To say that Peyton Manning McKevitt is not here yet…but two and half weeks of consistent, but false, labor contractions have me thinking about very little beyond getting our family through each day and PMM’s impending arrival. I’m officially due this week, so I’ll keep you all posted when he or she does choose to arrive!
I have been obsessing over finding the prefect lights for our curb appeal makeover this Spring. Like, asked Mr. B on our date night on Saturday if we could please please please drive around neighborhoods before dinner to look at outdoor lighting options. And then could we maybe just swing by Lowes and Home Depot on the way home to see what they have and so I could get his opinion on styles. Because he adores me, and is a good man, he agreed, but he did say, “Em, I honestly don’t even know what lights we currently have on our house. And I probably don’t have an opinion on lights like you do.” I said, “Don’t worry. They’re ugly.”
Since I’d been obsessing about the correct light for our house for months, I had quite a few pinned to help me narrow down styles. And I was torn between going pseudo-Craftsman to play up the Craftsman elements of our exterior, or going transitional-industrial. So I put together this compilation and realized I knew what style I liked:
Turns out, what I thought I’d choose (the Craftsman-esque lines) isn’t what I love most. I’m drawn to the industrial/transitional down lights, at least aesthetically. When the house is painted (and shutters installed – thank you all for your feedback on that!), we’ll make sure we like the actual look and light output, but for now, that’s what I like. And if I like it, apparently in the world of exterior house lights, Mr. B likes it. And after looking at all the options in the store, I picked #5. It’s got a dusk to dawn feature, which I like and scalewise worked will with our house. The reviews are mediocre, but that appears to be about the optional motion sensor feature which I don’t intend to use, so I’m holding onto my receipt, but for the time being we’re going with #5. #4 was my next choice, but I couldn’t see it in person. So if 5 doesn’t work out, 4 it is.
A little over a week ago I declared our house an organizational nightmare. And this was after I spent all of January organizing crap. I’m choosing to believe that this is nesting, but in reality, it was probably that I couldn’t find my favorite scarf – my go-to pregnancy accessory – and noticed a week’s worth of laundry had piled up. So on a Friday afternoon, I handled the laundry problem and found my scarf. On Saturday morning, B took both kids to the grocery store and I stayed home and cleaned the kitchen (so we could have a clean kitchen to fill with food) and then started tackling the playroom organization, making a list of everything that needed its own container since the bins I’ve been using aren’t handling the situation. And the art supplies were at the top of the not working list.
For Christmas, we replenished both kids’ art supplies for their “needs” category of our gift giving. Thomas is not at all detail oriented or artsy – speeds through his coloring assignments like it’s nobody’s business. He is definitely my kid in this regard: I have vivid memories of my 2nd grade teacher laughing when I turned in a coloring sheet before anyone else so I could go out to recess. She told me it would be okay if I wanted to use more than one color and stay in the lines. Meh. So, Thomas needed scissors, glue sticks, fine tip markers, etc to practice those every-so important fine motor skills and arts and crafts that he naturally does not come by. And Nell lives for anything arts and crafty (definitely not my kid in that regard, but definitely my mom’s grandchild and my sister’s niece), and since we’ve already established that her mother does not, we were lacking in the appropriate for toddlers art department over here. So that was an easy need to fulfill for Christmas this year.
What was not so easy, was organizing all that crap. I’ve had their art supplies sitting in a massive bin since Christmas, and it’s an organizational nightmare. Digging around to find the right markers, scissors, etc…not my thing, and therefore, we just don’t do that much art stuff. Not to mention the tub was so big I only had a place for it in the basement…and trekking a heavy box up and down the staris whenever we did a craft meant that crafts were few and far between. But a lightbulb went off when I saw that Claire pinned this organizational roundup – the blog that posted the over-the-door hanger was no longer around, so I did my own search and found this. When we went off to college, my mom sent each of us kids off with an over-the-door shoe organizer to keep all the little stuff in on the back of our dorm room closet doors: chargers, deodorant, makeup, etc. I toted that thing all through college from dorm room to sorority house to rented hovel my senior year. I even hung it on the back of B’s and my closet door at our first house – where it went unused because I had an entire house full of drawers to put things in, and we finally threw it away before we moved. Bad move, Emily. Bad move.
The basement door is right off the kitchen where we usually do any arts and crafts beyond coloring, so that was the prime location for my new found arts and crafts organization. Take a look at that gorgeous door – complete with a cat door. For the cat we don’t – and will never due to B being allergic – have. Add it to the replace someday list. Along with the curly-q door handles.
