Wednesday, April 1, 2015

it's been too long

 The point for this blog, originally, was so my kids could look back and see how I kept busy when they were little since I was staying at home to be with them.  I guess I've been too busy because I haven't posted in 3 months. 
Keeping up to par, I did redo a craigslist find.   It was a chest of drawers for the 7 year olds room.  The old one was made from particle board and just couldn't stand up to all the banging, pulling and shoving of a typical boy.  We found a solid wood replacement for $40. You seriously can't beat the deals on craigslist if you are wiling to put a little elbow grease into them.  Now have to plan a bit better when redoing things because my baby is now 3 years old and doesn't really take naps anymore.  Mommy's big helper is a hands on kiddo. So if I'm paining something, he' s painting something too. :) 

I let him paint the back with finger paints, so he feels a part of the project with out me having to do double the work. The color on the dresser is called Blue Lava, it matches the other pieces that are already in the room.  If big brother had his choice every thing would be blue. 

Also since I last posted we got a new dog! I just love her.  She's still working out some "puppy" bad habits, but I think we've finally got her off chewing up the carpet.
I have a lot I can say about her, but for now if you want you can follow her shenanigans on Instagram  @ahuskynamednanook . 
I will dedicate a whole post to her soon.

Easter is Sunday, Spring Break is next week and we have a couple camping trips in the coming months.  I will be more diligent with the blogging.
But for now, I will sign off and do a bit of laundry.
 Which reminds next time I must tell you all about that one time we had to replace the drain field for our septic...
another day. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

JAMAICA! Secrets Montego Bay.

I guess the post should begin with the fun fact that two of our best friends got engaged in Paris. While we were not able to witness the event in person, I was stalking both facebook pages from Florida knowing what was going to unfold.
We have been friends with these two since before they were together, so when this picture finally hit the internet we all welled up! Two of our other friends where traveling with them so we were lucky enough to have the moment documented and shared.
Having the pleasure of watching their relationship bud and bloom into what it is today has been wonderful.  They truly are two of the best people we know!

When we got the invite to their wedding in Jamaica we were thrilled! Money was tight, but we had time to try and "figure it out"
The date was quickly approaching and my hubs had gotten a new job.  Which was great for our family, but not great for taking vacation time off.  I was pretty bummed that we weren't going to be able to celebrate a beautiful event with our good friends, but was reassuring myself that this is just the way it is.
A week before they were set to leave they threw a party for all friends and family who could not attend.  It was so fun. During the midst of mingling and socializing I over-hear a conversation with hubs and another good friend asking if we could park at his house in the morning and all ride to the airport together....
It takes a sec for it to sink in...I first think he must be traveling for work and I had the weeks mixed up...but then I realize he said, "we." 
Obviously, I say, "wait, what?!"
We were, in fact, going to JAMAICA!!
The events that followed happened quickly, with tears of surprise, excitement and joy!
We were all hugging, every one was shocked. My parents, all our friends, every one.  The only one who knew was hubby's mom. 
Hubs had booked the vacation in June when we got the invite.  His words were, "I told y'all, we are great friends, of course we wouldn't miss your big day and I would make this happen."
He negotiated the vacation in with his new job during the hiring process.
Probably the best surprise I have ever had! and I hate surprises. 
Luckily I still had a week to plan...thank goodness.

The morning of vacation we got up super early and headed to the airport.  Again luckily I had time to plan because we were flying Spirit Air.  I won't go into full detail, that would be a whole other story, but if you are every flying Spirit Air be sure to do you research.  All normal baggage rules DO NOT apply.  Everything has a fee and you better pay it before you get to the airport to avoid more fees. 

So now for the good stuff....
The pictures...
I will preface this by saying this is the most beautiful place I have ever been!  I am definitely a beach over mountains girl, so this was my paradise!  (with bonus mountains in the background)
The people were so unbelievably amazing.  The answer to everything was, "Ya Mon! you can do whatever you want here, you are home."

