Little House Completed

Holy moly it’s been awhile. We’ve had a lot of various things keeping us busy the last couple of weeks, but I’m hoping I can get an opportunity to update the blog with a couple of items in the next week or so. First, one of the reasons you haven’t heard from us in a while is because… Bum Bum Bum… our computer crashed. Nooooo!

It’s true, one day our computer just died. It was all, “See ya later, suckers” and pooped out, taking our photos, important files and everything else with it. Since then, after a very stern talk from the IT guys, we have now learned the importance of ALWAYS backing up your important information so when you have a Diva computer quit on you, your files are safe and snug. Lesson learned.

Second, and probably most importantly, we’re having a baby BOY!

It's a Boy!!

Yep! The cake frosting doesn’t lie, Team Olson’s about to become a little bit more blue! We are absolutely thrilled with the news, and the girls are pretty pumped to be big sisters (in Charlotte’s case, for the first time) to a little boy. Sophie needed some time to digest the news. She even asked if we could fix the cake and put the pink frosting in so the baby was a girl. It took some time for us to explain that changing the frosting wasn’t going to change the baby’s gender, but we finally accomplished it and she’s excited about a baby brother. Mostly.

Third, and most relevant to the post at hand, remember this doll house we were working on? Well, it’s done! Hooray!

When last we left it, it was looking like this:

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All hot and natural. The next steps were painting and decorating. The best steps, in my opinion. So one morning I sat down, cross-legged and went to town on it. I lost all the really amazing (read: mostly boring) pictures taking me from this step, to the house painted and “wallpapered”, which could be a blessing in disguise actually, so we’ll just have to jump to the finished product. Jump!

Dollhouse

Phew, if only it was really that easy. The dollhouse itself has two coats of white paint on it, left overs from all the trim in our house, and the wallpaper is craft paper that’s been Mod Podged on. The Mod Podge took me a bit to get used to, and because of that the upper yellow room is a bit crinkled, but it’s not really noticeable so all is well. The little picture in the blue room is just a bitty piece of craft paper on a wooden square chip that’s been taped on… because no room is complete without some artwork? I think I was just getting over-zealous at that point.

Next, we needed some furniture! I used some old gift cards to purchase most of the furniture, so all in all I think the furniture only cost me about $20. Not bad considering all six rooms are completely furnished. You could easily stalk Ebay or Craigslist for furniture and getting a pretty good set for cheap.

Dollhouse II The Bean House

None of the furniture sets came with people, but my girls have a pretty tidy collection of small people and animals so we’ve got no shortage of inhabitants around here, although, all the people are, admittedly, princesses.

Dollhouse II The Bean House

The girls love playing with this house. It’s been done for over a month now (I know, sorry) and it gets used every single day. It’s fun to see how they re-decorate or which animals they bring in to share the space. I could create an entire series entitled “A Day in the Life Of” centering solely on the way the furniture and toys are arranged and it would be pretty humorous. Complete with snarky captions. Obviously.

Dollhouse II The Bean House

You can kind of sort of see the seams on the walls of the blue and yellow room. These rooms were too big for me to just use one sheet of paper on, so I had to use two. The Mod Podge sealed the seams for me and, thus far, there’s been no curling of the ends where one piece of paper ends and the other begins. If it does start to curl, I’ll probably just put another layer of Mod Podge on the back and call it a day. I’m lazy like that.

Dollhouse II The Bean House

So there you have it. All in all, I’m really pleased with the way this turned out. It’s been a great little addition to our play area, and not too expensive. Total we spent $30 on wood supplies, $5 on craft paper, $20 on furniture. You could probably buy a complete dollhouse set on Craigslist for less than $55, but I really appreciate that we got to build this together. Plus, the girls love it, so I’m a happy mama!

What do you guys think? Got any plans to build some DIY gifts for the upcoming holidays? Any advice for a mama to two girls who’s expecting a boy? I may or may not have immediately gone out and bought all the monster jammies I could find for my little guy. Now I just need shoes with trucks on them or something…

Surprise!

First there was this one:

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And then, sixteen months later, we had this little rascal:

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And now, we’re happy to announce, the next little Olson is “scheduled” to make his or her debut in March of 2015!

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I’m feeling good at 15 weeks, I feel like I’ve gotten through the scary first trimester and now am looking forward to a recession of my morning (read: all-day-every-day) sickness, starting to feel little baby kicks, actually looking pregnant and not just like I devoured the entire box of Fat Lorenzo’s pizza (which actually wouldn’t be far off anyway), and, of course because I have no sense of patience whatsoever, finding out the baby’s gender in a few short weeks.

