Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Butterflies, birds, bunnies, oh my!

Eleanor’s room is filled with special hand-me-downs. The brass bed that my sister and I shared as kids. The crib that both my brothers slept in. The nursery rocker I used for both my babies. The nightstand that Erik and I picked up beside a dumpster in Princeton. (:

We only needed one additional piece to set up her room – a dresser. In our old house, she and Luke shared one and I was looking forward to finding the perfect roomy girly dresser to add in to her room. It took a lot of browsing, but finally I found one I love at the right price point in a resale shop. At first I intended to paint it, but after a good cleaning the original paint has grown on me and I’m not sure I can bear to cover up the vintage yellow.

We painted the walls a pale cool pink, Magnolia Grandiflora by Martha Stewart for Home Depot. I knew I wanted to add in varying shades of pink (my childhood favorite) but it was hard to pin down the color palette beyond that. So I decided instead to choose a few colors to avoid for cohesiveness. I didn’t use purple or blue, and focused on pinks with touches of green, orange, aqua, and yellow.

The meadow creatures theme was prompted by the feather butterflies (purchased used on ebay) that graced the playroom in our old house. We have a butterfly mobile above the bed, butterflies I mounted and framed (below), a silver bunny bank on the dresser, bird finials on the curtain rod, and a few butterflies and birds on fabrics to round out our meadow friends theme. The floral painting adds to the meadow vibe too. I bought it for my bachelorette apartment in an old Victorian house. Erik never liked it, but I’m pleased that he doesn’t mind it in Eleanor’s room. I painted the cast-off nightstand aqua and added new hardware to give Eleanor a library space like her brother.

I dressed the bed in my beloved white matelass√© daybed covers, which gives me lots of motivation to keep the kids’ feet clean. Then I added a mix of pillows, all Ebay steals. The metal wreath over the bed was a gift from my mom ages ago and I tied on bits of ribbon to soften it a bit for a girl’s room.

I also love the pink toile curtains (used on ebay) and the little birds on the curtain rod (Lowe’s).

Eleanor still sleeps in her crib which makes the room a little crowded, so part of me is looking forward to when we can put that away and rearrange the furniture. But at the same time I’ll miss seeing our baby sleeping peacefully in her crib!

Now let’s look back at the room when we first saw it with our realtor.

Eleanor loved it from day one too. Look how little she was a year ago!

You may remember that I called this a meadow friends princess room, and there has yet to be any princess paraphernalia! We think that the Ellabelle herself provides enough princess presence to make that a theme without any additional props. Here she is with a pronouncement to her subjects, spunky girl!

We love you Ella-bug and hope you like your room!

XOXOXO, M & D

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend recap

Now that Eleanor’s old enough for the parent/child soccer class and Luke can be on his own, we signed back up for Lil’ Kickers! This weekend was their first lesson and they loved it. It was Eleanor’s first organized class other than church activities and she did a terrific job listening and kicking her ball. Luke did great too, he’s recently developed a more competitive bent which motivated him to work hard at the running and kicking games.

Lil’ Kickers is a nationwide program, and we think that their coaches and class structure are super-fun for kids. At Luke and especially Eleanor’s ages they aren’t doing much in the way of real soccer, but they’re getting kids excited about sports activities, building coordination, and developing listening and team skills.

After soccer we met a friend at a BMX course nearby. What an awesome place!

We were awed by the expertly formed dirt berms set up in courses of varying difficulty, from youth to pro level. It didn’t take Luke long to catch on to the idea and soon he was bouncing over the hills with big determination!

Eleanor charted her own course amidst the berms and amazed us by going up and over them on her own too. She’s getting more and more comfortable with downhill acceleration on her balance bike. Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of her in action, but here she is ready for snack time.

We saw a pro doing jaw-dropping mid-air rotations but didn’t catch that on camera. Here’s a more modest jump by an intermediate guy – the best we could catch mid-kid-wrangling.

Such a fun place to ride and to spectate. And photograph… it will be fun to try to get better pics next time. I’m also hoping to get the kids some safety gear like their cool friend, D. D has been going to the course for over a year now I think, and we’re looking forward to meeting him there for playdates this summer.