 The plane ride from Ft Lauderdale to Montego Bay was pretty short, but I spent the whole time looking out the window.  The water seemed to just get brighter and brighter.
When we landed at the airport, the anticipation was killing me.  We had to walk though customs and claim our baggage, get our passports checked and explain our reasons for visiting.  The process was pretty quick, the airport was not very big. 
In most cases if you book through a travel agency (we did or any budget sites like Orbitz, Expedia, etc, they have a help/information desk and provide transportation to your destination. 
The bus driver even gives a little history lesson of the town and streets on the way. 
It was when we pulled up to the resort that the real magic started happening. 
The gates open slowly and you can almost here the heavenly "ahhhhhhhhhh" sound.
You are escorted into the lobby and greeted by a friendly Jamaican. 
In our case our room wasn't ready, but that didn't matter.
The place was all inclusive.  and I mean ALL! Food, drinks (with alcohol) non-motorized water sports and access to everything on the grounds. 
Only because there was confusion between our group, I want to clarify that if you are staying at St James or the Wild Orchid you have access to both resorts.  Both are Secrets and they are connected.
You meet at the same restaurants, see the same shows, can visit all the bars and swim in all the pools.
The only exception was the preferred guests. They had a separate pool area and a tub on their balcony.  We did walk through that area on the wedding day to take pictures and it seemed that everyone congregated at the main pools anyway.  That's where all the action and fun activities happened throughout the day.
So back on point...
We headed to the pool bar because it was the first one we walked up to.  On the plane ride we discussed which crazy frozen drink we were going to order first, but when the smiling bartender asked, the hubs clammed up and said "a beer." lol  The question back was, "Do ya want rum in it, Mon?"  hahaha , what? no.  (although a few in the group did try it once on the trip)
We got a quick bite at the poolside restaurant and headed back to see our room.
It was magnificent! and the view....for. get. about. it.

 I know, I couldn't believe it either. Perfect.
I could go on and on about the view alone, but a picture says a thousand words...

 We met up with the bride and groom shortly after down by the pool side bar again. Obviously, we had to have a toast! And obviously we included our bartender!


 We took a little stroll around the jetties and pools to check out the views.  Because of the previous rains we had a wonderful sunset.

There was forecast for rain during our trip, which really bummed out some of the wedding party.
But...being from Florida we had hoped the storms where the same as ours...a quick, hard rain, then back to beautiful, sunshiny days. 
We were in luck! The days it did rain, it came and went within an hour. 
One morning we were even blessed with a beautiful sunrise rainbow!

Being stuck on a kid schedule definitely had its perks when I opened the curtains to that scene.

The wedding was in the middle of the week and it was so perfect.  There were several choices of which place to have your ceremony and I think they chose the most beautiful. Right under that gazebo, overlooking the ocean and the mountains.  It was a sunny, breezy afternoon. Couldn't have been more picturesque.

 This motion picture of the bride and I pretty much sums up our entire trip (minus the fancy wedding dress, sub in bathing suits and cover-ups) 
Fun, fun, good times, hanging with friends, smiles, laughs and more fun.
We drank A LOT of frozen drinks. :) In my hand is a dirty banana.  In my opinion the most delicious drink EVER! It was the theme drink of the week. We even named our pool Olympics team 'Tony boney and the Dirty Bananas'. Refreshing, nutritious (?) and RUM! Who could ask for more?  In fact, one day while were where hanging out in the pool at one of the swim up bars the groom commented, "I have drank more frozen drinks here than I have ever drank in my WHOLE life. lol"  And that's saying a lot because most of us at some point or another have been involved in or are still working in the bar and restaurant industry.
There is the hubs with another group favorite.  That frozen treat is appropriately named the "Bob Marley". Another fun Rum concoction.

I managed a pic of almost everyone in the wedding.  I believe we are missing 3 or 4 people, but you can see it was a good time.  This picture was taken on one of our many "dinner dates".
There were several restaurants including Italian, French, Mexican, Hibachi (Japanese) and, of course, Jamaican.  We hit them all.   Mixed in the restaurant circle was a Piano Bar and nightly entertainment over looking the water.  There was even a Night Club.

