Friday, September 19, 2014

The Boys' Room - Take 4

As mentioned, there are several rooms of our house that have not received even a paint job. Then, there are others, such as the boy's room, that has received a makeover 4 times.

First as Hank's nursery

Then his big boy room

A few changes to accommodate Everett

And now a shared room for them.

As noted, I bought the bunkbeds through I was happy to find a modern style without a modern pricetag. The other good thing -- storage!! Love the shelves in the back to accommodate board books for Everett, and all of Hank's bits and bobs.

The inspiration for the room was this large octopus picture purchased from HomeGoods. I then loosely went with a nautical theme but, since this isn't a Pottery Barn Kids catalog, allowed for all of the stuff we already had that was not nautical themed to stay. And be ok with that. Also shown in this pic -- large puzzles will hopefully get more use if they are out on display versus crammed in the closet. The boys' photo albums are also more accessible. Everett's wooden boat from his 1st birthday party was mounted on a dowel. Hank is a super prolific artist -- luckily dada brought him thousands of outdated one-sided forms from work, and this box holds that paper.

Our Ikea spice rack bookshelves were re-mounted. Below this is an open canvas bin with Duplos.

The biggest boy in the house got his wish to have a Lego building center! The base plates are not mounted to the desk, but intended to hold Lego creations.

This desk used to house miscellaneous toys, but is now stuffed with a box holding bulk smaller Legos, one holding sets in bags, and various carrying cases with projects in process.

On the wall are two Lego "pictures" made using this website. You design whatever you want, or if you nab a design, it tells you which pieces you need to order. Pretty cool.

Below these pictures is a bin for holding blankets (Target) and canvas bins for holding comics and magazines (Walmart).

Up top -- An enclosed fan. Have you seen these? Luckily I had a conversation with a friend about our dilemma in needing to take down the ceiling fan that was in here, since it basically would have been at scalp level when Hank was climbing into bed. The friend mentioned seeing these enclosed fans at Lowes. I had never seen them or heard of them, but was so glad we had that conversation! The fan is almost the same output as the original, low profile, and safe from danger-seeking boys.

Hank styled his own shelves. Don't you love the pillow??

Here is Everett's space (and pillow).

Remember Everett's picture? I added a set of better powered LED lights to some of the stars, so now it functions as a nightlight.

Under the bed -- tons of storage! The two bins on the right are rolling underbed boxes. The two on the left are shorter crates (they were under the crib). Behind them are milk crates with diapers and wipes.

On the wall next to the bed, a Modern Moose clock, our puppet collection, and stuffed animals. I had a hard time finding a way to mount the puppets, but ended up just using long coat hooks from Target's dorm collection.

Final wall

Aren't the hooks cute? They were a random Walmart find.

Hope this set up stays in place a little longer than the previous versions!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Baby gift 2/7

This gift is for a cousin who had a baby girl about a month ago.

The gift is mainly comprised of items from the gift bin. The scrapbooks were from another cousin (other side of the family). Melissa, the recipient of this gift, is way better at photo documenting her kids, and likely will get more use of them. The jammies were my first purchase from Plum Deals. The blurb from the email announcing the deal made them sound like they were super cute, like a union suit, and high quality. In reality they are paper thin, and, with the cheap tag, on par with something one could find at the dollar store. I added the flower iron in to add a little something. The block we received a duplicate of when Hank was a wee one. The book was the only current purchase -- Everett's favorite!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Baby gift 1/7

We welcomed a whole bevy of babies the past few months! 3 of my cousins had (or are having) babies, as well as 2 sister-in-laws, 1 of Everett's teachers, and 1 blog friend. Thought we were in the clear for a bit, but just "liked" two pregnancy announcements on Facebook today!

Congratulations to all the happy parents-to-be -- and so glad to not be in your shoes!

