peanut addie-butter and choco-vivi-late

These two.

With this single photo I killed instagram dead with the sweetness.

Go ahead, just stare at it, I’ll give you a minute.

This is my everyday, this is what I get to be surrounded by in my home. Even better? This is what my girls are growing up with.

Vivi has all the confidence in the world, she walks into rooms as though she owns them and I can only imagine it’s because Addie’s been doing the exact same thing for the last seven years.

They roll around on the carpet and hug wrestle. Vivi sneak attacks Addie from behind to kiss her (or pull her hair, depends on the day) and she runs through the house every morning shouting “ADDIE! ADDIE!”

The only person Addie will (voluntarily) share ice cream with.

She takes such good care of her.

I love them both so much individually, but together? They are a whole other force to be reckoned with.

boots, bellybutton and balls

Lately I’m convinced that people don’t keep having babies for babies, they keep having babies for siblings. To be able to witness the most spectacular, natural and wonderful friendships in existence.

boots, bellybutton and balls

Perhaps not everyone gets along with their siblings the way these two do, and perhaps they won’t always be this close. But when the two of them are together it is obvious that their hearts are knit together in a completely different and unbreakable way. They go together like salt and pepper, Calvin and Hobbes, peanut butter and chocolate; each one works well on its own, but it’s when they’re together that they are truly at their best. If I can give them nothing else in life, I gave them each other. If God never gives me another baby? He gave me sisters, which is quite possibly better than all the babies in the world.

*****************

I’m so grateful to partner with Hallmark in 2012 on their “Life is a Special Occasion” campaign again and I thank them tremendously for their patience with me, supporting me in all that I do and for sponsoring this post. The love between my girls is what Hallmark cards are made from.

the refinished desk the internet helped me make

It would be easy to give all the credit to Pinterest.

You can only see so many craft projects before you start to believe that YOU TOO CAN BE CRAFTY!

But let’s rewind for a moment.

I was really pregnant when my mom came out for a week, she needed a desk to work at so we bought one at a yard sale for $20, Cody got the big sides sanded, and then it sat.

And sat.

And sat.

My mom came, we made her a desk out of two TV trays and a plywood board.

The desk sat in the garage under a recumbent bike and a dozen other odds and ends.

Untitled

Cody started blogging and needed a desk for our desktop computer, “I need to finish that desk!” he said.

It sat some more because Cody bought a new desk, one that didn’t need refinishing.

I need to take that desk to Goodwill.” Cody finally said after close to two years of that desk sitting in our garage.

I saw this post from Chelsea about her refashioning an old ugly thing into a very lovely new thing.

HEY! I COULD DO THAT! But it kind of seems like a lot of work, and I don’t have an old ugly piece of furniture.

OH WAIT YES I DO!

I then met Tausha in Park City at EVO and it turns out her entire blog is about refinishing, restyling and repurposing things.

I told her about my desk, she told me about Annie Sloan chalk paint, and that there was no need to prime, sand or strip when using it and a seed was planted.

August happened, the weather got nice and I convinced myself that I needed to refinish the desk and I needed to do it now.

I decided to buy the paint locally (if you can consider Sheridan, Indiana local) rather than order it online because LOCAL! WOO! (I also couldn’t decide on a color.)

I read Tausha’s post about chalk paint, talked to the owner of the store where I got the paint and here’s what’s happened:

  • I took out all the old hardware and covered in the holes with wood putty and a putty knife. I also filled in any big gouges and rough bits with the putty and and sanded all the repaired spots with 80 sandpaper attached to a palm sander.
  • I went to bed.
  • I washed off the whole desk with a big damp rag and let it dry.
  • I taped off the edges of the drawers, based off of this post here, to maintain some sense of tidiness. (This photo really gives you an idea of what rough shape the desk was in.)

