Category Archives: life

The kid still loves water

In the vein of letting everyone know that I don’t feel the need to DIY everything, I thought I’d share a recent purchase I made for Dakota. A water table:

Water Table 1

I’ve been outside a lot the last few days trying to finish up the chicken coop, and we’ll probably be outside a lot this year in general. It’s tough trying to keep Dakota occupied and in the shade while wrestling with power tools and lumber and screws an such. And I still had a gift card from xmas burning a hole in my pocket. I crossed my fingers that Dakota would like this thing, and oh boy she sure does!

Water Table 2

In fact she was quite annoyed at me when I took her inside when it got a bit windy and cold yesterday evening. This morning she was at it again pretty much as soon as we went outside.

Water Table 3

I showed her how to put the balls in the top so that they roll down the spiral. And once she mastered it herself… endless entertainment.

Water Table 4

Now if you come anywhere near her while she’s playing with it she’ll offer you a ball to drop into the top.

Water Table 5

The table is just high enough that I can fit my watering can underneath the drain and fill it to water my garden. Win win.

Unfortunately, this has made her all the more determined to play with the toilet water while she’s inside. Needless to say we’re being pretty vigilant about keeping theย  bathroom doors closed. ๐Ÿ˜›

P.S. in case you do want to DIY a water table, here are some plans.


House Plants, First Attempt

I only have one official resolution for 2014 (eat more salads), but I do have various other goals that have been percolating for a while and that I feel motivated to work on since it’s the new year and all. One of those goals was to acquire some air purifying house plants and actually attempt to keep them alive. I think I first saw a list of good plants for indoor air quality on Pinterest, but you can just search “nasa house plants” (apparently NASA did a study) for pages upon pages of pretty much the exact same info. Here‘s Wikipedia’s contribution.

To kick things off, Dave picked up a spider plant for me a few months ago when he was at the hardware store. It sat on the dining room table for a few days since I couldn’t figure out where to hang it, but then Pollux (our cat who likes to attempt to eat plastic, among other strange things) kept nibbling at it. Spider plants aren’t toxic, but a little googling turned up some reputable sources saying that spider plants can have a similar effect to catnip on cats. Since my goal is to improve our indoor air quality and not have hallucinating cats, we hung the thing off the end of our pot rack, since we still didn’t have a permanent location picked out.

There it stayed, and I attempted to water it, but it just kept getting more and more bedraggled, until finally it ended up looking like this:

ย  Sad spider plant

Sigh. Anyway, we decided to take a do-over, so over the weekend we picked up two new plants. Another spider plant:

New spider plant

And a devil’s ivy/golden pothos:

Devil's Ivy

This one is toxic if eaten, so I’m going to keep a close eye on it and if it starts dropping leaves it’ll be kicked to the curb right away.

We’re sticking to hanging plants at the moment, and you can see in the pictures that we did manage to settle on some permanent locations where they can hang. I hope to expand to some floor plants eventually, but for now pots full of dirt would just be instant baby-magnets. I think I could maybe make room for a palm in the cat room though, since Dakota doesn’t get to go in there anyway. Peace lilies are supposed to be good in bathrooms and gerbera daisies are supposed to be good for bedrooms, so maybe I could mount some sort of small shelves in those spaces to get them off the ground and out of the reach of small children?

I’m not good at keeping plants alive, (I even managed to kill an aloe plant!) but these smaller ones at least aren’t too expensive, so it’s not the end of the world if I have to occasionally replace them.

Oh, and since my dad will complain if I don’t include a picture of Dakota, here you go, with the house plant tie-in, even:

Dakota drumming

Belated Holiday Decorations

Well, the holidays are wrapping up and in all the excitement I didn’t get around to posting the pictures of our decorations. So here are a few belated holiday sparkles for you.

