The Big Boy Room

To free up the nursery for the new baby, we’ve (and be “we” I mean “Tim”) been hard at work getting a new room ready for Alexander. Tim had grand plans for the Big Boy Room, centered around getting his dad’s old electric train set out of storage and building a track to circle the room.  The more he contemplated the idea, the more elaborate his plan became: He’d cut holes in either side of the closet so the train could travel through the closet like a tunnel; We’d hire our friend Lisa (who painted the nursery and the playroom) to paint landscapes for the train to travel through; He’d build a bed frame shaped like a train so Alexander could sleep in a train. I thought it all sounded like a lot of work, but he was so excited about it that I was happy to sit back and let him bring his creative genius to fruition.

Tim eventually abandoned the train-shaped bed frame idea after watching our son’s proclivity toward climbing and falling and generally doing all the dangerous things two-year-olds do. Better not to surround the toddler’s bed with hard surfaces for him to hurt himself on. (I wasn’t super disappointed that I wouldn’t have to struggle to change sheets inside some crazy train-bed, either.)

But the rest of the ideas stuck, and shortly after Christmas we set the wheels in motion for Operation: Big Boy Room. When we initially met with Lisa to discuss our ideas, we told her we’d like to cover all our boy-centric bases — Dinosaurs, Construction Equipment, Space, and probably some jungle animals since he loved the ones in his nursery so much. The great thing about working with Lisa is that we know we can throw a vague idea at her and she’ll turn it into something amazing. She spent four days in that room, up on a ladder with her paints and brushes, and created something better than we ever could have come up with on our own.

The ceiling, painted to look like space.

The ceiling, painted to look like space.

Once Lisa was finished, Tim spent every evening for a week, and the better part of two weekends, designing, building, and installing the train track. He built the shelf on which the track sits out of wood, plastered over the seams, and painted the whole thing the base wall color so it looks like a natural part of the room.


Diggers and Dump Trucks; the middle one is lifting a planet up into the sky.

He also did some fancy electrical work to enable Alexander to turn the train off and on from the comfort of his bed, and connected all the controls to the wall switch to enable us to quietly reach inside the door and turn everything off after baby bedtime.



Meanwhile, I was hard at work, too. LOL J/K No I wasn’t. I clicked around the internet until I found some fun sheets at a reasonable price, and entertained Alexander in the evenings while Tim built the track. I did much of this from the comfort of the couch, with the exception of the times Alexander demanded “Want Mommy play on the flo-or!” (It’s adorable the way he makes “floor” into a two-syllable word, as if he thinks he needs to pronounce each O separately.)

The volcano's smoke blends into the Milky Way that stretches across the sky.

The volcano’s smoke blends into the Milky Way that stretches across the sky.

Tim was determined to keep the whole project a secret from Alexander, so whenever Alexander asked what Daddy was doing, I offered a vague, “Daddy’s working in the Big Boy Room” response, which seemed to satisfy him. He didn’t realize that he was the Big Boy for whom the room was intended.

Safari Animals; I think the elephant is my favorite animal in the room.

Safari Animals; I think the elephant is my favorite animal in the room.

This past Saturday morning, Tim worked his tail off to get the final pieces in place before Alexander’s nap time. By mid-afternoon, Tim and Alexander were napping comfortably in the master bedroom, and I pried myself off the couch to move Alexander’s clothes, toys, and stuffed animals (he calls them his “friends”) from the nursery to the Big Boy Room. By the time the boys woke up, everything was ready for The Big Reveal.

The closet/tunnel, and Colorado mountains and animals.

The closet/tunnel, and Colorado mountains and animals.

Tim took Alexander into the nursery for a post-nap diaper change, and expressed shock at the room’s relative emptiness. “Where are your toys, Alexander? Where’s your dresser? Where are your friends? Where do you think they all went?” Together they searched high and low, checking the playroom, the bathroom, and the laundry room before finally arriving at the door to the Big Boy Room. They opened the door and saw this:

The Big Boy Room

The Big Boy Room

Naturally, Alexander immediately ran to the shelves that now housed his toys and bedtime books, zooming right past the cool monkey growth chart and failing to notice all the room’s best features.

