Sunday, December 6, 2015

DIY: Play Kitchen from Entertainment Center

So I know I don't blog anymore, but I just had to show off this play kitchen I created from an old entertainment center. I could not be more excited to give this to Brody for Christmas!

After searching for a couple weeks, I came across this entertainment center on Craigslist... for free! Yay freebies! A huge thank you to my daycare lady's husband for giving me a hand carrying this beast out of a basement and for the use of his truck and trailer to transport. 

When I got this early November, I only had 3 evenings and 2 full weekends (without Brody) to work on it before Christmas, so needless to say, every waking moment during that time was spent out in the freezing cold garage. 

My favorite part of this whole project, as it was for my DIY Busy Box, was rummaging through the Restore here in Holland. I spent about 4 hours digging through bins and putting a lot of thought into how everything could come together. Luckily, I found about 90% of the things I needed in that one trip. The rest, I either had on hand, found on Craigslist, or purchased from the Dollar Store. This entire project was created for less than $30.

I used the two bottom cupboards as the oven and microwave. A simple piano hinge helped me convert the one door to open from the bottom. The microwave buttons were originally a cheapie calculator, but the rubber started to yellow and some idiot glued them on upside down... twice. Damnit, Andrea. So I simply printed out some buttons on a clear label instead. Not as much fun, but... 

Instead of using a stainless steel bowl, I purchased a clear plastic punch bowl and spray painted the underside of it. The logic behind that was less noise because, well, boys are noisy. The faucet was another Craiglist freebie. The "backsplash" is actually the reverse side of laminate wood flooring planks. I thought it was a cool texture and a lot less heavy than using real tiles that were also available at Restore. 

Because there were two huge holes in the back of that main board (for cords), I opted to build a shelf that brought out that back backsplash 4-5". Solved a tiny problem and added a bit of dimension.

The stove is my favorite piece. They're actual small burners and knobs from a real stove. I used the backside of a small cupboard door as a base to boast them up a little.

I removed the wooden shelves behind the glass door and replaced them with closet organizer shelving that I had leftover from my bedroom. Thought it made it look a little more realistic and anything that lightened this beast up a bit was definitely a plus. The knob was also replaced with a towel bar to look more like a refrigerator handle. 

The window was created from a 16x20 frame with a bit of quarter round for the cross bars. And yes, that's an actual photo of our backyard. Thought Brody would like seeing his own swingset and yard. The grey, white, yellow (on the outside walls), blue, and black paint were all from old household projects from either my house or my parents.  

Anyways, excuse the messy garage in the background. I have to wait a couple weeks before Mama and Papa Z can come over and lend a hand getting this into Brody's playroom. But overall, I'm so stoked with how this turned out. I kinda don't want to let Brody play with it because I know the paint will chip and things will be destroyed, and it just looks so purdy right now, but oh well. 

I coordinated with Santa this year, so he'll be getting all the fake food, pots and pans, utensils, etc. on Christmas morning. I even found an awesome play blender, mixer and toaster at Menards. Hope he likes it!

UPDATE: Check out photos of the final project with all Brody's play dishes, food, and small appliances in place, HERE

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tank and Terror Go Camping - Part II

The week prior to the Fourth of July, my entire family and I packed up for a week-long camping adventure up in Ludington State Park. My parents had just purchased a camper this spring and we were excited for Lil Man's first camping experience. We crammed five adults, a toddler and 3 dogs into a pop up -- battled torrential downpours, freezing temps and a cranky toddler -- but it was a great time together with family.

Decided to give camping another go before the end of summer. Last week, Brody, Zora and I hit the road after work Thursday to meet up with my parents and siblings in Cadillac at Mitchell State Park.

Thank God this site was more rocks and grass than dirt. Especially since it rained Thursday night, trying to keep Brody clean during that 2 minute walk from showers to camper is quite the challenge. Plus Brody thought this rock bed between the camp sites was the cat's meow. Brought all his diggers and that's pretty much where we played for 3 days.  

With everyone's crazy schedule, it's always a special time when we can get all 6 of us in the same place. So glad Ashley and Adam were able to come up for at least 24 hours. It was a huge bummer that Dan was still at drill that weekend... would've been wonderful to have everyone all together.  