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  • I painted. And painted. And painted. I used the color ‘Arles’ which is a deliciously warm and muted yellow. I had bought an Annie Sloan paint brush as well as a 2″ angled detail brush, I can see why all of the tutorials and forums I read said used the best brush you can buy, the paint is sturdy and if you use a cheaper brush you’ll end up with little hairs all over and it will frustrate and infuriate you.
  • The paint dried really quick, so I added another coat, the parts that weren’t sanded (and much darker) required close to three coats while the rest looked good with two. (There’s a lot of talk about one coat being so shabby chic! Letting the natural flaws and brushstrokes show through! I twitched at the seven different shades after one coat so I covered the whole darn thing until it was solid.)
  • I fed the baby, did some work, ate some lunch then went back out to wax the thing. (This is where I digress and say that I only waxed because I was told to wax and I’m not sure why one would wax instead of any other number of finishes, but the wax made it velvety with a tiny hint of sheen and once I figured out how to wax properly it went really quickly.) I used the Annie Sloan clear wax. It’s smelly, ventilation is your friend!
  • I then drilled new holes for the new hardware. YAY NEW HARDWARE! I then put on the new hardware BECAUSE I WAS SO EXCITED YAY! (Plus Vivi kept pushing the hardware-less drawers in and I broke at least 3 nails trying to dig them back out.) This photo was taken before I distressed the edges, it was also taken in almost direct sunlight which is why it looks SO SUNNY YELLOW! (Also, that’s dried putty on the floor, not a flattened mouse.)

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  • While the wax marinated (I mean, it didn’t have to marinate, I just didn’t know what to do next) I came in and asked Pinterest how to distress furniture. I found this post and she said “JUST GO FOR IT WITH THE PALM SANDER HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF!” So I went back outside, put on a dust mask and took to the edges, details and corners with the palm sander fitted with 120 grit sandpaper. I got pretty gutsy at the end, and it felt pretty good. Even better? It looked really good. (If you’re going to do this, it’s totally worth the $30 for a palm sander.)
  • And that was it. (Well, I cleaned off all the dust and vacuumed out the drawers.)

It took me less than 36 hours to turn this old desk into a really cool desk. (See, and this photo makes it look orange-ish, WORK WITH ME LIGHTING.)

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I don’t really have anywhere specific for it, I just wanted to give myself a project. However, I want it somewhere where I’ll see it everyday, BECAUSE GUYS I DID THIS WITH NO HELP FROM CODY. (Well, he helped me take it into the house…)

I want to refinish all the things now.

I really want to paint our old piano blue.

Our dining table and chairs white.

(No Cody, I’m not going to, UNCLENCH.)

So there you have it, someone who’s never done anything like this in their life, doing it and doing it well in just over a day with the help of the Internet.

Put to use immediately.

Boom.

toddle-shopping

Dear World,

You’re going to have to be patient and bear with me for the next several months. You see, I have what could pretty much be considered a toddler. Not only does she toddle like it’s her job, she has the will of a thousand stubborn oxen. I’m going to have to take this toddler out in public with me, and spoiler alert: she doesn’t like being contained. I do my best to get in, get what I need and get out, but sometimes that just isn’t possible.

Today I had to wait at the pharmacy for a good 40 minutes. I let Vivi wander. She brought me bottles of cold medicine, boxes of colon cleanse powder and few random containers of vitamins. For the most part she put them all back. As we walked down the aisles I noticed she left random products in her wake and at one point she had a can of deodorant spray that I left in the display for Band-Aids. I’m sorry, I don’t know where she got it from and who knows what she would have picked up while I was looking for the deodorant’s proper place. When I unloaded my cart before leaving I found a rogue Beanie Baby, a can of soup and box of sugar free mints.

I’m really sorry I left them with the school supplies at the front of the store.

I tell myself leaving them there was better than shoplifting (albeit accidentally.)

I promise I do my best not to mess up store displays, I always pick up clothes that have fallen off their hangers, and I even put stuff back if I know where it goes. Chances are it was put there by a mom with a toddler who was just trying to make it out of the store without any contraband or fits.

I’m a really good customer, I just need you to be patient with me over the next few months as we figure this “taking the toddler out in public with me” thing.