Monkey Growth Chart

Monkey Growth Chart

“Alexander, look up there,” Tim suggested, directing Alexander’s attention to the top of the walls. “Daddy’s train?” Alexander asked, his interest piqued. “No, that’s Alexander‘s train.” Now Alexander was really intrigued.

Taking a tour with Daddy, the mastermind behind it all.

Taking a tour with Daddy, the mastermind behind it all.

Tim showed him around the room, and encouraged him to climb up on the bed and push the buttons on the steering wheel. Alexander eventually pushed the correct button, and the train sprung to life, racing around the top of the room while Alexander looked on in awe. “Look at it go! Goin’ in the tunnel? My train!”

Manning the Controls

Manning the Controls

And with that, Alexander was completely in love with his new big boy room. He spent most of the rest of Saturday in there — “Want to turn the train on!” — as well as most of the day Sunday and today.

First mark on the growth chart -- just shy of three feet!

First mark on the growth chart — just shy of three feet!

He’s tried to go down the hall toward the nursery a couple of times out of habit, but for the most part, when we tell him it’s time to get dressed or change his diaper or get ready for bed, he exclaims with glee, “In the Big Boy Room!”

Big Boy

My Train!

Transitioning him from the crib to the new bed has been a lot easier than I expected. He went down without too much fuss at bedtime Saturday night, but I fretted that he’d wake up in the night, see his unfamiliar surroundings, and cry for us to come and get him. It’s only been 2 nights, but this hasn’t been a problem at all.

First bedtime in the new room

First bedtime in the new room

He has fallen out of the bed both nights (just once/night), which was understandably a little upsetting for him. The first time he fell, I heard a thump over the monitor closely followed by cries for “Mooommmmyyyyyy!” and rushed down the hall to check on him. As soon as I opened the door, he announced “I okay, Mommy! I all done sleeping! I already sleep good!” “It’s 2am,” I told him as I helped him get back in bed, “you are not all done sleeping.” This news was more distressing to him than falling out of bed had been, but I eventually convinced him to go back to sleep. The second night’s tumble caused a few more tears, but once I settled him back down he slept soundly the rest of the night. Once he figures out how to stay away from the edge of the bed, I think we’ll be home free.

My sweet baby boy.

He may have a Big Boy Room, but he’s still my baby boy.

Better Late than Never

A look back at 2013, using RA’s new-and-improved questions.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 30 and celebrated being in the best shape I’ve been in since Alexander was born by running a 5k. To make it even more fun, I did a mud run with my good friend and college roommate, Lauren, and we celebrated our success at the end with breakfast burritos. I don’t remember what exactly I did on the actual day of my birthday (I’m sure burritos were involved), but the mud run was my main personal birthday celebration.

Mud Run

What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?

(1) The conversation in which we decided to have another baby. (2) The Black Forest Fire in early June. Watching the beautiful forest where Tim grew up burn, wondering whether we’d have to evacuate since we live only a couple miles from the forest’s edge, wondering if Tim’s childhood home, our church, and other memory-filled places would still be standing when all was said and done. A lot of things burned — over 500 homes were lost — but Tim’s childhood home and our church both survived. (3) Our month-late Anniversary celebration in which we visited a local brewery’s new location in a 100-year-old building that used to be an elementary school, tried a delicious new-to-us Mexican restaurant, and celebrated both eight wonderful years of marriage and the new baby that we’d just found out was on its way. (4) Alexander’s 2nd birthday. (5) Experiencing Christmas through Alexander’s eyes.

The view of the Black Forest Fire from our neighborhood.

The view of the Black Forest Fire from our neighborhood.

