Monday, August 26, 2013

Hiatus


If anyone is still following this blog, hi. I wanted to write an update for you. Our second son Ezra was born on April 20, 2013. Shortly after birth he started to have some issues with abnormal blood cell counts. We have been to and from the doctor/hospital ever since. So far Ezra has had one platelet transfusion, ultrasounds, countless blood tests, GI scoping, genetic testing, and bone marrow testing. After 4 months without answers, Ezra was diagnosed with JMML (Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia) on August 23, 2013. If you're interested in following us on our journey, you can do so at our family blog: Meet the Parkers, under the "Meet Ezra" tab. We would love and appreciate your prayers for our sweet boy.

Thank you,

Elisabeth

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Personalized Melissa & Doug Wooden ABC Magnets

We have been in full get-ready-for-baby #2 mode for last few months. This has mostly included converting our guestroom/office/craft room into a "big boy" room for Little J (and subsequently trying to find a new home for all the contents of that room) so we can free up the nursery for the new baby. Since it has been a HUGE undertaking that has consisted of so many mini-projects, I thought I'd finally share one of those mini-projects today: Personalized Melissa & Doug Wooden ABC Magnets.


In our home we are big time Oregon State University fans (the hubby and I are alumni, he was an athlete there, so were his cousins...our love for the school and the athletics runs deep). Since "OSU Beavers" was already the theme we had going on in the guestroom/office/craft room (read: lots of orange & black), we decided to embrace it as we transformed it into Little J's "big boy" room, but it was very important to me to make at least a few toddler-friendly additions/changes along the way. That's where this project comes in.


Here is a sneak peek of the room! We made a trip to Ikea to buy a number of things for overhaul including the new PUGG wall clock (with very large numbers so we can eventually say, "Stay in your room until the little hand is on the '8' please"), the RIBBA picture ledges (how amazing is it that Ikea now offers these ledges?? They're just a smaller scale of the ledges we DIY'd for our master bedroom not that long ago), and finally, the SPONTAN magnet board. I definitely thought about DIY-ing something like the chalkboard I made, only with the addition of magnetic paint, or even painting something directly on the wall...but the convenience of something pre-made won out. I also wanted the option to move the board to another area (rather than painting something directly on the wall) in case this specific part of the room becomes the perfect place for a play kitchen or something like that :)


The Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Alphabet was a Christmas present, but since we already have  a set of magnet letters (like these) downstairs on the fridge, I thought this would be the perfect addition to Little J's "big boy" room. The letters come in red, blue, green and yellow which would have been fine...but, I'm all about color-coordinating :) We already had most of the spray paint on hand, just had to pick up a can of the orange (since we needed it for another project in the room anyway). It just took a couple light coats (don't worry, I painted outside, with a mask on) and 48 hours later, voilĂ ! Fun, functional room decor! I don't know how the paint will hold up over lots of play, but since we waited the full 48 hours to cure, I'm hopeful that it will be a long time.

Can't wait to share the rest of the room and the other mini-projects with you!

PS - I'm linking up this post at House of Hepworths , The Shabby Nest, Liz Marie, and Tater Tots & Jello

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Baby Registry Essentials: Gear

MONTHS ago, before I realized I was pregnant with #2, I must have had baby on the brain and started a little series of baby registry posts (here and here). So now that my due date is only weeks away and I'm taking inventory of what we will need in the coming months, I thought I'd continue that series with a post about some of my favorite baby gear!


(from middle clockwise)

Essential #1: BOB Revolution Stroller

If you're only going to buy one stroller, this is the one! I can't tell you how great this thing is. It's so easy to push and maneuver, I get annoyed pushing any other stroller. It's great for jogging too. It's been with us through at least one 5K...and on many, many walks and outings. This past weekend we went to the zoo and basically used it just to haul our stuff around...it's perfect for pushing through crowds since it turns on a dime. It is spendy. It's one of those purchases you will agonize over. But it is so worth every penny. Wait until it goes on sale at REI (which happens once or twice a year at least - that will be the best price you can buy it for unless you luck out on Craigslist or have a very generous gift giver).

Essential #2: Car Seat(s)

After TONS of research (when you're a first time parent, researching what baby gear to buy can be excruciating), we decided on the Chicco Keyfit 30. Best infant car seat hands down. Again, it's spendy, but if you are going to splurge on only one baby item, it should be the car seat. Safety first. My awesome and generous co-workers bought this off our registry. Always register for big ticket items, people often like to pool their money for shower gifts. Bless their hearts.

If you only want to buy one car seat, get the Diono Radian. It is awesome. It is streamlined and compact...it goes from backward-facing, to forward-facing, to a booster and accommodates 5 to 120 lbs! Great investment. I still prefer an infant seat for the beginning (I like to be able to carry a sleeping baby out of the car without any interruption), but if you want to keep things simple with just one car seat, this is the one. It will be the only car seat you ever need.

