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Currently, I am ...
thinking about how fast this year is going. Dylan is already in his third full week of kindergarten. I just entered the 3rd trimester with this pregnancy. Only 3 more months (plus a tiny bit if she's stubborn like her brother?) before we meet Baby Girl. And, no, we definitely do not have a name. Given we didn't pick Dylan's until he was 8 days late (he arrived 2 days later), I wouldn't expect us to have her name picked until at least mid-October.

preparing for our family changes. Nesting has started to kick in a bit in the form of house projects in general, but also on the nursery. I found a changing table on Craigslist last week for $15. Structurally in great condition, but definitely had seen better times which was fine. I knew I wanted to paint whatever I bought. Lucky for me, her big brother has been happy to help. Soon we'll have a beautiful new-to-us yellow changing table to match the dresser in her room.

reading The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. I had read her book, What Alice Forgot, earlier in the year and enjoyed it so thought I would try this one. So far, I don't want to put it down. And excited it's my 20th "real" book (i.e., not a picture book!) this year. My goal is to read 30 books and it looks like I'll accomplish that.

grateful that Dylan still enjoys books and snuggles at bedtime. He's growing up so fast, but still little too. I know these days are numbered and I'll soon have to split time between two kids so I'm enjoying them to the fullest.

enjoying regular after dinner game night with Trent & Dylan. It's a fun, relaxing way to spend time just the 3 of us after busy days of work and school. One of our current favs was a birthday present he received - Cars 2 Monopoly.

looking forward to an outdoor movie at our neighborhood pool on Friday night. It was an idea another neighbor started a few weeks ago that looks like will continue monthly into the fall and is a great way to kick off the weekend.

What are you up to currently?


20 Questions at 5

For the 3rd year, I've asked Dylan the same 20 questions at his birthday. It's fun to look back and see which answers stay the same and which answers change.

I plan to put them all into a single book for him later and started with last year's layout to keep the pages similar, but let them each have their own unique look.

Supplies: Daydream papers and Birthday Bash kit by Karen Funk. Questions list from Reaves, Party of Four: 20 Questions


Pirate Birthday Party

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Over the weekend we celebrated Dylan's 5th birthday with a pirate themed party. We had debated a couple of different themes throughout the year, but after my cousin's wife shipped us a box of leftover pirate birthday goodies - we made our decision and started planning.

I ordered Pirate Ship invitations from Tiny Prints and then created my own return address labels & "no gifts" cards in Photoshop. [Our playgroup alone now has 12 kids with birthdays covering 10 months of the year and we all agreed that our kids have enough 'stuff.' We'd rather get together to celebrate and spend time - no need for more gifts.]

After the invites went out, we began prepping for pirate fun! Part of the simplicity of this theme - I dug out some of our Halloween decorations a bit early and mixed in a few other items like Dylan's Pirate Mickey Ears from Walt Disney World and a new pirate flag I made.

Our guests were greeted by a 'warning' sign at the mailbox: Beware of Pirates. It was an easy DIY project I created using items we already had.

We had planned a few outdoor activities and we were thrilled the morning was overcast and cool (70 degrees in NC in mid-July?? We'll take it!). We set up a simple walk the plank using a 2x4 and 'water' made from a dollar store tablecloth. The inflatable crocodile was a purchase from 5 Below and the kids loved it. Poor croc was drug into the top of the playset on the opposite side of the yard and tossed overboard! They also played a hook toss game (idea and free printable from Fleece Fun) as well as made cork pirate ships to float in a small pond.

We had purchased some plastic gold doubloons to hide in the sandbox for a treasure hunt, but a major rain storm on Tuesday left the sandbox a wet mess so I decided to toss that idea. Really, with the couple of activities plus the playset, toys inside and each other, the kids ages 5 and under were well entertained for the 2 hour party.

Of course, we had snacks - pirate themed snacks. Our menu: Shipwreck Sandwiches (Chick-fil-a chicken minis), 'Berried' Treasure (Chick-fil-a fruit tray), Pirate's Booty, Salty Bones (pretzel sticks), Krispy Buccaneers (Rice Krispie Treats), Jolly Roger cupcakes, Pirate's Punch (lemonade), and Shark's Blood (cherry Kool-Aid). I made the food labels in Photoshop the night before. Literally a last minute, quick project.

The cupcakes I made this year. I love doing mini cupcakes for the kids. Perfect size. Dylan's current favorite colors are blue and orange. When I spotted blue velvet cake mix in the grocery store, I knew it would be a winner with him. I finished them off with white vanilla icing, red sprinkles and a few pirate cupcake flags.

As the kids left, they each picked up a goodie bag with their name on it. I used simple sandwich bags again (love this inexpensive idea - see how I used them for his Cars and Blast Off parties) and created a map design based on this pin on Pinterest. I created mine in Photoshop and ran the bags through our inkjet printer. After filling with goodies, I folded over the top and sealed with washi tape.

Our pirate birthday party was a lot of fun! After everyone left and we tidied up a bit, all 3 of us took it easy the rest of the day. Oh, and Dylan informed me that next year he wants a superheroes party. Already has a plan for year 6. Pause please - let's enjoy age 5!

Source: '5' Shirt - shirt from Michaels, striped fabric from JoAnn Fabrics, black fabric from the Scrap Exchange; Invitations - Tiny Prints; No Gifts Cards - boy pirate image from free Pirate Playdough Mat printable; Pirate Flag - made; Skulls - from our Halloween decorations; Walk the Plank - wood from stash, blue tablecloth from Dollar Tree, inflatable crocodile from 5 Below; Message in a Bottle - small bottle & cork purchased from the Scrap Exchange; Hook Toss Game - Pirate Hooks from Amazon, Printable from Fleece Fun, Rope from Lowes; Plates, paper cups & striped straws - Target; Goodie Bags - pirate ship clip art from ClipArtBest.com.


