Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wedding Dress Shopping

Our friends are getting married this summer and I NEED to find a dress for the occasion. I haven't shopped for dresses in over a year and I had no idea what size I needed or what would look good. Come inside the dressing room with me and check out the fiasco. From my commentary to Hannah's input and singing... I'm sure everyone else in the store thought we were crazy.
video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hihFF8qYstM

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hannah's Art Table

Click the image below to see the larger version
Hannah's Art Table

$6.99 - ikea.com

$7.99 - ikea.com

$7.99 - ikea.com

$7.99 - ikea.com

IKEA Kritter
$13 - ikea.com

$4.99 - ikea.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hannah - 21 Month Update

Hannah is becoming such a big girl! 

At 21 months old (on the 19th) she is going through a language explosion. Her comprehension is incredible and she’s able to follow simple instructions, as well as 2 and 3 part instructions such as “Put your bowl in the sink, then bring me your cup and spoon.” She impresses me every day.

She’s also starting to get very frustrated when I set limits, and she says ‘No’ more often than ‘yes’, but I think that’s just the developmental phase she’s going through. When she disobeys me I think it has more to do with lack of impulse control rather than that she wants to do it because I DON’T want her to do it, so I know with time she’ll improve at respecting boundaries.

She has a lot of compassion and empathy – she will rub your back when you’re sad and ask ‘what wrong?’. If you’re crying, then her eyes well up with tears too. While it’s nice to see her so compassionate towards her parents and grandparents, she also does this for her peers including those she doesn’t know. She really is a sweet sweet girl.

I’m not sure where she picked it up because no one sang it to me (thank goodness! I’ve always found it to be really uncomfortable), but Hannah will dance around the house singing ‘Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Mommy!”. She also enjoys ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ and ‘Gymbo the Clown goes side to side’ to the tune of ‘the wheels on the bus’. Hearing her little singing voice is really precious.

Hannah is still a daredevil. She climbs, jumps, hops, and leaps off of every surface she can. Trying to strike the balance between embracing her athleticism and trying to teach her what’s dangerous continues to be difficult for me. We’ve begun looking into switching Hannah to a gymnastics class instead of Gymboree as I feel that she’s just not being challenged in her class anymore, and I prefer her to have an instructor that would focus on form and safety instead of just singing and bubbles.

As far as vital stats go, I’m not sure how tall Hannah is, but she weighs about 32 pounds, wears 2T clothing , and recently graduated to a 7.5-8 shoe. Her hair is getting thicker and she now enjoys wearing bows so we’ll have to increase her bow collection, and anytime I give her a hat to wear, she’s excited and likes to look at herself in the mirror – ‘Oh tute!’ {cute} She’d brush her teeth 15 times a day if you’d let her, she loves cheese and grapes, and no longer has much interest in milk.

 She loves going bye bye – especially if it’s to go see Daddy at work and push around the kid’s sized shopping carts. Each time we go she gets more and more responsible with the cart and is recognizing her snacks when she finds them in the store. It’s a game of hide and seek that keeps her entertained for quite a while.

 She’s starting to get familiar with her alphabet and knows the majority of the ABC song. She can recall her numbers from 1 to 10, and sometimes continues as high as 18. Now she needs to start correctly counting items as she’s pretty hit or miss “4,5,6 – 7 fingers!” um… no.  She can correctly identify the letter M - can pick it out when written, knows what sound it makes, the works.  So 1 down, 25 more to learn.

We’re going to be converting her crib to a toddler rail this weekend, and hope that she continues to sleep well and that this doesn’t cause her sleeping habits to backslide at all. Currently she’s doing a great job of falling asleep on her own, and in the morning she crawls out of her crib and comes into our room at about 7am. We’re hoping that the additional freedom of the toddler rail doesn’t create issues in the middle of the night, but we won’t know till we try and right now the crib poses more safety concerns as she crawls in and out of it.  I’ll keep you updated on the results of this Big Girl transition.

