My Summer Bucket List

Every year right around this time, I like to write out a quick list of all the things I want to accomplish over the summer. Since Corey and I are both teachers, we have a ton of extra time over these next few months, and since Friday will be the last day of school (!!!!), it’s about time I get this list written, huh?!

In the past, I’ve been pretty awful about actually completing the items on the list (see 2012, 2013). Especially last summer, since I spent the whole two and a half months with morning (or, more accurately, all day) sickness and crazy pregnancy exhaustion. This year, I’m going to be as realistic as possible and hopefully that will mean I actually accomplish everything I want to! So, here’s the list:

1. Do something fun at least once a week.

We’re pretty good about getting out of the house during the summer, but we aren’t necessarily good about trying new and exciting things. Now that we have Jackson around, and he’s getting to the age where he’s a little more interested in actually doing things, I’d like to spend our summer trying to find things we can do as a family! There are a few good museums and botanical gardens around Austin that I think Jackson might enjoy, and the park is always a great option. Mainly, I just want us to get out of the house and enjoy our city this summer!

2. Work on our bathroom.

Hey, remember when we tore our bathroom completely apart, posted once about it, and then never mentioned it again? That was fun, right? Yeah, that bathroom looks exactly the same as it did when we started demo-ing it a few months ago. We’re going to put any actual work to the bathroom on hold for a while, but I’d like to at least get it re-insulated and get the walls back up. I’d also like to finish demo-ing it soon. If we can at least accomplish that much, I’ll be able to live with it for a while until we’re ready to start putting it back together!

3. Get Jackson napping in the crib.

I’ve mentioned that Jackson is an awesome nighttime sleeper. We lucked out there. But naps? They’re a mess. I almost always have to hold him to get him to take a good nap, and usually it requires some swaying, bouncing, or even walking around the block. And I’m over it. I love the cuddles, but I need at least a small piece of independence back – this summer, Jackson WILL learn how to nap in his crib!

4. Take a ton of pictures.

I’ve been pretty good about taking photos lately, and I want to keep it up! I always get to the end of the year and feel like I didn’t take nearly enough as I’m working on our yearbook, so this year I’m going to make sure that’s not a problem! I plan on having my camera with my just about everywhere I go this summer, so this one should be easy!

5. Do something to our house.

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a while since we’ve made any sort of progress on the house. We’ve been focusing on other things, which has been good (and important!) but this summer I’d like to find a few cheap or free projects that we can do. I miss working on our home!

6. Spend time outside!

This is a goal of mine every summer, but I think it’s an important one! It’s hard to be motivated to get outside when it’s 105 degrees in the shade, but I love being out there and so does Jackson! We’re gonna have to keep him safe in the crazy heat, but I want to make sure we don’t spent the whole summer cooped up inside!

7. Be social!

Corey and I have a bad habit of hiding in our house and being totally anti-social when we have extended time off. I don’t want this to happen to us this year! Some of our really good friends just moved from being 4 hours away to only 2 hours away, so we’re going to try to meet up with them at least once or twice this summer. I also want to make sure we take advantage of other opportunities to hang out with our friends and family – it’s so easy to hole up and just be alone (we’re total homebodies!) but we always enjoy it when we actually spend time with other people.

8. Start exercising again.

I haven’t worked out at all since we had Jackson…and that’s unusual for me! I haven’t quite figured out how to handle the crazy “work full time while taking care of a baby AND squeezing in exercise” schedule yet, so I’ve been putting it off for this summer. I’m going to get back in the habit of doing some sort of exercise 4 or 5 times a week, then hopefully I’ll keep it up once school starts back up in the fall!

9. Declutter.

I’ve been working on getting some of the extra clutter out of our house for a while now, but we aren’t quite done yet. There are so many nooks and crannies in our house that are stuffed to the brim with crap and it’s just about time to get rid of it. I feel like we’re constantly bringing new stuff into the house but we aren’t always so good about getting rid of old stuff. Plus, if we can sell some of the random things we have floating around, we’ll have a bit of extra money to do something fun with!

10. Soak up this baby stage!

Jackson is at such a fun age right now, and I want to enjoy every second of it. I get frustrated with him when he won’t sleep or on fussy days, but I also know that I’ll miss this phase of his life once he’s bigger. Corey and I are so lucky to be able to have the next couple of months off of work to be with him, so I want to make sure we appreciate it and make the most of the time we’ve got!