First Day of Kindergarten

Dylan won't be 5 for a few more days, but he officially started kindergarten last week! We have year round elementary schools here and were excited to be assigned to one. This means he gets a break every 9 weeks plus holidays and has one week off between school years.

Being the scrapbook/photo book/photography loving mom I am, I knew I wanted to do cute first day photos. I liked the idea of a chalkboard sign and recalled seeing a kit from Hallmark's Pics 'n' Props line last year perfect for school photos. Of course, I'd forgotten to buy it. I asked on a Hallmark Facebook group I'm a part of if the kit even still existed. Yes and no. It's been discontinued, but can still be purchased if a store has it in stock. Imagine my surprise to find a package on my doorstep last week with the kit and a handwritten note inside!

While we took photos on his first day last Monday, it was also his only day last week as our school system has "staggered entry" for kindergarteners. He eagerly posed again for photos this week as he began his first full week and was excited to do so with the new sign from the Pics 'n' Props kit. Big grins before heading to the bus stop for his first bus ride to school (another exciting milestone - he's been asking us to please let him ride the bus).

Thanks, Hallmark, for the gift! We were all surprised and appreciative. Between Dylan and his sister due to arrive in October, we'll be using this kit for first day of school photos for many years to come.

*Find tips on taking Picture Perfect Back to School photos from Hallmark here.*

Disclosure: The Pics 'n' Props: My First Day of School Kit was sent to me free from Hallmark, but no post requirements or other compensation were made. All opinions are my own.


Project Kitchen: New Counters

It's taken about 5 months of planning, searching, selecting and, finally, our new granite counters were installed last week.

New Granite Counters - After

The day of installation, we made sure all the counters and lower cabinets were clear and the drawers removed. The sink and dishwasher were disconnected the day before (hence the cardboard lid over the sink - our visual reminder to not dump anything in there).

New Granite Counters - Installation Day

Removal of the existing laminate counters and installation of the new granite counters & undermount sink took only a few hours. I missed seeing it all, but the boys were there and Dylan gave me plenty of sound effects as he excitedly retold what happened. Apparently a good bit of power tools were involved. What little boy doesn't love power tools?

We had to leave them alone (i.e., nothing could be put back on top) until the next day to allow the adhesive to set up. This also meant the plumbing wasn't reconnected until then. I did plenty of staring after. It was such a drastic change. I never liked the blue laminate and, brace yourself, the new color name is "azul platino" and is from Spain. Yes, "azul" means "blue" in Spanish so you'd think I would have run from such a color, but really it's a gorgeous gray blend with little flecks within. Add this color change and the shine of the granite - the room reflects so much more light and feels brighter. Also it coordinates nicely with our new stainless steel appliances (still waiting to replace the microwave & range) and helps tie it all together.

New Granite Counters - Azul Platino

We lucked out when ordering our counters that the current special was a free edge upgrade. Any edge option was available at no additional charge. We opted for the "double radius" and are pleased with the choice. It's a nice smooth finish. I'm thinking probably extra good with little ones in the house. No sharp corners anywhere.

Granite Counters - Double Radius Edge

Projects to still tackle - tiling of the backsplash, replacement of the island and painting the cabinets. I plan to do the backsplash myself and have to pick a tile. I have a couple of ideas and will hopefully find time to tackle it before my belly gets much bigger! In the meantime, I'm happy to live with the exposed gyp board around the room that was previously covered by the backsplash on the laminate. I didn't want to pay for a granite backsplash that I knew we'd eventually tear out.

The island will wait a bit. The size of the current one and fact it was installed crooked (something that drives me batty) are why we didn't replace the counter on it too. We're looking for options that aren't as deep (right now if you open either the dishwasher or refrigerator, you completely block access to that side) but a tad longer. Thinking we'll do a butcher block top. The other catch is when we do this, we'll have to replace the floor too as the sheet vinyl installed just before we bought the house is, of course, cut around the island. Changing the size, placement of the island will leave an exposed area.

A quick look back & comparison of the before taken last Tuesday morning and an after shot I took yesterday.

Next step - pick the backsplash tile.


July 4th 2013 - the layout

A little look back on our celebration last year. Time certainly flies by! We had great time getting together with friends for swimming, movie watching & good food before ending our night just the 3 of us watching fireworks not far from home.

Wishing you a very happy July 4th!

Supplies: Dude, Kraft Fun Day, and Holly Jolly kits by Robyn Meierotto; Little Buckaroo kit by Miss Mint; Lazy Days kit by Kate Teague; Playful freebie by Mommyish.


Baseball Birthday

Trent's birthday was in early June. Sticking with our tradition of giving memories versus physical gifts, I made baseball themed card for him and enclosed tickets for the 3 of us to see the Durham Bulls & Norfok Tide play on the following Saturday night.

Our seats for the game were directly behind home plate and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Dylan and I took a break mid-game to walk around the stadium and caught a glimpse of the gorgeous sunset. Amazingly, even after a long day in preschool and game start time of 7:05pm, he made it through the entire game. We headed out just as the 9th inning was starting and it was clear the Bulls were going to take home the win.

Supplies: cardstock; Studio G stamp; Stampin' Up ink. Scraplift of Make A Wish Birthday Card for Boys by RCreativeCreations.