Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Five

Some random (per usual, right?) thoughts for my Friday.

First up: new hair
I basically never ever switch it up. I haven't desired to be a different hair color, and I am not a risk taker in any sense when it comes to my hair. It's not a diss on Jared's part when I come home from a haircut and he doesn't notice. I am boring when it comes to hair. Well yesterday I decided that it was time to take a little risk and embrace a little change.

Here it is.
Several inches taken off.
Pretty big stuff for little ol' me.
(And my hair isn't a different shade, just different lighting than my profile picture.)

And ugh, can we just talk selfies for a moment?
Once you're of a certain age, aren't they just kinda awkward?
Like I am clearly taking a picture of myself to post/show other people. It just feels weird. So this is the best I got to offer. I digress..

I am happy with how it turned out and even happier that I just rolled with it and gave my hairstylist control over my virgin hair.

And on a funny/ironic note, it turns out my friend Sarah and I both just got haircuts. We both decided to go for bangs. Yeah... we got the same haircut. Apparently great minds think alike. But as long as we don't go back to that boy bowl-cut we had back in 5th grade, we should be good.

I will never ever again buy Puffs instead of the Kleenex brand.
Not because they are bad, they are great in fact - much thicker.
No, I will be buying only Kleenex brand because of the simple fact that with children, the pull-out-the-top-of-the-box feature is an absolute necessity. Yes, they will still be able to pull one after another after another after another out of the box, but that takes time. And I could possibly catch them before they waste an entire box.

The Puffs on the other hand, it took only a couple of seconds for Avery to use an entire brand-spankin-new box as "toilet paper" in the toilet. Because naturally she went and used the toilet by herself, making a mess. And being the thoughtful, cleaning-prone girl that she is *can you hear the sarcasm?*, she decided to clean up.
Cut to me: digging an entire box of tissue out of the #2 filled toilet.
An awesome mental picture, right?
So... No more easy-access kleenex boxes for the Solko family.

I am just mentally preparing myself right now for Graham's inaugural trip to the emergency room.
It's gonna happen.
This kid is ridiculous.
He climbs e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
My other two climbed. They would get on top of the table and grin, all proud of themselves. I took them down, whatever. They moved on to other things.
Not our Baby #3. 
He is fixated on trying to climb things. Things I can't even prevent him from climbing on.
Just the other day I came in to the living room to find him standing on the back of the couch balancing precariously by holding on to a table lamp.
I'll close the roll-top desk just to find he has scaled it anyway and is sitting on top, mocking me.
He will stand on top of the kid-sized rocking chair in the girls' room (while it is rocking back and forth - just adding to the challenge, Mom!) and use it to hoist himself on to Bailey's bed.

Keepin' it tame this time with some simple chair standing.

If I spent my day removing him from things he shouldn't have climbed on to, I would literally get nothing done. So I just do the dishes and let him sit on the kitchen table watching me. He's kind of like our cat: he wants to get up on the table, but he doesn't know what to do when he gets there. So he just chills. Sucks his thumb. Shouts out at me every 30 seconds so that I wont forget he is up there and that he is oh so clever.
So yep, ER here we come.
One of these days. Be ready for us.
Until about 3 weeks ago, I can honestly say I had coffee only once before. Ever.
And then I finally tried the deliciousness that is the coffee Jared bought from Costco, and I have since become a fan.
Sure I need a lot of Splenda and some milk, but I am working my way up to full-strength.
Slow but steady progress.
I have become one of those people who thinks she needs coffee to tackle a morning with a large to-do list.
Laundry, breakfast to make, cleaning to do, whiny sick kids, and a dog that pissed in his kennel overnight? I. Need. Coffee.
Like that.
Whatever gets ya through the day, right?
And I will finish up with a sweet picture from this past week.
Our kids love books.
And for some reason books in bed are an even bigger hit.
Notice Graham and his chair balancing?

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bailey's 4th birthday party

This past Saturday afternoon we celebrated Bailey's 4th birthday with family at a princess themed party at our house.

Quite honestly, I am not sure how it became themed exactly. We haven't ever thrown parties with a specific theme in mind before. I walked into the party store to look at balloons and walked out with a bunch of princess stuff. Everything was under $30 total (with the exception of the helium tank), so I felt okay jumping on the theme bandwagon.

Plus Bailey was very excited about it all.
She loves her Disney movies! 
She was all smiles for the entire time.
It's rare for her to tolerate more than a couple pictures, and you can see she was grinning ear to ear.
Grandma Cathy made the trip from Colorado and stayed with us for a few days.
She always seems to bring a new fancy dress for Bailey, which works out perfectly as a party dress.

