At home, Baby #2, Bumpdates

Bumpdate – 19 weeks

I’m almost halfway done with this pregnancy so I figured it’s about time I write one of these! I was so consistent when I was pregnant with Jameson and posted a bumpdate once a week for the entire pregnancy. But it’s much harder to be on top of things like this when you have a toddler in tow. 😉 So instead, my goal for this pregnancy is to post an update whenever I find the time and that’s going to have to be good enough.

How far along: Almost 19 weeks (I’m a little early with this post). Gender is still a mystery! We have our anatomy scan on the 15th which will tell us for sure if it’s a sweet little girl or another beautiful boy.
How big is baby: About the size of a mango, or 6 inches long. Weight is right around half a pound.
Movement: Totally different this time around. Jameson moved a LOT and very often. I actually felt him moving several weeks earlier than I felt movement with this baby, which is not usually the norm. It makes total sense, though, now that I see his personality. 😉 This baby is much more chill and doesn’t get annoyed by me poking him/her or moving him/her around the way Jameson used to. And this baby hasn’t gotten the hiccups yet, which is another difference. Jameson had hiccups at least once a day by this point and continued to get them every day after he was born (for awhile at least). Even the times of day for movement are different between the two of them. Jameson was go-go-go all day and then totally still as I was going to sleep. This baby is more sporadic throughout the day and picks up the pace at night, which worries me for after birth hahah. Based on what we know about me and Alex’s personalities as kids (from stories and old home videos), I was a lot like Jameson is energy-wise and Alex was a lot more mellow. So it would be fun if our kids happen to match each of us in that way. 🙂 One last difference, though, is that Alex has felt this baby move already, which took a lot longer with Jameson. He actually felt this baby for the first time on our 3 year anniversary – a sweet little gift for him!
Weirdest symptoms: Symptoms are all pretty tame, just like with Jameson. Besides the minor stretching and pulling feelings, and starting to feel a little heavier in my stomach, everything is mostly normal.
Best moments this week: Monday was a holiday so we had Alex home – always so nice. 🙂 Wednesday one of my closest friends and her two little ones came by for a playdate, which was so fun. And tomorrow is my other close friend’s bridal shower! Lots of great stuff this week. 
Cravings: Nada. I never seem to have cravings while pregnant. Although I have been tending more towards fresh foods this time around. With Jameson I wanted french fries and greasy hamburgers and chocolate and all that bad-for-you-but-delicious stuff. This time, not so much.
Looking forward to: FINALLY finding out the gender in less than two weeks!




P.S.The outfit I’m wearing above is all from H&M. No one told me with my last pregnancy that H&M carries maternity clothes and I’m so bummed I missed out the first time around! I went last weekend and found so many great things. Super cute and comfy and reasonably priced. I’m a huge fan already!

One mistake I made with my first pregnancy was not investing in a few maternity things I really loved. I ended up stretching out a lot of my regular shirts and just sort of “getting by” on cheap and kind of ugly maternity clothes the rest of the time. I remember being confused about why I never liked the way my baby bump looked and never feeling like myself. I think a lot of it had to do with not knowing how to dress for pregnancy. So this time around I’m doing things differently. I invested in a few really great staple items I actually love (and kind of hope I can wear beyond pregnancy) and I already feel so much better and more like me.

Baby #2, Pregnancy

Pregnancy reveal!

I recently shared about the family photoshoot we had done last month when my grandma came for a visit (which you can see here) but I conveniently left out a few choice pictures. 😉 Alex and I announced our pregnancy to my family right smack in the middle of it!

One thing I regretted a bit about how we announced my pregnancy with Jameson was that we didn’t capture any of the reactions of our family members. So this time I wanted to change that. And the timing couldn’t have been better! We found out we were expecting when I was about four weeks along and three weeks later was our family photo session with our photographer friend, Erin of Graced by Light Photography. So Alex and I decided to wait until then to announce our news (much easier said than done!).