I’m very proud of the smart little girl she’s becoming, and can’t wait to continue to watch her grow. I love her more and more each day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1/4 C of Butter
1 C Brown Sugar, packed
1 Can (20oz) Pineapple slices
1 Jar (6oz) Maraschino Cherries
1 Box of Yellow cake mix
oil & eggs as cake mix calls for

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Using the oven, melt butter in 9x13 inch pan.
  3. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the melted butter.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices on the brown sugar (save the juice!)
  5. Place a cherry inside and around each pineapple slice.
  6. Press pineapple and cherries into the brown sugar mixture.
  7. Add enough water to the pineapple juice to make 1 cup.
  8. Prepare cake mix as directed on the box substituting the pineapple juice mixture for the water.
  9. Gently pour batter over the pineapples and cherries, making sure not to disturb.
  10. Bake 42-48 minutes in glass pan at 350* (44-53 minutes for dark pan)
  11. Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean.
  12. Immediately run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.
  13. Place your serving dish on top of the 9x13, and quickly flip over.
  14. Leave the 9x13 in place until cake falls and topping drizzles over cake.
  15. Cool for 30 minutes then serve warm or cool.
  16. Store covered in fridge - if any is left...

Cloth Diaper Sale - Part 2

A few weeks ago I attended the much anticipated dollar sale at the Vancouver, Washington CottonBabies store. I filmed my haul and was very surprised at the quality of diapers available in the discount piles.

As we were planning our girl’s weekend, I received an email from CottonBabies that they had additional inventory they wanted to sell and so they were going to have another Dollar sale on June 9th while the Seattle crew was in town. I quickly emailed everyone and we all bought tickets.

Knowing just how crazy and tightly packed the first sale was I offered for Chris to watch the kids while we shopped, and everyone took him up on the offer. Chris watched 6 kids under 2 for nearly 3 hours.
{Granted, we came home to find Wren sporting a black eye after bouncing off the blue dog and falling into the bookcase, but everyone was in good spirits and he hadn’t sworn off additional children, so I think it was an okay experience for everyone but sweet Wren.}

The second dollar sale wasn’t nearly as good as the first. The inserts were gone, the dollar diapers were in really rough shape compared to last time, and the rest of the discount diapers were ‘okay’ at best. We all found some good deals, but if it says anything – I only spent $20.

We all love the lovelace diaper by BumGenius – especially in FreeTime so that there’s no stuffing required – and couldn’t help but pose the girls & Ethan for a photo when we got home. If you’ve ever tried to wrangle 6 kids in a photoshoot then you’ll understand that THIS was the best photo I got, and it was thanks to Marie running outside and playing peek-a-boo with the kids through the window.

Fun fact – besides Ethan who is the oldest, all the girls are in birth order from the youngest, Elise, up to Scarlet, Wren, Hannah and then Leila - but that wasn’t planned.

See more footage from our time at the cloth diaper sale:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just a Dash

It would appear that nothing on our kitchen counters is safe anymore.

 Hannah has always been tall for her age, but combined with her knack for climbing and her inquisitive nature – and that girl can get herself into trouble in no time flat. We’ve always been careful with sharp objects, like knives and kitchen scissors, and placed them in the sink instead of leaving them on the counter, but we never considered spice jars to be particularly interesting.

It took me a second to figure out what was going on.
First I noticed that Hannah smelt strongly of garlic, but I chalked it up to dinner.
Then I picked her up and noticed that she felt a little gritty.
I was completely confused, but went into the kitchen to get a wet washcloth to clean her up. It’s when I rounded the corner that I saw it:
 An empty container of Garlic Powder 
its contents spilt all over the kitchen floor 
Little Hannah footprints and shuffle marks were visible, and had we left her alone long enough, I’m pretty sure that dump truck and bear would have been included in the ‘fun’.

It was a minor incident – no one was hurt and, nothing was damaged. {and honestly I wasn’t all that mad as it meant that the kitchen floor was swept and mopped VERY well by Chris while I gave Hannah a bath.}

 In our household, anything that meets the 5&5 rule 
(can be cleaned up in 5 min & cost less than $5 to replace) 
is just not worth stressing over. 