With a new shoe hanger purchased, I tackled the bin of arts and crafts supplies. Coloring books and paper lay flat, so they got moved to an unused drawer. And every art supply got a shoe cubby. It makes me happy…and more likely to paint with my kids since I don’t have to lug a big bin up from the basement, and then sort through it, to find something to do. I will say that I don’t plan to put anything I’m not cool with the kids having access to in the bottom three rows, the scissors quickly got moved to the top row when Thomas flocked to them like a moth to a flame upon opening the basement door, but as long as I’m aware of tiny, curious hands and plan accordingly, I think this will work out beautifully.
So that’s the latest and greatest around here organization-wise. Beats the pants off the bottomless tub of art supplies. What do you think? How do you organize craft and art supplies?
Back before I had kids…and before there was pressure to not post a picture on a blog unless it was so pretty it was Pinterest worthy, I blogged a lot more. And asked you guys questions about what you would do in blank and blank situation. Let’s get back to that, k? Starting with an update on the future curb appeal of our not yet appealing house. As promised shortly after we moved in, our big house project for the Spring is exterior work. Operation curb appeal has been consuming my mind since we moved in, and with a promise that one day we will have green grass again, I am itching to get the ball rolling. The curb appeal has always been my biggest “meh” about our house. I mean, our last house was my dream, curb appeal-wise. If we could have doubled the lot size, added a room on each floor and put our current elementary school within walking distance of our old house, I would have never moved. But, it turns out that lot size and the physical location of schools are a lot harder to change than paint colors and outdoor lights. Who knew? Here’s a look at the current state of affairs:
I think the main issue with the picture above is how faded everything is. I’m sure that in its youth, this color scheme worked. But in it’s 14 years of faded by Southern Colorado sun glory, it’s not working. You cannot see in this pic the Olympic torch porch and garage lights we’ll be replacing, but those will all change (not necessarily to the lights and door I badly photoshopped in below, I was just playing around and forgot to save the previous draft and am too tired to undo it). The front door and storm door will also change.
So here’s the question. Notice in the top picture how we only have shutters on our garage window? That’s bugged me. Always. When B’s mom met me at the house during our inspection to pick the babies up and take them back to our house for naps, she looked around the neighborhood for a few minutes before hand and said, “Have you noticed that this exact model usually has shutters on all the big windows, and not just the garage window?” And that got the wheels turning. I had originally planned to just yank off the imbalanced garage shutters, but I think bringing an accent color (as long as it doesn’t blend into the house color) to the windows would look great. So we’re adding shutters to the main floor window for sure. Like below:
And maybe to the top level, too. I think I like the idea of bringing the door and shutter color up to the top floor. The only hangup I have is the craftsman window trim at the top that doesn’t usually lend itself to shutters. Our painter said they just change that out when they install the shutters, so no big deal, but I do like the trim. So above is the top window shutterless. And below is the top window shuttered (my photoshopping is mediocre at best, so this is just to give an idea – not a final representation).
I’m leaning towards shutters on the top window, to bring the color accent up on the house. But I suppose there’s always the option to get the house painted, and install the top shutters later if we think it’s necessary. But it sounds a whole lot easier (and more likely to happen) if we just do it all at once. But, enough about me. What do you prefer?
On Monday night, B came home and was ready to get the rooms moved around for the baby. All of Nell’s furniture, except for her crib, were slated to be moved to the baby’s room, and I wanted to get that done enough in advance of the baby’s arrival for Nell’s sake. It didn’t go so well. As B moved furniture, Nell stood in the door and screamed, “Mine. My seat. Mine. My table. Mine. Mine.” So here’s hoping that her new, colorful room, a big new bed for her to grow into, and the safety of her turquoise crib help her come around to her room’s new look in the next few weeks. This morning she walked over to the baby’s crib and threw her favorite, “Mine” at it. To which her sweet, loving brother informed her, “Actually, Nell. This was never yours. This was my crib.” Gotta love older siblings.
But anyway, the baby’s room is a blank slate. Freshly painted white trim, freshly painted gray walls, a crib, a changing table, a chair and bookshelves. It feels so stark to me right now, and I’m itching to add color and personality, but I’m making myself wait. I’ve learned my lesson – I’ll want color and personality as soon as I know who will be living in this room, and I’m going to hold off to meet him or her before I make those decisions. So in the meantime, we have a very blank slate nursery. I can’t wait to watch this room evolve – I have a few ideas in my head of directions I’ll take the room depending on the baby’s sex, but the truth is that within days of knowing Nell, I wanted to change her whole nursery. And it wasn’t just because she was a girl, it was because she needed a room that fit her. I’d sit in the chair during midnight feedings and imagine how I could splash her sweet, but already big, personality all over the room. So that’s what the plan is in here – keep the room a blank slate until we know this sweet little one in a few weeks.
