Dining room metamorphosis

We have been in our house a little over 2 months now. Which is about how old Mr. Leo is; which is exactly why the house is still not completely organized or even unpacked, which is exactly why one of our cars still won't fit in the garage. All of that plus the empty photo frames on the walls notwithstanding, it already feels like home. Quite possibly the only room that is the closest to completion is the dining room. It's where we/I spend most of the time, and I want to say it's because of all the natural light (which I DO LOVE), but let's be honest - the reason is its close proximity to the kitchen where there is food. 
Let's take a trip down memory lane. Here is the room right before we started the renovations (view from the kitchen and view from that little doorway on the right).

Right here I shared the house to-do list and the things that needed to be done in the dining room are:
  • Paint walls (after removing the wallpaper)
  • Paint trim
  • Remove wall between kitchen and dining room.
This is what it looked on the day of the move. The changes don't seem to be as noticeable in the photo, but they are in real life. (The paint on the walls is Whispering Springs by Benjamin Moore.)

When we moved in our old dining table, that used to take up what seemed like half of our living room in the old house, looked ridiculously small and out of place here. The IKEA rug (the best $99 ever spent) did a nice job making it look a bit less lonesome. 
Plus there was all this room for miscellaneous stuff like Annika's teepee and the playpen. The teepee has since been moved, but the playpen remains (because when I need to go to the bathroom, for example, this is the only safe-from-Annika place to be for Mr. Leo).
A few weeks after the move, our friend J completed our new farmhouse dining table and my life hasn't been the same since. It's the most beautiful piece of furniture there ever was. It's tall, dark and handsome, and I can just spend my whole day with it, sipping coffee and cuddling... But kids...
Annika's favorite part about this table is the fact that it has holes, which she uses to feed the carpet. 
A little bit later I added some curtains and the room finally felt put together. 
I guess it's time to move to other parts of the house, away from the food. Stay tuned.

Chalkboard wall * Kitchen Tales, Part II

At some point during last Sunday's church service I caught myself thinking of the long list of things I wanted to get accomplished during our 3-day Labor Day weekend. Paint a chalkboard wall in the kitchen, put 2 coats of polyurethane on our Ikea kitchen island, assemble Leo's crib finally, hang curtains in the kitchen and in Leo's room, finally connect our TV, get my Warby Parkers fitted at Walmart, have friends over for a cookout, clean, do laundry... I went over the to-do list several times in my head before tuning into the pastor's words. Ironically, the sermon was on the importance of resting in order to rejuvenate. I felt a bit convicted, honestly.
Most things from my list above don't feel like work, so I felt like tackling them anyways. I mean, give me a paintbrush and a couple of hours to myself and I'm as rejuvenated as they come! Thankfully, hubby took care of the babies while I worked in the kitchen.
Painting a chalkboard wall was on my list for a long time. It took me while to get to it, because, first, KIDS, and second, I was a bit of a chicken with this. But finally, I decided to go ahead and do it. It was a super easy and fast project and I must say, I LOVE it. I applied 3 coats of paint just to be safe (Annika-safe, if you know what I mean), waited 7 days, primed it with chalk (look it up, it's a thing!) and then Annika and I went at it.
At certain moments during the day, when I make myself a cup of coffee and for a couple of minutes tune out a very talkative toddler and a grunting newborn, and forget about the mess and the dirty dishes, it almost, aaaaalmost feels like I'm in a trendy coffee shop.

Winn Weekend 8-23-14

So it's Monday and time to talk about the past weekend (and dream about the next one! always!). It was a pretty eventful kind of weekend, and I did make myself a promise to take note of all the little things, especially those that do your heart so good.
Friday night we went out! Hello! We are parents. It is a big deal! Huge! The grandparents were out of town, so we got our most favorite babysitter, Miss Lexi, to come stay with the kids, while we went to drink some great wine and celebrate a friend's birthday.
Saturday was a lazy late morning for us, where Miss Annika and Mr. Leo slept till almost 9. Thank you, children.
That morning something absolutely incredible happened. Are you ready for this?
Here ya go... After about 5 weeks after the move we finally rid our garage of boxes. I think we can actually start parking in there. The secret to our success is dedication and hard work.
But no, it really was our wonderful Oma and Opa who came over to entertain the littles, so we could knock things out. That and the imaginary "looks" we got from neighbors for parking in our driveway for weeks and weeks. Imaginary, because our neighbors are much too nice to give us  those looks. Instead, they bring us gifts for the babies, low-sugar blueberry pies and fresh vegetables from their gardens.
Yes, there are a couple of houses for sale on our street. Yes, you should move.
Saturday night we made healthy turkey burghers for dinner. They were... mm-mm good! Gotta trust the judgement of a 2-year-old who takes a bite, says "too spicy", and keeps eating like it's chocolate.
Sunday was even more glorious. I woke up at 7 and spent the morning on our deck, drinking coffee, reading and just enjoying the quiet. After a wonderful church service (held in a park) and a stupendous lunch, provided by the church, we all went over to our friends' house for brunch. Yes, brunch after lunch is a thing. It is a very delicious bacon/crepe/Nutella thing, totally worthy of a very late nap for a certain toddler.
And Sunday evening was spent on the lake. And I don't think I even need to continue.
The weekend was rejuvenating. This morning I didn't even get upset about getting up at 7 am to drive 40 minutes for an interpreting job, just to get there and find out one of the parties couldn't make it. (I rewarded myself with a trip to TJ Maxx, since childcare was set up already. Woot.)
Anywho... have a wonderful, fast week!