Things weren’t very different from last year… Here’s our patio penguin still being slightly creepy:

Front Door

We did manage to procure and decorate a door wreath, so that’s nice and all:


The stockings were hung from our nonexistent mantle:


This picture was before I finished knitting Dakota’s stocking. It doesn’t match the other stockings at all, so it’s probably just as well. I did hang it up at the grandparents’:

Knit stocking

Back to MY house though, this year I grabbed a pack of sparkly snowflakes from the craft store and taped them up haphazardly all over the house, which you can see in the many-stockinged picture above, as well as the next picture below.

Carrying our advent calendar theme into the kitchen, we strung up some more twine so we could display the holiday cards we got with clothespins. I’m thinking this might actually stay up year round… We’ll see. I like keeping the front of the fridge clear of clutter, so this acts as a substitute for fridge-worthy items.

Card holders

This was actually before I put the bulk of the cards up, it’s quite full now.

And as I was taking these pictures (two weeks ago now, sigh) Dakota was just figuring out how to pull up on things, so here she is demonstrating:

Dakota Standing

Happy holidays!


Coming Soon…

I’m setting a goal for myself to produce two blog posts per week from now until the end of the year. I’ve jotted down some ideas and I think it should be totally doable, I just need to commit to it. Some of the potential posts should be pretty easy… Like for instance this post totally counts as one of the two for this week. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I don’t just want to post cute pictures of Dakota all the time, (too easy!) so I need to get cracking on some of these projects I’ve been talking about but never actually doing.

Since Dakota is almost crawling we need to get a lot of things picked up and stored away, so I really need to get moving on some of the built-in storage I’ve been planning… At the top of the list is a bench for the foot of our bed, because the bed frame down there actually has some exposed wood that probably wouldn’t be considered baby safe.

foot of the bed

We currently have an old ottoman stuffed halfway under there because Loki needs the help so he can get up on the bed. We’ll make sure the bench is low enough for him to jump onto. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re also planning a built-in banquette for the corner behind the dining table, it’s the only way to fit seating all the way around our table, and I refuse to downgrade to a smaller table. And since it’ll be there anyway, the banquette will have some hidden storage too.

dining table space

The banquette would provide seating under the window and also on the back wall.

The other thing I’ve been contemplating is some sort of storage under the window in the living room. I know the room is a bit small to begin with, but under the window is kind of a dead space right now that just accumulates extra blankets and PS3 controllers and such, so maybe a narrow hinge-top bench that fits between the couch and the wall and runs under the window? I could almost just re-use the plans for the foot-of-the-bed bench!

under the window

So what are the chances I can get any of these projects done by the end of the year? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dakota: Six Months Old

So Dakota has mastered rolling both ways finally, but luckily she was in a very chill mood during today’s photo shoot and was content to lie there and stare bemusedly at the camera. She’s still not quite crawling, but she’s started to scoot backward on her belly (which generally moves her farther away from her object of interest) so crawling is probably right around the corner.

Here’s the picture!

six months

And previous months:

five months

four months

three months

two months

one month

re-posting this many past photos is getting a little silly… I guess maybe moving forward I’ll just post the most recent 6 months’ worth of photos? Or maybe I’ll only include even photos on the even months and odd photos on the odd months? Decisions, decisions.ย  Anyway, the legwarmers this month are actually themed for once, since I thought the football legwarmers were super cute but it would be weird to use them before football season started.

Maybe at some point I’ll do a collage of all the pictures with the fire lizard/belly sticker all the same size, so her growth is more obvious. I made a deliberate decision to not try to do that separately for each photo though, because I knew it would drive me bonkers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dakota: Five Months Old

Dakota has mastered unassisted sitting this month, but she can’t get into a seated position by herself yet, and she’s not too eager to roll onto her stomach since she gets stuck there. So it’s still fairly easy to get a picture of her lying on her back and looking up at the camera. We’ll see how things progress… in a few months I may have to change our setup if she won’t stay on her back long enough to get a picture. I finally got a full smile out of her this month (and it’s in focus!) but for some reason her eyes look a little cross-eyed. I promise she doesn’t look cross-eyed in person. ๐Ÿ™‚ And there are dinosaurs on the leg warmers, in case you couldn’t tell.