Essential #3: Basic Bouncer

This simple, basic bouncer saved our lives. Evening fussiness (Little J was a VERY fussy baby at the beginning) or a place for him to be while I was in the shower or making meals, this little thing had us covered. We loaned it to a friend recently and it will be seeing our #2 in a few weeks. $30 for three babies is a pretty good investment.

Essential #4: Baby Carrier

I always wanted to be the hip mom with her sweet little baby snuggled close in a Moby wrap. Thankfully we just borrowed one, though, because Little J HATED it. So sad. (Maybe we'll try again with baby #2??) But thank goodness for the Ergo. If you're just going to buy one carrier, this is the one to buy. Super sturdy, comfortable, and can be used from 7 to 45 lbs. I carried Little J around in this at Disneyland, the farmer's market, while I was cleaning the house...it was great to always have in the car so that I didn't have to haul a stroller around. Awesome invention.

For infants, I prefer the Baby Bjorn. Little J especially enjoyed facing outward once his neck was strong enough (which is one thing you can't do in an Ergo). The problem with this carrier is that it can only be used up to 25 lbs which is a relatively short time frame. If you can borrow one, or plan to buy one and loan it out later (or use it for multiple children), that would make it worth it.

UPDATE! A friend just told me about the Beco Gemini, which essentially combines the best features of both the Ergo (versatile and longer usage period) and the Bjorn (perfect for infants and outward-facing capable) all in one. If I didn't already own these two, I would definitely go for the Beco. Thanks for the tip Jen :)

Not essential, but really nice to have:
  • Bassinet/Co Sleeper - I'm still on the fence with this one. It was super helpful while we used it, but we didn't use it a long time. I have friends who are newer moms who swear by the Rock N' Play Sleeper, so we might give that a shot this time around. (Obviously if you choose to co-sleep, you can definitely keep this one off your list).
  • JJ Cole Bundle Me - LOVE this thing! So handy. If you live someplace colder (or wet), this is the perfect compliment to any car seat or stroller. A stranger actually introduced me to these when I was checking out her stroller when I was pregnant. She said it was her favorite baby item. It's now one of my favorites too.
  • Play mat - Definitely not "essential" but fun for baby nonetheless. A good ol' blanket/quilt will do for tummy time, but a mat/gym like this is fun when little ones start needing some extra stimulation.
  • Basic Pack N' Play - I thought I didn't want/need a pack-n-play. I was wrong. Great for travel, great for when your little one becomes mobile and you don't feel like taking him with you to the bathroom or when you need to run upstairs to switch the laundry real quick. Something you can do without, but very convenient if you have the space. Some of these come very pimped out with a price tag to match...I found that a very basic version was all we needed (for $50 or less).
Gear you can do without:
  • Baby swing - I think babies either like bouncers or swings. Little J liked his bouncer and hated the swing...borrow these if you can to decide for yourself.
  • Bumbo - Some people think these are the greatest things ever...in our experience, it was helpful for taking photos when Little J wasn't sitting up on his own yet, that was it. Thankfully we just borrowed one. If you're set on one, I suggest borrowing as well.
  • Exersaucer/Jumper - If you have a smallish home, these things just take up SO much room! They can't be used for a long period of time (unless you have one that converts to a play table) and they're expensive. Again, I suggest borrowing one if you can't live without it.
Registering for the first time can be such a daunting task so I hope these suggestions help (and don't forget my nursery and nursing registry suggestions as well). I think my best advice to keep things simple and from getting too crazy expensive is to borrow, borrow, borrow what you can and to invest your money in things that will get A LOT of use like your car seat, stroller, and baby carrier. Wow, this is really taking me back in time...can't believe we'll be back here again so soon. Happy registering to you and congratulations, it's an adventure!

PS - This is blog is not just about parenting / babies...but it's a topic that's near and dear to my heart so I like to write about it from time to time :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Best of Simply Parkers 2012

Before January is over I'd better recap my most popular posts from 2012! Enjoy :)

Repurposing Furniture - Bookshelf Turned Hutch


DIY Picture Ledges 
 

DIY Chalkboard {Repurposed Cupboard Door}


 Outdated Craigslist Dresser Turned Chic TV Console


An Organized Nursery


And #1, Hide That Fuse Box! This post brings the most traffic to my blog and gets the most pins / repins on Pinterest to date...and it's so simple! Measure your fuse box, buy some stretched canvas sized accordingly (from Michaels with a coupon!), cover it with pretty fabric, and slap it up on your wall to hide that ugly eye-sore (it's lightweight and easy to take on and off for easy access to the box).