Alright, that’s my list. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to get them all done this summer, but I’m also pretty good at completely failing at these lists, so we’ll see what happens!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Date Nights With Baby

I’ll be honest – Jackson is two months old and Corey and I have yet to go on an actual date since he was born.

Those of you with kids probably understand this. It’s almost impossible to find time to go anywhere without him, and quite frankly we aren’t super interested in leaving him alone with anyone else just yet. We’re hoping to go on a real date at some point this month, but over the past two months we have found other ways to set aside time for one another, and in the process we created a new tradition that we are kind of obsessed with.

Game night.

Corey and I have tried to have weekly at-home date nights for as long as we have been married, but over the last year or so they had kind of fallen off our radar. It wasn’t a big deal because we had plenty of time together, and never really felt like we were missing out. But! When Jackson came along we very quickly realized that we needed to start setting aside some specific time for one another again, and thus game nights were born.

Every Tuesday evening Corey grabs a Papa Murphy’s pizza and we eat that while we play some games. We don’t watch television, we don’t zone out at our computers – we just have some good quality time together. It’s a super fun way for us to connect and it’s way more fun than just watching television like we do most other nights.

We’ve gotten really into board games now, and are always on the lookout for new ones. We’ve learned some really unique games and have been introducing them to people we know so we now have lots of friends that will play with us! I still think that 1:1 dates that actually involve leaving the house are important (and our goal is to have at least one a month, starting this month!) but this is such a perfect way to connect a little more at home, and we’re hoping to keep it a tradition even as Jackson gets older. In a few years we’ll probably be playing Candy Land instead of our current repertoire, but we already get excited thinking about teaching Jackson all of our favorite games and having this as a tradition for the long haul.

How do you stay connected with your significant other when things get crazy?

How We Use Our Home

I was having a conversation with some friends the other day about how everyone uses their home – for example, if you have a dining room and a breakfast nook, do you use them both? Just one? Neither?

I had never really put much thought into the topic before, but the conversation was fascinating and now I am constantly wondering how other people use spaces in their home. I always love a good glimpse into how other people spend their time, so I thought it might be fun to share how we use various spaces in our home.

Let’s start with our eating spaces…I hadn’t thought about it until the previously mentioned conversation, but we actually have quite a few different dining spaces in our home…

The breakfast nook is an area I honestly didn’t think we’d use when we first moved in. We were used to only having one tiny little dining area, so this felt so strange and luxurious to have. In reality, though? We use it on a very regular basis! Corey eats breakfast here pretty much every morning during the work week, and we frequently eat breakfast and/or lunch here together on the weekends. It’s a great spot to sit for a quick meal, and I love the view we have into the backyard.

The formal dining room gets a lot of use as well. We eat almost all of our dinners here (or at least we did before Jackson…things have fallen apart a bit with our new routine, but we’ll get back to it!) and we have guests over pretty often and always eat here when we do. We love our giant table and it’s probably one of our favorite purchases to date.

I also use this table pretty frequently for grad school homework and blogging – it’s a nice, quiet place where I can sit and work, and I  tend to get a lot more done when I’m sitting here. This table is a frequently-used area when either of us have something we need to really focus on.

And finally, we have the kitchen island. We don’t really use this as an eating area very often, but these stools get used on a regular basis! They’re the perfect place for one of us to hang out while the other is cooking, or for guests to sit when they come over and we are finishing up in the kitchen.

It feels a little like overkill to have three separate “dining” areas in our home, but they all get used – just in different ways!

Next, let’s chat about the living areas – we have two: the living room and the garage.

The way we use these two spaces seems to shift pretty frequently. Some weeks we spend all of our television-watching time in the living room, and sometimes we spend a lot more time in the garage. It depends on our mood, the weather (when it’s cold I like to have a fire in the living room!), and what we’re watching (we always watch movies in the garage, but tend to watch more shows in the living room). Corey also plays all of his video games in the garage, and while he’s doing that I’m usually in the living room watching television.