I will try and get through a little mini post on each of the presents this month. This is no small feat, as:

1 gift is languishing on my sewing table

1 has not even been planned

1 is planned, and I am negotiating with an etsy seller to have her to custom make something I likely could make myself if I sat down to figure it out

and 1 has a part of it circling 'round and 'round the southern states with apparently no interest to make its way to California.

This is the present for the teacher at Everett's school. I have a whopping $200 credit (I know, right?) at due to a politely worded email just informing them about (versus complaining about) some of the service issues I experienced with the freight company they used to deliver the boys' bunkbed  -- which I also hope to show you soon. Thought I would get a coupon at best, but never would have expected something so generous. That credit is burning a hole in

Anyway -- I think about various "needs," only to go an find out good old Overstock doesn't have what I am looking for. I had fun shopping for some baby items, though, for some of these gifts. The teacher is due on the 25th of this month, and I feel so bad for her in this heat, and having to deal with a bunch of snotty needy toddlers all day. If that doesn't serve as birth control, nothing will!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

This was a busy summer for us! We did a lot of fun things, and made lots of memories.

Hank was here -- just camera shy first thing in the a.m.
Back in May, we finally made it to Disneyland with Everett! Some family members, already on summer break, asked if wanted to go (we had to ditch a day of school). We were able to get them by purchasing a deal that was available in spring for southern California residents, and we used one of our connections to get in for free :)

Was fun to get a pair of ears for Everett, and let him experience both Disneyland and California Adventure (the tickets we get through our Silver pass holder friends are one day park hoppers). We were bummed that two of our favorite rides -- It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean -- were both closed, but that just means we'll have to go back soon. Still can't get over how cool the Radiator Springs area of California Adventure is to experience.

The best souvenirs in the park -- $10 hand cut silhouette (you actually get two cut at the same time -- souvenir for Nana!) Hank's (to the right) was done at his first trip.

Unfortunately we forgot to get Everett a button indicating it was his first trip -- will grab one next time.

Next up was a beach camping trip on Memorial Day weekend. I remember posting on Facebook as we headed out for the trip that though I have gone on (at least) 100 camping trips in my life, I had not been beach camping before this trip. We went to Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County (~2 1/2 hour drive). I don't know what it is about this place, but it just seemed so perfect to me -- despite having horse corrals for camping spots

and unrelenting strong wind pretty much all day and night. The positives were having a snack shack and store that had a cool surfer vibe, finding tons of cool shells,

having dunes and estuaries to explore, feeling safe to leave your stuff on the beach for a period of time and walk to the store or back to your site for lunch, and there was even a choo choo for the train loving toddler, lol.

Definitely hope we can make this an annual tradition -- just hope we choose a less windy time weekend next time.

I think the next trip was BT's annual trip with the guys to Vegas. Then it was my turn. I typically haven't done overnight trips on my own post kids (other than for work), but this year I had two girls' weekends! The first was meeting up with my oldest friend that I still keep in touch with (outside of Facebook). We have known each other since middle school, but didn't become close until college. This is Natasha's mom, btw.

We mulled over going to Kansas City, but instead decided on Chicago. We had so much fun! I of course missed the family, but it was so nice to have a weekend free to try all the food places I mapped out without having to worry about kids making a mess or complaining about the food.

Rick Bayless's Xoco
The weekend was very food oriented, in fact. I also managed to convince Joy to go to a local tiki bar, and she was savvy enough to get us in without reservations.

Flipper says hi!
We stayed in a fab hotel if you are planning a trip to the Windy City. Chicago is a great place to visit!

Mid-August was Tiki Oasis. You know this is typically a family event for us. This year, based on the trip you'll read about next, we had decided not to go. As it turned out, though, my pal Barb was renting a room for the weekend. I sent her a note that I would like to crash for one night, if that was ok. We had so much fun! I brought Barb a little giftie -- some fixings for an in room drink, and a tiki fondue pot.

The sub-theme this year for Tiki Oasis was "Beat-tiki." As always, it is hard enough to explain to folks what tiki is, and then how that relates to beatniks -- not a chance. I racked my brain for clothing options, and was so proud of my outfits. For Saturday day, I wore a long tiki dress with a woven vest, felt hat, and pendant.

