Friday, April 15, 2016

My Boyfriend's Back




Last week Scout had her first dance recital. Performing to “My Boyfriend’s Back,” she pirouetted, did her plies and releves, executed a stunning arabesque, pointed her toes, and then joyously ran off the stage and asked to take her costume off. 

Stellar job, darling.

If you remember, we began at a local dance studio for a mommy and me class, and when that class was cancelled due to low enrollment we looked for another less intensive option for a four year-old girl. Friends of ours made a suggestion and thus, Scout and her best friend were able to take dance together every week. 

I love this age because almost everyone is her best friend, but in the most sincere form. Emotions are strong and connections (and memories) run deep. 

The two of them, the best friends, were paired together for the routine which was both sweet and fitting. My mother took her to class every week and so I felt a little disconnected from the dance experience, but recounting the class once she returned home proved enjoyable and humorous at once. 

Most importantly, the class offered a recital at the culmination for all of us to see her hard work. Truth be told, the recital is really what it’s all about at this age; wearing a sparkly, twirly, fluffy costume with hair just so and makeup applied (in the form of chapstick). 

Perhaps it comes with the territory of being born second, but when she realized that all the commotion and fanfare around the night was focused on her, her cheeks turned a few shades of red and her grin stretched from ear to ear. She was smitten. The stage was her oyster, if only for a few short minutes, and she was able to share it with her best friend.

At its conclusion (but before she insisted her costume be removed) her mother (that would be yours truly) failed to garner the requisite floral trophy. As any best friend would, hers willingly gave her a stem from her own bouquet to share. It meant even more to her then, and she clung to it all the way home, waiting until I handed her a vase of water before she would unfurl her fingers from its stem. Relationships mean a lot to this precocious girl of mine.

Drama aside, she enjoyed being the belle of the ball and the center of everyone’s attention (including that of her doting big brother). I doubt she has a future with The School of American Ballet, but she certainly has one with The School of American Friendship

"Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend's back"








Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day

While I have many other things I could be doing or should be doing; a Valentine's Day post seems perfectly perfect instead.


Last year here.

I love this brood of little Neckers more than words can say. For five more days I have a 6 year-old, 2 year-old, 7 month old, and 3 year-old. That 3 year-old cannot wait to be 4, and tells me nearly everyday that when she is 4 she will be closer to being a grown up. Yes, but hang on to these years sweet girl. It's all going by so fast.

My biggest Valentine and I aren't too big on celebrating by exchanging gifts or anything like that. I'm the Valentine lover over here (remember, former Hallmark employee?). Our first Valentine's Day was celebrated together 18 years ago, and sentimental me still has the card he bought for me from the corner drugstore downtown. Sigh, makes me want to sing like Cinderella, "...so this is love..."

Even though the holiday is sandwiched in between our older's birthdays I love to celebrate it and make the day a fun one all the same with it's very own traditions. Any chance to recognize the love of friendships and relationships in my life, I'm all for it. Valentine linens, heart plates, garlands, special cards and books - give me, give me, give me. 

Happy Valentine's Day from us to you!

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Pride and Prejudice



 

Monday, February 1, 2016

In Real Life

Pretty and colorful pictures make me happy, and who doesn't need some happy in the middle of winter? I wanted to share some of the pictures of the rooms as they've been used and lived in for a few months now, and we all know that's when the true nature of the room comes to life. This playroom and workroom combination has been dynamite for homeschooling, I'll say it unabashedly. The planner in me is already thinking ahead to next year and well, we're quite excited over here. 




I (well, Steve, really) actually hung a few more hooks on the wall to adequately handle the plethora of dress up we have acquired, and it has been much more useful this way.
 

At any given time, one or more differing scenarios can be seen played out via Playmobil in the dollhouse Steve made for Scout. The depictions and live action are comical and at times, altogether incredulous. I applaud their efforts in creating the most amazing rescue stories I've heard to date. Real or fiction.
 

Ahh, the workroom. So much goodness in here. That right there for my attentive readers (my sister and my mom) is a new table from none other than my husband. Yes, indeed, I broke the first table. I assure you, there is a hilarious tale for that, but all the same, I broke the table and my children are convinced I am Super Woman. Either that or the Incredible Hulk, bulging biceps and all. My husband obliged my ignorance and made a new table, no questions asked.




Art is a necessity for me and these days ever more so. I appreciate a good gallery wall, as you may have noticed around here. A print I've been saving for some time, a painting from my grandfather, my dad's old motorcycle plate, and my pretty yellow lady that I love.
 