The apparent gift trends this year were Barbies and dresses. 
Don't let her side eye fool you - this girl is obsessed with Skipper (?) and the pony! Avery is quite enamored with it too. The Barbie convertible is also a hit. Those Disney princess dolls are riding in style now!
Bailey got five different dresses too.
And a cute pair of pink shoes, which Graham refused to take off. With two older sisters he is already prepared to be outfitted in Disney dresses, purses, and furry slippers.

Halfway through the gift opening, someone noticed Graham had walked off in those pretty pink shoes and asked Bailey where her brother was.
She thought about it for a split second and nonchalantly said, "Oh, he's on the table."
Five different people raced for the kitchen. 
I personally imagined him sitting in the punch bowl.
He had found the BLT dip instead. And he apparently really enjoyed it.

Bailey requested a flower cake this year - the same one we used for Avery's last birthday. We changed up the colors per her request. We also made another round layer cake with a princess crown design in frosting. I think I shocked Jared with my superb tiara drawing.  ;)

And boy, was that flower cake a thorn in my side.
I had tons of issues with the tip I was using. After struggling through that and essentially slopping the frosting on the sides, I was finally using the pink to outline the petals one last time. I was on the second to last petal when suddenly the tip shoots out of the end of the disposable bag and a HUGE glob of pink frosting lands on and covers most of one white petal. It was so frustrating and summed up my morning so completely that it was comical. Thankfully I fixed it and you couldn't really tell.

This year, blowing out the candles was a highlight, as well as licking the frosting off those candles. 
We all had a wonderful day.
It was special to see the excitement on Bailey's face as she saw her decorations and donned her birthday tiara. 
I enjoyed sitting and chatting with family as the girls tried out Bailey's new Let's Go Fishing game and Graham ran through the streamer-bedazzled doorway over and over again.
It was a sweet day to be a parent, knowing how much fun Bailey was having. And even if she doesn't remember it, I will.

And now that it is over, I am ready for some boring days again! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

her first friends

Bailey has been asking begging for months to have two friends from preschool over to play. I have been putting her off since November. 

Her birthday seemed like a good time to dive into the big-kid world of having friends over.

Obviously Bailey was ecstatic to have Hailey and Jesse over, but Avery was perhaps more excited than even the birthday girl. She spent the entire time trying to get their attention and was constantly copying everything the "big girls" did. Bailey was very sweet and didn't mind Avery tagging along, although I can see that changing in the near future.

Clearly, none of them enjoy dress-up.

All four girls got to top their very own mini pizzas.
I can't even tell you how many times I answered the question  
Can we just try a little?
Avery doesn't typically wait for permission, and this time was no exception. More cheese went into her mouth than on her pizza.

Everyone needed their own princess cup. 
And only pink or purple plates were acceptable.
Duh, Mom.

This birthday girl has always loved dessert.

Hearing all the giggles and seeing the look of pure happiness on Bailey's face as she ran room to room with her little friends in tow made the day (and the excessive volume) all worth it. 
And let's just say I am glad we fed them cupcakes at the end of the day rather than the beginning...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

4 years ago

Last night I was getting ready for bed and I happened to glance at the clock. 
At almost that exact moment four years ago, I was jumping out of bed in surprise, scaring the daylights out of my husband, as my water broke everywhere. And I do mean everywhere.

It was the most surreal experience of my life.
What? Now? It's too early! Is this really happening?! 
We weren't expecting to meet our first born for another three weeks.

As with any new parents, we were anxious to lay eyes on our baby. 
Were we having a boy or girl? 
What would he or she look like?  
We were anxious to know if he or she was okay. 
And along with those normal curiosities, we also had other questions, questions pertaining to our baby's cleft diagnosis as well as the fact that my due date was exactly 4 weeks away.

Bailey Marie was born in the wee hours of February 19th and all our questions were answered.
We had a baby girl.
She had big blue eyes and, according to my family, her daddy's forehead.
She was healthy.
She had a cleft palate as well as lip.
She weighed over 7 lbs at 36 weeks - no concerns there!

I didn't get those precious first moments to snuggle her or snap a just-born photo. I got a quick glance as the nurses whisked her away to the NICU. 

And when I finally got to hold her almost 18 hours later, 
I couldn't believe how much I could love a person I had just met.

Or how that love could just keep growing and growing.
But it does.

Happy 4th Birthday, sweet Bailey Boo!