While the wedding was the highlight, we did other fun things daily. 
My personal favorite was snorkeling.  We did this almost every morning at 9am after breakfast. Even if I could have taken pictures, I'm certain they wouldn't do any justice.  The feeling of floating around in the salt water seeing all the beautiful life just off the beach was breathtaking.  It really was the greatest way to start the day! Better than the delish Blue Mountain coffee or mimosas offered at breakfast.  Each trip out I was just as in awe as I was the day before.  I don't think that could ever get old.  Even the guys who took us on the "tour" every morning seemed to get the same thrill. The water was so blue and the fish so brilliant.  I would recommend no one miss out on this island experience.
We met lots of great staff members, too.  Every single one of them with a smile.  Not because they had to, because they are a happy people. Fantastic to be around!
Mr Brown was a part of the lawn crew and walked the beach every morning.  Since my hubs like to walk the beach as well, the two ended up chatting often. 

The outside bars opened around 10 am (island time is definitely not an exact science) and stayed open late into the night.
they had SWINGS!
Some where on the outskirts and some where right up at the rail.


And there was always lounging at the beach.

or partying in the pool.

Really, after all those images, who wouldn't want to go to this paradise?!
We met cool people from not only all over the U.S. but all over the WORLD (we had the best time with the Aussies (duh, Aussies are awesome! oi oi oi)).
It was nice just hanging, chatting and catching up with our close friends. With two kids uninterrupted, adult conversations don't happen all that often.
The place was immaculate and the rooms where beautiful. I think I forgot to mention the soaker, jetted tub that I used every day and the 24 hour room service. Just in case you didn't feel like dining at one of the classy restaurants, you could always order in.  Which we did on more then one occasion... (a few late night club sandwiches, too)

Since I'm having a hard time summing up our experience, let me just say that I would highly recommend Secrets Montego Bay for your Jamaican destination vacation
I can't stress enough how wonderful the Jamaican hospitality is!  Such a happy, laid back place with happy, go lucky people. 

Just perfect.
Looking back at the pictures, I still can't believe I was in such a paradise.
Best gift/surprise/wedding/celebration/vacation EVER! and to spend it with a lot of our closest friends and great people....priceless.

And how crazy to think...we didn't even leave the resort.
Until next time...
We miss you Jamaica, but we will be back!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Refurbished, painted thrift store hutch DIY

Our house is not huge and while we've turned the would be "formal dining" into a playroom, somehow the kids stuff still seems to creep into ALL rooms of the home.
We've had a hand me down piano sitting between the entry way and the dining room for a while.  I was hoping one of he kids would develop an interest in it.  Plus when family offers furniture and such, I have a hard time saying No as there always seems to be a use for it.  In this case, not so much... No one plays, it just gets banged on A LOT!   Time for it to get shoved into the playroom and listed on the web.
I need more storage.
The dining room table is always riddled with crayons, loose leaf paper, coloring books, pencils, and all other school or craft related items.  I need a place for all this mess to go when not in use.
Ideal vision would be a mid-century modern credenza.  Ya know, the kind with the doors that slide across the front.  But, obviously, with that being the trend it's not easy to find that kind of thing anymore without a dealer already having jacked up the price at a "repurpose" thrift store.  I went on a hunt anyway.  I thought I found this cute 70's side board with accordion doors and sides that folded up to make more surface area, but when we got to the dealer it turns out it was that fake formica-like wood on top.  Nothing I could sand off and therefore useless.  I was feeling pretty bummed, but my mom insisted we stop at a few random Thrifts on the way home.  One was asking $4000 for a "Mad men" look-a-like dining table....uhhh....bee line for the door, this place is way outta budget.
Another had some cute stuff, but no credenzas or hutches.  (although there was a super cute chest of drawers that I wish I had a place for)
The last place was a Hospice Thrift.  They mostly had clothes and crock pots, but in the  corner were two tall pieces of furniture.  One a particle board entertainment stand, the other.....