A day or two before the shoot I messaged Erin and asked if she could help me out with the reveal. She was SO excited and so eager to make it perfect for us! We decided to do it midway through the session so that everyone would be comfortable and having fun. As we walked from one location to another I whispered to Erin that I was going to do it as soon as she was ready. She set us up at the new location, took a few test shots, gave me the secret signal we had set up (really just a thumbs up haha), and then right before the next shot I stepped forward and shouted, “Hold on!!! Before we take this next picture there’s something I want to say… We’re having another baby!!!” And Erin immediately started snapping away. Just look at these reactions! Totally worth keeping the secret. 🙂

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I’m so thrilled with how the pictures came out! They’re even better than I imagined. Many, many thanks to Erin for capturing these priceless moments for us to keep forever! ❤

Baby #2, Pregnancy

Our second baby story

IMG_2465IMG_2461WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!! I can finally announce it loud and proud! We’re expecting Babeski #2! Is this for real?! I still feel like I’m in a state of shock, but the best kind of shock there can be. We’re having another baby. We’re having another baby! I am so dang excited!!!!

We told our families when I was about 7 weeks pregnant, but we’ve known since I was around 4 weeks. It was HARD keeping the secret, especially from my sister aka my bff aka the person I tell everything to… but I knew we were getting family pictures taken the next month and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to surprise everyone at the same time AND capture all their reactions! It just seemed too perfect a coincidence to not take advantage of. So we waited. 😊 And it was SO worth it!!! I’ll be making a separate post about the photoshoot reveal very soon, so stay tuned!

Anyway, now that I’m in the second trimester (a little over 13 weeks to be exact) we felt comfortable announcing our beautiful little blessing! And today I’m sharing a bit about our second baby story with all of you. 😊

The journey to pregnancy has been completely different this time around. With Jameson it took us a little while to get pregnant (you can read more about that story here). There was a lot of frustration, a lot of tears, a lot of negative pregnancy tests. I was assuming the next time would be exactly the same, if not even harder. But oh man, did God bless us with this child.

For a while there I was really really really content with our family life as it was. Just Alex, Jameson, and me. (And Charlie.) I wasn’t ready for another baby and I couldn’t really picture a time in the future where I’d be in the same place I was before Jameson…that place of wanting a baby so badly that it just consumed me from the inside out. There were times, sure, when I’d catch a brief stint of baby fever but it would be gone several minutes later. I was just really thankful for the happy little life we had, just the three of us.

But at the same time, I knew I wanted our kids to be close in age. Two and a half years or maybe three at the most was our ideal age difference. But since it took us so long to have Jameson I was worried it would be a much bigger gap. I was expecting ovulation tests and checking my basal body temperature every morning and trying for months on end like we had to do with Jameson.

So you can imagine my surprise when, based on pretty much NO evidence at all (zero symptoms, barely even late, we weren’t even “officially trying” yet), I took a pregnancy test on February 20th and…it was positive. I wouldn’t have even taken the test at all if it wasn’t for the fact that I happened to have some cheap tests in the cabinet just waiting to expire. I pretty much just took it to prove to myself that I wasn’t pregnant. I actually remember leaving the test in the bathroom for the three minutes and walking away saying to myself aloud, “You’re not pregnant. There’s no way you’re pregnant.” I walked back in a few minutes later and the two pink lines were right there. No denying it, I AM pregnant. 😊

So after I practiced some deep breathing and my head stopped spinning and Jameson stopped freaking out because I was being super weird and sitting on the bathroom floor saying, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Okay this is happening. Oh my gosh.” I got Jameson into the wagon and we went on a walk so I could clear my head a bit. I was SO excited and so in love already but also just plain confused because, like I said, we hadn’t spent months trying and we hadn’t been planning everything out like we had with Jameson. I wasn’t expecting this for at least another six months or so, probably even longer.

But even as all the questions and half-formulated plans flooded my brain (are the kids going to share a room? Should I go to the same midwifes as last time? What am I going to do about my best friend’s wedding in August, for which I am a bridesmaid and for which I will now apparently be almost 7 months pregnant?!)…I was also oddly at total peace, which I can only say is the grace of God. He knows my heart and my needs better than I know them myself. He knew I’d never get to the place of being ready to officially start “trying” for a baby again. Is anyone ever entirely ready to give up their special time with their firstborn? I didn’t know if I’d ever be. He also knew how scared I was to start that difficult process all over again, all the disappointment and the planning and the stress. So he just said, “This is your perfect time. You’re doing this now.” And here we are again. I’m reminded once more, but in a totally different way than with Jameson, that I’m really not the one in control. And for that, I am SO thankful.

Half an hour after I took the test, Alex got home from work and I told him the news in a totally non-cute way. Basically I was just like, “Hey, so I have to tell you something. I’m pregnant.” And he immediately grabbed me in a hug and then we just looked at each other, slightly confused but so so excited. He asked how I was doing because he knew I’d probably be freaking out and then he grabbed Jameson and added him to our family hug, our first one with all four of us.