Past birthdays:
Bailey turns 3
Bailey turns 2

Monday, February 17, 2014

pool time

Yesterday afternoon Jared and I loaded up the kids (and Justy) and went to King's Pointe in Storm Lake. I figured a little water park action during the bleakest part of winter might liven things up. Plus Sunday is half-price day. It was under 15 bucks for all five of us to go - can't beat that!

Three adults to three toddlers was a good ratio. 
The girls wore their puddle jumpers and were basically independent with supervision. I can't even begin to count how many times Avery and Bailey went down the kiddie slide. It was definitely their favorite part. They also snuck in a head-first slide every once in a while.
probably just to get the cute, shirtless lifeguard to come talk to them.  ;)

Meanwhile Graham was content to be held. The entire time.
He enjoyed splashing around a little bit, but didn't want to venture anywhere on his own.
Justy got in a lot of Graham snuggles.

I think we were there a grand total of three and a half hours.
And just a random observation: Jared and I couldn't believe how many women were there - with their kids - with like full-on stage make-up on. Like the stuff was caked. False eyelashes and more foundation than I probably use in a month. I thought that was weird. Really, who are you trying to impress at the kids' water park? I digress...

And as expected, all three kids were exhausted.
Some more than others.
(Talkin' about you, Avery Jo.)
And to be honest, Jared and I were too.

And as it seems to happen with parenting, no good deed goes unpunished.
When we arrived home, Avery threw the largest fit in recent memory. 
If it weren't for the fact that the kids all reeked of chlorine and have dry skin to begin with, bath time would have been skipped. Alas, baths were given, clean pajamas put on. 
And as I tucked Graham in to bed and headed for the door I heard it: the sound of vomiting and the smell of grease. (Did I mention we ate out for supper after swimming?)

Today hasn't been much better. 
Avery had to have been put in time-out at least 8 times before 10 AM. 
And Bailey was so tired and cranky, she passed out on the couch at 3:00 this afternoon.

I am hoping everyone sleeps in tomorrow morning and catches up a bit, because I don't want another whine-filled day tomorrow!
(Hey, a mom can dream!...)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

mid-week randomness

A random assortment of topics ahead.

This past weekend Jared and I got a last second invite (literally, like 2 hours notice) from my sisters to come with them and my cousin Matt and his girlfriend to a concert. Honestly, I had never even heard of the guy (Keith Anderson), but it turns out I did know two songs. Tickets were $13. (I know, right?) How could I say no?
The concert was at a casino. Bonus.
My dad was our D.D. for the ride home. Bonus.
And my mom watched the kids = free babysitting.  BONUS.

We might have parked and pre-gamed a bit in the conversion van before going inside...
My parents own a sweet 1995 maroon Ford Econoline van. 
Oh the memories!
I hope they still have that big, beautiful beast when my own kids are old enough to drive.  

We proceeded to drink some Captain Morgan that mysteriously made it inside...
Drink mixing in the bathroom always adds a bit of fun to a night.
(I love my family.)

Apparently it was hot in there....

About halfway through the concert, all us girls decided to make our way to the stage.
We proceeded to liven up the party.
(Not hard to do when 3/4 of the crowd is over the age of 50.)

A McDonald's run by our trusty driver Jeff rounded our the night. Nothing like ordering 16 burgers and some fries from one vehicle to confuse the teenagers running the place!

In last week's post I discussed how I was trying out a new brand of fingernail polish: Essie.
I am pleased to report that it is AH-MAZING.
I am finishing out Day 7 right now, and I have zero chips. 
(I used the base and top coat, along with 2 coats of color as directed.)
In fact I am probably going to take it off soon just because I am tired of it - not because it chipped off and looks crappy. 
And that has never happened before.

Yesterday morning when Graham woke up, I started to change him. 
He was wearing a fleece sleeper that is a bit big for him.
I slide the zipper down and find this in the leg of his sleeper:
He slept with a plastic ear of corn in his pant leg.
How comfy!
That started my day off with a good laugh.

And finally (and also FINALLY!),
I bit the bullet and got a smartphone yesterday.

My old piece-o-crap was not even charging anymore.
I went into the store to just browse a few phones for when I did decide to switch, and I had them put my phone on their charger since it was dying. It wouldn't even charge on any of their chargers.
Time to upgrade.
I opted for the Samsung Galaxy s4 mini. 

Jared and my sis Beaner have the s3, but I never have liked how big it is. The mini is designed to compete with the Iphone since it is the same size. I like that it fits in my pocket a little better, but still has all the same features.