I can easily say that both of these spaces get used on a very regular basis, though, which is awesome because I was worried we would spend a ton of money on the garage and never actually use it. That’s definitely not a concern!

We had a lot of people tell us not to spend a lot of time or effort in finishing the nursery, because we wouldn’t use it.

Um yeah, that has definitely not been the case! We don’t spend a ton of time here during the day (yet – I imagine we will once Jackson is a little older and wants to play in here) but every evening we spend a good chunk of time in here. It’s the perfect place for the whole family to hang out while we’re getting Jack ready for bed, and we’re all in here (dogs included!) for at least an hour or so every evening before bed. Corey will hang out on the rug or work on putting laundry away while I feed Jackson before bed, and those sweet quiet moments before he goes down for the night are some of my favorite of the entire day.

It’s been so interesting to see how our use of the various spaces in our home has evolved since Jackson was born, and I imagine it will only continue to change as he gets older.

How do you use the spaces in your home?

The Official Nursery Reveal Post, and Sources

We’ve talked a lot about the nursery so far as Corey and I have been slowly putting it together over the last several months. You can click here to see all of the posts about the nursery leading up to this…the “big reveal”!

I am officially calling this room complete, and it’s a good feeling – it’s the first room in our house that we’re genuinely able to say we’ve accomplished pretty much everything we want to, and there’s nothing left on my list of things to do in here. It feels a bit silly because our little guy couldn’t care less whether or not his room is “finished” but it makes me happy to know that I can put him in a room that is complete, calm, and relaxing for all of us to be in. Corey and I were just discussing the other day that we’re really happy we got this room done before Jackson was born, because we spend a lot of time in there, and it’s such an enjoyable room to be in now.

You’ve already seen most of what’s been done in this room, but there are a few more updates that I haven’t shared, and I want to have one post with all the details and sources…so here it is! Get ready for a photo overload.

(Note: Just to be clear, Jackson does not usually sleep in the bed like that. He is swaddled, no loose blankets, etc. He was just hanging out while I took photos…so don’t worry – he’s safe!)

When we first started this room, I don’t think I ever would have imagined it would end up here. It has ended up being a little more tranquil and neutral than we originally planned, but I kind of love that there is lots of room for more fun and color in the future as he gets older and the room turns more into a fun place to play and not just a place to sleep.

One thing you haven’t seen yet is that art above the crib. My sister showed the animal prints to me months ago and I fell head over heels in love (they’re by MissBojambo on Etsy) so she gave me a few prints for my shower. I’m OBSESSED with them. They have the perfect amount of quirk and color for the room, and I can’t stop staring at them. I paired them with some prints from PrintableWisdom on Etsy – a cute quote about little boys and my two favorite Bible verses.

Another small detail you haven’t seen yet is our changing pad cover. We’ve had the changing pad on the dresser for months now, but we took forever to decide on a cover for it – good ones are hard to find! We ended up with this one and one other from Aden + Anais, and I’m obsessed with how soft they are. It’s a slightly unnecessary addition to the room, but it makes it look a little cuter and now the pad is super comfy!

I’m still not 100% sold on the styling of the bookcases, but I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t feel like I can ever make bookcases look as nice as I want them to, but I am sure this will be an ever-evolving display as we change it out for new toys, books, and other things for our little guy. We also added some hardware to the doors, because we thought they needed a little extra something. I LOVE the gold detail (it breaks up the sea of white a bit!) and I’m glad we decided to go for it.

Overall I can safely say I’m incredibly proud of how this room turned out, and I could just sit in here for hours and stare at it. I’m excited to see how it changes over the years as J gets a little older and his needs change – I think we’ve got a nice solid base for a lot of fun possibilities!

And now for the sources – please let me know if I’ve left anything off! Note: None of these are affiliate links or sponsors – just what we have! 

