18 Months

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I can’t believe how fast Dannie has been growing up. I feel like I blinked and BAM…she’s 18 months old. Wow.

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D has been trying to talk a lot more. She has a bunch of words and signs now and seems to be very happy that she can communicate with us better.

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She dotes on her sister ALL the time. She follows her around and wants to copy everything she does. It’s really sweet. Sometimes I need to remind Maddie that Dannie is always watching her and she needs to make sure she doesn’t teach Dannie bad habits…like standing on the picnic table or playing on the stairs.

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They love holding hands and I can tell that they are going to be such good friends. They also fight and bicker and Dannie is really starting to hold her own with Maddie (and other kids).

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Dannie is my little daredevil. She isn’t overly crazy, but she definitely takes more risks than Maddie did.

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She LOVES shoes. Not just a little bit. A LOT. She will bring our shoes to us, wear our shoes, put her shoes on, wear her sisters shoes over her shoes, etc. She is also particular about which shoes she wears. If I pick the wrong ones, I will get a big head shake and a toddler dashing off to find the ones she wants.

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Which brings me to the fact that she is getting quite the personality. She’s becoming strong willed and definitely has opinions on things. She is also as silly as they come.

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Dannie’s current favorite book is “Pout Pout Fish”. She really loves it. She wants to take it to bed and carries it all over the house it her. She walks around saying “blub blub blub” (which is a phrase from the book).

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She is the sweetest little girl and is my snuggler. She wants to be in my pocket a lot of the of time. She gives hugs to everyone. She gets so excited when dad gets home and runs to the door. And she will give her sister kisses and hugs.

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Happy year and a half birthday my sweet squishy face! We love you!

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Knot Genie

Maddie has really long hair. And I haven’t had the heart to cut it yet, so she still has some baby curls. This long hair can get quite tangled and she is very sensitive when I am trying to brush her hair. So I found a deal on a Knot Genie hairbrush. When I first bought it, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about how well it would work.

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After trying it out on Maddie and not hearing any complaints and getting nice, smooth, un-tangled hair, I was sold. I use it with some detangling spray after baths as well as just on her dry hair. She doesn’t complain that it hurts and I’m happy I can get a brush through her hair without many complaints.

I did buy one from Target as well, so I could have one upstairs and one downstairs. I don’t remember the brand of it, but it works well, too.

Maddie does like to use it herself, too. She’s still a little young to do a very good job of brushing, but she is happy to try. Dannie likes trying to brush her hair with it, too.

Overall, If your daughter has long hair, a sensitive head, or you’re just tired of struggling with her to brush her hair, I highly recommend giving this brush a try. I have no promises you’ll get the same results as I do, but it has worked for me.

All of the opinions are my own and this was not a sponsored post.

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Kid Toilet Seat

Back when we decided to seriously start potty training Maddie, we decided to get this toilet seat for our bathroom on the main floor.

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I loved that I didn’t have an extra seat to put on the toilet, take off and clean and I never cared much for the potty seats where I had to empty and clean it out all the time. This seemed like the perfect compromise. The training seat has a magnet on the top to hold it up when adults are using the toilet and it easily comes down for kids to use. When you close the lid, it has a no-slam feature so kids won’t slam their fingers. You can also very easily take the whole seat off for cleaning if you need to by twisting the two screws that hold it on.

Overall, I have been extremely happy with the seat. The only downfall in my mind is the tiny pins that hold the training seat on are plastic and not very durable. Maddie broke one of the pins off and we ended up replacing the seat (for free with a warranty return). I still would have preferred not to replace it, but I was happy it was an easy process.  We did end up getting another one of these seats for the basement since I plan on that really being the kids’ space. Ideally, I’d love one in the jack-and-jill bathroom upstairs, but for now, one of the removable seats have been serving that purpose.

If you have kids that are potty trained or will be in the future, I recommend looking into these toilet seats. It saves on ease of cleaning up toilet “parts” and teaches kids to use the toilet. I know that being able to go right on the toilet instead of a potty seat helped Maddie’s confidence.

All of the opinions are my own and this was not a sponsored post.

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The Storyteller

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A couple months ago, my book club picked The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. If you have ever read a book of hers, you will understand how powerful they can be. If you haven’t read one of her books, you definitely should. First, here’s what the book is about.

Some stories live forever . . .

Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t, and they become companions.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret—one that nobody else in town would ever suspect—and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With her own identity suddenly challenged, and the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. When does a moral choice become a moral imperative? And where does one draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy?

In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths we will go in order to protect our families and to keep the past from dictating the future.