One thing I’ve learned from all of this is that we really don’t know when we’re ready for things. We might think we know, but that’s usually not the case. With Jameson, I thought I was ready for such a long time and I wasn’t. God had better plans. With this baby I really thought I wasn’t ready at all. Again, God had better plans. 😊 We are given what we need when we need it, whether we agree with the timing or not. We can be wise and thoughtful with our actions, sure, but ultimately the Lord is the one who directs our steps. To me that is an incredible blessing and a huge weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to know or plan everything.

Praise God for his goodness! We are so thankful for this second precious life He’s given us. What great love the Father has lavished on us!

See you in six months, little one. ❤

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Holidays & Special Events, Recipes

A sweet treat for your valentine 


Valentine’s Day is over and gone, but these little treats can be made all year long! (If you end an argument with a rhyme, it’s convincing all the time. I learned that from “How I Met Your Mother.”)

Anywho! I brought these mini heart-shaped pies to a ladies Valentine’s event for my church and the girls all flipped for them! They were gone almost right away. I had to make another batch later that week so I’d have more to share with my family. Wrap them up in a cute little bag, tie it with a string, and you’ve got the perfect Valentine’s gift!

With a sweet jam center, golden flaky crust, and the cutest little heart shape, these babies are sure to make all your friends and family smile. Or, you know, make you smile as you eat an entire batch on your own. (I definitely didn’t do that. Or did I…….)

The best part is… they’re so super easy to make!!! I am no baker extraordinaire but I pulled these off, no problem. I promise you can too! (And let me know if you do, I would love to hear how much you love them too! Look at that, more rhyming.)

Mini Heart Pies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. One box of pie crusts (or homemade if you’re fancy. I’m not.)
  2. Your favorite jam. (I used the Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserve for one batch and the Bonne Maman Peach/Mango Preserve for the other batch.)
  3. Egg wash & a sprinkle of sugar
  4. Heart shaped cookie cutter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out your dough and cut out the hearts. (One pie crust yielded 10 total mini pies for me.)
  3. Place a small amount of jam in the center of half of the hearts.
  4. Gently brush a little bit of the egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water) around the edges of the jam. This will help the two crusts seal together.
  5. Use the remaining hearts as the top crust. Place each one directly on top of the jam hearts and crimp the edges with a fork.
  6. Brush more of the egg wash on top of each mini pie. Add a sprinkle of sugar on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy! 😊❤🍓

** Credit for the idea goes to Kristen Mittler (@oldjoy on Instagram) who shared a similar treat on her profile.**

Aaaand this post wouldn’t be complete without a few personal photos from our Valentine’s Day!

Hope you all had a lovely love day! xo.

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Holidays & Special Events, Life with Jameson

The best Christmas.


I LOVE the holiday season. Some years are better than others, but this one really blew every other year that I can remember out of the water. For real, this has been my favorite Christmas.

A lot of different things played into it to make it extra wonderful… the fact that Jameson was old enough to open his own gifts and get excited about them. Spending the morning reading the Christmas story from our Bibles on my parents’ bed like always. Having a delicious dinner with my parents and Alex’s parents all together. Christmas being on a Sunday which let us celebrate with our church family at night. Getting blessed out the wazoo with such generosity from friends and family. Going to see Alex’s brother and our sister-in-law up in Prescott the Friday before Christmas. Spending Christmas Eve with my grandma and tons more family.


It was all so so good. But I think my very favorite part was when I gave my parents their gift. A few months ago I decided to get all my parents’ home videos digitized as their present for Christmas. They had been sitting in the garage for over twelve years (since we moved to Arizona) and even longer before that at our house in New York. The video camera that was used to record them broke a loooong time ago, so we hadn’t been able to see any of our memories for closer to fifteen years, probably over twenty years for some of the oldest videos.

So when my parents went out of town for a few days last month, I stole all the tapes and sent them off to Legacy Box to be converted into DVDs. They JUST made it back in time (two days before Christmas) and I was so so SO happy with the results. All of our childhood memories were right there in front of me, videos I had never seen before and videos I had forgotten all about. Hours of footage from all our best moments and tons of ordinary moments too (which actually turned out to be my favorites). Videos of me and my sister playing together in our backyard with our old family dogs. Videos of each of our newborn days. Videos of our birthdays and school plays and tap recitals and baton performances and snow days. Videos of inside jokes we quote all the time but haven’t been able to see in years. It was all there.

