Wednesday, July 30, 2014

But She Doesn’t Like Carrot-Mango Baby Food

While Kate was here, she taught me a few photography tricks.  I decided to try one out after she left.  I stuck Evelyn in a doorway and stepped outside on the deck in the sun to snap a few shots of her.  Of course Trenton wanted to be in the pictures too.

Trenton sat down and put his legs around Evelyn.  I put my camera up to my eye, and as I looked through the viewfinder this is what I saw.


Apparently dirty old socks taste better than carrot-mango baby food in her book.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reunited And It Feels So Good

Soon after we told Trenton and Charlotte that we would be moving to Pennsylvania, Trenton wanted to find our soon to be home on a map.  I showed him where Pennsylvania was, and he immediately exclaimed, “Look Mommy!  Pennsylvania is right next to Virginia!  And that’s where Cullen is!  We’ll be right next to Cullen!”

So as soon as we got here, Trenton and Charlotte wanted to know when we could see our Monterey friends again.  Luckily Kate and I were on top of things.  We had been in our house less than a week, and we already had a trip set up.

Kate, Cullen, Bennett, and Baby Wells (who we were getting to meet for the first time!) came over Sunday afternoon and stayed until mid-morning today.

The kids were so excited to see each other again.

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And so were the moms!  It was really nice to have some girl talk time and wine with a good friend.

Monday we ventured out to Chocolate World in Hershey.  

(I forgot my phone in the car, and didn’t have my camera on me.  Thanks for sending me this one, Kate!) 

Good gosh – the place was a mad house!  We grabbed lunch and then got in line for our tour.  We were all surprised that it was a ride.  The kids all loved learning how chocolate was made.  Since it was so crowded we decided to come back to the house after our ride/tour.

The kids didn’t mind that at all.  Since Hershey had done such a wonderful job teaching them how chocolate was made, they decided to make their own chocolate milk in the backyard – with water, mud, and a little grass.  Yum!  (Once again, I didn’t have my camera outside with us.  Thankfully Kate did, and I’m sure she got some wonderful shots.)

Monday night, despite some light rain, Jarrod pitched a tent in the back yard.  The big kids all went out there with him, roasted marshmallows, and told stories.  No one actually slept outside, but they all had fun.


We were all sad to see Kate, Cullen, Bennett, and Wells leave today.  Thankfully it’s only a two hour drive between our houses, so we’ll be able to get together again.


And maybe next time, I’ll actually take my camera out more than once!


Click HERE to see Kate’s post (with plenty of cute pictures) about their visit to PA.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Milk Paint Roll Top Desk

I am so seriously in love with this piece, y’all.

Refinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk PaintRefinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk Paint

I’m not going to lie though; getting it to look like this was no easy task.

The weekend before our packers came in Monterey, I came across a roll top desk on a facebook “for sale” page.  The girl said that she was open to offers, so I messaged her and asked if she would take $30.  She said yes, and I sent Jarrod to pick it up (the pick up process was a pain in the butt, but I’ll skip over that).


The desk was scratched, had initials carved into it, had permanent marker stains, and was pretty beat up cosmetically.  But structurally it was fairly sound, and I knew I could make it look good.

Or at least Pinterest convinced me that I could…

On our drive from Monterey to Pennsylvania, I found the perfect inspiration for my “new” desk. 

My plan was to stain the writing surface and to use milk paint and then a glaze on the rest of the desk.  I had never refinished furniture (or anything for that matter), but all of the blogs I’ve read about refinishing made it sound easy cheesy wheezy!

We got to Pennsylvania, got our house pretty much unpacked, and I decided to get started on refinishing the desk.

Fifteen minutes into sanding the writing surface down, I was on my phone researching palm sanders and then on my way to Lowe’s to buy one.

Once I finished sanding and cleaning the writing surface off, I got ready to mix up my paint/stain.  Rustoleum’s Kona Brown diluted with water.  I opened up the paint can, and was surprised by what I found.  Kona Brown wasn’t very brown.  It was more like California Raisin purple!  I hoped that mixing it with water would make it look less purple, but it was still pretty purple-ish.  Thankfully when I brushed it onto the wood and then wiped it back, it lost some of it’s purple-ish-ness.  I did two coats of the stain, a coat of poly (Minwax Water Based Polycrylic) over the top, and was happy with the results.

The next step was milk paint.  I used Old Fashion Milk Paint in Sea Green.  Milk Paint comes in powder form and is mixed with water.  The blog that I was using as inspiration suggested using warm water to help lessen the number of lumps in the paint.  I used warm water and mixed the heck out of that paint, but I still had little lumps (more on that in a bit).

Painting this desk was a thorn in my side.  And an ache in my back.  Literally.  To get into all of those little nooks and crannies, I had to lay on the ground and become some sort of contortionist.  I began to wonder why in the world I had picked a roll top desk as my first refinishing project.

Refinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk Paint

Once I finished painting on the milk paint, I took sandpaper to the whole desk (other than the stained part).  With milk paint, some flakes off really easy, and then everything else stays.  You never know where it’s going to flake though.  I found this to be true as I had a huge spot flake off on the top of the desk.  I’ll be finding something to sit on part of that spot!

Refinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk PaintRefinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk Paint

Once I cleaned off the dust from sanding, I pulled out the glaze that was supposed to go over the milk paint.  I put it on a section, wiped it back, and didn’t really like what I saw.  I called my mom out in the garage (my mom was totally awesome taking care of the kids while I worked on the desk), and she didn’t really like it either.  We tried a few other things, but didn’t like them either.

Back to Pinterest I went.  I came across some blogs that mentioned using wax over milk paint.  My mom said that she had used wax to finish wood crafts before, so I kept reading.  And then I made another trip to Lowe’s.

I came back with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural.  I tinted the wax myself with some Burnt Umber acrylic paint.  We tried it out on the back of the desk, and it was totally the look was I going for.  After A LOT of waxing on and off (I seriously felt like the karate kid), my desk was finished!

Refinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk Paint

I am so happy with way it turned out!  I peek into our den a few times a day just to see it.  Even though it was a total pain in the butt to do, it was worth it.

Refinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk PaintRefinishing a Roll Top Desk with Milk Paint

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Time Family Fun

This was my mom’s last weekend here in Pennsylvania with us, so we decided to make the most of it.

Friday afternoon after swim lessons, we picked Jarrod up from work and drove out to Hershey to visit Hershey Park.

We were excited about riding rides – even Evelyn!

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Mom gets motion sick and couldn’t ride any of the rides, but she was the fun slide champ!  Unfortunately there were trees around the slide, so I wasn’t able to snap any pictures.

Charlotte has been a roller coaster lover ever since we visited Legoland a year and a half ago.  When we got in line to ride our first coaster of the day – Trailblazer – she was so excited that she wanted to sit in the front row.  Trenton wasn’t as enthusiastic about riding a roller coaster.  But by the time the ride ended, he’d decided that he was a roller coaster fan!

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We rode Trailblazer two more times during our time in the park, and the new kiddie coaster – Cocoa Cruiser – once.  Since Trenton is taller than Charlotte, he can ride some of the bigger coasters.  This is the one he chose.


He said that it wasn’t his favorite…

A trip to Hershey wouldn’t be complete without chocolate.  There was so much to choose from.  We chose the deep fried heart attack kit kat.  It was good but REALLY sweet.

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Saturday was spent around the house most of the day.  But we had a surprise for the kids after dinner.

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I found this drive-in movie theater a few weeks ago when I was going to pick up a prescription for Charlotte and thought it looked like a fun place to go.  So when I saw that Planes: Fire & Rescue (such a cute movie – I give it a solid two thumbs up!) was playing this weekend, we put a trip to see it on our agenda.

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(They look like they’re sleeping, but they are watching intently.)

This one, on the other hand, really was sleeping.

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She did wake up about 3/4 of the way through the movie.  I wanted to document her first trip to the movies, but she wasn’t a fan of the camera flash!

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The drive-in was a good place to see a movie with kids in tow.  Trenton and Charlotte normally have a ton of questions during movies, and at the drive-in, they could ask away without bothering other people.

Today we went to church, had a cookout with relatives that live in the area, and I finished a project I’d been working on most of the week (more on that later this week!).  We’ll be sad to see Mimi go back to Texas this week, but we had a great weekend with her!

Friday, July 11, 2014


We found out last summer that Jarrod had been selected to promote to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Navy promotions get spread throughout the fiscal year, with most of them happening toward the end of the fiscal year.  We thought that Jarrod was scheduled to promote next month, but when he checked in to his new command here in Pennsylvania and was working through paperwork with the command, they found out that this was his promotion month!

So Jarrod called me and told me that his promotion ceremony would take place the following afternoon!

I haven’t been able to take part in one of Jarrod’s promotion ceremonies yet.  His first was VERY short notice – as in just a couple hours – and I was already at school to substitute teach that day, and the second was while he was at sea.

So I felt extremely fortunate to be able to take part in this one.


I think someone else was excited pretty excited about having a part in the ceremony too.


And very proud of his daddy.


We are all very proud of Jarrod.


Congratulations, honey!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Watch Me Grow: Happy Half Year!

Someone celebrated her half year birthday today!


I can’t believe that this cute little ball of personality has been with us for six months already!

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Evelyn is such a great baby.  Pretty much the whole month was spent packing, moving, and unpacking, and Evelyn was a trouper through all of it.  She is a go with the flow baby and likes everyone.  She will let pretty much anyone hold her, and she loves dishing out smiles to her new friends.

Evelyn’s laughs have become much more frequent, and Trenton and Charlotte are definitely best at making her laugh.  She also thinks that sneezes are pretty funny.

We are still giving Evelyn the special formula and reflux meds, but her spitting up has gotten so much better.

Evelyn went about a week without taking a middle of the night bottle.  I thought we were inching closer to sleeping through the night, but then Evelyn managed to catch a cold.  Pair that with teething, and schedules have flown out the window.  Both sleeping and eating. 

We have a sitter on our hands too.  She’s not totally steady yet, but has gotten up to about a minute of sitting without toppling over.