And this is the part where I say I am going to try hard not to become one of *those people.* 
Those constant phone-checking, Facebook-scrolling people.
I still think it's really important to be present when you are with people, and for me that means the especially important little people in my house. And maybe Jared too. ;)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

kids' cubby storage

I wrote earlier about being excited for the new project Jared has been working on. 
Well, it's finished. 
And has been for like three weeks.
And while there are still photos to hang, I am unveiling it.
It might seem ridiculous how excited I am for some organization around here, but it is the little things in life, my friends.

Jared got the plans from a website he really likes to use: 
Her plans are free, and this woman builds everything
You can search for specific project plans on her site, and also a helpful feature, other people submit photos and reviews of their projects which they finished using her plans. It's a pretty useful tool for anyone who has a particular project in mind (and the skill that goes with it). Quite a few of her children's projects are copy-cat versions of popular stores, such as Pottery Barn.

The cubby was modeled after the Pottery Barn Cameron 2 Cubby & 2 Base version, which is currently selling for $629 on sale right now, not including the $60 for shipping.
Jared was able to buy all the wood, plus paint and miscellaneous supplies for just $150.
He spent part of two afternoons working to complete the project, and then a little bit more time giving it a few coats of paint. 

So without further ado, here is our version.

It is configured of two separate units so that they can be used together or separated later between kids' rooms. 

The base is large and works great to stash away all the bigger items: tractors and school buses and Batman mobiles and Barbie cars that take up so much room in a traditional toy box.

It took a while for me to decide what boxes/bins I wanted to use. I wanted them to be functional and sturdy. 
I also didn't want to break the bank. 
The baskets that are so cutely displayed on the Pottery Barn website for this cubby storage system are priced at $35 per basket, not including the personalized liners which start at $18. Too rich for my blood.

So we finally found four of these bins at Target, and ordered the rest from Target online. 
(Free shipping plus 5% off - Gotta love my RedCard!)
They still weren't cheap (definitely no 35 bucks a bin though!) but I like how purposeful they seem. They have pop-out dividers which have actually proved useful. The girls like to separate their tea set from the rest of their kitchen utensils and keep their Little People separate from their Barbies in the bins. 
(We are raising such organized individuals... ha!)

I wasn't sold on the colors originally, but since placing them in the house, I have come to like them. They are neutral and with all the toys scattered around, there is a lot of color in the room as it is. I was worried about protecting them from the kids' grimy hands - flashes of peanut butter hand prints specifically - so I coated each bin with a few layers of Scotchgard fabric protector. I am hopeful that will help them last much longer than they would have without.

The plan is to hang our two family pictures above the storage unit, along one of these signs Jared makes for his Etsy shop, but has yet to make for his own wifey. 
*hint hint, Jared*

I am very happy with how the project turned out. 
Our room that really isn't a true toy room is now much less of a cluster. 
Plus it seems like they actually play with their toys now. Playing kitchen is way easier when they can grab the two bins containing food and kitchen utensils and get started. No digging through a disorganized, over-full toy box. Less toy tossing chaos.
Plus Mama just really loves feeling organized.

Friday, February 7, 2014

the Friday 5

So this is probably gonna sound very un-American-ish, but the winter Olympics in Sochi are underway... and I just can't bring myself to give a crap.

The summer games in London? 

We were all about them. We watched the opening ceremonies, recorded hours of coverage during the day, discussed the results... 
Honestly, this time around I will probably watch an hour or two at most, and probably while painting my nails or talking on the phone. 

I mean, yay! for the athletes, but I am just not that in to snow, let alone snow sports. 
So U-S-A! and all that, but I think I'm gonna pass.

Speaking of painting nails, I used a Christmas gift card and bought myself a new brand of polish to try: Essie.
color: Russian Roulette
(I swear, only a coincidence to the subject in #1)

I have happened across quite a few people recommending it and singing its long-lasting praises. And since nothing is more annoying to me than actually getting around to painting my nails for once and then watching them chip on Day 1, I pulled the trigger and bought a bottle of color and the all-in-one base and top coat. It's a little pricier than a Walmart special, but only by a dollar or two. Plus the color selection looks pretty amazing. 


We missed out on the last big storm that rolled through this week. We got maybe 2 inches is all. 
Most of the time the little stuff that isn't quite up to snuff in our house doesn't bother me. 
But then winter rolls around...
And it becomes quite obvious that living in a house someone else previously "fixed up" can be a bit of a pain in the ass.
Exhibit A:
Notice the cute little drift of snow in our front entry??
I am not shocked.