What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

Started running regularly (at least for the first half of the year), with the help of the Couch-to-5k Program and a handful of good audiobooks to keep me distracted from how boring running can be.

What did you want and get?

To get back in shape and reclaim my body after holding on to post-pregnancy weight for way too long. To get pregnant again. Lots of quality time with my favorite boys.

What did you want and not get?

2013 was a pretty great year and didn’t leave me wanting much. I did ask Santa to bring me a professional cleaning service, just for one day, to clean my house top-to-bottom and do all the things I’m too lazy to do (clean the baseboards, top of the fridge, etc.), and, alas, there was no cleaning service under the Christmas tree this year. Oh, I also wanted my dance studio not to move to a ghetto location that I’m not comfortable going to after dark for classes, but they went ahead and moved anyway. Luckily my tap teacher is awesome and has a tap floor in her basement, and she’s been holding class there for those of us unwilling to go to the ghetto. However, the studio’s move did mean that I had to give up my jazz class, and I really miss it sometimes. I know I could just find a different studio, and that’d be great if all the women I used to dance with would also go to a different studio with me, but that seems unlikely to happen. It’s not that I miss taking as many classes as I used to (though I do miss that); I miss dancing in those specific classes with that specific group of women. We had so much fun, and I’m still holding out hope that the studio’s ghetto location is temporary, and eventually it’ll move to a better place and we’ll all get to dance together again.

What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

A daughter. Good news — I’ve got one scheduled to arrive in a few months.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I resolved to finally get off my ass and lose the baby weight I’d been holding onto for over a year, and I was very successful, thanks in large part to Biggest Blogging Loser. And then I promptly got pregnant and gained it all back, but I’m okay with that. In retrospect, I think losing that extra weight really helped pushed me over the edge to finally being ready to go down the pregnancy/childbirth/recovery road again. I’ve lost the baby weight once; I know I can do it again.

I spent New Year’s Eve and Day this year in a haze thanks to the Sinus Infection from Hell and couldn’t be bothered to come up with any new resolutions. My main priorities for this year are to stay healthy through the final trimester of this pregnancy and try to adjust gracefully to all the changes that will come with adding a second kid to our family.

What was your biggest achievement of this year?

On a large scale, I feel like I did a pretty kickass job at finding a work/home balance and being a good wife and mother to my boys. On a smaller scale, I finally organized several years’ worth of digital photos, successfully implemented a system to continue to keep our photos organized as we take them, and worked with Tim to print, frame, and hang several family photos in our previously bare front hallway. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.


What was your biggest failure?

I let myself get way to stressed out about prepping for the holidays, which happens every year, and this year the anxiety was magnified by pregnancy hormones. I have this mental block that I can’t start relaxing and enjoying the holidays until all my shopping and prep work is done, which turns me into a messy ball of anxiety during the first couple weeks of December. I really need to work at being better at going with the flow and allowing myself to enjoy the holiday season even before I’ve checked everything off my to-do list.

What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?

Tim, as always, saved me from my crazy emotions on several occasions, and he did so more often than usual thanks to the aforementioned pregnancy hormones. I can always count on him to listen to me cry about everything that’s making me crazy and then help me put a plan in place to deal with it all; having a solid plan of attack usually calms me down quite a bit.

What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? 

Oh, man, I read some really great books this year, including The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys, The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. (Wait, technically I read Penumbra in 2014, but I read it before writing this, so I’m still going to count it.) We watched and loved the final season of Breaking Bad, and I’ve finally gotten into The Walking Dead this season. I’d like to go back to the first season and get caught up, but I’m still enjoying the current season. Luckily Tim is nice enough to fill me in on any important back story that I’ve missed up to this point. I think the only movie we saw in the theater this year was Gravity, and it was excellent. We do most of our movie watching at home via Netflix, and nothing really sticks out as being super memorable, except maybe Cabin in the Woods. I’m pretty sure we first watched that one in 2012, but we re-watched it this year, and it was just as fantastic. It was nothing like I expected, and I really, really enjoyed it.