Needless to say, I cried like a baby watching it all through. And I was literally giddy with excitement to give it to my parents on Christmas morning.

It was the last present under the tree and I handed it to my dad while my youngest sister recorded on my phone. His reaction was the best thing ever and I’m so glad we caught it on video! He and my mom were absolutely shocked and thrilled. Oh it just made me so very happy!


They asked to watch the videos right away so we popped one in and all our memories came to life as if no time had passed at all. I’m still blown away by the care and thoughtfulness my parents used as they filmed our lives. Each clip was so obviously done with intention and with the knowledge that our childhood days would be fleeting. You can hear my dad saying multiple times in the videos, “We’ll watch this in twenty years and laugh!” Or “Maybe someday God will bless you with a baby and then you’ll know how I feel right now.” They knew time would slip by so quickly, and it did.

So this next year I’m making it a point to record more everyday moments with Jameson. Not just ten second clips for  Snapchat or a quick video of something cute he’s doing for Facebook. I want videos of our life just as it was and just for our family, because if I learned anything this Christmas it’s that the time God gives us with our children is so precious. Not every moment is “extraordinary,” but those aren’t always our best moments or memories anyway.


I hope your holiday season has been oh so very merry!

Love, the Iwanski’s

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At home, DIY

DIY // The easiest raised garden bed ever


Ever since we bought our first house a few months ago I’ve been itching to start a little patio garden out back. It’s been a sort of dream of mine for awhile to grow fresh produce for my family…for health reasons, for teaching purposes (homeschool curriculum down the road?!), and just for the fun of it! I wanted to start while Jameson was young to make sure I got a handle on how things are done by the time he’s old enough to learn about it. And since Arizona has two growing seasons (spring and fall), October was the perfect time to get started.

We have this big old slab of concrete off the patio where the previous home owners had a hot tub, and it’s the perfect little corner for a raised vegetable garden. Good sun exposure, close to a water supply, and empty/ugly enough to need a little spruce up. (Eventually I’d like to add flowers and wall vines and other pretty things like that, but maybe in the spring.)


When I brought the idea of a raised garden bed to Alex, he had two criteria:

#1. It had to be easy to put together. And…

#2. It had to be relatively cheap.

(But not in that order. Ah, my sweet penny-pinching hubby. ❤ I love him so.)

Anyway, challenge accepted. We originally planned to build it completely out of wood, but why do things the easy way when you can find an even easier way? Laziness, my friends. This plan stemmed from laziness. When all was said and done, our raised garden bed was made entirely without the use of any sort of tool. 

And it only cost us about $67.

This is way cheaper than any DIY raised garden bed kit you can find at the store. (The closest I could find was $88 and it wasn’t even as wide or as deep as I wanted mine to be). Following this method allows you to get creative with the size and even the shape of your raised garden bed without costing you a fortune. Plus it looks super cute! Sort of a mix between farmhouse style and urban industrial, which I really like.


We got all our supplies at the good ol’ Home Depot. Probably the only time in the history of our marriage that we went in and came out with everything we needed and avoided an angry whisper argument in the middle of one of the aisles due to our confusion and/or our inability to make quick decisions. (We’re really not the home improvement types.)

The supply list for this do-it-yourself project is very short. Our garden bed is 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, with a depth of 1 foot. In total, all we needed were six pieces of redwood (2in x 6in x 6ft each, four of them being full length and two cut in half) and eight planter wall blocks (two for each corner, stacked on top of each other).

After we decided how large we wanted our garden bed to be, the rest was easy. We chose redwood for our lumber because of its resistance to rot and warping ($8.27 per board, but there are even cheaper versions if you’d like). We had a guy at Home Depot cut two of the six foot boards in half, we grabbed two more full-length six foot boards as well as the eight cement blocks ($2.87 each), and we took it all home.


We stacked two cement blocks for each corner of the garden bed (making it about a foot deep), used a little heavy duty glue to keep them solid, and slid two boards in the grooves on each side. Tada! All done!



The most challenging and most expensive part of this project really came after everything was built. We invested in some good, organic soil (in addition to some soil amenities) to make sure we’d have rich, healthy crops. This is where things can get pricey. But that’s for another post. 🙂

This project was really so easy and so much fun. And we already have cute little sprouts popping up all over the veggie garden! Jameson loves to look at all the plants and even give them kisses, and I’m so excited for our first harvest!


