Saturday, May 31, 2014

For the Love of Bubbles

There is wonderment that comes with watching a boy and his dog grow together. Joy comes from the simple things, something that I at times forgot before becoming a mother.

This week, Leon and Sawyer have been enjoying the sunny Texas afternoons in the best way possible: with bubbles.

For Leon's first birthday, Papa and Lola sent him an automatic bubble machine.

Needless to say, it has been thoroughly enjoyed by Sawyer as much as Leon

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Ultimate Puzzle Box

Every year, my sisters and I anxiously awaited opening our special puzzle boxes.  Granddad would spend months designing and creating them, revealing his masterpieces to us on Christmas morning.  Throughout the year, he bounced ideas off of Grandmom, his greatest cheerleader and tester.  Carefully, he handmade and assembled each box.  Elm, oak, and cedar, selected from trees on their property, composed each box.  Magnetic apparatuses and trick openings fooled even us seasoned puzzle solvers.

Granddad always seemed to one-up himself year after year.  On December 25th, my sisters and I would compete to see which one of us could get to the hidden enclosed money prize the fastest... winning bragging rights for the rest of the year.  After we started dating, Tony also joined in on the game.  Granddad would get such a kick out of our excitement and struggles with his unique inventions.

Granddad passed away earlier this year.  It saddens me to know there will not be anymore puzzle boxes to add to my collection... that this chapter in my life has come to an end.  The holidays will be a bit less cheery.  This will be the first year he won't be at the Christmas table.  I will miss our competitions, and marveling at Granddad's newest designs.

Last month, Tony and I received a special gift from my grandparents' estate: a set of unique lounge chairs.  They were quite possibly Granddad's favorite possessions.  My mom recounts that Granddad saved up to buy 4 of these Eames Lounge Chairs in the 1950's.  For many years, they were the only furniture filling my grandparents' living room.  Fitting to Granddad, their design was one-of-a-kind: the perfect marriage of comfort and ingenuity. As a kid, I appreciated their unparalleled smooth turning capability as I spun around in them for hours.  And as an adult, I cherish them as a reminder of my special grandparents.

It was quite a process, moving these 80-pound chairs from NY to TX.  Each had to be disassembled, packed into large boxes, shipped across country (thanks, Mom and Dad!!), and later reassembled. Tony and I spent a weekend putting them together.  As we aligned shock mounts, heavy glides, and back stand-offs to wooden and metal frames, we discussed memories of my grandparents.  Tony and I recalled many college weekends, traveling to Binghamton to share good food and conversation with Grandmom and Granddad in these chairs.  We remembered Christmases.

After many hours, with the rust-red leather cleaned and the aged wood oiled, we finally sat down in our comfy new additions.

And, Tony remarked: It would only be fitting that your Granddad's final gift to us would be the ultimate puzzle box.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome to the 70's?

When I lived in Buffalo, my friend Heather introduced me to HGTV.  At the time, I didn't appreciate how potentially addictive this channel can be.  During my maternity leave, HGTV provided a backdrop to the sizable amount of time I spent on the couch feeding Leon.  Decorating isn't something that really comes easily for me, but I would like to think that I am a work in progress.  I've tried to apply a little of what I have learned to my house.

Through my "decorating studies," I discovered my style actually has a name... "rustic chic."

Using the tricks of the trade, I enjoyed hunting for bargains online, at flea markets, and local shops.  But, I won't lie... a couple of the purchases were a total bust... for instance, the 70% off throw rug that I had to send back after it didn't quite come as pictured below.

The advertised "tera brown" color scheme arrived looking more like the 1970's had puked all over it... complete with lime green accents against a convict-orange back drop.

However, I would like to think at least a couple decorating wins can be found in the mix (if you can ignore the smattering of baby toys).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Battle for Sleep

There are certain fears shared between most expecting parents.  Common favorites include apocolypse-rivalring diaper blow-outs, projectile spit-ups, and fussy eaters.  However, quite possibly the most dreaded... 

... the sleepless baby.

Leon has many great qualities.  He is a generally happy, healthy, and mild-tempered baby.  In many ways, we have been incredibly blessed.  However, when it comes to sleep...

...there is much to be desired.

Leon has yet to sleep through the night. We have been waging (and losing) the Battle for Sleep since day 1.  The moment we think we are making some strides on the sleep front, Leon throws us a curve ball.

Over his first month, he declared a sleep strike on every proposed option.  He rejected his crib, pack and play, and finally bassinet.  No amount of swaddling, rocking, or soothing could convince this child that these were places of rest.  He had no problem loudly announcing his disapproval to the entire neighborhood.

Although there has been much improvement since then, Leon still will not go more than a 3-4 hour stretch without waking up.  A horde of helpers have gotten involved to offer possible theories about his sleep resistance. Offered theories include room temperature, fan speed, diaper size, security object, room location, noises... alignment of the stars.  But, when it comes down to it...

... my son just likes to eat more than sleep.

We have discovered 2 saving graces to fight the food vs sleep battle, hoping to lull Leon into believing shut-eye is better than (multiple) midnight snacks:

(1) The Swing: Although Leon still will wake up every few hours, he loves his swing.  Daily naps have been much improved.  This child loves motion... maybe because it distracts him from his emptying belly

(2) The Taco:

My friend, Cassie, introduced me to this wonder.  Fisher Price's Rock and Play sleeper.  It is shaped similarly to his swing, giving him that swaddled feeling. Like a taco, it easily folds up.  We have brought this everywhere with us, particularly when visiting friends, as our go-to portable sleeper.  We have kept this in our room, where he has at least somewhat maintained the same sleeping schedule. Again, although not sleeping through the night his schedule looks more like this...