 But totally worth photographing.

{20 months old}

Thursday, June 14, 2012


All 6 kiddos (Wren is not pictured) had matching pajamas for their sleepover.  It took a while to find a style that was available in 12-18m up to 2T, that had a complimentary girl and boy option,  and that was affordable, cute, and would ship on time.   But aren’t they cute?!
Some of you have asked, and rest assured - the sleeping arrangements worked out really well.
Hannah slept in a toddler bed in our room.  We had purchased the toddler bed off craigslist last summer when our friends and their 4 year old were visiting for a week.  We currently use the mattress as a floor bed in Hannah’s room in addition to her crib, and the frame disassembles easily and was stored in our garage. 
It was a little challenging for Hannah to fall asleep – not only was she not in her room, but we weren’t in there and she thinks we have fun things in our drawers.  I finally just brought her out to the living room where she fell asleep in my arms and then I put her in bed.  The second night was easier than the first as she knew what to expect.
Christina slept on an air mattress in the nursery and Wren took the crib.  Since Wren was such a trooper with all the travelling she’d done, I wanted to make sure she slept well while she was at my house.
Marie slept in my guest room, and Scarlet slept in a pack n play in the same room.
Krystal and Megan shared the den.  Krystal slept on our futon from our college days that doubles as the ‘couch’ in our yet-to-be-decorated den.  Elise slept in Hannah’s pack n play.   Megan slept on our air mattress and Leila slept in a pack n play.
Jessica slept on the couch in our living room, and Ethan had a pack n play as well.
Nearly everyone had their own personal space, and since the guest shower is downstairs by the den, Megan and Krystal had the easiest access to it. 
I realized that I need WAY more pillows and blankets on hand, but I think it worked out well considering we slept 13 people in my house.
The benefit to everyone staying at my house instead of renting hotel rooms was twofold:
1)      The less money we spend on our meetups, the more often we can afford to do them.
2)      Unless everyone stays at the hotels, the group is always split up.  By making some concessions and roughing it on air mattresses (thanks Megan and Christina!!) we were able to stay up late talking and maximize our time together. 
And at the end of the day the goal is to spend time together. If we wanted a weekend of pampering and luxury, we would have left the kids with the dads and run away to the spa.  But we wanted to spend time as a group – to let our kids play together, and chat about anything and everything.  I think we accomplished that, but I was still sad to see everyone leave.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meetup Gifts

Both times we’ve had Northwest vlogger meet ups, we’ve had a gift exchange for the kids.  Something small that we give to everyone.  We don’t discuss it before hand, or set a price limit, we just come bearing gifts.

This time, with Summer almost upon us, I wanted to embrace some outdoor fun.
These sand buckets and shovels are from the dollar store.  They are available in pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, and have a slight glitter effect to them.  Once I got them home I used my Cricut, Sure Cuts A Lot software, and white vinyl to personalize each bucket. 
Wren, Hannah, Elise, Ethan, Leila, & Scarlet – AKA Wheels.

(Since Wren & Christina were a surprise, it was originally just Heels, but after a quick trip to the dollar store and 5 minutes in my craft room – Wren had a bucket all her own.)

Included in the buckets were:
Sidewalk Chalk:  The Dollar store sells a box of sidewalk chalk that contains 4 packages of 5 chalks, which breaks the cost down to 25cents per child with some left over for the host’s stash.

Bubbles: The Dollar store has three packs of bubbles in various colors and styles.  Seriously, what kid doesn’t love bubbles?

Coloring Books:  I tried to match each child’s interest/development level.  Make sure you flip through the book and ensure that any activity pages would be well suited to the recipient’s age.  For the younger girls, I tried to find books that had large scale simple outlines, and for the older kids, I focused on Sesame Street characters that they were fond of.