Let me start by saying I didn’t finish this the month we were reading it for book club. I was so excited to read a Picoult book again because it had been a while. But it was really hard for me to get into at first. By about half way through, I was hooked. I didn’t want to put it down and I HAD to know what happened next. I don’t feel like I am giving much away by saying there are flashbacks to the holocaust. The flashbacks were truly the most moving and gripping parts of the novel and it wasn’t pretty. This book and the images are going to stay with me for a long time. It was haunting to read and imagine being there. Yet so compelling, I needed to know more.

If you like Jodi Picoult, I think you’ll really enjoy this one as well. If you haven’t read one by her before, this might not be the best one to start with unless you are curious about the holocaust. It was a little slow moving at the beginning, so one of her others might be a better fit for a first time read.

Overall, I think you should definitely read this at some point. It wouldn’t be my pick for a beach read because I like those to be a little more “fluffy”. And I couldn’t read this one right before bed (I had some terrible dreams the one time I did that!). But the topic and depth of the story is something I would urge people to read.

Happy reading.

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Sharp Objects

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Sharp Objects is my Book Club’s pick for May, but I had already started it when we picked it. I just finished it last night and really loved it. Here’s a little run-down.

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

This was Gillian Flynn’s first book, but it’s the last one of hers I have read. I read Gone Girl first and then Dark Places. I love Flynn’s writing and when this one came available to me through the library, I dropped what I was doing and started reading. I can’t wait for Flynn to release more books!!

I love a good mystery. I love it when a book keeps me guessing. There were a number of times I thought I knew who did it (I’m pretty good at figuring out who did it early on in tv shows…it’s weird), then something else made me jump to someone else, then I was just down right confused. I didn’t want to put it down when I was getting close to the end because it was getting exciting, and all my questions were getting answered.

Overall, if you have read Gone Girl or Dark Places and liked them, you will like this one, too. Flynn makes some creepy, yet likable characters and tells such an eerie story that you just can’t stop reading.

Since I am done reading my book for May, I’m trying to decide what to read next. I have a couple books I have started that I may try to finish reading. But if you’ve read something recently that I should pick up right away, let me know!!

Happy reading!

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The Basement

This past winter, Chuck started the project of finishing our basement. He loves having a project and this was the next big one on our wish list of To-Dos.

I can’t believe I haven’t done a post about the basement yet. I have tossed in a couple pictures here and there, but I am long overdue to tell you what’s been going on down there.

Here is a picture of the floor plan for the basement. The space on the right is unfinished, utility room/storage space. The large section on the bottom right will be the family room. There’s a bathroom and then a bedroom with a large closet at the top of the picture.

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First, HERE is the gallery on Facebook with all of the photos we have taken. (Obviously, there are more than this, but these are the good ones.)

It took us quite a while to clear out the space. But once it was cleared out, Chuck built a ramp to get the wood down to the basement.

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Then, like most suburban people, Chuck took the snow blower to the yard and cleared a path to get the wood to the basement window.

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Once the wood was downstairs (this was only the first half of it), Chuck started framing the walls

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We hired a company to spray insulation on the exterior walls. I thought it was pretty cool when it was all done!

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The spot for the shower in the basement wasn’t flat, so Chuck needed to cut out a portion of the floor and put down new concrete to make it level.

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We filled in the interior walls with insulation for a sound barrier in the rooms. Not so much for heat since Chuck gave the basement it’s own heating zone so it can be controlled on its own.

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We had some storage shelves in the back corner of the basement (which is now the bedroom closet. Well, since we needed to work in there, the shelves needed to be moved. So Chuck made them a bit narrower to fit into another space. They worked out great there. (Granted, it doesn’t look this clean anymore since we have lots of other stuff piled in front of it right now.)

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Here’s a view standing in the bedroom looking at the stairs into the family room. This was just before we had the drywall installed.

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Here is the bedroom after the drywall went up. The guys hung all the drywall and had the first coat of mud up on the first day. I was very impressed.

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Here’s a view of the family room. The boarded up window is the same one we had the ramp through for the wood. We ended up taking out that window (and have a new one to replace it with at the end of the project) and needed to keep out the snow/rain so the board has stayed there for now.

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The view of the rest of the family room looking straight into the bathroom with the bedroom to the left and the stairs and utility/storage room on the right.

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Here’s the same view with the grey painted in the bathroom, the first coat of yellow in the stairway, and Chuck had rolled the first coat of green downstairs. Later that night I went down and did the trim while he rolled the first coat of blue in the bedroom.

*Update* I forgot to mention that my mom came over to help me paint. She did the first coat in the stairs and helped get the second coat of green done. And I am already bribing her to come over and help finish up the stairway. Smile

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These are the cabinets for the basement. We plan to mount a TV above this row of cabinets. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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We also have the tile done in the bathroom, all the outlets finished, the lights and vents completed, the cabinet, shower, and toilet installed in the bathroom, and all the painting done except for one more coat in the stairs (which I am dreading because I hate ladders…my mom did the first coat for me).

