Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Baby Is in Kindergarten

Tuesday was Ben's first day of Kindergarten. Well in advance, we took his supply list to Target and gathered up all his supplies. I was like a kid in a candy shop--I've been waiting for a legitimate reason to shop back to school supplies for years!

Though I must say I had a bit of sticker shock at spending over $60 (with coupons and sales!) for half-day Kindergarten. Say what? I can't imagine that he will use all that stuff in 10 hours a week. But no biggie.

Next, we ordered him a backpack from Pottery Barn Kids. I'd been warned by several people that the big box store backpacks don't hold up, and it is worth it to invest in a good one. Also, the PB Kids price versus the Target price really isn't that different. This Mackenzie small bag was on sale for $33 and free shipping. I had a gift card for $25 too, so that made it even better! I let Ben choose the pattern. 

I figured we'd end up with a super hero bag, but he fell in love with this snake print. The small size is PERFECT for a Kindergarten. Ben got the rolling overnight bag in Batman print from Grammy and Grampy last Christmas, and it is great for one-nighters but too big for day-to-day use.

So we were all set and waited and waited for that first day! That morning we took Liv to daycare, but Ben stayed home with me. Mike worked from home so that he could come along on Ben's first day too.

Liv wanted in on the picture taking too, with her big "cheese" smile. That smile is almost as big as her hair. Almost.

At 9 a.m. we took a few photos and then headed over to his school. We had a nice button down shirt picked out, but at the last minute he wanted to wear his Blackhawks t-shirt.

Ben is now a Homestead Huskie. He loves that his mascot is a huskie--he loves those dogs. On the first day, the parents bring the kids, and then we listen to a lot of information while the kids head to the classroom with their teacher.

I really didn't think that Ben starting Kindergarten would feel like that big of a deal to me. He's been going to full-time daycare since he was 4 months old, so being separated certainly isn't new to me. So I was as surprised as anyone when my tears started to come as he lined up and headed off to his classroom.

We weren't allowed to go back to the classroom to get photos (don't get me started on that one!), so I wasn't able to get anymore photos. But Ben and I did go to lunch together and then ran an errand at Costco, where he picked out another SWAT costume. His last one is way too small on him now, so he's thrilled to have one that fits again.

He decided to change into his button down before lunch. Okie dokie....

Then we spent the afternoon playing police, which worked out well for me. I had to lie on a bed he made me on my bedroom floor, while he brought me pretend "prison food" and I browsed the Internet on my phone. :-) He runs a tight ship.

He absolutely loves Kindergarten and can't wait to go each day. He also decided he needs more responsibilities to match his new found Kindergarten status. So cute.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trip to the City

We took Ben on his annual trip downtown. We had beautiful weather and a great time! Last year we went in October when the weather was a little cooler, but since Ben starts Kindergarten next week, we had to squeeze the trip in early as we like to go on a weekday when the crowds are less and we can leave Liv home. :-(

We dropped Liv at daycare and set off for a fun day. I'd love to bring Liv, but she still naps and just isn't ready to handle a full day downtown. Maybe next summer!

After a quick stop through the Starbucks drive-thru for coffee and breakfast, we arrived at the train station. We haven't even boarded the train, and Mike is already annoyed with my picture taking!

Ben chose his Bears shirt since it was their first game that night, so Mike wore his Bears shirt as well. So cute in their matching outfits.

Ben loves going through the tunnel to get to the train boarding area.

We ate our breakfast sandwiches and watched the views as we headed into the city. We caught the express so it was a 40 minute ride instead of over an hour.

Our first stop was the Willis (Sears) Tower. Last time the weather didn't cooperate and there was no visibility. This time we had gorgeous weather, and the Blue Angels were practicing so we got to see the planes up close. Very cool.

We went out on the glass outlooks. It was awesome. Seriously my favorite part of the day. I got in line twice for that part. 

Don't ever hand Mike the camera.