- Crib: Jenny Lind
- Crib sheet: Target
- Rug: RugsUSA
- Mobile: WalMart
- Sleep Sheep: Pottery Barn
- Bookcases: Ikea
- Hardware on bookcases: Cool Knobs and Pulls
- Chair: Ikea
- Pouf: Target (no longer available, similar found here)
- Curtains: Nate Berkus for Target
- Bamboo shade: Lowe’s
- Blackout shade: Lowe’s
- Dresser/changing table: Craigslist
- Changing pad: Summer Infant
- Changing pad cover: Aden by Aden + Anais
- Fan: Lowe’s (can’t find online, but it’s Harbor Breeze brand)
- Mirror: Target (found at Goodwill!)
- Art above crib: MissBojambo and PrintableWisdom, via Etsy
- Frames on bookcase: Nate Berkus for Target (no longer available, can find similar here)
- Closet organizer: Target (not sold online)
- Trash can: Target (not sold online, was Threshold brand)

- Paint colors
- Top half of wall: Notre Dame by Valspar
- Bottom half of wall: White base paint, by Valspar
- Ceiling: Bay, by Pantone
- Closet: Deep Green, by Pantone

Keeping the Nursery Organized

Most years right around this time, I like to do what I call the February Organize-A-Thon (see 2013 here and 2012 here). It’s a very effective way to get the house back in order for the new year, and I always have a lot of fun with it.

But, um this year there’s a new addition in our home that puts organizing a bit lot lower on my priority list. But I can’t let the entire month go by and not even MENTION organizing, because I like traditions and hate to break one. So today, we’ll be chatting about the organization in the nursery. It’s a tiny, tiny room so it was quite a challenge figuring out where to put everything – but I think we did a pretty good job getting it all arranged! It’s too soon to tell if this set-up will really work for us, but it’s a good start if nothing else.

Let’s start in the closet.

We’ll work from top to bottom….

The shelf at the top of the closet is currently a bit of a dumping ground for things we don’t need yet. We have an extra stash of diapers (the next size up from what we are currently using) as well as a few random toys and toy containers that we aren’t using yet. It’s not particularly organized at this point, but it keeps this stuff out of the way, so I’m happy.

Then, of course, we have tons of adorable baby clothes. Love. I have some clothing size separators that came with our closet organizing kit (more on that in a second), so that’s what I’m currently using to keep the sizes apart. I haven’t figured out what will work best for us long term in terms of storing clothes (do we keep them all in here? Just the ones he currently fits into? Where will we put them when he outgrows them?) but for now we have everything in here and are going to play it by ear. I’m sure I’ll come up with some sort of a system eventually.

Now we’ve got the heart of the organization in here. We got this closet organizing set from Target (it’s not sold online, but it’s found in their baby section and it’s the most awesome thing ever) and it came with this hanging system, those cloth boxes you see, some velvet hangers, and the clothing size separators. It’s not the prettiest set-up ever but it’s totally functional and I love it. We had originally planned on building some shelving into the closet, but in the end this was much cheaper, and it was temporary which is a perk – the little Monster’s needs are going to be ever-evolving as he gets older, so it seems silly to put something permanent in now.

In the top four cubbies, we have pants, his diaper bag, accessories, and socks/hats. The box on the top left currently holds pants.

As of right now, I just have a few sizes in here (I think these are all of his pants from Newborn-6 months) and I have the larger clothes stored in the bookcases. I tried to fold them in a way where they’re all easy to access and see what our options are, but we’ll see how long this lasts. So far it’s been a good system!

The little basket you saw above holds his “accessories”. There aren’t many accessories that go along with having a boy, but we have a few little bow ties from my baby shower as well as a couple of ties. I’m sure we’ll accumulate a few more things over time, and along with this basket we have his shoes (he currently only has one pair) stored in the cubby hole.

And, in the other storage basket you saw above, we have hats, socks, and white onesies.

I’m obsessed with little baby hats and I am determined that he’ll get great use out of these. Are you seeing how adorable that little bear hat is? I die!

And finally, we have the bottom two cubbies (plus the floor of the closet):

In the left we have our ErgoBaby – it probably won’t really stay here long term, since we’ll mostly use it when we’re out and about, not when we’re at home, but this was a good place to keep it for now. On the right, we’ve got extra sheets and mattress protectors. And in the very bottom is an extra basket that is currently empty. Room to grow!

We’ve also got a little bit of room on either side of the hanging organizer – for now, we have extra shelves for the bookcases on one side and his play mat on the other side. As with everything else, I’m sure this will all evolve as his needs change!

Next up we have the bookcases.

