Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alphabet Big AND Little

My older daughter is about 34 months old (we say 2 around here, don't worry, just perspective if you need it) and she is excellent at recognizing and naming her letters. Starting about a year ago we have been surrounding her with "all things alphabet" and she has just SOAKED it all up! Now that we are back in Houston we are spending a lot more time in the car with longer commutes, so we've started playing "find the letters" while we travel. From doing this, I noticed that while Bugga is EXCELLENT at recognizing her capital letters, not so much with the lower-case.

So I'm putting a lot more focus on the lower case now, simply by presenting the "little" letter next to the "big" version whenever we do things letter-related.

For example, recently we worked on a pre-writing skill by using both stickers and dot markers to make the big and small letters (this post coming soon).

I also made letter flash card packets that show pictures that start with a particular letter, presented with both big and little. These are also fantastic for our car rides - I just grab a letter each morning to bring with us. (this post coming soon too!)

I even updated Bug's room design to include the little letters. The way her room is positioned she can stare at her wall alphabet whenever she is awake in her bed (more often than I prefer, but so be it).

This is the "before" room when we still lived in Calgary.

This is the "after" in our Houston home - both letter sizes!

What have you done to help your toddler/preschooler associate both sizes of letters?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baby Labels: What Do You Name the Kid?

I'm sure you've done it. I know I have. A lot. You meet someone, get introduced, and their name is just...weird. And obviously that is only your opinion, because apparently SOMEONE liked that name in order for this person to own it.

When you are a kid and you name your dolls or your stuffed animals or your Someday Kids, you try on a lot of names to see what you like. By the time you are an adult, you likely have an idea of what your top monikers for babies would be should you get to that point.

Then you meet your future spouse and start to procreate and now have to merge these finalists into just ONE name you agree on (or two or three or however many kids you end up having). Needless to say, it can be near impossible to land on the one word in the world that you both love enough to label your precious offspring.

With our first baby, my husband and I didn't know what gender we were having, so we prepared two lists over the months, deciding in month 9 on first the Girl Name, and then the Boy Name. Although it was harder to agree on names for boys, in hindsight it seemed like it was relatively easy to agree in general.

Baby number two was different for some reason. I don't know if it was the added pressure of having a second child (the sibling names "have to" "go together"), having a second daughter (we can't use our previous boy name list and just be done with it), or what, but I was already past my due date by the time we agreed on a name we both like.

This is literally the list of preferences I put on a name candidate:
* First name 2 syllables, middle name 3 syllables (just like our first child)
* One "girlie" name, the other "not so girlie" (just like the first kid)
* Can't end in "R" (our last name starts with "R")
* First name cannot end with the same letter that which the middle name begins
* Can't end in any variation of "-ley", "ly", "lie", etc. - basically cannot rhyme with our last name (never mind I love all names that end like this)

And this was before we even eliminated names of all of our exes, living family
Seriously? OK, maybe I'm still
scoffing at some names...
 names, and obvious seasonal names (I really wanted Noelle for a middle name for this December 21st baby but husband vetoed it).

I downloaded several name picker apps to my phone and we spent hours going through them. We poured through the cast lists on IMDB looking for something we both loved. We wore out the internet looking up all the First Female Anythings to find a name with history. 

This is where it dawned on me. All the names I had ever thought were "weird" when I first heard them? Not so much! I surprised myself by considering names I might have - and DID - scoff at all those years ago because hearing them now categorized them as "unique" and "modern" and not so bad...maybe. And then you read all the Top Unique and Modern Baby Names lists and see them on there again and then really wonder how unique they can possibly be anyway if they're on a list like that in the first place!

Then there's the realization that everyone having a baby around the same time as us was also looking for a baby name that is something people have heard of, but not well enough that the kid is one of seven in their Kindergarten class. It's a vicious cycle.

At least we decided before the baby appeared. You hear these stories of babies that were in the hospital for days before their parents figured it out. Or they took another few months even, where special paperwork has to be filed! Yikes!