Barb was also wearing a crocheted vest, so we looked like we planned our outfits together!

That night I wore the standard beatnik black and white striped shirt (had to do major surgery to fix this shirt -- the bands would shift, and would make it an instant peep show!), black fitted jeans, and ballet flats. Barb had found some fun inflatable bongos. I have no idea why I look like Snooty McSnootersons here (three sheets and a dash to the wind, I suspect).

The next day I put together a "beachnik" outfit. Weeks prior to the event, people were posting pictures of record albums, novel covers, and vintage pictures showing examples of beatnik and beach/surf culture melded together. The problem was -- they were always pictures of guys! I used those photos as inspiration to imagine what the girl counterparts would have worn. I found the striped shorts on etsy (vintage -- but 1990s, lol), my felt hat again, another pendant, and a blue sleeveless mock turtleneck. Again -- had a great time, but know from now on that Tiki Oasis can only be experienced with my tiki dude.

The following week, Hank's school was closed. We had a special trip planned for the first two days of the week -- Legoland! Actually, the really special part was staying at the new Legoland Hotel. Everybody who knows we went wants to know if it was worth it, considering the cost for one night is more than twice the amount that I personally had ever paid for a hotel before this trip. I answer with a resounding yes. The hotel makes the Legoland experience complete. We had gone before when Hank was almost 3, and it was kind of a let down. I guess that element should be put out first for folks who have not been -- the theme park itself is geared towards an age range of 4-10. There is nothing here you would have interest to do if you did not have kids with you, except view the minilands and see this room with the Master Builders at work.

Otherwise -- every ride is for kids, and they are all basically the same rides with slight deviations. It is hard to see this as a successful business model, so I am sure Legoland is the first theme park to rub its greedy little yellow claw hands together when there is news of a baby boom.

This was cool, too -- actual set from The Lego Movie
The park is a little shabby. The Legos do not weather well, and some of the elements that weren't working during out last visit (i.e. some of the displays in a walk-through tour of a mock Lego factory) still were not working. But, focus on the fun was my motto, and I was not as bummed out by these elements this visit. Also -- the ticket prices have come down since our last visit, and we were able to get a park hopper ticket (covering the main park, water park, and a cute aquarium) for 2 days for the price we paid last time for one day just at Legoland.

I'm sure that price change is intentional so you decide to stay at the hotel.

The hotel is also totally geared towards little kids. There is a Lego pit in the lobby, a giant play castle, the restaurant has a kid line for the buffet, there is a giant step on whoopie cushion next to the elevator, and the elevator itself turns into a disco party when the door closes.

The rooms are on three floors -- each with a theme: castle, pirates, and adventure. We stayed in a pirate room. There is a separate nook for the kids with bunk beds and a trundle bed.

There are Lego figures throughout the room (and a sign indicating how much you will pay if you decide to nab one). Some of the extras accounted for in your room cost -- a treasure chest that the kids find clues for in the lobby and get to keep the contents (a set of Legos for each kid, chocolate coins, and a magazine),

a couple of complimentary bottles of water and juice,

and entertainment -- several shows in the lobby in the evening, and a movie by the pool.

What made it worth it was how excited Hank was. This is the kid who is pretty nonplussed about things most kids get excited about. I had to come up with a very complicated plan to get him to go on the Disneyland trip this post opened with, for example. He was giddy with excitement the whole visit to Legoland, but especially in relation to the hotel. I suppose we will save our pennies to make a trip with Everett when he is 4 or 5 and old enough to enjoy it more than this time (and Hank will still be within the magic age range!)

Our final trip was to Safari Park in San Diego. We did this trip with my parents. I grew up going to this park, then called the Wild Animal Park. It was a super hot day, but fun to see the animals and spend time with Nana and Grandpa.

Still 100 degrees here, so feels like summer is still in full force -- just not doing as much fun stuff...