There are the Blue Angels, though it is hard to make out. They were really close and easy to see in person but the camera didn't capture that.

Then we hopped a cab to the Planetarium. Ben really wanted to do the Field Museum again, but we wanted to show him something different. Unfortunately, the Planetarium was a bit of a dud. There were some cool things but definitely NOT worth the $70+ it cost to get in. Seriously, Chicago is so expensive. This is why it is only an annual trip. :-)

Here you can jump and send the rocket up in the air.

Ben's favorite part was "mission control."

This is the actual console that the guys sat in. It is so tiny in person. I can't imagine cramming in this thing--especially since Mike said they spent 14 days in here. Not for this gal!

Ben hung out on the moon.

Then we watched a show that simulates the night sky with stars and teaches you all about the constellations. It was cool but still didn't justify the cost.

We stopped to enjoy the lake view before catching a cab to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch.

Mike's arms are longer, so I asked him to get a selfie of us. I guess he thought a view of a random family was better than the skyline, which he cut off. Again, don't give Mike the camera.

I took back the camera and did my best with my short little arms. At least you can see the skyline in this one. :-)

The Rainforest Cafe was the perfect lunch spot for Ben, who loves jungle animals so much. There was a little thunder/elephant show, a moving snake hanging from the ceiling, and a crocodile. Very cool.

We wanted to burn off some of the calories from our lunch, so we walked from the restaurant back to the train station (about 1.5 miles). Of course, stopping to share a smoothie and get Ben a cupcake negated those efforts. Oh well!

We stopped for the treats at the French Market, which is right across from Mike's office. He goes here occasionally for lunch. I was kind of jealous of all the cool stuff he has to choose from every day. I wish I'd gotten a pic of the market. It has tons of different options and stores. Very cool!

Then we caught the train home, picked up our Livvie Lu, and relaxed the rest of the night... As much as you can with two kids anyway. Until next year, Chicago!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Office Progress -- After the Purge

After I purged the office and got it organized, I did a few small tweaks to get it how I want it (for the most part).

I've always wanted a cozy chair for the office. I bought this chair in gray but the navy is so beautiful! The navy one was out of stock when I ordered and also would have blended too closely with the blue walls in the office. Otherwise, I'd have waited for the navy.

I told Mike this chair was so that he could come sit and keep me company when I am in here. He laughed. Not about keeping me company but about hanging out in this chair. He doesn't have my vision. :-) (But he has sat on this chair a few times to chat, so I had the last laugh.)

I was able to get rid of one of my shelves after I narrowed down all of our things. (Ignore those unsightly bags on top of the shelf--those are Ben's school supplies that I need to keep out of reach of little hands!)

And we finally assembled and hung this IKEA wall shelf that I bought at least a year ago. Probably longer. I might spray paint the black brackets a fun gold color down the road... And I'd definitely like to paint the desk white. It has a lot of scratches and dings if you look closer. 

And I cannot recommend enough a second monitor if you work from home, even occasionally. I bought this a long while back, but it was a game changer for my Friday work from home days. I am spoiled with two screens at work, so trying to work off my laptop screen was awful. Best $100ish I ever spent!

By the way, technically this desk belongs to Jaimee; she left it here when she moved cross-country years ago. I'm guessing she doesn't want it back at this point... :-) Jaimee, if I'm wrong, let me know before I paint it.

Some of my favorite details in the room. This bright floral clipboard from Target that I hung up on the wall with a command hook. Love the punch of color. And my initial mug to hold pens--also from Target.

The gold dachshund tape holder (also from Target, there's a trend here). It reminds me of Sweet Dee every time I look at it. (That label maker is another love.) And that little green bin is super for keeping our envelopes, stamps, address labels, etc. all in one convenient spot. You guessed it--also from Target, though years ago.