Monday, January 4, 2016

6 months::Ferris

6 months old today, this baby of mine, he is.

I haven't seen the new Star Wars movie yet...


Oh my. Ferris Jeffrey Stiles has now reached the 6 month milestone and I have hardly penned his existence into these internet webs. I'm sure he'll forgive me, when he wants to become President and every past literal and audio notation is scrutinized and lambasted for all to see. Yes, he'll thank me then.

The past 6 months have been incredibly full and incredibly quick. He's grown from a newborn, to an infant, to a baby seemingly overnight. His hair has finally tamed, so the Trump card is played only half as often as it once was. His content demeanor has earned him a front row seat for mealtimes and the like, as he watches with eager eyes all that unfolds before him. He is quiet, and he is exacting. He is my heart outside of me for all to see.


At 6 months old Ferris is:

Wearing 9 month (barely) and 12 month clothes, 12-18 month in Gap
Wearing size 3 diapers and 5 at night (since Moxie is still in diapers and we have them)
Around 16 pounds

No teeth as of yet
Blowing bubbles, raspberries, and sticking his tongue out
Smiling and laughing and talking to whomever will listen
Enjoying toys, and all of the ones that are just for him from Christmas (fourth baby problems)
Putting everything in his mouth, and reaching for toys
Hair has finally grown long enough to lay flat, with a defined part in existence
Still boasting baby blues and blonde hair -- whose kid is this?

Eating
As with the other kids, my supply tanked at 4 months as his weight dropped drastically. I expected it this time and so I was prepared, and it was the decision we were content with making regarding his feeding. Even though this is my fourth rodeo, I still bristle at the comments made by others regarding my ceasing of breastfeeding, as if it were their decision to make. He has been thriving and gaining consistently once he made the full switch to formula and I'm okay with that, and so is our family. He eats every 3-4 hours or so during the day, with the last feeding before bedtime. He has been eating solids since around 4 months starting with cereal and I've been slowly introducing vegetables. He has only had butternut squash and sweet potatoes thus far. I haven't had the chance to make more variety as of yet - I still make the baby food, I enjoy it and with my new blender it's even easier than before. Cereal twice a day and veggies twice a day with on average 5 bottles.

Sleeping
The pattern continues...he has been sleeping almost exactly in step with Moxie's sleep habits at this age. We get ready for bed (all the kids, yes even Cutter still) at 6:30 pm with bath and then pajamas, bible, stories, prayer and bottle before bedtime at 7 pm. He will wake up between 5:30 and 6:30 am and take a bottle and go back to sleep, waking on his own around 8-9 am. If we have to get out of the house earlier I wake him and feed him on the go. He goes down for a nap about an hour or so after he wakes up and naps for a short time in the morning but takes a long afternoon nap with the girls. So he's napping still about 2-3 times a day. I'm so thankful for my good sleepers, believe me, I am.

Firsts lately 
His first Christmas, 2015
Had to lower the crib
Rolled across the room, far from where I left him

Eating meals in a highchair with the family
Sitting unsupported for very small increments of time
Putting everything in his mouth
Getting his knee under him in an attempt to crawl, yikes

Addendum

I was so excited about my playroom post that I neglected to include the pictures of the very kitchen I was boasting so loudly and proudly about. I've been out of the blogging game, what can I say?

The custom kitchen for the playroom.

It's so simple, which I love. So many kid things and toys are overdone and have too many bells and whistles. I prefer the simpler toys and tools of old. I'm an old soul that way.



The cabinet to the far right serves as their pantry, while the two cabinets underneath house their pots and pans and other foods that don't belong in a pantry. Such as eggs, butter, and milk. Of course.




Steve spray painted an old faucet and we used a mixing bowl for the sink that we already had. The stove is made up of spray painted paint lids screwed into the top. 

Kitchen complete. 

**The mixer and the toaster are Hape brand. We love them. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Playroom::Finished

Though the playroom has been finished for a few months now, I am just getting to a post about it. I'm excited about it, that's for sure!

For starters, here's what we were dealing with back in the spring/early summer:




 A very green room with no floor and lot of holes filled in.

Steve did so much work in this room. First, we demoed the wall that you see in the above picture. Behind the room to the door was a closet that though spacious, better suited us as open space. We took down that wall and instead did built-ins. Shelves are the best storage solution for us, as we've learned.


Getting rid of the dark ceiling and overly verdant walls gave the room an instant face lift that allowed us to see more clearly what we wanted the room to look like. 