This piece.
Full hutch.  Top and all.
What caught my eye was the hardware.  I really like that style of pull.  It was priced right at $60, but I wasn't sure I could bring it back to life.  Then these two ladies started eyeballing it, too.  At the same time I realized they were having a one day sale...25% off all furniture!  45 bucks..I'll take it!  we can figure out the details later.  :)
Since I didn't want the top part that houses plates and such, it's currently listed on Craigslist.  Hopefully I will be able to update this post with a "sold" comment and the expense would be even less.
We put it in the garage and I got to sanding the top.
From experience of painting other pieces, I knew it was in my best interest to NOT paint the top.  The two little boys of mine can quickly undo lots of hard work.
Deciding on a color was pretty easy.  My mom had a bunch of swatches from an end table she had been debating color on.   I loved one of them called Royal Palm by Olympic.  I knew that was going to be the one.
Here's a look after sanding lots of old varnish off the top and a coat of primer for the bottom.  It already looks 1,000 times better.

Again, boys.  So I wanted to go for a kind of distressed look on the top.  I had a bit of gray wood stain, so I put a little and almost immediately wiped it.  I didn't want it to penetrate too much, just give a bit of a whitewash look.
Just a note: If you look close at the drawers you can see that the cool handles I fell for are not the original hardware.  The three middle drawers have an extra hole drilled where the new ones need to fit.  That worked out well...saved even more not having to go buy updated pulls or a can of spray paint. 
Here it is partially painted with one coat of polyurethane on the top.
The first coat never goes on perfect.  I hate having to wait overnight, re-sand and apply more, but it's definitely worth it in the long run.  I used clear satin for the poly finish. 

And here's the finished product

I'm super happy with the way it turned out.
And as soon as the paint is all cured all this...
Will be neatly tucked away in this.....

So for a grand total of $55 ($45 for the hutch add just over $10 for a sample jar of paint ((sings "Sample in a Jar" for my phellow Phish heads)) and small can of polyurethane) I have an awesome new buffet to greet anyone who comes through the front door. Sweet!
Gotta love those thrifty finds.

A few days later my mom found a cute little end table for $5!!
I used the leftover paint and poly from this project to spruce it up.
Sanding off the top and drawer revealed a cool distressed look that I couldn't have created if I tried, so I left it.  The top even had an old, barely noticeable drink ring and what seem to be burn marks for added character.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The never ending choices of a parent

It starts the moment you find out you are pregnant. There are hundreds of thousands of choices that a mother will have to make for her baby. What she should eat, which vitamins to take, when to sleep, which doctor to choose?  The decisions about the birth alone can be overwhelming. There are classes and books geared to help with these choices. Drugs or natural, midwife or doctor, hospital or birthing center?  When the baby is born it doesn't end. Breastfeeding or formula, co-sleeping or crib?  As your baby grows so does the list of things parents must decide. Daily.

It is easy to turn to the internet where there will be hundreds of thousands of articles to answer your hundreds of thousands of questions. In fact you can most likely find an article that will give you the exact answer you are looking for. And we all know if you can find it on the internet then it must be true! ;)

So how do you know what's the best for your child? Which preschool is best, public or private, school lunch or brown bag? Every day we are faced with decisions. It is my belief that as mothers and fathers we just do our best. We apply our life experiences, adjust for their personalities and hope we've chosen wisely. We arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible and then we wing it. I think the saying is, 'We plan God laughs'. Most of us learn straight away at baby's delivery that we can take our plan and throw it out the window. You can invasion a million scenarios and number one million and one will be the outcome. (I know, because it happened to me both times.)