There were a lot of aspects about camping that made me slightly horrified to tackle with a two-year-old... not running off, staying out of the road, keeping out of the fire pit... but Brody really surprised me. If anyone has ever been in public with Brody, you know what I mean. "Free-spirited" is an understatement when it comes to him. 

We all thought it was funny how we went from wearing every coat packed and mittens last month camping to 90+ degrees and zero wind this time. Oh Michigan... you're hilarious. But seriously... I walked around in my bathing suit bottoms the entire time because, let's face it, wearing pants is tough enough let alone when you're sweating your balls off.

And with that heat comes a lot of problems when dealing with a toddler...
  1. Men are cranky when hot (regardless of age).
  2. Too hot and stuffy in the camper to nap during the day, so we went 3 days without a nap. KILL. ME. NOW.
  3. Can't zip up the camper at night when it's that hot still, so Brody would lie there from 7 PM to when I went to bed around midnight just chit chatting with the neighbors and being his typical nosey self. 

So to recap... 3 days of no naps, 6-ish hours of sleep a night (when he's used to 10-12), and incredibly hot weather... there was a very real struggle of needing to drink water to stay hydrated and alcohol to get this mama through the day. The meltdowns.... oh God the meltdowns!!! Parents, you know what I mean.

But anyways, in between tantrums, we enjoyed going on some bike rides, playgrounds, walks and lovin' on every dog in that campground. Lake Cadillac was the grossest, thickest, greenest muckfest I've ever seen in my life. When I saw Brody put water in his mouth, I was convinced he was a goner. At the very least, I expected to start mutating any second. If that was the case, I was hoping for an extra set of hands. May as well make the best of it...

Any time spent with family and having new experiences with Brody is very special to me, but it was a rough weekend. I'm not going to lie, going back to work Monday was the biggest reprieve ever. Tired toddlers can be the biggest buzzkill ever. Hopefully next year he's a little bit more mature and able to handle the heat/sleeping adjustments/boundaries better. 

Or else I better learn to pack stronger booze. Right? 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Washing and Weeding Wild Weekend

What's a woman to do when she's left child-less and boyfriend-less for an entire weekend? Sleep in, party hard and drink a ton of wine!!!!

Wait, no. Crap. None of those things happened.


Instead, I spent two and a half days conquering my "long-term house project to do list." Yeah, totally not exciting. I came home Friday evening and immediately jumped into full on haul ass mode. Grabbed the hose and a bucket of a laundry soap/bleach concoction and washed the entire exterior of my house with a scrub brush. Three hours later and smelling like bleach, I wrapped up and slipped into a coma at some point during my dinner. One minute I'm bingeing on green beans and Oreos (balanced diet?), and the next, I'm crawling into bed at 8:45 on a Friday night.

Like I said, I party hard.

Saturday, I declared war on my weed bed-of-doom bright and early. Landscaping has been the most drawn out process ever, but it's finally starting to take shape. Last summer, I put down the edgers and started planting an assortment of flowers, plants and blueberry bushes. I had let the grass and weeds just continue to grow until I was ready for landscaping fabric and rocks. Welp, that time is now.

Six hours later, I made it 2/3 of the way through one of the two soon-to-be rock beds. Productivity came to a screeching halt for two reasons... 1.) I lost all motor function in both hands, and 2.) I filled my yard waste bin with so much dirt, there's no way even the mechanical arm on the garbage truck will be able to lift it. You wanna know how I know this? Welp. I've gotten myself into this predicament before.

Way to go, derp.

And although adorable, Zora is zero help.

So the rest of the weekend consisted of catching on up freelance work, Etsy orders, invites and decor for Baby Bear Schelhas' shower, and more green bean bingeing. (I think an intervention is needed for my sautéed garlic and cheese green bean addiction this summer. Yikes.) And maybe a little bit of time was spent moping around... Dan's gone at drill for the next three weeks and I kinda miss him. Like a lot a lot.

Brody was at a cousin's birthday party this afternoon, so I got him back a little later than normal, but we made the best of the few hours before bed time. So I also have to quick share these two incredibly sweet recent Brody moments. On Friday, a friend's daughter started at Brody's daycare. They had only met one other time, but I received a couple texts sharing how gentlemanly and sweet Brody was being towards Ava. Proud mama bear! 