What’s left? Well, we picked out a shower door, but while we were loading it into the car, the bag of screws fell out along with a bunch of loose screws, so we returned that and still need to pick up another one. We also need to get the trim and stain it all then hang it. We have the doors and those need to be installed. And we also need to pick out flooring and get that installed.

It’s really coming along. I can’t believe how close we are to having it finished! It’s going to be such a great addition. My plan is to take back my dining room. Not because we eat in there often, but because it is currently my playroom and it will be nice to not have toys all over the main floor. The bedroom in the basement will be the new playroom and hold the toys. I am so excited to have them all in the basement and not feel like I need to have them picked up all the time. And I can’t wait to wait movies down there with the girls! It’s so fun to see the end in sight!

In full disclosure, I said “we” many times in this post, but nothing was really “we”. Chuck did it all. We did hire companies for the spraying of the insulation and the drywall to be done. Literally, my only contribution has been painting. I did help pick things out, but Chuck has been the amazingly dedicated and hard working, one man show in the basement. And he does all this after he gets home from work and on the weekends. Wow. I married one great guy!

So there you have it. That’s where we are in the basement project. We are hoping to be done fairly soon because we have other projects outside that we want to get started on before too long here.

Do you have any projects going on in your house? Anything as big as what we have going on? Any future plans for projects?

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YouTube

There’s a new link to the right —>. It’s a link to my YouTube page where I upload all the videos of the girls. I can’t believe I didn’t already have a link there. Someone was asking me recently where they could find all my videos, so this reminded me to add it here.

Happy video watching! Do you get lost for hours watching YouTube videos, too?

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The Happiness Project

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For April, my book club decided to The Happiness Project. I had heard a lot of really great things about it, so I was really excited to read this book. Here’s a little about it:

One rainy afternoon, while riding a city bus, Gretchen Rubin asked herself, “What do I want from life, anyway?” She answered, “I want to be happy”—yet she spent no time thinking about her happiness. In a flash, she decided to dedicate a year to a happiness project. The result? One of the most thoughtful and engaging works on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject.

The Happiness Project synthesizes the wisdom of the ages with current scientific research, as Rubin brings readers along on her year to greater happiness.

I was so excited to get started on this. Anything that can make me happy, keep me happy and generally boost my attitude, I am all for it! The first couple chapters I was really into it. After that, I sort of felt like “ok, I got it already.” I found that I was skimming and the only reading the chapters or subchapters that were interesting to me or that may be relevant for me.

I don’t think I’m going to be starting my own happiness project, but I am glad I read the book and I got some good ideas of some general ways to be happier that I hadn’t thought about before.

Happy reading!

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#100HappyDays

A number of friends started doing the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I thought this was such a fun idea and fitting to some of the changes I have already been making in my life this year. I saw it earlier in the year, but like most trends, I am a little slow on the uptake. So here were are, almost mid April, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon.

You can read more about it on the link above, but basically, the challenge is to find something that makes you happy each day and document it.

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I am going to put all 100 on Instagram, but sometimes they will be worthy of crossing over to Facebook, too.

Why would I do this? Well, one, I like annoying people with pictures on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. Also, because why not? What can it hurt to try to be happier or find little things that make you happy each day?

So are you going to try it with me??

Anyone else already doing this? Have you been doing it longer than the two days I’ve been doing it? Have you noticed any major differences in your happiness yet?

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Carry On, Warrior

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A few of my friends absolutely love Glennon. I read her blog, but not religiously. She is so raw and true and very refreshing to read. She’s not afraid to show her murky past and is a truly beautiful soul. Here’s a little about her book:

For years Glennon Doyle Melton built a wall between herself and others, hiding inside a bunker of secrets and shame. But one day everything changed: Glennon woke up to life, committing herself to living out loud and giving language to our universal (yet often secret) experiences. She became a sensation when her personal essays started going viral. Her hilarious and poignant observations have been read by millions, shared among friends, discussed at water coolers, and have now inspired a social movement. In Carry On, Warrior,Melton shares new stories and the best-loved material from Momastery.com. Her mistakes and triumphs demonstrate that love wins and that together we can do hard things. Melton is a courageous truth-teller and hopespreader, a wise and witty friend who emboldens us to believe in ourselves and reminds us that the journey is the reward. Carry On, Warrior proves that by shedding our weapons and armor, we can stop hiding, competing, and striving for the mirage of perfection, to build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

I did like the book. I thought parts really touched me and others weren’t really up my alley. I felt like it was a little choppy, but I believe that was intentional. I think she is a very inspiring person who does a wonderful job of wearing her life on her sleeves for the world to see. The good, the bad, and everything in between. I find that so admirable.

It was a good read and if you like any of the stuff she writes on her blog, you will definitely like this book. And the paperback just came out.

Happy reading!

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