Crayons: While the dollar store does sell crayons, this is one area that I refuse to skimp on.  Crayola has been making crayons for years, and considering how many Hannah puts in her mouth, I feel safer choosing a product from a big brand like Crayola instead of an off brand.  This is your personal choice, I’ve just always been partial to Crayola.  Back to school sales are a great time to stock up of art supplies like this, and I keep a few boxes in my craft closet for gifts like this.

Snacks:  This can be tailored to the child as well.  I filled 1 snack sized Ziploc bag with goldfish crackers on one side and Trader Joe’s version of animal crackers on the other.   I separated the two with a clothes pin that made the bag look like a butterfly.  I was inspired by this Pinterest Pin.

Each bucket was about $5, so it was very budget friendly.  The items were useful, as well as season and age appropriate, and the customized bucket was a nice crafty touch. 
I considered adding filler to the bottom of the bucket (like Easter grass or crinkle cut paper) but decided that (a) it wasn’t useful to the child and (b) it would just make a mess, especially once the crayons were taken out of the box.  Sometimes simpler is better.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fabulous Road Trip Planner

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

Chris and I are no strangers to road trips.  We've been driving across this country for the past 10 years and we've seen some amazing sights:



Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower

Crater Lake in Oregon

and Crater Lake, just to name a few.


We've driven back and forth from the East Coast to the West, and we've found a few things to be true:

1) Regardless of how many CDs you bring with you, you'll inevitably get sick of all of them.  If this hasn't been your experience, you're not driving far enough.

2) A GPS is your friend.  While sometimes it's neat to stumble upon cool sites while you're utterly lost, if you need to be somewhere, you're going to need some Google Map directions at the very least.

and 3) The more people in the car, the better.  Bonus points for dogs and cats.  While others might shake their heads at your crazy idea to take the Whole family on a road trip, some of the best memories are made in the middle of chaos.


One state we haven't explored much of is Pennsylvania.  We drove there once in 2005 for our dear friend's wedding, but as a groomsman and member of the decorating party, we didn't stop long to smell the roses and explore the state.   We really only stopped long enough to take this picture:

Look at those cute kids!

After seeing the new Roadtip-a-Matic from visitPA.com (pa-roadtrips) I'm thinking we might just need to go back.


The Roadtrip-a-Matic helps you set up a trip that is perfectly tailored to your personality.  There are 16 different themes ranging from the family friendly 'Kidsylvania' to 'Leaf Peepers' for those wanting the best views of the changing foliage.  There are also roadtrips catered to food, art, shopping, photographers, golf, the Civil War, ghost hunters, hiking, and winter sports.  

But it gets even better.  Once you select which theme fits your trip, then there are multiple options for which part of the state you explore.  For example:  Kidsylvania has three different road trips planned.  One is set in Philadelphia, and the others are in Steel City and Alleghenies.  There is even a state map with the tour's approximate location colored in, so that you can quickly tell which part of the state you'd be exploring.

After you've selected your theme and area, the Roadtrip-a-Matic does the rest of the work.  It plans attractions to visit, restaurants to eat at, and hotels to stay it.  It even suggests a few other locations to check out if you have time.  Once you've reviewed your route, you can print directions in one click.  It's so easy!


After I looked through my options I selected the 'Taste Buds on Tour' theme, and once I saw that a tour of the Yuengling brewery was included on the 'Hoppy Trails to You' tour, I new it'd be the tour that Christopher would choose.

The Hoppy Trails tour is a three day tour focused on beer including some of the regions biggest breweries to tour, including Weyerbacher, Stoudt, and the previously mentioned Yuengling.  It suggests a few pubs to eat at, as well as two historic hotels.  But it's not all about beer!  It also includes a stop at French Creek State Park for a quick hike, and the Maple Grove Raceway.  This is the perfect trip for the husband in my life.

I encourage you to check it out and see which roadtrip you'd pick!  After you check out the site, make sure you come back here and let me know.  Is "Drive. Shop. Drop" or "Over the River and Through the Woods" more your style?

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