We’ll keep you posted on all developments “bitty Olson” centered. Meanwhile, anybody have good nicknames for our little guy or gal? We’ve used Bean, we’ve used Bun and Schmoopy, so now we’re in the market for something new… thoughts? Suggestions? Hands up if you think this one’s a boy! (Come on baby, all I want is to buy some sweater vests!)

 

Although we are very excited about our new baby, we do realize that the last photo should really read “4”. We continue to remember and love our little one lost every day, and the girls know that they have a little brother or sister in heaven with their Grandpa Dave. We want to extend a huge “Thank you” again to all the support, love and encouragement we’ve received as we continue to grow as a family. We feel so incredibly blessed by all of you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

 

 

Gone Like Yesterday

How’s everyone doing? I don’t know about you, but we have had SO. MUCH. RAIN. So much! And normally I’d be all, “Hooray! Water the plants! Let the foliage grow!” But it’s been so wet it’s actually begin to drown a lot of the plants in the neighborhood. All the beautiful, old peonies in people’s yards are dying and it breaks my peony-loving heart.

But with the rain comes something kind of nice, loose soil. And loose soil is pretty awesome for something that’s been looming over our heads for a while. Let me introduce to you… our curb appeal.

Front Yard

Crickets…

I know. Here’s the thing. Well, here’s a couple of things.

#1 This year, the Minnesota winter was brutal. Brutal! This die-hard Minnesota fan was all… let’s live somewhere else. Did you know we had over 50 days of sub-zero temps this year?? It felt like it would never end. It did end, however, but took its tole on a lot of greenery. In our yard, it struck our hedges really hard, killing most of the bushes. After talking to a couple of greenhouses, we decided there was no salvaging them (which I was fine with because, if I’m being honest, hedges are not my thing).

#2 Hedges are not my thing. I don’t like the way they blocked the house. I’m all for a little separation from the street, but these hedges were well-established, grand-daddy hedges. Big, beefy, and uninviting. I knew when we moved in that I wanted them gone, I just didn’t think it was going to be this summer.

So we took advantage of a break in the rain to do this:

One hedge down, eight to go

Oh yeah! It’s landscaping day!

We used a really, sophisticated, well-thought out technique to accomplish this goal.

Step one: Find a large chain

Step two: Attach one end of chain to base of dead hedges

Step three: Attach other end to the hitch of an SUV

Step four: Rev the engine of said SUV (that’s more for effect than anything else) and pull!

Observe.

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At first it was like, “No! I’m too young!”

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Put we were all, “Pull! Pull!”

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And then it was like, “Fine. I’m actually kind of tired.”

By the way, if you’re wondering what I was doing during this whole process… I was taking pictures. Obviously. Also, I was being the overseer of the whole project. You know, telling people what to do and stuff. Because I was being “helpful”. Someone has to supervise!

Also, I don’t do spiky, awkward, evergreen-bush removal. I just don’t.

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Sort of an unintentional effect of doing it this way, was that it pulled the wall out with it. Our original intention was to dig out each bush individually. But that soon gave way to the idea that the hedges could be pulled out with a truck and chain. Apparently this was the more manly option, hands were shaken and the process was begun.

Also, are you staring at those Adirondack chairs and wishing you had some? Yeah, me too.

Next year…

Anyway, it wasn’t long before we were looking at an entire row of missing hedges!

The next step was to pile everything into the trailer and haul the debris and dead hedges to the city collection yard. So piled-in they went, along with a lot (read: A LOT!) of dirt, and a lot of wood logs from the wall that came down. And then they were gone! Hasta la vista!

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Next, it was decision-making time. We settled on two different options. The first, would be to simply slop the area down to the sidewalk and seed/lay sod on the slope. The other option was to build a retaining wall back up and plant some flowers/perennials along the wall (partially because it’s pretty and partially to help keep little children far enough away from the edge that they don’t fall.

After careful consideration, we went with the first option, to slope the dirt down towards the sidewalk. So step one was to remove all the garden edgers that had line the hedge, and been place on either side of the yard to “divide” the yard from the neighbors. I had checked with both parties to make sure the edgers on either side of our lawn were, in fact, ours. Once I got the go ahead, up they came!

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Those suckers were heavy. I tell you what, they don’t make things like they used to. I bet those edgers will survive the next world disaster like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.

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So I pulled each one up and laid them by our house.