We have quite a bit of covered storage in these guys, which is awesome, but I have to be at least slightly careful about what we store in here because it won’t be too long before he’s able to get into the doors. This is still a work in progress and we’ll probably not land on an official organization system for this part of the room until we actually use it for a few months, but we have a solid start!

We have a bit of stuff hidden in the open part of the shelving – those three brown boxes you see at the top are a perfect storage place for some of his larger clothes (like pants and pajamas he doesn’t fit into yet) – one box is for clothes up to 9 months, and the other is for 9 months and up. Neither of them are very full yet, but we have them ready to slowly fill up over the next months! The third box is a memory box with things like cards from the baby shower and letters Corey and I wrote to him in the weeks before he was born. I can’t wait to watch that box fill up!

Now let’s peek into the closed storage…

This is the far right section of our bookcases. Not much in here for now – the top two shelves are pretty much empty, and the bottom one has been designated as the place we keep all of the hand-made blankets he has. I’m shocked at how many we were given, and I think these will all be special to him! I love that we have some room to grow here – I’m sure this will end up being a place we store toys and things we don’t mind him getting into, as it’s the most easily-accessed section of the bookcases.

This is the middle section, and I’m not in love with how it’s “organized” but I’m waiting to do much to it until I really know how we’ll use it. For now, the top shelf has extra wipes, the middle has a basket with extra hangers for the closet, and the bottom is a bag with lots of extra little toiletries and hygiene products for when we run out of what’s in the changing table. I doubt this will stay like this forever, because I’m sure we’ll need these shelves for other things as we accumulate more baby crap, but it’s a start!

And here we have the last section of the bookcases, the one that sits behind the crib. This is the one that’s the hardest to access and will be used mostly for stuff he doesn’t need yet or that we don’t need to use very often. For now, we’ve got some random stuffed animals on the top shelf (though I’ll probably end up moving those over to the side with the blankets, so he can play with them once he’s a little older). On the middle shelf are two boxes with diapers – they’re size 2 diapers that were made into a diaper cake for one of my showers, and I figure we won’t need them for at least a couple of months (let’s hope), so they’ll stay here until he’s big enough for them. And the bottom shelf just has a couple of random things that should probably find a different home – basically, more room to grow!

As you can see, there’s lots of room left in the bookcases, which is a good thing because the changing table is just about stuffed to the brim. It doesn’t really have a lot of space to add more stuff in the long term (though there is a little!) but hopefully that won’t be a problem – I was surprised at how much organization we were able to get out of this little thing!

Let’s look inside, shall we?

The top drawer of the dresser has been designated as diaper central. I’ve got a stash of diapers (as you saw, we keep the extras in the top of his closet, and just re-fill this as we go), lots of little baby toiletries like baby powder and ointment, and wipes. We’ve also got an extra little bucket in this drawer for the extra stuff that I know will accumulate.

In the second drawer, we’ve got a compartment with burp cloths and a few wash cloths (which may end up getting moved to the bathroom, depending on how we end up using them), one with Gerber cloth diapers (to be used as burp cloths, since I hear they’re the best), trash bags for the diaper pail/trash can, a compartment with various grooming/health products (things like the thermometer, nasal aspirator, nail clippers, etc) and a compartment for pacifiers (we don’t have many, but this was an easy way to keep them centrally located, though I imagine they’ll probably end up all over our house in the long run). There’s also an extra small bucket in this drawer, since I’m sure we’ll need it…more room to grow!

And finally, the bottom drawer of the changing table is devoted to blankets and pajamas. There are three compartments in this one – the one on the far left is for receiving blankets, the middle one is our Aden & Anais swaddle stash, and the final one has his pajamas. There’s also an extra swaddle blanket sitting in front of one of the compartments – it’s one of those fancy ones with velcro and everything (no idea what brand it was – it was gifted to us), so we’ll see if we end up using that or the muslin blankets more.

And that, my friends, is how the nursery is organized (for now). I spent a lot of time throughout my pregnancy thinking of what the best ways to keep everything organized would be, but I’m sure a lot of this will go out the window as we adjust to this crazy new life. If nothing else, I feel like this is a good start and at least Corey and I know where everything is and we can live with it like this for a while until we figure out what really works for us!

What have you been organizing in your home lately? Anyone willing to carry on the Organize-A-Thon tradition since I can’t this year?