Home Is Where…

We’ve got some pretty exciting news to share, and you all already know I’m pregnant so it’s not that (Baby bean will hopefully be making his appearance in the next couple of weeks!).

In January, Tim went on a pretty amazing snowboarding trip with some friends of his.

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And yes, in case you’re wondering, I was completely jealous. However, it was a great vacation for Tim and a break from his pretty intense work schedule, all the natural stress that comes from being a husband and father (although he assures me he was really excited to come back home afterwards), and gave him some time to do something he really loves but normally has very little time to do, snowboarding.

Almost as soon as Tim returned, he received a phone call from his supervisor at work explaining that there was a pretty exciting opportunity opening up if Tim was interested in pursuing it. Of course we were thrilled by the idea that Tim had been considered for this opportunity and a week ago, after three weeks of necessary interviews and conversations with those involved, we received word that Tim had in fact gotten the promotion!

Woo hoo! Go Tim!

The promotion itself is pretty awesome news, but there’s more to it than just that. Part of this new job is relocation. We’re moving!

… to South Dakota.

Okay, so it might be slightly more exciting if we were moving to Hawaii or the Florida Keys or something but this is still really amazing news for us!

So, though we’re completely pumped about this new opportunity for our family, I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about the move itself. First, we’ve got two months to figure out what we’re doing. Second, we’re in the process of deciding whether or not to rent or sell our house. The tables are tipping towards selling but, let’s be honest, we love our house! We had so many plans! It definitely wasn’t our plan to stay in this house forever but being here only a year and half seems like we’re breaking up with it prematurely. It’s like when someone fakes you out of a handshake… you’re all, “oh man!” Thirdly, let’s not forget, our baby boy should be arriving sometime mid-March. There’s a lot of things in motion right now, and it’s got us slightly overwhelmed.

Either way, we’ve begun the task of finishing some of our less extensive projects, and begun researching our options.

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Last weekend we also took a trip to our new city and scoped out the area. We found an amazing restaurant that has the most delicious caramel rolls I’ve ever had (and Tim’s basically a caramel roll connoisseur so we consider ourselves pretty good judges of caramel gooeyness), visited the lakes in the area and walked through a couple of potential housing options. We didn’t find “the one” yet, but we’re hoping something comes on the market soon.

For now, we’re taking it a day at a time and hoping we can tie up all the loose ends without going insane.

Also, if you’re in the market for a house in Minneapolis, we might have a pretty amazing one for you to take a look at! Just… give us a week or two to get it spiffed up, first ;)

Cheers!

Jen

Christmas Year by Year

Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Holidays to you all! Here at the Bean House we’re preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and anticipating Santa’s big trip around the world! It’s a very exciting day!

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is creating a yearly craft that helps keep track of the growth of our girls from year to year. We keep a version of these crafts for us at home, and then the girls give these handmade items to their grandparents and godparents each year. It’s a way for them to be a part of the gift-giving and they are always so proud when they give the items they worked on away to family. All in all, we end up making about six or eight total each year. It started in 2011, the year Charlotte was born, and we’ve continued to add to our collection of handmade memorabilia each year and I love it! Unpacking them from storage is always so fun, and we normally spend a couple minutes each Christmas talking with the kiddos about where each craft came from, how old they were, and how we made it.

In 2011 I tried to make ornaments with the girls. We filled some plain plastic ornaments (bought from a craft store) with glitter, attempted to get a clear hand print of the girls’ using paint (key word: attempted) and wrote the year and the girls’ names on the ornament.

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I got the idea from Pinterest, and let’s just be honest… the pins on Pinterest are always way better executed than the ones we end up with. Even so, these ornaments are very precious to us and the girls love hanging their hand print ornaments on the tree each year!

In 2012 we used the girls’ feet to make a little reindeer print. I especially love this one for some reason. Look at those little bitty toe prints!

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Again, grandparents and godparents got a print of this. I remember this one being particularly messy, and we had a couple of “oops” prints by the time we were done… totally worth it.

The next year we were back to handprints, but I quickly realized that my girls were getting big as their hands barely fit onto the wood cut-outs I used (again, bought from a craft store). I want to do some handprint crafts with the new bambino when he’s born so it’ll be interesting to see if I start from the beginning with him (do the ornament for 2015, then a footprint for 2016 etc.) or if I just incorporate him into whatever we happen to be doing with the girls each year. To be continued.

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Originally I think my plan was to attach these to ribbon so they could hang on the wall… but I got lazy and now they just end up leaning against things. Maybe someday I’ll get all motivated and hang them up, but maybe, and most likely, not.

This year, I used the amazing pictures we got from La Cattura Photography to create a little memento for 2014. The girls took turns using their finger prints to make lights surrounding a picture of the two of them.

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I can’ believe how big they are! This one might be my favorite yet because it’s so simple and it’s actually a picture of the two of them. Next year there will be three kiddos!

Do you all doing anything with your kids each year to help remember that Christmas? How about you and your special someone? Tim wants to start having the kids pick out an ornament each year so we can watch how their interests change year to year but it might be fun for he and I to also pick out an ornament for our family. New tradition in the making!

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.

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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?