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And because I’m all about salvaging what you can, I “Listed” the edgers with “Craig” and they were gone next day. Fastest $15 I ever made! That’ll buy three coffee drinks! (Did you hear how they’re raising prices??)

So the next step was appropriately smoothing, compacting and shaping the slope of the yard. Tim pretty much rocked it.

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And now we’re looking like this! So much better! The best part is, now when we’re sitting on the step, we can see the girls playing on the sidewalk. It also opens up the site-line for us as they run back and forth to their friends’ houses. I can be sipping my tea, while watching them ride up and down the sidewalk on their bikes. It glorious!

Time to go get some sod!

In total this project cost time, and dinner and beers for the neighbors that helped out, but it was so worth it. I can’t wait to start planting!

What did you guys do this weekend? If you’re in some of the area that’s been flooding (like along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers) please know that you’re in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time!

Did you see this guy? Clearing he’s taking the flooding in stride.

Cheers!

Jen

 

 

The Day My Husband Went All “Awesome Pants” and Built a House

And by built a house, I mean a little house. Like, the kind for dolls. But it was pretty impressive, given the fact that I gave him this to start with:

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Ha, yep. That’s about all he had to go on.

We knew we wanted to give the girls a doll house. My mom has one at her house and the girls L.O.V.E. it. That thing gets some serious play time when they’re at Nana’s house. We’ve been doing so much work around the house, I thought it might be fun to try and build one for the girls ourselves. You know, with all the extra time we have.

The problem being that I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on it (of course) and my husband wanted to spend even less money on it than I did. There a some really beautiful dollhouses out there, but they just didn’t fit our budget, or our sense of DIY adventure.

Once we’d decided we were definitely going to build our own doll house, it was time to gather some inspiration. I drew inspiration from a couple of different sites. I couldn’t find the original site for this house, but it’s been circling Pinterest, and pinned it to remember it for later:

Inspopic

 

I loved the wallpaper, I loved the simplicity and I loved the clean lines. I saw this one and I was all, “Rafters! It must have rafters!” And I read all about this one and was like, “Oh, we got this. We definitely got this.” So that’s when I drew up my little plan on my sketch board and walked over to my husband and was all, “Hey honey, watcha doin?”

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And like a champion, he was like, “Umm… probably building a doll house?”

Love him.

So off to Home Depot we went! We bought just your standard 1×8″ boards, enough for all the sides, and to double up on the base. We also bought some thin plywood sheets for the back of the house. We had wood glue, nails and screws at home already. As a whole, we left the Depot with $30 less in our pockets and lots and lots of building materials in the trunk of our car.

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So Tim got to work, and I took pictures in between a rowdy game of “Let’s-See-How-Many-Pictures-We-Can-Draw-On-The-Sidewalk” with my two main side-kicks. The girls are scared of the noise the saw and nail gun make so we were up front while he went to town in the driveway in the backyard. Most of him building this was really well-placed guess-work and I love the fact that despite never having built something like this before, he was able to figure it out.

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Once the base was completed, it was time for things to dry, and for little girls to come check out the progress. After the base had time to set, Tim attached the roof. And over the course of about 24 hours (drying time included) we had ourselves a doll house. A doll house that definitely needs some painting and decorating! Step 2 to begin shortly!

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So exciting!

Cheers!

Jen

 

What did you guys do over the weekend? Build anything fun? Get a tan? Get a sunburn? Plant a garden? Eat out to dinner because you know the garden thing is never going to happen?

Appreciating Family

I figured since the last post I wrote was all about how me and life were no longer on speaking terms, it’d be good to follow-up with a post that celebrates that beauty that life has to offer.

Before I do, however, I would just like to send out a giant bear hug and “thank you” for all of the support and love that has been extended to us the last couple of weeks. In this age dominated by “social media” I think we often, ironically, end up feeling really alone. It’s been amazing to have an entire community of people come out through the wood work and share their own stories of loss and hope. What a great testament to the beauty and strength of women, and the sisterhood we share together and with others. You all have been absolutely wonderful, and have made my family and I feel like this is not something we have to do alone. So from the deepest, most bottom part of my heart, “Thank you”.

For those of you that live in Minneapolis, you know all about the Sculpture Garden, or as I called it until I was probably 19 years old, “The Cherry and the Spoon”. As soon as we had a break in the nasty Minnesota weather, we scooped up our little bambinos and headed there for a little fun.

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See that man with the kids? Yeah, he’s mine.

The girls loved finally being able to be outside and play, and I loved being able to spend time appreciating the time we have together as family, and the amazing city we live in! People often ask us we chose to buy a house in the city and not in a suburb, and this is one of the reasons. We have all kinds of great activities right outside our doorstep. And by that I mean, a mile or two away.

