.

I called our regular tree trimmer to have him come out for a quote this week to discuss the four trees in the front yard. We're also looking to ax the gorgeous Honey Locust tree in the middle of our enormous deck this summer. Except, we are having a hard time parting with it. When it rains, lots of beautiful lichen show vibrantly. It provides shade during the summer that keeps the house {marginally} cooler. It's also lovely to look at instead of our neighbor's backyard and their questionable choice to put a blue tarp on the barbecue (get a cover!) and ugly plastic white chairs out that they never sit on. I'd rather look at this beautiful tree.

Except, there are issues. Three, specifically. The maintenance of trimming and cleaning the deck because it drops massive amounts of seed pods is less than fun. These pods are a favorite among squirrels and other rodents, which we don't mind seeing around, but don't want a commune of them either. With our fox den issue in the past, we are more concerned about the food sources our trees are providing. It's also rather expensive to have these trees trimmed on a regular basis and the gutters cleared multiple times a year.

Then there's the deck itself. The tree has grown over the 15 years the deck was in place and has popped up the boards of the deck, making it unsightly and unsafe. While it's unlikely the tree can grow much more than it already is at decent maturity, we don't want to deal with it ruining another deck when we replace the boards and re-frame this summer. I'm no tree expert.

And finally, the garden. The nonexistent garden, but one I hope we have in our backyard beginning this spring. We just don't get enough sunlight anywhere around our house because we do have so many lovely trees. If this tree is cut, we will get more natural sunlight in the house (hooray!) and leave a suitable area on the side of the deck for my garden boxes. Without the sunlight, I might as well forget about it. There are still hoards of trees in our yard and our neighbor's yard that provide decent shade still.

But cutting beautiful trees just seems so wrong. For people who love nature anyway. Instead, I randomly threw out an idea to leave the stump in the middle of the deck (killing the tree from further growth) and re-framing around it. I'd love to use the stump as a base for a DIY table in the middle of our deck and put a big, chunky vase on it that I'll add some rustic sticks and charm depending on the season. While the tree will no longer be there, the vase with nature-inspired fillers will serve as a separation from our neighbors. And the table will be useful in entertaining.

And look awesome. Something like this:

We love the stained and polished concrete top and would likely do one just the same. The husband has already watched and read countless tutorials. The cost of the above table according to its makers? $45. Chairs more, of course.

The current state of our deck now that you know the dream we're not even sure is plausible? Sort of, kind of The Giving Tree table, kwim?
Deck boards will be replaced/stained this summer. Can't wait!
The boards have been cut and fit like a jigsaw puzzle, but they were popping up feet in the air. Not bolted down. Unsafe.
Hello beautiful Honey Locust tree we want to turn into a table.
Left side of our deck (from inside of the house). Garden area will hopefully go behind the bench.
Right side of the deck with planters that will be taken in for the winter very soon. I kept those plants alive since June!
Anyone have experience with turning a tree into something more? We were getting excited about maybe even making end tables out of more pieces of the trunk, but realized our house already has plenty of tables.

*519 posts. Can you believe I have that much to say?

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Month Late: California Grandma Visits Chi-Town

Part of me didn't get this post moving because I hadn't outed myself about the newest uterus inhabitant yet and obviously I look 8 months pregnant already (despite being about 6)... but part of me just couldn't find the time/energy to get out a blog post with just pictures. But I know family loves to see them, and I love having them here...

We'll see what the future holds and if I do bring home a baby in a carseat and all that. I just don't see these whenever family comes to visit posts continuing. I might switch to a more lazy general approach to things and just IG some of them and post a couple here on the blog. I just can never decide because I love all of them! With that said, I still have one more trip post and another one coming once Benjamin's Maryland grandparents visit in a week!

California Grandma came to visit in September, but California Grandpa couldn't come... but that was okay because he got his fix about 3 weeks later when we visited him!
Book time + a Noodles & Co. and chocolate and coffee date while B was napping one afternoon at home with Dad
A visit to a new orchard, Honey Hill in Waterman, IL. We picked apples, raspberries, went on a hayride, bought overpriced things from the gift shop like cider donuts and cider, and pet the animals in the petting zoo.