Looking forward to mustering up some energy in my third trimester to start sharing some new projects...thanks for sticking with me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Outdated Craigslist Dresser Turned Chic TV Console


This project has been a labor of love for a LONG time. It's been mostly finished for awhile now, but since I'm not completely done with it I was hesitant to share it...I'm not good with surprises, though, and couldn't wait any longer! As most things do these days, it all started with Pinterest. Specifically with these inspirations here, here, here, and here. So, many, many months ago I began my Craigslist search for the perfect old dresser. I knew that I wanted something solid wood with lots of character and I knew what ballpark dimensions I was looking for (something about 30" tall so our TV wouldn't be too high for watching and something almost six feet long but not an inch bigger so there would be ample storage - besides looks, storage is the main reason I opted to go with a dresser).

One of these days I'll have to share my tips for searching Craigslist. My number one tip, though, is PATIENCE. It usually takes a while to find exactly what you are looking for (my only exception to this rule so far is the Ikea mirror that I randomly saw listed one day). So after months of scouring Craigslist, a visit to one of the shadiest places I have ever been to (just a reminder to NEVER go alone to look at anything you are wanting to buy from Craigslist, safety first), and sending my hubby to pre-screen dressers in not one but two neighboring towns, I finally found the one. The round brassy hardware is what sold me on this one...along with just the right dimensions (this is the picture from the Craigslist ad - it looks a lot prettier in this picture than it did in person, it had a hideous greenish-honey hue to the wood finish that couldn't be sanded off, otherwise we may have kept it as is):


So, because I'm pregnant and have the most amazing hubby ever, this TV console project was 100% my idea but at least 95% of the work was executed by him (let's just say my hubby has NOT been bitten by the DIY bug - so it is a huge deal that he spent so much time making this what I wanted it to be). We started out by letting the dresser air out outside for a good two weeks (it had an unpleasant mothball/musty smell going on). Then it was all wiped down inside and out, given a light sanding, primed with oil-based primer, and finally given two+ coats of white paint (the same white paint we used for our bedroom picture ledges). There was some light sanding between coats of paint as well. Here is the finished product again:


There's much more I want to do this console, specifically lining all the drawers with some pretty paper (I'm in LOVE with this wallpaper so I want to find something similar and for a fraction of the price...probably some gift wrap), AND I have lots of organization projects in mind! I want to use all the drawers to house our DVD/Blu-ray collection, Wii components, and some of little J's toys (possibly our photos as well). But, baby steps! I recently came down with shingles...ugggh...so I'm learning that things will get done when they get done, and the most important thing is to stop stressing so much/stay healthy for myself, and especially for this baby that I'm carrying!

Since I've never shared pictures of our family room before I thought I'd give you a peak! Disclaimer, as is the case with most of our house, everything always seems to be a work in progress (I'm always changing my mind and always trying to be frugal/green with how we spend our time/money updating it which makes for some serious delayed gratification). This picture was taken at the beginning of the year (before we made simple updates like homemade pillow covers) - I never realized how dark/gothic this room looked until I saw these photos (DEFINITELY not the look I was going for):


And this is where we're at today:


There's much more to be done to this room:
  • DIY-ing a frame for that map behind the TV
  • more DIY wall decor/framed photos, etc.
  • I'm still not sold on my pillow choices
  • ottoman switcheroo?
  • rug/curtains/paint???
But I'm so much happier with the direction this room is headed and the switch from the boxy TV hutch to the chic TV Console was a HUGE improvement! (By the way, I already sold the TV hutch on Craigslist which made up for over half of what we spent on the dresser!) So what are you updating these days? Any exciting Craigslist finds to share?

PS - I'm linking up this post with House of Hepworths, Your Green Resource, Liz Marie, The Shabby Nest, Thrifty Decor Chick, Young House Love, and Bower Power

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Be Thankful" {Homemade Chalkboard Revisited}

This homemade chalkboard is still one of my favorite DIY projects to date. My favorite thing about it is changing it up to say whatever I want, for whatever season or celebration I want. Since Thanksgiving is only days away, these song lyrics are one of my favorite "be thankful" reminders:


Since I haven't talked about this chalkboard for awhile, here are some updates. I still haven't found a chalk pen to try out (so far I've just used regular chalk) - anyone have a good source for some chalk pens that don't cost an arm and a leg? The jury is still out on the chalkboard contact paper...writing on it with chalk almost seems to etch/scratch it. It's not super noticeable, but I notice it. It's hard to get a nice, even stroke when writing on it - not sure if that's just the nature of writing with chalk or what. The good thing is that it's not permanent. I can always pull it up and either paint the inset panel with chalkboard paint or apply some chalkboard vinyl.

Along with the chalkboard, I of course have my share of gourds and Indian corn around the house...and the porch is still full of different sized/colored pumpkins and more gourds along with a small hay bale. I love it all, but I'm getting really excited to move along to Christmas decor!

PS - I'm linking this post up with Two Twenty One's "Dare to DIY: Be Thankful" series (also found at Decor and the Dog, Maybe Matilda, and Newly Woodwards)