five monthsIt seems a little silly to include the pictures from previous months since I haven’t blogged at all since last month’s photo shoot, but too bad, I’m doing it anyway.

four months

three months

two months

one month

The leg warmers from month 3 are still my favorite, and she gets complimented on them all the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dakota: Four Months Old

I love this month’s photo. I think it captures the essence of Dakota right now just perfectly. “What’s that on your face? Can I grab it please?” (“Oh it’s your nose. Is it firmly attached? Oh, it is. How about your ear?”)

four months

Past months:

three months

two months

one month

For some reason I still can’t get her laughing smile in these pictures. Probably she still thinks the SLR is a bit weird. Ah well, her smirk is still quite nice. It’s getting more exciting to try and get a staged picture in general as she gets more active. Here are a few other shots from today…

“What are these wiggling things on the end of my feet?”

4 months... toes

“Does this fit in my mouth?”

4 months... omnomShe’s a laughing, wriggling, flailing, BIG (seriously, I’m pretty sure she’s crept past 20 pounds in the past few days) baby, and I’m enjoying being her mom immensely. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dakota: Three Months Old

I would say something cliche about how quickly the time flies, but really, it’s felt like about three months. ๐Ÿ™‚ Dakota continues to be very big for her age, which leads to awkward conversations with other new moms… Everyone comments on how big she is, but almost everything I say in response makes it sound like I’m bragging, even though I don’t really even see it as something to brag about? Now I mostly just stick with “it’s genetic” and leave it at that. Ah well, on to the picture!

three months

And the first two months:

two months

one month

We probably could have teased a big smile out of her if we had wanted to, but she was super chill and relaxed, so we just went with it. In fact, she fell asleep while we were putting the camera stuff away:

sleepy time

And I finally remembered to get a “behind the scenes” shot, not that there’s too much to see:

photo shoot

This month we opened the front door to add just a bit more ambient light. I think it helped!


Dakota: Two Months Old

I managed to keep up with my master plan and stage Dakota’s monthly photo shoot on schedule, despite several minor photography-related crises. First, one of the light bulbs on my lighting tripod do-hickeys died. Or possibly there’s a loose connection in the base, but regardless, I was down to just one tripod. The ambient light coming through the windows was pretty good though, so I used the remaining tripod mostly to try to minimize the shadows cast by the windows.

Then, the battery died on the DSLR after about 4 pictures! Sigh. And of course we don’t have a backup battery. Dakota was in a good mood though, so I snapped approximately a gazillion shots with my iPhone. She kept kicking her legs which led to lots of blurry pics, and when she scrunched her legs up the iPhone had some trouble focusing on the right spot, but I went with the “quantity over quality” philosophy and ended up with a few decent pictures. Here’s the final official one:

two months

And to refresh your memory, here’s last month:

one month

That’s the same onesie, by the way. I think we’ll be moving to a bigger one next month. I suppose if I want to eventually make a photo book or something I’ll have to figure out how to get these to be the same color… temperature? (Hope that’s the right word… I really need to read a book or take a class on this or something) I tried just the simple “white balance” function in my photo editing software, but that clearly didn’t cut it. But I have the originals and there’s no rush right now anyway. Ah the power of post-processing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dakota kept finding the belly sticker and pulling at it with her hands, so next month may be an adventure in keeping her from destroying the sticker. I always have the backup plan of photoshopping a sticker onto her belly, but that just means even more work. Still, this continues to be fun, so I’ll try to keep it going!

Oh yeah, and Dakota is doing great and is an awesome two month old. I still feel like a clueless new mom, but Dakota doesn’t seem to mind my confused fumbling around too much, so we’re doing just fine.