Weight: About 16 pounds
Height: We meet with the pediatrician next week, so we’ll get this then
Drinking: 5 ounces of formula every 4-ish hours
Solids: Rice cereal, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and green beans
Teeth: None
Sleeping: Normally up once a night around 2:30
Naps: With all of the changes that we’ve had the past month, Evelyn is not really on a nap schedule.  Sometimes she’ll go down for a morning nap and sometimes she won’t.  Sometimes she takes a long afternoon nap, sometimes she takes a short one, and sometimes she totally skips it.  I’m hoping we can get back on a schedule soon.
Clothing Size: Evelyn has grown so much in the last month.  She’s already outgrown a few of her 3-6 month clothes!  She still fits into all of her 6 month clothes.
Diapers: Huggies Little Snugglers size 2
Shoe Size: Still going barefoot…

First time sitting up without support:
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First time in a pool:
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First 4th of July:

First time out for a run:
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Yes, I took all three kids with me.  The big two ran along while Evelyn rode in the stroller.

Six months down, and only six months left to plan a first birthday party.  Good thing I have Charlotte to help me out.  She’s decided that she wants to be a professional party planner!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Surviving a Cross-Country Drive with Kids

We managed to drive from California to Pennsylvania with three kids and a dog without losing our sanity!

Surviving a Cross-Country Roadtrip

In all honesty, the drive itself wasn’t bad at all.

I thought I’d share a few things that helped us along the way.

New things keep the kids busy in the car.  After good days on the road, Trenton and Charlotte got “surprises” to use in the car the following day.  Their surprises were things like puzzles, stickers, puzzle books, and workbooks.  Also, before our trip, I went on eBay and bought Trenton and Charlotte each a couple games for their Nintendo DS’s and books for their LeapReaders that I used as surprises.

Nip car sickness in the bud.  Charlotte started complaining of “forehead aches” our first day on the road before we even got out of California.  Her DS and LeapReader were making her carsick.  I made her put them away for the rest of the day, and the next morning I walked across the street from our hotel to make a visit to CVS.  I bought Sea-Bands and Bonine.  She wore the Sea-Bands each day in the car and also got half a Bonine each morning (CVS only had the adult version of Bonine, so that’s why I had to split them in half).  These worked wonderfully, and Charlotte didn’t complain of “forehead aches” again.

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Talk to locals.  Jarrod met a couple in a laundromat in West Yellowstone, Montana that told him about a route – Alt 14 - through Wyoming that went through the mountains and was only open during the summer months.  We took the route – along with the roads that took us from the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone to Alt 14 - , and boy are we glad that we did.  It was one of the most gorgeous drives I’ve ever been on!


Get out of the car.  It’s always nice to get out of a cramped car to stretch your legs and learn about a new area.


It’s also a nice change to run around in the snow on a nice summer day! 

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Get off the interstate.  Jarrod and I saw a show about Devil’s Tower National Monument a week or so before our move.  When we looked at the map, it wasn’t that far off our route, so we decided to get off the interstate to check it out.  Trenton and Charlotte were equally interested in the actual way that the formation came about (volcanic activity) and the Indian legend as to how the formation came about (Seven Indian girls were being chased by a bear, climbed on a rock, prayed that the rock would save them, and the rock grew.  The bear clawed at the rock (leaving claw marks), but the rock kept growing until the girls were pushed all the way up into the sky where they still are today – a group of stars known as the Pleiades.)


If you’re in South Dakota, stay here!  We got into Rapid City, South Dakota around 2:00 in the afternoon.  We called the hotel we had made reservations at (Best Western), and asked if we could check in early.  Our room was ready, so we checked in, changed clothes, and hit the hotel’s indoor water park.  This was definitely the best Best Western I’ve ever stayed at (and they have a good military discount)!

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Watch those road signs!  The badlands wasn’t on our list of places to stop and see, but when we saw a sign for Badlands National Park, we decided to check it out.  We didn’t spend much time there (it was hot, and we had Bailey with us), but what we saw was really neat, and the kids (including the big kid) had a blast “rock climbing.”


Be flexible.  Our original route had us visiting Chicago.  But it was hot, and we had Bailey with us, so we didn’t think we’d be able to see much in the Windy City.  So we changed our plans and took a more southerly route.  I messaged a friend from Monterey who is now living along the new route we were going to be taking, and she offered up their guest bedroom to us.  With about 24 hours notice.  Military friends are so awesome!  And it was so nice to relax with friends and spend a night in a house rather than another hotel.   I think the kids enjoyed it too!

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Grow an extendo arm.  Yeah, so I didn’t do this, but it would have been nice.  Especially since a certain baby can’t hold a bottle herself or keep a paci in her mouth very well. 

3600 miles, 12 states, 3 national parks, 1 national monument, 1 national memorial, 2 reunions with friends, and many many memories made.  I’d say we had a pretty good trip!  Now getting into and out of hotels and all the kids asleep each night and back out the door before 9:00 the next morning was another story.  If anyone has tips on that, let me know!

And if you missed any of my other posts about our drive, here they are:
- Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
- Mount Rushmore