We are probably done having kids, but I'm sure we'll have some pets to name in the future...and one of them might be the perfect candidate for "Coco", "Apple" or "Rocket".

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Nursery Room Reveal

I recently posted the ideas I used for inspiration when putting together my second daughter's nursery. Well, here is how it all turned out!

I ended up using a turquoise, white and silver palette with a baroque/damask (uhhhhyeahhhh to be honest, I don't know the difference!) and butterfly theme (I was unable to choose one or the other so just went with BOTH!). I tried to tie in the design across the different details so it ended up flowing pretty well.

Let me give you a tour!

Starting from the left of the door I put Bella's changing table and the glider that I have had since pregnant with Bugga. The glider doesn't exactly match, but I was not about to buy another glider just to get it to match the room. I toss baby blankets on it all the time anyway. 

Do you know what drove the color? The curtains. I wanted (NEEDED) some quality blackout curtains, and I found an Etsy designer that offered an excessive amount of fabric patterns. This one I found is perfect for what I was looking for. Then, I spray-painted an IKEA mirror to match the turquoise color in the curtains. I also ordered a matching changing table cover and boppy cover from another Etsy store. In between the mirror and the curtains is my burst of butterflies. 

Here is another view that includes the boppy cover - the fabric is super soft.

And perhaps a slightly closer view of my butterfly installation. I like calling it an installation, you know, because I'm a museum-level arteest and all.

I was going for a "just released" effect and love the multiple dimensions of the butterflies since the wings come out from the wall, and they are scattered all over multiple walls and the ceiling.

Moving to the other side of the room, you can see the crib and bookshelf. This will be the second baby to sleep in this crib that I love. I continued the butterfly theme with the butterfly mobile over the crib, and the butterfly framed rhinestone piece on the bookshelf. I found some ornate frames to match the feel of the curtains and the mirror, spray-painting them to match the room, and lucked out finding drawers/doors to work with the IKEA bookshelf, as well as some turquoise toy bins. I also purchased some silver damask decals that run up the wall over the bookshelf, as well as up the wall right next to the door. I made Bugga a pink striped pillow poof so she'd have some place to sit and play while I nurse her little sister in the glider during the day when it's just the three of us at home.

Here's a closer look at the butterfly mobile I made.

And a closer (yet blurry, sorry) picture so you can see the rhinestone detail of the framed butterfly. 

Here's a straight-on view of the bookshelf and the coordinating decor. I painted the frames, and the mats, and modified some prints to fit my vision after seeing a variety all over the internet.

I forgot to take pictures of the closet and door wall, but all that's interesting from that view is the silver damask decal that is slightly different than the one over the bookshelf.

I really enjoyed decorating this room, and I truly enjoy just being in it now - it is so relaxing. I'm also proud of how everything turned out! After all is said and done, I made/customized so much of it myself:
  • the mirror
  • the butterfly installation
  • the striped pillow poof
  • the butterfly mobile
  • the frames, mats and prints
  • the butterfly framed rhinestone art

I hope to post additional details on how I made each of my crafts and will link from here as they become available. And now that we have moved 4 months into Bella's life and I've had to recreate this room in an entirely new house, I will also post updated photos on the variation of the design once I get all of it set back up (and reordered where applicable - darn non-reusable decals!). I hope you enjoyed your tour!

Also, if you want to check out Bugga's 2-year-old room, click here!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Need More? Now You Can Stalk Us on Instagram

I'm late to the party, I know, but I am finally on the Instagram train. What I find great about it is I don't have to bombard all my Facebook friends with seven million photos of my kids when I can instead bombard all the Instagram strangers who WANT to see pictures from my life if they choose to follow me.

Anyway, if you are curious about our visual life, please check it out! I can promise you endless photos of cute and quirky kids, and the occasional random philosophical thought. But less of the latter. I'm too busy parenting.

Just click here and then click the "Follow" button!