State of the House, State of the Blog

I want to blog more consistently, because I was really enjoying it when I was trying to stick to a schedule and come up with stuff to write about. But it can be tough… even ignoring the occasional self-conscious feeling of sharing random stuff about my life with the internet, I like having picture-heavy posts, and the house has been a constant mess that I didn’t feel was really picture-worthy. So in the interest of starting to blog more again, I’ve decided to embrace the mess and not worry so much about having each shot be “camera ready”. I’m also going to try talking a bit more about random happenings in my life. For a while this blog was mostly about our (generally amusing) attempts at figuring out this whole home ownership thing, and I’m never sure how much other stuff about my life I’m comfortable publishing on the internet… So I will be trying stuff out to see what works for me. Hopefully no one reading this will be permanently scarred.

So with that in mind, here’s a quick tour of the living room as it generally looks these days. Here’s the couch:

Messy couch

The fitness ball was super useful in the first few weeks after Dakota was born. One of us would sit on it and bounce with Dakota and it would get her to stop crying and go to sleep fairly consistently. It’s a bit hard on the back muscles, but we could watch TV or even read stuff on our iPhones, which made it vastly preferable to pacing in circles to try and settle her. Now that she’s a bit older it doesn’t always work, and we’re discovering different ways to settle her, so the ball may not be dominating the middle of the room for much longer.

The storage ottoman is a new addition; I haven’t even decided what we’ll be storing in it yet. The lap tray (sitting on the couch in the picture) works pretty well as a temporaryย  tabletop for the ottoman. The dog toys on the floor are the ones that Loki keeps pulling out to try and entice us to play with him more often. Poor dog. The laundry basket is pretty much a cliche for new parents… clean laundry waiting to be folded… someday… And it’s hard to see, but there are a bunch of reusable grocery bags hanging on the front door knob. And even when I put them there I STILL forget to take them half the time when I go shopping. Sigh.

Here’s the other side of the room:

Messy living room

The recliner is the main nursing station. It’s kind of out in the middle of everything, but too bad, it’s a small house. That recliner is just amazing… I got in in high school, and it traveled to college with me and then across the country when I moved to California. It’s the comfiest thing ever and still looks great. Thanks mom. ๐Ÿ™‚ The media center under the TV is a mess and I’m slowly brainstorming how the heck to baby-proof that thing. Ikea sells little cabinet doors that fit in the openings of this unit, so that may be the best option…

The brightly-colored play mat on the floor is on loan from a neighbor. I have to say, every time I see one of these things I think that they’re hideously ugly and way too busy/overstimulating… but darned if Dakota doesn’t love this guy, even without knowing how to reach and grab at things yet. Evidence:

Play mat fun

The thing she’s staring at on the top has a cartoon zebra and two lights that slowly blink red and yellow. She stares at it and grins like a maniac. Dave thinks this sort of setup is just early training for having kids stare at the TV all day, and it does feel a little like she’s staring at a TV screen… Sigh. And she’s just barely starting to bat at the dangling toys with her arms… mostly by accident I think. But really she’s probably just a week or two away from being able to deliberately bat at things. and I’m sure grabbing will soon follow. gulp.

Last but not least, over next to the arm chair is the “baby command center”:

Pack and Play

This particular playard has a bassinet attachment that can be flipped one-handed to switch to a changing pad. So in the middle of the picture we have adorable sleeping baby in the bassinet. To the left in the raised bed of the playard there are all of her “new school” cloth diapers… pockets, “all-in-ones”, and a few fitteds and covers. There are also a bunch of random toys that she’s still not quite ready for. To the right in the bin with the green dragon there are the prefold diapers, which we mostly use as changing pads at this point. That bin also has a bunch of cloth wipes, which get used in conjunction with the blue spray bottle full of water. There’s also a small supply of disposable diapers, which we’re currently putting on her at night time.

I’ve already changed this configuration several times now, and it’ll probably have to change again pretty soon. I’m not sure how much longer she’ll fit in the bassinet/changing table because she’s so very long for her age. We’re still debating what to use as a changing station once this no longer works, so, you know, stay tuned for updates or something… ๐Ÿ™‚