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Also, on Thursdays, the Walker Art Museum is free thanks to Target, so if you’re in the area, definitely take advantage of that. We were in there for all of about five minutes before Charlotte tried to put her cute little greasy hands all over one of the paintings on exhibit, so we figured we should probably leave the non-touchable artwork to be admired by others and bring the girls somewhere it wasn’t as easy to destroy things.

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See? Standing on a sculpture and no one even cares! I have vague memories of taking prom pictures here once… or formal dance pictures… or something with pictures and lots of giggling teenagers. Happy to carry on the tradition.

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So that’s what we’ve been up to. We’re just spending some time together as a family, and enjoying the beautiful sunshine! I’ve got a post in the works all about a birthday present we made for Sophie as well as a post all about the day our three-year old turn four, so stay tuned for that. It’s pretty awesome.

What all have you been up to? Enjoying the weather like a champ? Is Charlotte’s hair ever going to grow longer? Probably not since her older sister has cut it twice already…

Cheers!

 

 

Sometimes Life Sucks

I think there are certain times in our lives where it is appropriate to say what needs to be said. Like today, today I feel whole-heartedly that sometimes life just sucks. There’s really no graceful way of explaining this one true reality, but say it to anyone and they will nod their head knowingly and reply, “yes, yes it does.”

Over the weekend, on Saturday, Tim and I found out that we lost our baby. I woke up Saturday morning and knew that something was wrong. After contacting my doctor, we drove into the ER as she suggested and after several tests and ultrasounds, it was concluded that at 13 weeks, I had miscarried.

For all those who’ve gone through this before, my heart and love goes out to you. You know the shock, heartbreak and disbelief that follows being told you are no longer carrying a living child. They told us that there was nothing we could have done, and I know they say it to make you feel better, but what an overwhelming sense of being powerless and out of control. It was heartbreaking for both Tim and I and we’ve taken the last couple of days to rest, heal and digest this reality. I feel like we’ve joined some kind of club no one should ever have to be a part of.

However, through our grief, I know that a beautiful new little saint has been called home to heaven. It has also created a renewed sense of gratefulness about how incredibly blessed we’ve been as a family. Tim has been my greatest support and strength, through everything we’ve encountered together, and I love him truly, deeply and wholly. We have two beautiful little girls who continue to grow and surprise us every day and I am so thankful to be their mom. We will continue to heal through this, and even though right now life is pretty much sucking the big one, I am so blessed in so many ways and find comfort in the amazing support of our friends, family and the complete strangers that have helped us a long the way.

Jen

Baby #3: The Wish List

First and foremost, thank you to everyone for the amazing response we got with our little announcement! It’s always such an incredible feeling to have such an outpouring of love and encouragement from those we hold most dear. You all are amazing, and I don’t know what we would do without you! So, from us to all of you: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

No one can deny that after having two babies, we’ve got our fair share of baby items. It’s amazing the things you register for with your first that you never even use. There are also things that we’ve used so much they’ve pretty much disintegrated into nothing! As we head into preparation for our third, and replace some of our worn-into-the-ground items, there a couple of new things that would be nice to add to the inventory. Most of these things are in no way essential items for surviving parenthood, but they’re definite luxuries we wouldn’t mind having. Here’s a couple of things on our wish list for baby number three, whether or not they’ll make the cut for things we actually buy remains to be seen.

Wish List

 

1. Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

Let’s just say, Mama needs a new diaper bag. Since we’ve just recently potty trained Charlotte, my list of things that need to be toted around with us has significantly dropped. However, with the arrival of a new bambino I’ll definitely need to start carting around a longer list of essentials again. My last diaper bag was pretty worn and torn by the time I finally tossed it for a “grown up” purse, but that too will need to be replaced at some point. I’m the type of girl who only ever has one purse at a time, so they get well used (read: destroyed). Having a messenger-style bag is always a must for me because I hate (HATE) it when I’m struggling with little hands and my purse strap keeps falling off my shoulder. Did I mention I hate that? Yeah, I pretty much hate it. So I love the Skip Hop bag because it’s got the awesome strap, the awesome not-a-diaper-bag design, and it comes with a host of goodies that make toting baby items around easier.