This room is tiny, and it is separated from the rest of the house by another door. This room also seems to have zero insulation. And tile floors. Talk about instant feet frostbite if you dare walk in barefoot. We never use the coat closet in this room, because to do so involves surviving the 30 degree temperature drop from the rest of the house. I can almost see our money floating out of this door. (And I can literally see the outside through the door frame when it is closed...)

I am all for do-it-yourself-ing. By all means, save yourself some money and tackle small projects on your own. But if you don't know how to do something right, then either figure out how to, or hire someone else. Because this is just so not legit.

Can anyone say Summer Project? 
It's next on the list. And sadly it will probably pay for itself just in the energy savings from one winter...


I just finished reading American Wife.
It's not new. It came out in 2008 and apparently I missed all the buzz about it back then.

I like to get recommendations about books, but not overly research them. I like to know it's a type of book I would enjoy, but I don't want to read reviews and perhaps ruin a good book. So I didn't know ahead of time it was loosely based on what the author imagined Laura Bush's life to be like. And I don't even know if it is what she imagines her life to have been like, or if it was just an easy place for an idea to take off - a solid idea on which to base some facts and then let her imagination run wild. 

Either way, I really liked it. 
This has only been the second book by Sittenfeld that I have read, the first being Sisterland, but I liked them both. Apparently I like a journey into the mind of someone else, someone who might be vastly different than you, and finding the similarities that make us all human. Because even though she ends up a wealthy woman of privilege that becomes First Lady, she is still entirely relatable. 

Essentially it is a lot about marriage, and there were parts in the book that I found comforting. Like the small but definitely not-so-pretty parts that I am sure occur in every marriage, we just don't talk about them. It was wholly entertaining to me. I like to see how people get to where they are. 
What shaped them? 
What were they thinking? 
What drove them to do that? 
People are interesting to me in general, and her characters are jump-off-the-page real as you read, at least in my opinion.
I would definitely recommend.

Then there is this cheeser:
He's doing anything for a laugh these days, even if it means eating a whole meal with a piece of ham on his nose.

He's learning new words - two in one day: yummy and baby.

His new favorite game is to get a long distance away and then run in to give you a hug. Followed by a big open-mouthed kiss of course.
Heart melted.

He is ornery already, following things he has clearly learned from sister Avery. She on the other hand seems pretty pleased with her new pupil.

Welp, that's all folks. 
Happy Friday!

Monday, February 3, 2014

off the rack

Jared's been hard at work ticking items off my wish-list this winter. 

About two weeks ago he finished our Pottery Barn-inspired cubby storage unit. But it took awhile to find the boxes we wanted to fill it with, and now we need to hang our family pictures above it. So maybe a post about that next week? 

In the meantime he used the scraps from that project to make a cute step-stool for the kids to use... and boy, do they use it! It helps them reach the extra-tall sink in our bathroom and is big enough for two to use at once. 
Heaven help us when Graham decides he needs in on the action too.

Jared's latest project:
a rolling rack for the girls' dress-up clothes.

After this past Christmas their dress collection grew immensely. Grandma Cathy sent a present that consisted of five Disney princess dresses. So along with the shoes and accessories (ie: bracelets that Tucker chews and destroys daily) they already owned, they have been in dress-up mode constantly. 
I love the... imagination?
Mismatched socks. 
Lion purse. 
Tutu with a bunched up dress.
And sensible flats to round it all out.

I had previously purchased an old-school suitcase at a garage sale for 25 cents and shoved all of their random items in there.
And it ended up looking like this. Constantly.

Time for something different.
There is lots of room for all their dresses. 
(And shawls. And owl purses. And feather boas. And cowboy hats.) 
The bottom of the rack is large enough to hold all the miscellaneous stuff. (And keep Tucker's favorite "chew toys" out of reach!)
Down the road I could even place containers inside it to separate or group together different items. 
Yay organization!

And the best part?
It's on wheels.
Perfect since we are storing it out of sight in the under-the-stairs closet when not in use.
Also, the wheels help the little guy feel like he is part of the action.  ;)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday

Go Broncos!

As you can see from Graham's vintage tee, 
Jared has been a Broncos fan as far back as his 2T days.

We are going to be spending our Sunday curled up on the couch watching the game, cheering for "Bailey's team", and enjoying some Super Bowl appropriate appetizers. 

Way too many chips?
Homemade pretzels and cheese?
Little smokies?
Brownie batter dip?
Yum. Yes, please.