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. Really, it spawned from a recent conversation I had on a social media site with a friend about iPad usage and children. That debate originated from an innocent video I posted with my 2.5 year old, grandma's new kitten and her iPad. Its freaking adorable. Most of the comments were "cute' and 'aww'. The expected comments. Then one comes, 'get that kid off the iPad' I took it very lighthearted. My response was a chuckle and a 'don't worry we balance it out with music festivals, nature and the pool'. I quickly realized the comment was not at all meant to be funny, but judgmental and serious. There was some more back and forth publicly and privately. What I didn't know, until I got a phone call later that day, that other friends where following the thread. I still kept it light and defended my friend, because he doesn't have children. Everyone in the parent club knows the drill. BC (before children) when you see kids acting out in public or running under the clothes rack in the store, you say 'my kids will NEVER do THAT. BC you plan that every meal will be balanced and organic, in reality hot dogs and ice cream for dinner will happen. Then there is the never ending debate of screen time. BC you're gonna be all Pinteresty and do all these cool experiments every day, in reality you put on Peppa Pig so can have 30min of peace or try and prepare dinner. I learned a lot from the responses that were posted. And, as of today there are 123 comments to a follow up post about how terrible it is to let your toddler get instant gratification from a game on the iPad. I gathered that some agreed. Keep in mind that I don't know everyone that posted, so I'm not sure if their comments are BC. But most of the people with kids gave scenarios of why they let their kids use technology so the parents were clear and the majority were commenting to defend their reasons for using technology.

This is where I needed to express my opinion. These parents don't need to defend their choices. They are the parents. For whatever reason they (and I) believe that the instant gratification given for completing a puzzle or helping Super Why find the missing letter is not permanently damaging the growing brain. Obviously I'm not condoning TV as a babysitter. I believe that balance is key. I also believe that what works for one family doesn't work for another. Who are we kidding? What works for one KID doesn't work for another.

Similar conversations and debates will come up often. Almost as often as the choices you are forced to make.  You can find them all over the internet. Vaccines, public breast feeding and home schooling are just a few others that can spark some pretty heated debates.

My main point here to parents is, when your intelligent friends with no kids tell you how you should be parenting your kids, just smile. Hopefully one day they will have little rug rats of their own and all their BC planning and theories will get tossed out the window and land in big pile next to your BC thoughts and plans. You will agree to disagree and be happy that you live in a place where my beliefs don't have to be your beliefs and vice versa. Then you can both have a good laugh.

For now just pour yourself a night cap, relax and hold on to your sanity while your kids run out all their endless energy before bedtime.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patio floor paint job

A while back, I painted the pool deck.  Really, I guess you could say I "stained" the pool deck.  A friend recommended H&C Concrete stain because he had done a few pool areas with it.  My paint guy at Lowes' didn't have a better suggestion and they didn't carry the H&C water based satin, so I headed to the Sherwin Williams.   I got a color one shade darker than the house on the color swatch.  It was nice that SW would match any brand's color. I got two gallons, because each is supposed to cover about 200 square feet.  I had to go back for two more.  The old, battered cool deck really sucked up the paint.  Besides the fact that I totally miscalculated how much paint I would need, the stain turned out beautifully.  It's been over a year and I have no complaints. 
So....I decided to do the covered part of the patio as well.  Originally, we planned to put down slate tiles, but it's a pricey project and not in our budget right now. Ryder's 7th birthday is coming up and we are having a pool party here at the house.  Not only is the patio area hideous, but it gets super slippery with just my two kids.  The covered part was almost exactly 200 hundred square feet and smooth.  One gallon would definitely do the trick.  I still had my paint swatch with the pool deck color and after a quick comparison, I decided to get one shade darker.  There was hardly a difference between them and we have a really bad pollen season here.  I am hoping that it will help hid the yellowish dust a bit more.  Right, so now I have three shades of gray.  All Valspar paint colors: the house is Tornado watch, the pool deck is Artichoke and the patio is Empire.  I also had the guy add some non slip powder to the paint can.  So for $35, I completely freshened up the patio.  It's funny because depending on the way the light shines, they can all look the same or totally different.  It looks good, nice and neutral. 
Who knows what the flooring was before, but it looked like the previous owners did plan to do something.  What ever was there before had been cleared away and the concrete had been prepped.  You could still see the orange-reddish grout lines and swirls from what may have been glue.  My guess would be that at some point there was tile and at some other time maybe indoor/outdoor carpet, but that will be a mystery never solved.

Here are a few before and during shots of the painting process.
You can totally see what I mean.  What the heck do you think they had going on here?

What ever they had going on, I am grateful that I didn't have to scrape up glue and grout.  The paint went on smooth.  It was a bit porous, but nothing like the cool deck.  One can gave me two coats. 