It’s far from a perfect photo, but I like to have a record of the process of a room. Consider this your “making progress” before. Not quite as before as the neon-y cobalt blue that we started with, but nowhere near as personable as it will one day be. And, you know, we’ll probably take the diaper box and other random things out of the crib and replace them with a baby.
So that’s that – we’ll get the bookshelves rearranged a bit and attached to the wall, I want to replace the globe for the ceiling fan light, and then we’ll just wait. But in the meantime, Nell’s room is so close to done and I’m excited to share that with you! Hopefully next week.
We did it. As of tomorrow morning, we will officially be in February. And with nothing but staying in out of the snow planned for today, I feel confident saying that we will come in under my projected $500 cash spending for January. That included 31 days of groceries (while I did not run out on December 31st and stock up, this was made easier by using up pretty much everything we had just sitting in the pantry and freezer the first week and a half), taking meals to several friends who had really hard Januarys, 4 birthday gifts purchased, diapers for Miss Nell, and even a get-together here and there at our house with some friends. Not included in the $500 were our monthly bills, tithing, or gas for our cars. As I was driving into our neighborhood yesterday behind a UPS truck after picking T up at school, I realized the UPS guy (Fedex, etc) has not been to our house once in January. In this day and age of Amazon Prime, that’s just not normal for us. After his nearly daily stops in December, he must have appreciate the reprieve.
I accomplished a lot in January since I wasn’t walking the aisles of Target looking to kill time on cold and dreary days. I got quotes for our big exterior projects for this Spring (and was pleasantly surprised to realize I overestimated the costs of some big projects). I got our household pretty well organized to add a 5th human to in a month – I have a very small list of things we need to buy to either get Nell’s room up and running once we move most of her furniture to the baby’s room or a few things that we’ll need for the McNugget (I’ll post on the plans there, soon).
But mostly, it was a really good exercise for us to take a good, hard look at how and why we spend money. Towards the end of the month, I’ll be honest. I just wanted to go out for a burger and fries. And as Nell’s leggings and tops became increasingly short on her, it took all of my will power to hold off on the cute Spring toddler clothes ads that were flowing into my inbox – so I unsubscribed from all those stores and that, in and of itself, has been liberating. But I digress. No spending January was exactly what we needed to remind us of how our spending is a choice – we are not any less happy at the end of January than we would have been if we’d bought everything and done everything our hearts desired this month. And that is eye-opening.
But our no spending month also helped us highlight some areas of our budget that weren’t working for us and we have decided to make some budgeting changes for 2014. It turns out that after 5 years, the envelope budget might not be the best thing for us. We did a much better job with a lump sum of money that we had to spend for our entire household budget for the month than we had recently been doing with categories. I think a lot of this is just mindset – once we were used to the categories and the amount we could spend in them, we spent the money because it was there and we were allowed to. We’ve always justified the categories saying that they roll over and become savings vehicles – and for certain areas, that’s true. We will continue to put $75 a month into Casco’s envelope – it gradually adds up to help offset vet expenses when they come up and covers the pricey, limited-ingredient dog food that our first born’s allergies require. But the other categories we are going to take a long, hard look at and decide if we’d be better off living on less every month, and then occasionally spending a little bit in certain areas. Like, for example, when Nell outgrows her entire wardrobe in a span of 5 days.
The most important thing we took from this month was that things come up, but when we approach our budget thoughtfully, we can usually balance the unexpected expenses that come up. I mentioned that B’s car needed to be repaired on the 4th day of our no spending month and his last semester of tuition was due before the end of January, too. We were so annoyed, but as we talked about it, we realized that’s how we should always handle months when those things come up – cutting back in other areas so we can absorb the unexpected costs into our budget rather than just putting less into savings that month.
So B and I have to sit down and figure out how our budget looks for February – and the rest of the year. Beyond determining a plan of action for our budget, my financial goal for February is to look into cutting our costs for our recurring monthly bills – if it weren’t for sports, we could probably cut cable altogether and go with Hulu or Netflix…but that’s just not going to happen in this football/golf/baseball/hockey/basketball/you name it obsessed household. But, we’re feeling energized knowing how much we now know that we can save monthly when we choose to forego unnecessary items. So, that’s how January is wrapping up for us. I’ve heard from a couple people who are contemplating a no spending month in the near future, and I would love to hear how it goes for you! B and I are still discussing doing this more than once a year, but I think it will definitely be something we stick to as a spending diet after the holidays in January for a few years to come!
*I just switched hosting companies for the blog, and other than the switch eating all the comments on yesterday’s post, I think everything is up and running. If you run into any trouble though, please let me know!