And then Brody serenaded me with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in it's entirety while we rocked before bed. He's never sang me an entire song before, and I may or may not have started to cry. He grinned so hard the entire time and was so proud of himself for knowing all the words (more or less.) My little boy is growing up so fast! You Are My Sunshine and Twinkle Twinkle are the two songs that I sing to him every night and it was so special to hear him sing it back to me. 

Parents, you know what I'm talking about. :)
(No visual, but listen to the audio... it's super cute.)

Anyways, have a great week everyone. Semi-short week for me... taking Friday off to head up North for #TankAndTerrorGoCamping part 2.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Weekend Wonderland

I figured the best way to come back from a 3-month blogging hiatus is to sum up the incredible weekend I just had up in Pentwater meeting Dan's family. Suppose I should back up a tiny bit... Dan and I met about a month ago. We actually had our first date up in Ludington when I was up there camping with my family and he was in town visiting friends for the Fourth of July. He's pretty awesome. ;)

Anyways, so we hit the road after work Friday to spend time with a handful of Dan's family. Enjoyed a delicious dinner and great conversation around the campfire overlooking Pentwater Lake. Already a great way to kick off the weekend.

Saturday, slept in (which I haven't done in FOREVER) and was surprised with an hour long massage at Gayle's Spa. I'm pretty sure I walked outta there wishing I was in a 3-way relationship with Dan and the masseuse. ;) 

An amazing massage was then followed by a little bit of shooting. Two great ways to relieve stress, right? Lol. Dan, his dad and I went back to the spot where we had our first date and did some target and skeet shooting. I actually didn't do as bad as I anticipated... had a ton of fun! 

Spent the rest of the afternoon pontoonin' and swimming in Pentwater Lake. It's been forever since I've been out on a boat, let alone a weekend of zero plans, beautiful weather and awesome people. Did I die and go to heaven?! 

We also are like 99% sure we ran into Kid Rock out on the water. No joke. He waved, we all awkwardly waved back and then watched several other boats chase him down and start cheering. Way cool.

After we were good and pruney from floating around in the water, we headed back to the house for dinner and some quick shopping downtown. We all then went back out onto the boat to enjoy a sunset cruise out on the Big Lake.

We said our goodbyes Sunday morning, but before heading back into town to pick up Lil Man, we drove up to Ludington for brunch with his mom. Good food, great company... just not enough hours in the day. Looking forward to the next weekend getaway to spend more time with Dan's family.

Decided to spend the remainder of Sunday at my parent's house with Dan and Brodster. I'm pretty sure I could watch these two play together all day. (Total mommy porn... single moms, can I get an amen?) But for reals, this makes my heart smile.  

So anyways, sorry for the absence world... it's been a rough last couple months, but I'm back now. I'm happier than I've ever been and life is amazing. Brody and I have been embracing a summer full of new adventures, I'm coming up on my 5-year workiversary at Gentex next month, mom is healing wonderfully from her back surgery, dad's kidney disease is in remission, my sister is kicking ass with school, and then there's this incredible man who places me on this mythological pedestal that I've only ever heard about.

So yeah... life is pretty awesome. xo

Monday, May 11, 2015

Just a Couple Hollanders on an Adventure Pt. II

Last Saturday, Brody and I embarked on another new adventure in our lovely little town of Holland — our first Tulip Time. As I mentioned after our trip to Dutch Village, for someone who was born, raised and currently works/lives in West Michigan, I’m pretty horrible at taking advantage of all the great attractions/events that make this area such a wonderful place. 

After mentioning to my parents and sister what a great time we had at Dutch Village, my mom and Ashely were able to join us as we checked out Kinderplaats at Kollen Park last Saturday. I saw “animals” in the event description and knew that was enough to make Brody’s day. 

Unfortunately, the animals weren’t quite as “accessible” as they were last time, so Brody was slightly less excited. He fed some of them carrot sticks and would pet the ones that came up to the gate. I tell you what though, I need a baby goat in my life. Those things are super cute. I’m sure Zora would love a playmate and they’d probably get a long great… with their shared love of eating grass. 