2. Gund Comfy Cozy

File this under “non-essential but completely adorable and snuggly”. A friend of mine has one of these guys and it’s so soft! Seriously, when they start making them in adult size, I’m all in. I think this makes a great option when you want to lay baby down on the floor (before they’re rolling and such) and play with them. For the first few months, most of play time happens with baby on their backs so it’s nice to have a soft, comfy place for them to be while you make a fool of yourself for their benefit. I think “Peek-A-Boo” and “How Big Is Baby” is much more fun for them when they’re not laying on cold, hard wood floors.

3. Sakura Bloom Baby Sling

Mmmm. A baby sling. I’m all about baby-wearing. We’ve got the Ergo carrier already, and a very tired and worn out Moby (after four years and two babies, it’s been an absolute trooper). A sling, therefore, is definitely not a necessary item, but there is something to being able to throw it on and go that really appeals to me. At the price of a Sakura, it’s a pretty expensive non-essential, but it’s still something I dream about at night.

4. Honest Company Diapers

We’ll be cloth diapering with Baby #3, like we did with Sophie, but they won’t fit for the first two months or so. I’ve never tried the Honest brand of diapers before, but a couple of people I know have, and they love it. So we’ll have to see. I like the idea of trying to do our part to keep trash down to a minimum, and the fact that they’re more biodegradable than your standard disposable diaper is comforting. We’ll keep you posted.

5. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets

Aden & Anais. These blankets are amazing. They’re amazing when you have a baby who loves to be swaddled. They’re amazing when your baby becomes a toddler and likes to play “Super Heroes” because they act as the perfect billowing Super Hero Cape. Plus they’re so darn cute! Sophie is almost four and still drags the one we bought around with her. I would love to get a set of them for the new baby.

6. Canon Digital SLR Camera

This is something Tim and I have talked about for a while, and are still in conversation about. I would really like to buy a nicer camera to use as a family camera. It would be really nice to be able to take super crisp, detailed photos without having to pay a photographer to do it for us. As this is a huge expense. It’s something we’ll continue to save up for and hopefully buy sometime in the future. In the meantime, the smaller camera we have takes great photos, and we’re very happy with it.

7. The First Years Close and Secure Sleeper

Can be honest with you? I don’t remember much of Charlotte’s first six months of life. Each baby is different, and while Sophie was a pretty good sleeper from day 1, Charlotte, well, was not so much. She tricked us, that little stinker. The first week was amazing. She slept so well I had to wake her up every four hours, as recommended, at night to feed her. Then the second week rolled around and she was up every two hours, on the hour, screaming for food and snuggles. And it went on like that until she was around six months when she finally switched to waking up once at night. Side bar: nobody should be allowed to take pictures of parents who have just had children, it’s not fair to see those photos once you’re out of the “dark period” and have your idea of the way you THOUGHT you looked be smashed into a billion pieces when you see the reality of what you ACTUALLY looked like. It’s always worse. Much worse.

So, I would really like to try this co-sleeper to make breastfeeding in the middle of the night easier and less of a task (and perhaps minimize the amount of puffiness under my sleep-deprived eyes). I think we’ll try to put baby in their crib from day 1, but I’m not kidding myself into thinking I’m going to be a super peppy in-the-middle-of-the-night feeder when I need to get up four times, walk into baby’s room, feed baby, rock baby back to sleep, walk back into my bedroom like a champion and have an amazing power nap for two hours until baby wakes up again. No, normally I shlump and fumble through late-night/early-morning feedings like some weird, gloppy monster. To combat this, if baby’s right next to me, I can reach and feed and replace instead of shlump and fumble.

8. Baby Monitor

With Sophie, we bought a baby monitor and it broke within a month of using it. Whomp whomp. With Charlotte, we didn’t bother because she was in the same room as Sophie when sleeping at night and during the day I was normally wearing her in one of our baby carriers or she was sleeping in her baby swing while Sophie and I went about our day around her. With baby number three however, I’m going to have two very active toddlers (is Sophie even considered a toddler anymore?) running around the house and I’m not always going to be in the immediate vicinity. For the first time in our housing history, we’ve got a multi-level home and so it would be nice to have some monitors set up so I can make sure I can hear baby no matter where I am.

 

So there you have it, my list of wants for the new addition. This list will probably be ever-changing as we get closer to the due date, but for now, this is where I’m at.

How about you guys? Did you find you used some things with your first, and never touched with your second? Did you revamp your baby stuff when you added a new addition to the family? What kind of baby carriers do you swear by, or do you not like any of them? Is there a type of baby monitor that you love and could recommend?

Cheers!

Jen

 

Psst- I was not paid or perked by any of these brands, they’re just items I think would be super handy to have as we welcome our new addition.