We had to wait for grandma at the minute clinic. We did a little shopping.

xo- Casey

surprise!!

Shireen and I don’t have much in common, Cody and I don’t have much in common either, which is probably what makes my relationship with both of these people so wonderful.

I love birthdays, keeping surprises eats my spirit from the inside out and I like to make very big deals out of anything that could be considered a deal.

Shireen doesn’t really like birthdays, she can keep a surprise like a boss and doesn’t make very big deals out of many deals.

Best.

Shireen’s 30th birthday is Tuesday and through the secretly uniting powers of facebook I was able to bring together her mom, her childhood friends, her high school friends, her college friends and her new friends who live in her computer to plan a surprise birthday party for her. I EVEN KEPT IT A SECRET.

I had dinner with her Friday night and she was boo hooing about how she really wanted her friends to make a big deal out of her birthday and plan something for her, but she just knew her hopes were too high and she shouldn’t expect anything and just give in to being disappointed now. She also said she probably should have planned something herself but that requires effort and it’s always strange to plan your own birthday party.

I NEARLY DIED YOU GUYS.

I had to play along like I knew nothing.

I planned my own birthday party this year. I had the same high hopes but when my birthday week came and no one had even reserved me for anything at all? I figured it was time to take things into my own hands. When I told Cody I was planning myself a birthday party he said “What if I was planning you one for Friday and now you just ruined it?” Oh Cody, that’s funny that you even tried to make me believe that you were doing something, by the way, I got a babysitter for Saturday night and you’re taking me out to dinner.

After 12 years I’ve learned that my expectations can be a bit high and in order to not be disappointed on my birthday/anniversary/Mother’s Day/Christmas/Valentine’s I just have to do things myself and tell Cody where and when to show up.

It’s not horribly romantic, but it works. Every once in awhile Cody pulls of a surprise, I love it when he does.

ANYWAY.

Shireen and I went out last night, I pretended like we were going to dinner but before we made it to the door I shoved a blindfold over her eyes, a tiny sparkling top hat on her head, headphones over her ears,  put her back in my car, and took her to another friend’s house where there were a dozen lovely people waiting to hug and love on her.

She was much happier four minutes later. @justshireen

There was even an Edward Cullen cake that sparkled.

A #TeamEdward birthday cake for @justshireen. IT SPARKLES Y'ALL!

It was wonderful.

It was everything she deserved.

It took close to thirty years to weed out the turds in my life and surround myself with really good people. It was totally worth the wait and turd weeding to get to where I’m at today.

Happy Birthday Shireen. I sure do like you.

loyal-tea

This was supposed to be a post about Tea Collection‘s newest Nordic inspired back to school look for kids.

Tea Collection asked if Addie would like to pick out some outfits for back to school, she’d wear them, I’d snap a few photos and write up a little review, tell you where to buy them, give you a few links, tell you how much I love and adore Tea Collection, how I have always loved and adored them and that would be it.

BUT YOU GUYS.

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

I was told first came six, then came awkward. DOES SHE LOOK AWKWARD TO YOU?

Let’s take a look at me when I was a little older than her…(10 to be exact)

Circa 1992

My ten year old self is intimidated by my seven year old and HOW DID SOMETHING LIKE HER EVER COME FROM CODY AND ME?

(Not saying we’re ugly old trolls, BUT COME ON.)

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

Tea Collection Adorable Dots T-Shirt Dress

Tea Collection Skinny Stretch Leggings

Boots: Sorel

Back to the task at hand. Both girls wear A LOT of Tea Collection. It’s well made, everything pretty much goes with everything else and it wears well. Meaning dresses that Addie wore when she was five are now tunics and dresses that Vivi wore when she was a tiny baby are now stylish shirts. The leggings transition easily into capris and did I mention everything more or less goes together? My rule as of late is that any new piece of clothing has to (reasonably) match with at least 5 other things she currently owns.