baking with a toddler...

... is a lesson in patience, I'll tell ya. Have you ever baked with a 2-year-old? How did that go for ya? Did you have any batter left for those muffins? Were you able to find your kitchen under all the flour?
I love involving Annika when I cook. I always know it's going to be a lot of work, but it's either that or she will nag me senseless. So I choose the lesser of two evils:)
The other morning, we decided daddy needed to sleep in a bit (while snuggling with Leo) and thought it would be a great idea to make pancakes for breakfast. This mama isn't known for her cooking, but everyone can handle a pancake mix. Not Annika though... 
I put her on a chair and showed her what I was doing and let her help pour the ingredients into a mixing bowl. It all went south in a matter of seconds. The moment I turned away to grab a tablespoon, she had both hands in the bowl playing with the flour and clapping her hands in delight. (To be fair, it does look like sand:))  I went to the fridge to grab some butter and next thing I know, she has some egg shells in her mouth. I went to grab a spatula and at that same moment the girl decided to drink some pancake batter straight out of the mixing bowl. 
Oh for the love...
There was no way back though and eventually we baked some delicious whole grain pancakes with fresh blueberries, cleaned the kitchen, and scrubbed Annika squeaky clean. Our breakfast was amazing. Annika was proud of herself for helping mommy and mommy was proud of herself for not loosing her cool. 

did this really just happen?

This happened yesterday. Technically, it's not preschool. They call it play-group, which is kind of like pre-preschool, but i wouldn't be myself if I didn't make a reason to psych myself up:)
Little lady is very social, so I wasn't worried about her being clingy or sad or scared. Yet, I was nervous all morning. Got up at 7:30 with an alarm clock (whoa!?) and got myself ready before waking up my big girl for her big day. Greg had to be at work at 8, so I was anxious about being on time. 
Annika was excited and in preschool spirit the moment I walked into her room. "I'm going to preksool, mama?" "I wear my backpack, mama?" I even let her eat breakfast at her little craft table.
It was a big deal and Annika made sure all the walls in our house heard that. Mr. Leo sure did and woke up ready to eat his breakfast. The moment I realized there was no way we were going to make it out the door on time, our daddy made it back home. We all got ready and even had time for pictures. We made the whole thing into a bigger deal than necessary, but it's the beginning of her (pre)school career, people! 
The 2 hours went by much too fast to get anything accomplished. I just sat there at home twiddling my thumbs until it was time to get back in the car and go pick her up. I'm sure I'll get some sort of a productive routine going, but I was just so excited for her to tell me how her day went. 
She ate cheewios and cwackers and just wore her backpack and no hit anybody and play with pretend cheese and see new fwiends, that's how:)
And a couple of pictures from my iPhone

weekend love

Weekends on the lake in the summer are absolutely glorious. Forget the boxes that are still occupying your garage a month after you moved, there is lake fun to be had. And that's exactly what we've been trying to do every weekend. Boxes can wait, but the summer days are dwindling. 
It takes us an eternity to pack everything for the day at the lake (an eternity and a full trunk... my goodness!), but the effort is worth it. We drive to our lake house, spread our numerous belongings on the lawn and just... chill. We pack lots of snacks and drinks, invite friends and spread out on the towels all ready to eat and drink and talk and sleep and occasionally stand up to jump in the water to cool down. Annika usually skips lots of these things and just eats and jumps in the water. Leo mostly sleeps. Greg spends most of his time in the water. And me... I like to sit on a towel in the shade... marveling at the goodness of life.