There was an inflatable bounce house and slide that I’m pretty sure was Brody’s favorite activity of the day. EXCEPT when the guy in charge told him he had to get out after a few minutes so the next wave of kids could get in. Oh boy. :/ We also climbed up into the Coast Guard boat that was there and Brody thought it was the cat’s meow to sit in the captain’s chair. 

With all the rides, games and animals that were scattered throughout the park, my little hooligan wanted to spend 90% of the time on the play equipment. Go figure. I had my first “where’s my child?!” panic attack there. Parents, does anyone else feel that sometimes play equipment isn’t very easy to maneuver through/under/around in order to keep up with your child? Brody was up on the bridges and slides and I was ducking in and out of the equipment in order to stay close to him. I scooted under a slide for a split second and lost sight of him in the crowd. After sprinting around the structure and still not seeing him, I freaked out. Thankfully Aunt Z noticed the panicked look on my face and grabbed Brody and brought him to me. 

Gaaaahhhhh………. deep breath.

On Thursday, Brody attended the Tulip Time parade with his daycare group. Especially after Kinderplaats, I was very aware of what a runner Brody was and how much of a handful he can be out in public. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about him going. Call it being a mom or maybe even a control freak (wait, aren’t those kinda the same?), but not being there to keep tabs on Brody myself just about gave me an ulcer Thursday afternoon. I was so thrilled to hear that he was very cooperative and well-behaved! He sat on the curb the entire parade, waving and telling the passerbys “hi.” Proud mama moment. :)

Well, now that the weather seems to be upswing (in theory), stay tuned for more Brody and Mama adventures as we tackle all that Holland and West Michigan has to offer. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just a Couple Hollanders on an Adventure

Wow, has it really been two months since I've been on here?! Yikes. Well, to kick things back off, seems only fitting I share with you all the exciting (and super chilly) adventure Brody and I had this morning.

I'm part of this really awesome "moms of Holland" Facebook group that alerted me of the annual Dutch Village Community Day. I've lived in West Michigan my entire life -- Holland for the last 5 years -- and I've never been to Dutch Village. Shameful? Due to the cold weather, I almost skipped over this event today, but crabby pants started our day at 4:30 and my sanity strongly encouraged that we bundle up and get out of the house.


The biggest win/surprise of the day was Brody going on all three rides. At first when I asked him, it was a definite "hell no." But after watching the other kids go on them, he said he wanted to too. We started out on the chair swing ride with him on my lap. Especially since it was just a chain across the front of the chair, no way was I giving Brody the option to sit in his own seat. He did excellent! Although he's a bit of a daredevil, sometimes he gets scared easily by new experience/moving too fast/going too high.  

Our next ride was the carousel. He picked out his pony and stayed seated the entire time. I had to laugh when he kept chanting "up... down... round 'n round" the whole time. What a goof. 

Our last ride was the ferris wheel. He insisted that we go on it, but to be honest, I was mentally preparing myself for when we would get to the top and I'd have to restrain a hysterical toddler while screaming at the ride operator to get us down. Other parents... you get me, right? 

Brody waited patiently in line and climbed up into the seat with no hesitation. We were the last ones in that group to get on, so the ride started right away. He loved it!! Pointed out all the trucks on US31... said we were in the air like birdies... lots of "weeeee's." I thought for a moment he was going to lose it when we were at a standstill at the very top, but it was more so he got antsy to get down because he saw the goats from the air. 

I'm seriously still in shock. No fear today and super cooperative despite such a cranky morning. 

There were also a plethora of animals. After our trip to the Critter Barn a couple weeks ago, I knew he'd be pretty stoked for those. However, last time he was around a ton of animals, he shied away from the larger animals and really wasn't too keen on petting any of them. Today... right up in the horse's face and wouldn't stop petting the goats (aka doggies, aka sheep.) Of course the bunnies, pigs, cows and chickens all got their fair share of lovin' too. 

I think the highlight of his trip was this huge slide in the middle of the park. You have to climb up through this giant wooden shoe/playhouse thing before you go down the slide. He went right in and must've spent a half hour playing on the slide alone. He would occasionally scan the crowd and make sure he could still see me, but other than that, so independent. It was such a proud/sad moment... what a big boy today. I'm so thankful for these moments and the memories we're making with just the two of us. xo

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