What song will remind you of this year?

I don’t pay much attention to music. I heard a lot about a song called “Blurred Lines,” but I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I’ve ever heard it. If I have heard it, I didn’t realize what I was hearing was “Blurred Lines,” so I may as well have not heard it. I know I heard “Wrecking Ball,” but that’s only because Tim showed me a funny parody video about it. Keeping up with music’s not really a priority for me, is what I’m saying. So I’m going to interpret this one pretty loosely and say that 2013 was the Year of the Audiobook for me. I discovered the joy of a well-produced audio book this year, and the best ones I listened to were The Raven Boys, The Scorpio Races, and The Book Thief.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).

Music not really being something I pay attention to, I was tempted to slap a “not relevant to my interests” answer here and move on. But the more I thought about it, the more I kept being reminded of Tim’s and my unofficial song, “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. (I say unofficial, since it wasn’t our first dance song at our wedding, but it’s probably more meaningful to us than our first dance song, and it’s one that Tim requests whenever we go to friends’ weddings. The DJs usually don’t have it, unfortunately.) The whole song is great, but the title lyrics, “I am the luckiest” really hit home for me this year. I know it’s cheesy, but I look around at my life and can hardly believe how lucky I am to have the amazing family, extended family, and friends that I have. I really am the luckiest.

What was your most enjoyable purchase?

We put together a playroom for Alexander in our loft this year, which has really been fantastic. We lined one wall with cubby shelves for his toys, Tim worked his handyman magic to mount our old flatscreen TV with wires running through the ceiling so the DVD player and other connected devices could be in the closet across the room, and we had a talented friend paint big, fun alphabet letters on one wall. We spend a lot of Alexander’s waking hours up there these days, which is great, and then we put him to bed and come downstairs to a living room that’s not cluttered with trucks and Legos and plastic tools, and that’s even greater. For myself, I scored a pretty amazing deal with an online sale corresponding with stackable coupons that allowed me to get a $90 pair of boots for $30, and that was pretty awesome.

Playroom 1Playroom 2

Did you travel? If so, where?

We flew to Virginia to meet our new nephew at the end of June. In October, we took a road trip to San Antonio to visit Tim’s parents in their new home. Fourteen hours in the car over 2 days (each way) with a 2-year-old wasn’t as challenging as I expected it to be — Alexander did remarkably well, all things considered — but I’m not in a hurry to take another long road trip anytime soon. Once we arrived, we had a great time with Tim’s parents. Hopefully next time we visit the in-laws, we’ll be able to find cheap flights.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

I know it makes me sound like a lush, but I’ve really missed wine since I got pregnant. Just one cold glass of Chardonnay in the evening, that’s all I want. It sounds so good. Come April, you can bet my now-empty wine rack will be fully stocked again. (I know that’s probably not the proper spirit of the question, but I’m running out of steam here. Cut me some slack.)

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing about the holidays, definitely.

Compared to this time last year, how are you different?

Well, I’m 6 months pregnant, which is the most obvious difference. I also feel, overall, more confident as a parent and (usually) more prepared to take on the challenge of adding a new baby to our lives than I did at this time last year.

Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?

I’m still the same-old me, overall. Still quiet in social situations, still a sucker for a cheesy romance book or movie. Still loving being married to a man who makes me laugh every day.

What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

Naps are amazing. No, seriously, they’re amazing. I’ve always known it on some level, but I really came to appreciate it when faced with first-trimester exhaustion coupled with chasing a toddler around and not having the luxury to nap at will. Now, Saturday afternoon naps with a toddler snuggled up next to you because that’s the only way either of you is going to get a solid 2 hours of sleep? Probably one of the best things ever.


So Long, Old House

We moved into the new house on Friday, and if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know that it’s the best house ever, I love every last inch of it, and I really can’t stop talking about how much I love it.