Sleep at 8PM with awakenings at 10PM, 12AM, 3AM, and 5AM


Sleep at 8PM with awakenings at 9PM, 9:30PM, 10PM, 10:15PM, 10:30PM, 11:30PM, 11:45PM, 12AM, 12:15AM, 12:45AM, 1AM, 1:30AM, 2:30AM, 2:45AM, 3AM, 3:15AM, 3:45AM, 4AM, 4:30AM, 5AM

Literally, these have been our two saving graces in the fog of the battle for sleep.

However, this week, the game has again changed...

... and we have an escape artist on our hands.

This weekend marked our transition to the crib, which somehow has been going better for the first time around.  Fewer tears (from mommy as well as Leon).  And, I am getting the funny feeling that he may even be starting to like the crib.

Although the nightly awakenings haven't changed much yet, I think (fingers crossed) the tides may be turning.  For now, the score is Mommy 0.5 vs Leon 137.5


When we started looking for our new house, move-in ready was a must.  And, as much as I would like to blame it all on the baby... the reality is: I just hate renovations.

I do, however, really admire the people who have the special remodeling touch… those that can see a run-down room and on their own transform it into something extraordinary. My sister, Liz, introduced me to Young House Love (, a blog about a young family that remodels homes from top to bottom.  However, I am a realist and recognize… I am not one of those people.  To me, even small projects are cause for distress.  At our first home, Tony and I spent an entire afternoon trying to change the faucet on our kitchen sink.  We managed to misread the directions three times, and temporarily mismatch the hot and cold-water dispensers.  Our excursion with changing out the doorknob on the front door wasn’t much better… we placed the handle on backwards causing repeated episodes of grazed knuckles before figuring it out sometime later.  

For our new house, the list for must-have renovations was thankfully short:
(1) Update the Kitchen
(2) Paint Leon's room.

For the kitchen, we love the open concept design.  However, the 1990’s, cracking, sky-blue linoleum counters and dated back-splash needed some adjustments.

With the help of a contractor, this renovation project went more smoothly than our previous encounters.   We enjoyed making the design choices and seeing how it all came together.  Keeping the cabinets, we chose new granite counters and stone backsplash.  We were pretty satisfied by the end result... for once, a renovation we actually enjoyed.

For Leon's room, we chose to update the room that (fondly) became known as... the Vampire Lair.  You can see why it earned its name.

Although the trim is not perfect, we transformed the blood red walls into a pleasant elephant gray color.

Although Leon hasn't been spending a whole lot of time in there yet, we think he will enjoy the change once he finally makes the transition out of mommy and daddy's room.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when a house transforms into a home.  Somehow, over time it becomes something more than its collective furniture enclosed by brick walls.  It has to do with the the little things... finding that perfect, cozy reading spot... the moment you discover you finally can find the bathroom in darkness because you know the path by heart... the feeling you get when you walk through the front door and realize... this is home.

Tony and I have enjoyed placing our own personal touches on our house to make it into our own.  It has come a long way from the mardi-gras-themed decor we saw on our initial walk-through.  We shared the transformation process with parents and siblings, as visitors came throughout the summer.  Kit joined us in August, and I love that we live under the same roof again.  I look around and see reminders of our growing son, movie nights, lazy weekend mornings, winning (and failed) cooking attempts, decorating experiments, investigation spots for an energetic puppy.  And, I realize that somewhere over the course of the last 4 months, this house has become a home.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Meet Sawyer!

Four months after the passing of our dear Butters, we welcomed a new member to the family.  Meet Sawyer!  While raising 2 teething babies has been a challenge over the last month, I cannot imagine my home without this little guy.  

Sawyer certainly has been living up to his name.  He is a (not so) wonderfully creative trouble maker, constantly finding innovative ways to surprise us. I don't think my underwear, socks, or shoes will ever be safe again. Tony and I have placed a set of doggie stairs up to our couch, and Sawyer loves sharing his "prizes" with us after galloping around the living room showing them off. Our previous cavalier, Butters, was never much of a retriever. However, Sawyer is quite the natural. We have been trying to curb his chewing habits with plenty of cow hooves, stuffed animals, and Himalayan chews... the Nylabones and bully sticks (our previous go-to chews) really didn't do much hold his attention. As our vet says, "He certainly is the most enthusiastic cavalier I have ever met." I am pretty sure that is code for... he is absolutely crazy. However, after seeing our Butters so sick, I can say it is a welcomed blessing to see such an energetic little guy. We have been enjoying plenty of walks, with Leon in the stroller and Sawyer trotting by his side.

We have been working on the training basics including sitting and staying, soft mouth, and appropriate manners around Leon... particularly NO JUMPING! It has been going slowly but surely.  After being used to a well-behaved and calm dog, it has been a bit of a culture shock.  We had some concerns with Sawyer teething on Leon when he first arrived; but, Sawyer has been learning quickly. We now can trust the two together, of course with supervision. I am sure in a few months we will be having the reverse problem: teaching Leon how to be gentle around little Sawyer. For now, we are enjoying just watching the two entertain one another.  

... and, during the fleeting moments that Sawyer has fully expended his puppy energy, I can't help but admire how absolutely adorable he is