In other news, I found a new lamp for Luke’s room! After writing his room up for the blog last week, I came across this lamp in our home’s accent color (yellow) on deep discount in Target’s clearance section.

Erik says it looks like a caramel kiss which has believability, but I think it suits the space so much better than the old one. What do you think?

Hopefully I’ll share pics of the princess room soon. In the meantime, here’s an outtake from its photo session… the chaos principle at work!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sailor’s quarters

After we moved last May, I began trolling Craig’s List for a big boy bed. When this fancy Pottery Barn Kids bed popped up for a song, Erik brought it home on Elsa the very same day. It had been assembled incorrectly, cob jobbed, and abused a little, but with Erik’s magical repairs and a little cleaning, it was seaworthy once more! 

Luke adores it. He takes “boat rides” constantly, mentions it in his prayers, and spontaneously thanks Daddy for “building it” from time to time. Erik and I love that bed too: it brought a breakthrough in Luke’s bedtime battles when we were out of ideas. With such a cherished status, it’s not surprising that it inspired a nautical bedroom theme. We pulled together boat-themed art with special meaning for our family and added a US map so we can talk about where various relatives live. There’s a vintage Lake George photo (taken by my dad in the ‘70s) of the tiny campground where Erik and I vacationed every year as kids. Below it is a housewarming gift from Erik’s parents – a print of the lighthouse we visited on our romantic Maine getaway two years ago. An oar is the perfect size for above the closet.

I try to limit the number of colors I use in each room to keep things cohesive. For Luke’s room, I stuck mainly to blue (because it was painted on the treasured bed) and yellow (which is the primary accent color throughout our house since it’s my favorite of the warm southwestern colors). Of course there’s also brown everywhere in wood tones, black and white to balance out the value spectrum, plus a few other fun colors that sneak in since it’s a kid’s room. (PS: I like this color post if you’re into home design like me.)

I changed out the hardware on Luke’s dresser to make it a little more big-boy-looking, hung curtains, added a hand-me-down bookshelf, and collected a grouping of watercolors for the wall. Here’s a close-up of a few of the paintings. I just love the happy carefree spirit of them, and tell Luke that the figures in the boat are him and Daddy. The big painting is Grand Lake, a vacation town in Colorado where we spent a week right before Eleanor was born, and the smaller two are Maine, near Erik’s parents’ lake house. The snazzy ocean scene on the dresser is a L.R.N. original. (:

On the other side of the dresser we hung some hooks to facilitate cleanup. It’s hard to tell, but the row of hooks has a handsome distressed finish courtesy of someone else’s family ($1 at a yard sale down the street)!

We keep Luke’s hanging clothes in Eleanor’s room and turned the bottom shelf in his closet into a “library”. The darling dino book ends from my aunt make it extra fun, and it’s so nice to no longer have all these kids’ books monopolizing our living room shelves. The library’s preschool height is perfect for entertaining Luke during his quiet time (sometimes).

We painted the walls Sea Pearl by Benjamin Moore and eventually want to wallpaper the closet to make a more enticing play nook. Other to-dos – better closet organization, add some fabric to lengthen the curtains, and change out the lamp. But it’s come far enough to pass my one-year house-iversary deadline. Here’s a flashback to the day Luke chose it for his room when we first saw the house.

So much happier now, most of all because of the sweet little boy who lives there!

{Next up, a meadow friends princess room!}

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eggs, playdough & the empty tomb

Backtrack to Easter with us! After careful research on boiling at 6000 feet, we made a big pot of hardboiled eggs and experimented with traditional dip-dying first. The kids found it mildly interesting but the process and colors were a little anti-climactic, even my fancy rubber-band trick.

So we moved on to a painting technique, using brushes and liquid watercolors. This gave the kids much more immediate control over the eggs and the colors were vibrant. Luke especially was hooked.