Good luck to anyone planning to give urban gardening a try! Trust me, if Alex and I (two of the least handy people on the planet) could get this project rolling…you most certainly can too. 🙂

DIY, Uncategorized

DIY // Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Ohhh my friends. Is your skin getting super dry this winter? Are you looking for a great homemade gift for the holidays? Do you need a snack while you shower? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your search ends here. I present to you the simplest, most moisturizing, most delectable homemade body scrub on the inter webs. 

Only three ingredients and ready in five minutes. This stuff is about to blow. your. mind. (And your taste buds, oh man it tastes just like a cookie.) You might already have all the ingredients just chillin’ in your pantry, waiting to be combined into pure magic.

I don’t know about you, but I love body scrubs. I love how they exfoliate, I love how they moisturize, I love how they smell. But I really can’t justify spending $25+ on one little tub. It’s over too quickly and then I have to shell out more money for another one. This handy sugar scrub recipe, however, takes care of that problem. It’s quick, easy, and made from all natural ingredients…so natural that you can literally have a quick taste while you’re using it. (Or two tastes. Or three.) Yum! That’s my kind of body scrub. 🙂  Homemade beauty products for the win.

Stick it in a cute mason jar ($8 for 12 at Target), add some ribbon and a cute tag (or make one out of cardstock paper and fancy tape like I did), and you’ve got yourself a great holiday gift for your friends and family. Yippee! (Speaking of which, if you’re reading this and we’re friends in real life…act surprised when you get your scrub for Christmas.)

Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Yield: fills one 8oz mason jar

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (soft but solid)
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional add-ins: cinnamon, a little honey, essential oils, vitamin E oil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Soften coconut oil in microwave for a few seconds, if necessary.
  2. Add all ingredients into a standing mixer, food processor, or mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together on medium-high speed for a minute or two until the coconut oil begins to break down and mixture resembles creamy cookie dough.
  4. Place in mason jar and make it look pretty. 🙂

Note: If you mix it for too long, the coconut oil will start to melt and your scrub will be almost liquid. No worries, though, just put it in the fridge or freezer for a few, wait for it to solidify, and whip it up again.


Store your scrub at room temperature. I keep mine in the shower and so far our bathroom has stayed cool enough for the scrub to remain in its creamy/solid state. Over time, though, it may melt down and become runny because of the steam in the shower. Again, just pop it in the fridge for a bit until it returns to the consistency you prefer. 


Enjoy! xo

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Out & About

Oct 2016 // Mother Nature’s Farm

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Monday nights are family nights for us. Alex gets home for work, we pack up Jameson and the Charlie woof, and we head over to my parents’ house for dinner and dessert (right now my mom has these really yummy sugar cookies from Costco at her house, which have this weird power over me like for real I eat them until I feel sick). My sister, her husband, and my niece meet us there and we all eat together, let the babes play, and watch The Voice exactly at 7pm (sometimes a minute or two later if we’re all fighting about who has to find the remote to turn on the TV).

This past Monday night, though, we did something a little different. It’s FINALLY kind of sort of Fall-ish in Arizona (not really, but we’re pretending) and Monday was a really nice cloudy evening. So, we all (minus my dad) met at Mother Nature’s Farm in Gilbert. Last year we took the babies to Schnepf Farms, which is the cutest place, but it’s really more of an all-day thing and right now the days are just too hot for it to even be fun. Maybe in a few weeks.

For now, this little farm was perfect for the toddlers. We got to take them on their first hay ride, feed the animals, and pick out pumpkins. Such a fun time!

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Jameson’s favorite part was definitely the pumpkin patch; he was beside himself with joy! I’m preeeetty sure he thought it was just a giant field of orange balls, which is basically his dream come true.

I’m praying we get some cooler weather up in this oven of a state very soon. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with gorgeous autumn photos featuring cozy sweaters, colorful leaves, hot tea, and cloudy days. And I’m over here like, Jameson and I played in the sprinklers today. Ugh. It’ll happen soon, I just need to be patient.

If you live in a state where it’s actually Fall, please enjoy a pumpkin spice latte for me and fill your lungs up with that crisp autumn air. And know that I am jealous of you.

At home, DIY

DIY // Front door makeover

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Yay!!! I finally finished my first home improvement project for our new house and I’m so excited about how it turned out! Ever since I can remember it’s been a dream of mine to live in a house with a red front door. And even though our new house has almost everything on my dream home wish list, the front door was definitely in need of a face lift.