We’re 6 weeks out from the baby’s due date, which means that I’ve started to accumulate a small pile on a shelf in my closet of things to throw in a bag when I go into labor. I refuse, this time around, to pack a bag 4 weeks in advance because, let’s be honest, McKevitt babies take their sweet time – and often require encouragement – to make their way into the world. But if I were one of those girls who had a few contractions and headed to the hospital barely in time to even discuss pain medication let alone make a decision about it before the baby arrived, I might have a bag packed by now. Or not.
But, one thing I AM good about doing is packing only things you need for the hospital – in the heat of the moment or not. So, here’s what is on my mental list of what I took when Nell was born (when Thomas was born we still needed to lug our laptop with us because our blackberries certainly weren’t sufficient for posting the big news to Facebook…oh how times have changed). Most of these are things I wear daily, so as long as I have my list of what I need, I’ll do a quick load of laundry if necessary before we head to the hospital and we’ll be good to go.
For Labor: Flip Flops. Sports Bra. Maternity Tank. Yoga Pants. Headband. Phones and Chargers. After Delivery: V-Neck Jersey Dress. Maternity Leggings. Socks. Pretty Robe. Nursing Pillow (cover here). Camera. Going Home: Bamboo Belly Bandit. Glamourmom Long Top. Maternity Leggings. Aden and Anais Swaddling Blanket.
Early Labor: Okay, for labor, this is what I actually show up at the hospital in – rather than pack in my bag. Maternity (or not – I didn’t buy maternity this go-around) yoga pants, a sports bra (which I wear in the labor tub at our hospital), a maternity tank, flip flops, one of my favorite headbands and our iPhones and chargers for communicating with the fam. Being that this baby isn’t going to come in June like I’m used to, I’ll probably throw a zip up hoodie on over the tank top before we leave.
For the late stages of labor and delivery, I just use what the hospital has – their gown, etc. They get gross, you don’t want to deal with that, and they give the docs the access they need to check you. With Thomas I labored in a tank top and sports bra, and then had them cut off of me before my emergency c-section. Just use the hospital’s stuff.
After delivery, I immediately changed out of the hospital issue gown into a deep v-neck jersey dress. It was as comfy as pajamas, but gave me easy access for nursing and skin to skin time. The dress pictured is a nursing dress, but I’d add a sleep nursing bra to the mix, too. I’ll throw in a pair of leggings just in case it’s freezing, but probably won’t wear them because, if I remember correctly, the checks are frequent and pants just get in thew ay. A pretty robe for pictures is a nice touch and keeps you warm if your room is chilly. And definitely socks – whatever variety you prefer, but my feet get cold and I like socks. The hospital where I delivered Thomas was “Baby Friendly” (just not Emily friendly), and they provided nursing pillows, so the Boppy I’d packed went unused and I didn’t bring it when we had Nell. But the Emily friendly hospital where Nell was born doesn’t provide them and I sent B home for it the morning after Nell was born, so maybe something to check before you pack it. I do think it’s nice to have that extra arm support in the hospital – for gazing at your sweet baby on your lap, but also to help with nursing positioning. And of course, the real camera – I don’t need high def pictures of me in labor, but I definitely need them of my newborn. Not Pictured: A small toiletries bag. Toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant (pack your husband’s, too), a brush and any makeup you need. I keep it pretty minimal.
Between delivery and the time I’m discharged, I use whatever the hospital will bring me. Their disposable underwear, their pads, their ice packs, their diapers, their swaddling blankets, their baby shirts and hats, everything. Gotta get that deductible’s worth .
Going Home: It’s hard to accept, but news cameras are not going to be camped outside of the hospital for weeks waiting for the first glimpse of me, B and baby Peyton Manning McKevitt. So we’ll leave looking fabulous 24 hours after delivery to Kate Middleton. I will leave the hospital in maternity leggings, my very favorite nursing tank, and the sweatshirt/cardigan that I’ve lived in since September. And my bamboo belly bandit. I don’t bother with the Belly Bandit until I’m discharged, because the nurses come check you all the time, but this thing is indispensable to me in the first few weeks after delivery. I bought it after my C-Section with Thomas and think it was monumental for my quick recovery – and used it after my VBAC with Nell to get that postpartum belly back in shape sooner. The baby will wear jammies home from the hospital (and for the first many weeks of its life) – I bring two outfits, one for a boy and one for a girl. We install the car seat about a week before I’m due usually, and we just leave the car seat in the car while we’re at the hospital and B runs out to get it before we leave. I also bring one of my beloved Aden and Anais swaddling blankets for the ride home. We also leave the hospital with as many free diapers as we can stuff in our bag.
So, that’s what will go in my hospital bag. Because we live close to the hospital, I just have B throw some sweats and a change of clothes on top of my stuff last minute. He always comes home at least once to shower – so much nicer than the hospital – and to check on things on the home front, so we don’t worry too much about what he has.