He wasn’t alone. I just love the way the colors swirled together and the paint highlighted the slightly bumpy texture of the eggs. To be truthful, I couldn’t take this gorgeous bowl off my dining table until it started to smell a little. (:

I can’t wait to make more watercolor eggs next year. Another tradition that we hope to continue is making an Easter tomb scene. This year’s was very simple, but there are all sorts of ways to extend this to include additional details as the kids get older. This time we stuck to the basics: crosses from sticks, a playdough tomb, and Playmobil figures for Jesus and a Roman soldier. The night before Easter while the kids were sleeping, we rolled the stone aside and took Jesus and the soldier out. The kids ran to the tomb on Easter morning and were thrilled to find it empty!

We didn’t neglect the ever-popular egg hunt either. Our neighborhood hosted a lovely one in a nearby park. We attended with friends and had such a nice time watching the kids together and visiting with neighbors. Here’s Eleanor with her sweet buddy, comparing loot I think.

What perfect weather for an egg hunt!

Eleanor was eager to pay a visit to the talented face painters. Does she look a little middle eastern here?

We left with plenty of candy so Easter morning we hid the hard-boiled eggs we’d been decorating all week. Luke was ever the gentleman and made sure Eleanor found plenty of eggs too, although Eleanor may have had trouble keeping those eggs in her bucket…

Then they opened their Easter baskets and we went to church. Usually Luke goes to Sunday School, but we decided to take him with us to the service for the first time. He recognized a number of the songs and watched with awe – all the people, the resounding singing, the beautiful instruments. As the sermon got underway he got a little fidgety, but all in all he made our hearts hurt with joy as he earnestly soaked it in. Our baby is growing up and how sweet it is to share the true joy of Easter with him more fully each year!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Simple weekend

I think this little blog was starting to wonder if it would ever get word of another L & E escapade or Wild Oak update. Did the kiddos’ cuteness wear off? Are we boycotting power tools and paintbrushes?

The answer is decidedly no, on both counts. The kids are cuter than ever – with darling Easter, biking, and hiking photos on deck. And the looming (wife-imposed) deadline of our 1-year house-iversary for all initial home projects has had us checking off little updates weekend-by-weekend.

So let’s see if I can start catching this little blog up. Starting with… this past weekend! There was breakfast with Princess Crinklenose,

Who can carry on a delightful conversation these days provided she isn’t in a “No, I NOT!” mood.

Princess breakfast is served concurrently with “math time”. Most mornings Luke and Erik have math time, during which they count to 100 or more and do simple additions and greater than/less than activities. Luke delights in numbers and will quantify anything, from how much he loves me (14 zillion) to how much celery he wants to eat (zero), to how old he’ll be when he can always obey Mommy (89).  Here Luke is coming up with a tough addition for Daddy to solve!

Thursday to Saturday, Erik and I caught pieces of a terrific homeschooling conference. We’ve already started and plan to continue “homeschooling” but we’re not sure if we’ll also send the kids to an elementary school. We have less than a year and a half until Luke starts kindergarten so the schooling decision which seemed distant for so long is suddenly nearing and we want to be ready to make the best choice for us!

After the conference we stopped at the Bosque bike path. Look at these hill-climbers!

Luke loves to pedal fast and now that Eleanor has learned to glide she relishes the whoosh of acceleration too.

Then there was snack time with a rare cloud shielding the sun and we headed for home.

After a little rest, the menfolk bagged and bundled sticks and leaves for our neighborhood’s spring green waste pickup.

They met the 10 bags or bundles maximum and readied the yard for our next big project – installing an irrigation system! Erik’s been eyeing the ditch-witches at Home Depot ever since we moved in, and I’m sure Luke and Eleanor will be fascinated by the mighty D.W. as well. I’m less enamored with the tool rental, but am hoping it means that no more trees die and our watering becomes more efficient. Until then, Luke and Eleanor will practice mixing dirt and water so that they can lend relevant expertise as needed for the project.

So today it’s so long weekend, hello midweek make-a-cardboard-car party. We have the car kits, Luke’s made a pile of spare wheels in case of blow-outs, and I just need to tidy up the house a bit. Happy mid-week and here’s hoping I’m back soon with our photo backlog!