Nursery Inspiration

Like my toddler's room, my newborn's nursery was put together based on a lot of ideas I consolidated over time. Now that my daughter is here, and her gender is public knowledge, I can now share the results of the nursery. But first - the inspiration!

With Bugga, we were also in a rental (and very small) house. I knew we'd likely move shortly after she was born so I decorated one side of our guest room using some basic details. We chose to be surprised on the boy/girl topic, so I went with a green and white beach-y theme with surfing monkeys (of course) and various sea creatures.

Since we knew Bella would be a girl, somehow I started heading down the path of a very girlie design. If anyone knows me at all, you know that this isn't typically my style, but I just couldn't help being drawn to it. I'm not sure if it's because I was limited with the first nursery or not.

So here is where I started:

Color Pallette:

I was really gravitating toward white and a metallic/mirrored silver.  And perhaps a pop of something else but I wasn't sure right away. I'm going to toss out the idea of pink, but I doubt I'll go that stereotypical.


Overall Look & Feel:

Classic. Warm. Feminine. I just love all of these examples and really wanted to go in this direction.

Wall Design:

I almost went with more stripes like I ended up doing in Bugga's room. I swear, stripes call to me. You should see my closet.

Wall Decor / Curtains:

I love the Baroque style of the frames and mirror.
I would love to add a whimsical "installation"-style detail like a group of butterflies.
A custom-made mobile over the crib would be adorable.
I love the style and color of this mirror.

I like the pop of color in the curtains, but I also like the pattern on the wall as an accent.

I always seem to sing this to my sweet!

Girl power! And a little Shakespeare.

Furniture / Accessories:

The new nursery will use the same crib I had in Bugga's room, and I will order another white dresser. I'll also move the glider from Bugga's room to the nursery and probably add a bookshelf to display little details and store books and toys.
These are super sweet and would be a nice detail in a nursery.
I guess basically I'm going for a classic feel for the room and I am surprised how I excited I am to go this route. The room itself has a tan carpet and off-white walls, so the all-white look won't be happening, and my glider (which I am not recovering) is a tan color.

Again, I am limited with what I can order in Canada, and I hope to make a lot of the little details myself.

Click here to see how everything turned out!

Friday, June 6, 2014

And just like that...

We are moving back to Texas! After what has been one of the longest winters on record (at least according to all the Calgarians I keep talking to) we are leaving just as it finally stops snowing...and then just in time for the sticky triple-digits of Houston.

Seriously - I JUST posted my toddler's room reveal and WHAM I have to take it all down. And I haven't even shown you what I did with my newborn's nursery yet! I'm planning to just recreate the same designs in the new house so I will do an update post as well. I will need to reorder a lot of the decals since they weren't reusable (ugh, what a waste!) but they are so much easier than painting. I say they were a waste because I know for a fact there are reusable decals available (I found some for the girls' bathroom) even though they look great, but they are hard to find.

Anyway, so we are currently trying to survive between homes. We had a disastrous week last week in a hotel in Calgary as our house was packed and cleaned, and now we are in corporate housing until our furniture gets to town. I say disastrous because as much as we were SO very fortunate to stay in a two-bedroom suite with a toddler and a baby, NOBODY slept all week, naps, nights, whatever. The baby was up every 2 hours, the toddler decided she couldn't stay in her bed even though we set everything up PERFECTLY...and I was a ZOMBIE!

The crazy thing is I had been dreading our four-hour flight down (Bella's first flight) and made massive preparations as far as entertainment for Bugga, packing perfectly, etc. and it ended up being the easiest flight in the history of parenting. At least for this family.

And things have only improved since we landed. Our corporate housing apartment complex has three bedrooms (win), a playground (win), and a splash pad (super win). And Bella is just coming out of a growth spurt which means she's slept 8 plus hours the past few nights, allowing me to gain a little of my sanity back.

I think the spurt's over though so tonight could be back to 2 feeds a night which isn't awesome but tolerable...and soon we get to start solids so that might improve things as well.