The large window was replaced with a regular double hung that opens for ventilation - that in itself was a huge and necessary improvement for the room. Steve built out the bottom and again we did some custom built ins for the space and made cabinets to hide the shelves, giving us another storage solution under the windows.

We were making such amazing progress on the room and were all set to keep going, but then I went into labor, and well, the room took a backseat while we fell madly in love with our littlest baby Longenecker. 

Once we had some normalcy resume, we were both antsy to finish and complete the room. We ended up doing the same floor treatment in here as we did in the workroom. We really loved how it turned out and it was incredibly inexpensive. We chose to replace the solid door to the hallway with a glass planed door. We keep it open for the most part, and we can see through it to the wall which makes it feel more open in the hallway itself. When I do shut the door I can see in from the workroom when we are doing school, and I can know where and what Moxie is doing. This is crucial if you know Moxie at all.


Once the floor was sealed we moved a few toys in, but my hunt for a rug was hastened when every five minutes someone was dropping wooden play food on the floor and it was echoing down the hallway. I decided to look at Home Depot for something to hold my design loving ways over until I found what I really wanted (RugsUSA is amazing for this eye candy) and found a clearance indoor/outdoor rug that was okay. I didn't love it but it was on clearance and I wasn't going to keep it long anyway. When we checked out, the rug rang up for 1 cent. I made the cashier double check and saved the receipt to prove my savvy to Steve, so for 1 cent I had secured a rug for our new play room!

 

Steve made the kids a new play kitchen custom for the space as well. Their Melissa and Doug kitchen was well loved, and the pieces had begun to fall apart. I passed it along to a teacher friend who was keen on fixing it up, and just like that our playroom was in working order.


Since Christmas we have now organized, purged, donated, and or hidden every single toy, puzzle, game, stuffed animal, musical instrument, or building set in this house. It feels amazing to have a place for all of these things, which has in turn opened up our living room to be a living room again. As one thing always leads to another, in a very good way, this expansion allowed us to rearrange the living room, shuffle some closets around (and some dressers), and we now have a coat closet, an open and welcoming living room, and a work closet that is not stuffed to the brim with odds and ends. Not to mention, a workroom that has been an amazing multi-purpose room for our family to accomplish schoolwork, Lego building, arts and crafts, home office duties, and provide a flat surface for organizational projects and let's be honest, a fine recluse for my eldest when he's looking for some time away from little hands attempting to destroy his latest Lego structure.

I am still decorating and styling the playroom, because, well, I really enjoy doing that sort of thing. It's been fun to make the space usable but also fun and inviting. The kids now have a place to play with their things that enables them to imagine, create, and pretend together, and they don't have to hunt for things because they know right where everything is now. The best part of this room, is that it connects to their bedroom through that white door. It's like their very own English nursery - fulfilling my childhood dreams one room at a time! 

I didn't want to wait any longer before I posted an update for fear it would never materialize, so even though it's not picture perfect, here is the playroom as of today.








I'll share some more of the workroom in action because it really is an amazing space for our family. And I really just love it a lot.

The playroom is forever evolving, which is as we intend it; to grow with our children as their needs and wants change as they grow and mature. We are so grateful to have these spaces to call our own in this home of ours. Truly, so very grateful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Feast



I’m a little rusty. I haven’t written a blog post in months, though I have composed many a post in my mind.

Let’s start light and easy.

Today was my girl’s first official school celebration, the Thanksgiving Feast. Scout is in preschool this year and with it comes all of the traditional childhood experiences; who doesn’t remember singing about pilgrims and Indians while dressed in appropriate garb for adoring parents to fawn over? Can I get a Turkey Dinner up in here?

She has been talking about the Feast for some time, chattering away about the lady pilgrim hat she will wear and the songs she will sing, but ‘shh, Mommy, it’s all a surprise for you!’ She made sure that I knew this day was special to her by telling me, repeatedly, ‘this day is so special to me, Mommy.’

Endearing and utterly precious.

She proudly walked in her classroom wearing her lady pilgrim hat and stood on her line. She sang her songs with a grin plastered to her face, and a heart full of adoration for her teacher. She loves her class and her friends something fierce; she is my social butterfly. After performing, she led us to her seat which was set with a place mat she had made with the things she was thankful for: mommy & daddy, cutter & scout, moxie & ferris, and play. I’m so glad that she has the appropriate priorities of a three year-old girl.  We ate the appropriate fare of turkey sandwiches, popcorn, and school safe brownie bars – the Indians assuredly had such delicacies. She came home and promptly napped the afternoon away, satisfied and full of pride at her special day.