While Dad was putting in a new window well cover since our rambunctious toddler likes to JUMP on them, we went to Brookfield Zoo to check out the sights... and a first carousel ride (to which he was indifferent).

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Middle Name

Claire has a middle name already.

Andrew and Benjamin share my father-in-law's first name, Steven, as their middle name. I love that the name was carried through my boys to connect them. This being a girl and our last child, we are choosing a name from my family's side. If this baby were a third boy, his name would have been Charlie John-- Charlie as a "C" name we like and John as my father's first name.

But being that this baby is a girl, we are still choosing from my family's side. Believe it or not, my great grandmother is still alive at 98-years-old and has a beautiful spirit. She's always laughing and smiling. Her name is Madeline Mae. While we love both names, our daughter will carry her middle name as well.

Claire Mae.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A is for Andrew, B is for Benjamin and C is for...

Wordle: Claire

The Wilsons are adding a final child to our clan this winter. Exactly four months from today, I am due with our only daughter and last child. I will never be pregnant again after February 11, 2014 and that couldn't make me more excited for this winter to arrive. Yes, Chicago winter. Bring it.

We've discussed at great length about adding more children to our family. We birthed two beautiful boys and only have one here to raise. He's a dream. A total bad boy at times and definitely mischievous, but such a salve that we needed so desperately. And he's nearly 20 months now if you can believe it! While we're thankful Andrew's little brother is in our lives, we know he loves other children. It's hard having lost our firstborn and having a second son but still being parents with only one child in our home. It just seems like Benjamin should have someone else, of course. Our family will always feel that way about Andrew missing. When Benjamin was born, I wanted him to have a sibling even more knowing we should have two here now. And because of our desire to give him that, we are pregnant once more. Fourth pregnancy, third child and only daughter.

Because this is our last child, I don't have any qualms about discussing names and details, mostly because there's nothing left after this. If this baby comes home with us as we hope (in a carseat, to clarify... ugh), we're 100% done. If something happens, we won't be able to handle the additional grief and still be the parents Benjamin needs, so we will not try again and therefore will be 100% done. The thought of losing two of our children brings me to my knees. Nothing is ever guaranteed and we know that.

Long before Andrew was even found to be a boy back on our second wedding anniversary in 2010, we had chosen a girl name. If Andrew had been a girl, he would've been Claire. If Benjamin had been a girl, he would've been Claire. And now that I'm really pregnant with a girl, she is Claire! I love that this name has been constant in our decision for all three of our babies. Not to mention, we love the A-B-C ritual of naming our children. Right after Benjamin's birth, my friend Brooke sent us a book to commemorate the birth of our new baby boy and also remember our first boy.

Each of the first three pages of this book prints the name of each of our children. The book is A My Name is Andrew and the first page is about a boy named Andrew who lives in Augusta. The second page is a girl named Becca who has a brother, Benjamin. The third page is about a girl named Claire who lives in Connecticut. It's an alliterative book, as you might have gathered, but still awesome that all three of our their names are on the first three pages.

Since this has been one of the least sarcastic posts ever on this blog, I must end with a little extra edge. Compliments of my friend Caroline who is also due with her second rainbow this winter... I wanted to add what we were chatting about during our brainstorming session about when I'd "out" myself on the ol' blog.

"C' is for Claire but also stands for caution --  we are still so scared. Also, be cautious of any silly things you might say regarding the assurance this baby is coming home in that carseat, because "C" also stands for crazy town and I might just go there.

All in good fun, of course, but really, it's another pregnancy and another mixed bag of emotions, exhaustion, and grieving our firstborn who would probably love to know he has two siblings who will also always wonder and grieve the brother he would've been. A great one-- I'm sure.