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Sad. It just looked so sad. First of all, it was painted this weird creamish color (terribly done, by the way, streaks just everywhere) which faded it completely into the side of the house. No character or charm to report there. And second of all, the previous home owners had a large dog who apparently liked to scratch at their front door and lay right up against it, so it had taken quite a beating (not to mention it was filthy and it smelled like dog, ew). I couldn’t just leave it like that.

So, I did a some quick Pinterest research, looked at a few front door painting tutorials and thought to myself, I can fix that. (“Holes” quote, anyone? Anyone?) And so I did! And you can too if your front door is as desperate for some personality as ours was.

I’m putting together my own DIY tutorial now to add what I’ve learned to the mix. There are some things that worked great for me and some things I wish I had known beforehand, both of which I’ll share with you today. But first, here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. 120 grit sandpaper
  2. Painter’s tape
  3. High density foam rollers (at least two) – make sure they’re relatively small so you have more precision with where you get the paint
  4. Small foam paint brushes (at least two)
  5. Primer (we got about one quart)
  6. The red paint! (about one quart)
  7. **Optional: spray paint for the hardware

We went to Home Depot for everything. I picked up some sample paint chips a few weeks prior, went back and forth a zillion times on which color I liked best, and finally settled on a gorgeous shade called Red Delicious (by Glidden). Make sure you ask for the exterior version of whatever paint you choose, as your door will be exposed to the elements.

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Your first step will be to remove all the hardware and tape up the holes from the inside so that no dust/dirt can get in your house. Then, if you’d like, remove your entire door and place it somewhere you won’t mind dripping paint on (I laid out a few garbage bags on our back patio and put the door on top). I’ve read that you can do this entire project with your door still in its frame, but we chose to take it out completely because #1, it’s summer in Arizona and we couldn’t have our door just hanging open while the paint dried all day… #2, I didn’t want to spend all day trying to keep Jameson away from it… and #3, I didn’t want to take any chances with paint dripping and ruining the project. But it’s entirely up to you! If you’re using the foam rollers you probably won’t have issues with dripping anyway.

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Door removed and ready for sanding
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Our ghetto solution to no front door

Once your door is ready, you can start to sand it down. I guess sanding isn’t necessary for everyone, but for us it was. I wanted to get off that top layer of ugly cream paint (plus nasty dirt and grime) and give my new primer and paint a clean surface to grab onto. No need to break your back over it, though! A light overall sanding (with special focus on any rough parts or imperfections) will do the trick. When you’re done, wipe the door down with a damp cloth to get rid of the dust.

Next, prime your door using a foam roller. I used this deep gray primer that was recommended to me by the nice men at Home Depot. (The can says “white” but it was actually the gray version.)

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Our door only needed one coat of primer but the original paint was pretty light to begin with and, again, I was using a deep gray shade of primer. You may need a second coat if you’re painting over a dark color door, or if you’re using a white primer. The guys at Home Depot told me that red is tricky in general to get thick and even coverage with so it’s better to be liberal with your priming than to get stuck doing like six coats of red later on.

Give your primer an hour or two to dry and then break out the red! There is a particular order you need to follow when painting a six panel door to get that smooth finish. There are a couple of slight variations, but I found a general example online to follow and I love how my door turned out. Here are the steps (shown as I painted on the primer, which isn’t necessary but I did it to give myself practice before starting on the red):

  1. Paint the insert parts using a paintbrush or a small foam brush. (I used a paintbrush but in hindsight I wish I had used a foam brush because the regular paintbrush leaves brush strokes. Not absolutely crazy about that, but oh well!)
  2. Paint the raised panels using a foam roller.
  3. Paint vertically between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  4. Paint horizontally between each set of panels, stopping when you reach the end of a set.
  5. Paint vertically along the two edges of the door.

Give your door a good 3-4 hours to dry really well before you start on the second coat of red (advice given to me once again by my friends at the Home Depot). I only needed to do two coats of red total and I still had a little bit of red paint leftover from the quart I bought (I actually ended up using some of that to touch up around the peephole). After you’re done with the second coat give the door a few more hours to dry again before you reattach it to the frame and close it. Otherwise it will stick to the weather stripping and mess up your beautiful work!