For a minute, though, I am going to stop talking about the new house. Because in all the craziness that was packing and getting ready to move and then moving during the busiest possible time of the month at my job, I didn’t have much of a chance to bid a fond farewell to the old house. While I’m not sad to have left that house behind, it was a very good house for us for over six years, and I feel it deserves a moment of reflection.

While I was very ready to move on and won’t really miss living in that house, there are three things that I will miss quite a bit:

1. My 5-minute commute, which allowed me to go home for lunch. My new commute is only 15 minutes, which isn’t bad at all, but it’s just a little too far for me to justify coming home for lunch on a daily basis. I loved being able to take a break in the middle of the day, go home, snuggle the dogs, and cook up a yummy lunch. Now I have to get back in the habit of packing a lunch, which is something I’ve never been good at. It’s a small price to pay, though, for the privilege of living in this beautiful new house.

2. The decks. Tim and my dad (with help from my mom, Tim’s dad, and a few friends) built a couple of really nice decks at the old house and, man, did I ever love those decks. They made hanging out in a somewhat pain-in-the-ass back yard very pleasant, and we spent a lot of wonderful summer evenings out there, grilling burgers and brats and roasting marshmallows in the chiminea. Tim and my dad are already discussing plans for a deck at the new house, and I know it’s going to be really great, but it’ll probably be at least a year before we have the budget to build it. I am thankful that last Thursday, on our last night at the old house, the weather was nice enough for us to take a break from loading the moving truck and enjoy one last dinner on the deck. It was the best Last Dinner at the Old House we could have had.

3. The bar. Remodeling the kitchen was our first major project at the old house, and as part of the project, we installed a beautiful solid wood bar that we’d found at a thrift store months earlier for a ridiculously low price. The bar has built-in cabinets and a wine rack, and we hung wine glass racks above it to add a little extra sparkle (and, let’s face it, we really had nowhere else to keep wine glasses in that little kitchen). It’s a gorgeous bar, and I am still a little sad we couldn’t bring it with us to the new house. However, the old kitchen would have looked weird without the bar, and we really don’t have a place for it in the new house, so it would have been stuck in the basement, alone and unused, for years until we got around to finishing the basement and finding a good spot for it. And, really, it fits perfectly in the old kitchen. I am sad to have left it behind, but deep inside I know it belongs in that kitchen where it hopefully will be used and loved for years to come.*

The old house is finally under contract and scheduled to close at the end of this month. We put a lot of love and hard work into that house, and I hope it’s as good to its new owners as it was to us.

*Do you think it would be wrong to ask the new owners of the old house to call us if they ever decide to get rid of the bar?

Look What We Did Today

This morning we signed a contract with a builder to construct a beautiful new home on this gorgeous lot. (Check out that mountain view!)

Something tells me I’m going to be updating the blog more often in the months to come…


Conundrum No Longer

So long, old, torn-up couch. You were good to us while you lasted.

Hello, fabulous new (to us) couch!

And comfy new (to us) chair!

We love you so much! Even the dogs have given you an enthusiastic stamp of approval.

We were so happy when we found you on Craigslist, and even happier when we saw how incredibly affordable you were. All we had to do was write a relatively small check and pick you up, and you were all ours!

Sure, you’re not our dream furniture or anything, but you are pretty darn great. Your khaki cushion covers don’t show too much dog hair, and they’re made of durable enough material that we’re not terribly worried about wear and tear. Plus they’re so easy to pull off and wash when the dogs manage to jump on you before I clean the mud off their paws.

You’re neutral enough to fit in just about any room with the addition of a few coordinating throw pillows, and even if we decide to buy our dream couches in a few years, you will definitely be excellent basement furniture.

Let’s talk size. You’re definitely bigger than the last couch, but still not too big for the room. We love that the chair allows us to have multiple guests over without cramming everyone side-by-side on the couch. And your deep, comfy seats simply beg for quality snuggle time with husband, dogs, and blankets.

Welcome to your new home, couch and chair. We’re so very glad you’re here.

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