This shelf has a lot of favorites:
  • That art is a gift from Liv on Valentine's Day with her hand print. 
  • The mother and baby figurine was a gift from Nana when Ben was born. 
  • That Pink Magnolia candle (yep, Target again) is the best. Allison and Mike gave me one when Liv was born, and I've been buying them ever since. 
  • And the money jar uses another of my overly large glass jar collection. I just popped a chalk label on it, and Mike and I throw all our spare change in there. I'll let you know how much it holds when we cash it in--we're getting close!!!

Cute little bird figurine (Michaels, not Target--it's a miracle) and a free art print online popped into a frame I had been storing for ages. (And that's a basket with my gift bags in it to the right.)

I sure love labels. These are Martha Stewart labels. I just used our label maker to add labels and tied them on. I have so much space after my purge that I actually have one basket dedicated to all 2 of my cleaners in here (wipes and air spray for the keyboard) and one for spare rolls of tape... It's good to purge!

And that's about it for the office for now. I'd like to get a new desk chair, curtains, and a rug and maybe add some additional art... That'll be down the road, as I have other spaces to focus on . But so much better than what I started with. It's great that I can work in here stress free now!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Around the House

I've done a few things around the house lately, so I thought I'd share my progress.

First, I jumped on the terrarium band wagon. I like that they are low maintenance and they make use of my overly large collection of glass jars. 

Two are succulents but the other is a hardy, low maintenance plant that I think is so pretty. I have two other plants like it in pink in other rooms, but I couldn't leave this one behind when I saw the $3 clearance sticker on it at Lowes. Plus it is "poypal," Liv's favorite color.

Here the terrariums are on the dining room table. I got this table, bench, and new chairs over the course of the last 6 months or so. I spot what I want and put it on my Pinterest boards, and then I watch for a good sale, save up coupons/gift cards, etc. And then scoop it up when I can get a good deal. I also like getting things at different times and from different places so that everything doesn't look too matchy-matchy.

I got the chairs first on a super deal at Target. That was months ago. The table I'd been eyeing at World Market was out of stock forever, online and in store. Finally, it came back in stock, so I grabbed it. I had a great coupon, so it was a good deal. This table is super sturdy and heavy and seems very high quality for the price. I highly recommend it. Once I got the table, I new I needed a bench to go with it. A bench looks cute but also offers room for at least 3 kids (with a towel on it of course--I am not letting my kids on this thing with food!) I scoured the web and finally found this lovely bench. Again, I waited for that sale.

So now my dining room is *almost* complete.  I'd like to get a narrow buffet or console and do a large framed chalkboard above it. I also think some board and batten under the chair rail would look great...

I also want a new chandelier. Our current one is fine. Nothing awful, but nothing special either.

I have my eye on this one from Pottery Barn, and I almost bought it when it was on sale the other day. But Mom convinced me to try taking the white covers off and use some large Edison-style bulbs. We are going to paint it black to look like the $400 light I covet from PB. If I hate it, it's not like I'm out anything since I was going to replace it anyway. But if I love it, I (and Mom) saved myself a lot of money.

I picked up one of the light bulbs to see if I liked them--and I do. But they are $9/piece and I need 9 that adds up.

In the family room, I've been wanting lamps for the end tables and cute chairs to flank the fireplace for.ever. A month or two back I got an amazing deal on these chairs, made even better when they sent me the wrong chairs and then offered me 20% off of my order if I didn't cancel after the debacle. Um, yes please! :-)

The lamps I found recently at Lowe's. I've been looking off and on for large, white, gourd-shaped lamps that aren't ridiculously expensive. I was so excited when I saw these. I already had the lamp shades, and I used a gift card for the lamps, so it was basically free to me!

Other than that, I haven't made a whole lot of progress. I did get some cute new pillow cases for our bedroom and new sheets (gray dot pattern) because we were down to one set after Dee ripped a hole in our spare set.

Slow and steady wins the race. One day this house will be just how I like it, and then I'll change my mind. :-) Mike so enjoys my decorating and projects.