Once the door was done and lookin’ real purty, I knew I couldn’t just leave the hardware all brassy and outdated. But I also didn’t want to buy all new stuff either because $$$. So I did a little more Pinterest research and found a great alternative… spray paint! Seriously, so cheap (I think the can was like $7) and so easy too (I just sprayed the hardware, let it dry, and screwed it back in). And the results look awesome and super professional! I used an oil-rubbed bronze shade and it’s exactly what I was hoping for.

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I left a little gold on the deadbolt because I was afraid of tampering with the lock’s functioning, but I may go back and touch it up carefully. And when we repaint the outside of the house (hopefully this winter), we’re planning to fix up the door casing as well. For now, though, the front door makeover is complete! What do you think??

DSC_8566I’m absolutely loving it. Makes my heart so happy! I also added a couple of pretty plants to make the patio more welcoming, and eventually I’d like to replace that light with something to match my newly bronzed hardware (because right now it is yeesh). But that’s for a later time! For now, I live in a house with a red front door and I am happy. 🙂

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Abroad, Life with Jameson

CA 2016 // Laguna, Disneyland, + California Adventure

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We just got back from our five day stay in California and I couldn’t wait to write up a summary of our vacation! Partly because I don’t want to forget anything, and partly because I just have a deep love for these pictures and wanted to share them as soon as possible.

I took Jameson by myself to Georgia a few months ago to meet some relatives on my dad’s side, but this trip to California was our first official vacation as a whole family. And it was amazing. Seriously, it went so smoothly and Jameson was a perfect angel the entire time. In fact, he got compliments from strangers for being such a well-behaved and happy baby everywhere we went. He made friends everywhere and we had an absolute blast! I don’t even know what my favorite part was.

The whole trip was arranged by Alex’s company as a fun getaway for many of the employees…but we really had the freedom to plan whatever we wanted to do in the time we were there. We actually went a few days early with Alex’s parents (his mom also works for the company) just to give us time to do everything we wanted, and it was perfect.

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We left on a Wednesday and took a short flight to California (Jameson slept the entire time, bless his angel baby heart) and spent the afternoon settling into our room at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, which was absolutely goooorgeous. The ocean was literally just a short walk down a path from the hotel…you could see it and hear it and smell it and feel the breeze through open windows all over the resort. So lovely.

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It was a long day of traveling.

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That first evening at sunset, Alex and I took Jameson down to see the ocean for the first time. I was so excited and ridiculously giddy. The ocean is my favorite place in the world to be and I hadn’t been able to see it for several years (Arizona is not really the best place to visit the beach, ya know?). We half-skipped, half-stumbled down the steep path and finally made it to the sand. I scooped Jameson up and together we hurried to the water’s edge. He was absolutely mesmerized. I was too. Something about the ocean makes you feel infinitely small but also infinitely loved by the One who created it. It is the most wonderful feeling. We played in the waves until the sun was almost all the way down and then went back up to our room to get a good night’s sleep before our big Disney adventure the next day.

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It was HOT at Disneyland. We got there in the morning on Thursday (me, Alex, Jameson, and my in-laws who were a huge help the entire vacation) and we could feel the heat already. It was crowded too, but we still got to do a lot of the things we wanted and we had a blast anyway. Some of my favorite moments were meeting Mickey Mouse in his house in Toon Town (Jameson was obsessed. He even kissed Mickey on the nose! And actually all of Toon Town was great…so many fun things there for little kids), going on a few rides with Jameson (his first ride ever was Small World with me and Alex, which he loved, but we also went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, and King Arthur’s Carousel and he loved those too), watching the Paint the Night Parade (sooo amazing! Definitely a must-see!), and playing in the Star Wars Exhibit (odd, but Jameson had so much fun toddling around and exploring all the Star Wars stuff haha).

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IMG_0460IMG_0461IMG_0465IMG_0467IMG_0472IMG_0473IMG_0497IMG_0474IMG_0477IMG_0484IMG_0491IMG_0494IMG_0507IMG_0510IMG_0512IMG_0515IMG_0517IMG_0519IMG_0525IMG_0530IMG_0531IMG_0533IMG_0538IMG_0542IMG_0543IMG_0547IMG_0546Day two (Friday) was spent at California Adventure, and I have to say that I think we had more fun there than at Disney. Not that Disney wasn’t great, it was just so crowded and hectic that we had to skip some things I was really hoping we could do (like the Dumbo ride, the Teacups, and The Matterhorn for me and Alex). California Adventure was much more slow paced and not nearly as jam-packed with people so we got to relax a little and do a lot more with Jameson. The best parts from the day were definitely exploring mah girl Belle’s Library, taking Jameson on a couple more rides (another carousal & Flik’s Flyers), going on Tower of Terror with Alex and his mom, and playing on Paradise Pier (which is where I shot one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken of Jameson and Alex). We also got to see a bunch of the little shows that come through California Adventure because there weren’t as many people to crowd the way (the Mickey & Friends show, the Toy Soldiers from Toy Story, the Dapper Dans, and all those other Dapper people I don’t know the names of haha).