Anyway, time to get back into the swing of things here - YEE-HAW! Yeah.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Toddler Room Reveal!

I am finally ready to do this post!

I shared my room inspirations for Bugga's new Canadian bedroom when we moved to Calgary last summer. I worked on her room and her new little sister's nursery simultaneously but it has taken me until now to get around to taking pictures of everything (that whole giving birth thing stalled me a little bit).

A little recap of what I was working with: we are renting so although we had permission from our landlord to paint the kids' bedrooms, I ended up being too pregnant (read: tired) to bother with paint. The walls are this cream color that I would not have selected myself, but I made it work. Also, Bugga's room has somewhat of an annoying layout since the first thing you see when you enter her room are the closet doors (eh, why?), and with a window and a random corner that sticks out there really aren't a lot of options for where furniture can fit in this room. We couldn't have fit more than a twin bed in here either!

As far as designing the room goes, my focus was on modern patterns, purple/pink/gray combinations, and the alphabet. I also wanted to use as much of the space as possible, so I have things hanging from the ceiling as well as flat and three-dimensional items on the walls. I am thrilled with how it turned out, and Bugga is constantly chattering about the details.

Anyway, without further delay...

View #1: This is what you see from the door. That far wall with the closet and the window really perplexed me with how to furnish this room. I'm still not sure what the builder was thinking. Anyway...

View #1

View #2: From left to right starting at the door, I put the dresser/changing table. I ordered alphabet decals in lavender for over the changing table, framing the "S" (Bugga's first initial) to make it the focal point. This has been a great tool for teaching her the alphabet, along with a few other things we've used.

View #2

View #3 & #4: The second wall is seen in the first picture. I really wanted stripes and considered painting them. After researching various techniques, I decided the decals would be the easiest, and I ordered these off Etsy in custom lengths to fit the wall (notice the corner kick out - adds interest, but still serves no purpose). 

I wanted Bugga to see her name frequently, so I painted white wood letters from Michael's. For her first initial I carved it from some styrofoam, covered it in purple glitter, and edged it with purple ribbon. 

The final detail for this wall are the three felt flower balls, hung from the ceiling which give the decor some depth. They are hung in the corner so they don't hit anyone in the head.

For a reading area, I brought her Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair in from another room and set it next to her bookshelf so she can cozy up with her books whenever she wants.
View #3

View #4

View #5: I ordered the lavender chevron curtains FIRST because blackout curtains are a must with napping children. They unfortunately took a lot longer than I thought they would because I messed up the order the first time, but I love how they turned out. 

I then decided to go with a twin bed with a toddler rail (versus a toddler bed) because it will be used longer. I was tempted by the toddler bed because it would have left so much more space in the room for other things, but in the end, practicality won out. And we've never had too much of a problem with Bugga's safety in this bed (now keeping her in it has had it's moments). It also has a trundle frame (still in the shipping box under the bed) that we can use later. 

I covered some purple wood stars from Michael's in purple glitter and hung these from the ceiling too. I found purple "princess" bedding, and underneath are - wait for it - Minnie Mouse sheets. Her fave.

View #5

View #6: This angle shows the canvas art I created for her room. I went into extreme detail and included some tutorials for how I made some of these here. She still points at these all the time and tells me what they are. 

Also, I used the giant "S" collage from her first birthday party for her door, and it's fun to see her baby pictures every time we enter the room.

View #6
I mentioned in my inspiration post that I had started a satin rag rug. Well, let me advise anyone out there reading this that a rag rug project is not for the remotely busy person. That thing would have taken me many, many (many) months to complete if I had pursued it. Fortunately, I quit before I had invested too much time. And now I have several yards of lavender, silver, and white satin sitting around for another project. I'm glad I used coupons when I bought all that from Joann's!

So that's it! It's pretty simple actually, and I had a lot of fun putting it together. But most importantly, Bugga loves it. That's why we go to all this trouble, right?

**Please let me know if you have any questions about where I bought something or how I made something in this post. **