Here's to another 4 months of anxiety and hope. And burning those maternity clothes.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A list of 31 for a 31st Birthday

1. Not sure why, but 31 feels so odd. Well, it is odd from a math standpoint, but in other ways. Like 30 was fancy because it was a new decade and 31 is just... boring.
2. Cannot believe I turned 21 TEN years ago.
3. My favorite part of my birthday month is not presents or actually turning another year older, but the emailed freebies from all my favorite places.
4. So far, I've redeemed freebies for $10 at World Mar.ket, $20 at Planet.Shoes where I scored $.20 socks shipped, a Jersey's sub with drink, a Whic.h Wich sandwich, scoop of Baski.n Robbins chocolate peanut butter swirl ice cream, and bowl at & Co.
5. Today we hit up storytime at the library where Benjamin lost his mind when he had to leave the felt birdie on the felt board after his turn during Brown Bear, Brown Bear which led to us walking out of storytime. Then he spotted the elevator button and caused lots of ruckus before we finally left without his shoes on and me only half checking out our books by accident.
6. After storytime, we got Jerse.y Mike's to-go, had a car picnic in the Post Office parking lot (B's FAVORITE), mailed a package and went next door for a freebie ice cream.
7. We returned home for B's nap and FedEx delivered a package.
8. The package? Our iPad I left at the J.W in Palm Desert, CA over the weekend.
9. Talk about customer service when they shipped it to us for free!
10. We flew back from CA to IL on Sunday. It was definitely one of those days where there were lots of little things that continued to go wrong. Luckily, nothing big went wrong. Except maybe missing In-N-Out and having to settle on El Poll.o Loco instead. Acceptable tradeoff, but still missing my chocolate shake.
11. I successfully ate my way through California once again.
12. I've never dieted in my life, but I might have to start if I continue to eat like that while on visits back to the motherland.
13. We spent lots of good time with my parents and got to feed a giraffe while we were there. A real one! With real food! And tongues like a foot long!
14. I'll be posting about that trip and my mom's visit in September whenever I stop being such a lazy blogger.
15. Really it's Benjamin's fault. He needs to take 5-hour naps and maybe I'll get something done.
16. Okay, he can't take 5-hour naps, otherwise he wouldn't sleep at night.
17. When he wakes, we're going to a new park they just built about 2 miles down the road. I love visiting new parks because I get bored of the same ones we visit daily.
18. The leaves on trees here are going... going... it might be a raking weekend in the 'burbs.
19. I really need brown waste in my composter. Like yesterday. Hello fall leaves.
20. We're thinking about hitting up one of the many fall fests this weekend, too. B is going to flip over the bounce house. The kid loves him some bounce house time.
21. Speaking of fall and traditions, I really need to get on the ball about B's Halloween costume.
22. I literally Googled "costumes that don't have anything on the head" because B will not subscribe to any of that nonsense. I came up with a few, but have settled on a sort of boring but probably adorable (if I can get my act together), scarecrow. Sans hat. I'm thinking of making his hair all scraggly. What's new, right? Hah.
23. I've been getting a little flack for not cutting B's hair. Not gonna lie... he did have a mini rat tail when he was in the swimming pool on Sunday.
24. Back on the Halloween costume, the main reason I've been dragging my feet is because I have to actually get Benjamin to try on the two pairs of overalls he owns to see which one still fits. He acts like I am asking him to walk over hot coals when it comes to changing time.
25. And I might be a little sad to cut up one of his old flannel shirts to sew onto the overalls for scarecrow flair.
26. And also, I'm not really crafty and really don't look forward to such things.
27. Reason #436, I wish my parents were more local. My mom sews and actually enjoys it.
28. Benjamin will be a scarecrow and we'll be... whatever. As long as I get my $3 "boorito" at Chipot.le that day for dressing up as something, I don't care what I'm wearing.
29. This will be B's first year actually going door-to-door (to like 3 neighbors, probably). I bought him a pumpkin Halloween pail to drag around. Place your bets now... will he have a meltdown or think it's fun?
30. We usually pass out candy (of which I already bought at Target for a great price!) and then head out around dark for dinner at Chipot.le. Our neighborhood starts trick-or-treating at 3:00, and after dark, it's only the older kids who I don't enjoy giving candy to anyway.
31. For my 31st b-day, my husband surprised me with a cute hoodie sweatshirt and left me a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ he made me with my new Kitche.nAid juicer attachment. Like many of my friend's on IG said this morning, it's totally a Brandy gift. Yep. And just as I type this 31st item, I hear the little person awaking from his slumber...someone tell him he's supposed to nap until 4:00 on mom's birthday.
Drank half before taking the photo...couldn't help it!