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That evening as the sun was setting, we walked around Downtown Disney (which Alex says was one of his favorite parts). It was so much cooler without the sun beating down on us, there was live music, and we got plenty of shopping done. 😉 I love all the shops in Downtown Disney (especially the big old World of Disney store and the Lego Store) and it all feels so magical even though you’re not actually in the parks anymore.

IMG_0625IMG_0621IMG_0624IMG_0627IMG_0630IMG_0631IMG_0632Saturday was kind of a chill day for the most part. We went to breakfast with Alex’s parents in the morning, Jameson took a good long nap when we got back to our room (we had to wake him up after the second hour!), and then we spent awhile on the beach. Jameson had the time of his life throwing sand around, walking all over and sticking his toes in the water, and splashing in the waves with me and Alex.

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DSC_8288DSC_8292DSC_8294DSC_8299DSC_8301DSC_8305DSC_8307DSC_8315DSC_8329DSC_8330After we got all cleaned up, we headed to a cocktail party hosted by Alex’s company on a patio overlooking the sea (the only work event we had to attend). It was gorgeous and the food was delicious! Plus, Alex’s uncle Andy (along with his girlfriend, Nina) drove over two hours just to spend a little time with us and finally meet Jameson. It was so nice to see them and introduce them to our sweet boy.

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After the cocktail party, we all (except Alex’s dad, who stayed behind to hang out with Andy) took a bus down to the docks where we boarded a boat that took us about 6 miles out into the ocean for a whale & dolphin watching tour. We got to see a giant pod of dolphins and one really cool humpback whale, but near the end of the tour poor Jameson got sea sick. 😦 He woke up from a nap about halfway through the boat ride and was acting kind of strange, but we thought maybe he was just sleepy still…it never even crossed my mind that he could be sea sick! He loves being tossed around and he loved all the rides at Disney, but I guess being on a boat is different. Plus he’d been snacking on random food with us all evening so maybe something just didn’t sit right. Either way, it was his first time ever throwing up for real and I felt absolutely horrible. We took him onto the steadiest part of the boat we could find and I just held him and sang quietly in his ear until we got back to the docks. Thankfully by the time we got on the bus to take us back to the hotel, he was back to his normal happy self. He even started greeting people in the lobby, waving and chatting and showing off his favorite shovel! What a ham.

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Sunday was really just a travel day. We enjoyed a quiet breakfast out on the hotel patio with the foggy ocean as our view and then packed everything up and headed to the airport. Jameson once again slept for the entire flight (seriously, this kid is a dream) and we made it home safe and sound!IMG_0674IMG_0676

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Last glimpse of the ocean before heading out.

I think what I loved the most about this trip was seeing the world through Jameson’s eyes. Being a parent gives you the chance to enjoy things you’ve done a thousand times before in completely new ways. It is such a gift! I think I actually spent most of the vacation just watching Jameson’s face to see how he’d react to everything around him. And with every bit of joy and wonder and excitement he felt…I felt it too.

Honestly, this vacation was so much more than I could have asked for. I loved getting to share it all with some of my favorite people and I loved spending so much time with my two boys. Showing Jameson the ocean and all the magic of Disneyland and watching his face light up over and over again was truly something I’ll cherish forever. I can’t wait to bring him back in a few years and see how excited he gets to experience it all again!

** One more thing I’ll mention… If you’re traveling to Disneyland with an infant, definitely check out the Baby Care Centers! They have one in Disneyland and one in California Adventure and you can find them easily on the Disneyland app. They’re quiet and air-conditioned and they have the cutest little old ladies there to help you out (at least they were there every time I went inside). There’s places to change your baby, high chairs for feeding your baby, small areas for your little one to crawl or walk around for a bit, and my favorite part was the rooms they have for nursing your baby (or for pumping). The room was darkened and secluded and was filled with these comfy wicker chairs for you to sit in. Perfect for if you need a break from all the hustle and bustle out in the park.

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