So, so much better.  And it's not slippery anymore...added little bonus for the kids. 
I have to wait to put the furniture back.  And my mom mentioned seeing some cheap area rugs at Ross, so I may put one of those down, too.   Give the space a pop of color. We all know a rug can "really tie the room together, Dude."  I've spent almost every single day watching the kids in the pool since school let out, so why not make my area feel homey?!

Here's my entertainment...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wild flying squirrels, not to be confused with wild sugar gliders in Florida

The cat brought in a present last night.  Like all other "presents" I grabbed a paper towel to take the kill outside.  You can imagine my surprise when the "dead" animal turned over, looked at me with it's big, cute eyes and ran up my arm.  I, of course, gave a small shriek and did a little on point jig while the little fella ran right into the bathroom.  I thought, perfect, he has no where to go, I will just corner him and bring him back outside.  Again, you can imagine my surprise when he shimmied up a teeny, tiny crevice under the cabinet.  To myself I said, "Where'd he go?" out loud I said, "Where'd whooo go?" (then I chuckled at my cool movie quote) I just stood there and stared in disbelief for a moment.  Now what? I can't demo the bathroom to get this little guy.  He can't go anywhere....I don't think.  So I stared some more.  Then I shut the bathroom door.  Then I texted my husband who just so happen to be out of town....his advice...."Name it."  Thanks babe.
I figured he would have to come out eventually, there was no where to go and he would get hungry.  I brushed my teeth, washed my face, shut the door and went to bed.
This morning when I woke up I surveyed the bathroom and nothing.  I went to shut the door and spotted a little brown fur ball out of the corner of my eye.  He was balled up near the little crevice under the cabinet.  I grabbed the cat carrier and headed in.  I put a little piece of cardboard to block the crack and pushed him into the carrier.  He hopped right in, I'm guessing because it was darker and there was a towel for him to nestle under.
I will wait until tonight to release him because they are nocturnal little guys.

A quick side note:  At first I thought is was a Sugar Glider.  It looks just like one; little and cute.  So I googled.  It seems that sugar gliders can survive in the wild, but are considered invasive and should not be re-released.  So I googled again, to try and confirm exactly what I had.  Come to find out it was as my son suspected a flying squirrel.
They don't look like the ones I've seen on the animal channels on tv.
Here's what we have.
wild florida/flying squirrels
image from

there's our little fella

You can Google flying squirrels in Florida and see tons of pics of these little cuties. 

Friday, May 30, 2014


It's been a while since I blogged, but I guess I've been busy.  We've taken the camper out on adventures twice and both times it was awesome. 
And...I'm in the beginning stages of getting my new business up and rolling.  Super exciting stuff.
Which means there is sure to be an influx of blogs next month. :)  (but here's a link to the biz, if you just can't wait.....

But for now....

It's the newest app on my phone and I love it!  Instead of hitting the camera icon, I hit the Paper Camera icon!
I just wanna post!  
and hashtag### 
and share it's awesomeness!
In consideration for my friends who, I'm sure may not share the complete and utter joy of the paper camera, I decided to put a couple several of the pictures on here instead. 

For your enjoyment....

"Comic Boom" was the first effect I used and I was instantly hooked. 
This effect is appropriately called "Andy pop" 

I was able to sneak a few posts onto Social media for Ryder's 1st grade graduation party..

"Sketch up"


"Pastel perfect"

"Pen and Paper" reminds me of high school.  Like advanced doodlers.

with "Contours" you can even have fun with a delivery truck.

There are a bunch more, but I haven't had a chance to apply them yet.  
Each picture is so different and the same effect will add some cool new layer of depth to an otherwise typical photo.  I find, I love a certain "brush stroke" of hair or blur of  background.  Overall, I am amazed at this app.  The instantaneous screen conversion is so neat.  The fact that any picture I take can immediately be made to look like I had it commissioned by an artist friend is so cool.

It can even do videos!  Technology can be so fun.

I will be sure to update this post as soon as I get some new material.

If you are bored with the effects your phone currently has, I would highly recommend downloading the Paper Camera.