I’m all for letting Addie dress herself (hence the flowery winter boots in the photos) but there are times when leopard print, tie dye and pink tulle aren’t necessarily appropriate.

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

Tea Collection Mikko Floral Bubble Dress

Tea Collection Skinny Stretch Leggings

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

Tea Collection Bluetail Robin Tee

Tea Collection Lunefuld Twirly Skirt

Tea Collection Heather Stripe Leggings

(sweater is her own)

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

Tea Collection Aurinko Flower Stripe Top

Tea Collection Twirly Skirt

Tea Collection Heather Stripe Leggings

It’s stupid how fast kids grow up.

YOU HEAR ME? Stupid.

But dang if I’m not grateful that I can capture these little kids exactly as they are at this exact moment.

Which is pretty much just like this:

Addie models the latest Tea Collection (collection) for back to school.

*****

A special thanks to Tea Collection for providing Addie with a gift card so she could pick out some new clothes. Links are affiliate, opinions are my own, the clothes are cute.

Tea Collection runs very true to size. All the clothes Addie is wearing in this post are size 8. Vivi is currently in 12-18 month/18-24 month sizes.

Get free shipping on all orders at www.teacollection.com with promo code NORDICSHIP now through 8/24

oh my vivi.

Today has been the first day I’ve really had Vivi all to myself.

Addie started school the day I left for New York, between New York and our cruise I was dodging suitcases and swimming in laundry.

Cody’s mom stuck around two extra days after grandbabysitting duties last week so today was the first day of just toddlerbaby Vivi and me.

We just got back from a walk, whenever the breeze blew in her face she fell to the ground giggling.

She said hi back to every noise in our neighborhood and barked back at the neighbor’s dog. *door closing* “HI!” *UPS truck* “HI!” *bird singing* “HI!”

She wrapped her entire chubby hand around my finger and only let go when she wanted to poke a rock on the ground with the stick she held tightly in the other hand.

When a car stopped and a little girl got out Vivi began chanting “ADDIE ADDIE ADDIE,” it’s really the only word she can say perfectly and she says it all the time.

Tracy Aviary with Grandma Flower

She laughs with her whole body and smiles with her entire face.

She tries to pick up the cats, when she can’t pick them up she lays on them.

She threw and chased a bouncy ball for an hour while I prepared lunch and part of dinner, one time she even chased it through my legs. It was at that point walking between my legs became her new game. I got a lot of baby head knocked into my front and rear ends today.

She’s spent so much time in the sunshine lately that her legs look dirty and both her chubby knees have scabby scrapes on them.

She’s thinning out, in fact she’s lost close to 4 pounds since becoming mobile, but she’s still plump and soft where it matters.

When she gives kisses, she purses her lips, smooshes them against your face and hums “MMMMM.”

If Addie sits on the floor and holds her arms out, Vivi runs into them and hugs her so hard they both fall over.

I can’t believe there was ever a time without the slaps of her bare blocky feet on my wood floor.

vivi's shadow

I know exactly what she smells like and exactly what she feels like in my arms.

There has always been a place for her with us, I’m so happy she finally made it here.

daddy babble: someone’s been busy.

First of all, blogging has changed Cody in ways I never would have imagined. You think you’ve been learning a lot about him? YOU AND ME BOTH. His writing has even unclenched a little, all the Cody! Now little lighter on the lawyer! He also knows what it means when I tell him I made the Yahoo homepage and if a grunt and grumble about HTML he doesn’t think I’m using text speak in regular conversation. The new slideshow format over at Babble is a FRILLION times better than it was at this time last month and things are continually getting better over there. So to all ye who are Babbled out and frustrated? THINGS ARE A CHANGIN’!

Here’s what Cody’s tapped out this month about being my husband and a dad to the two cutest little creatures around these parts:

cruised.

It’s the last day of our first ever cruise and it went by way too fast. It was lovely and magical and panic inducing and awkward and delicious and funny and strange and wonderful and life changing. It’s exactly what Cody and I needed and I now know for a fact that had we done something like this for our honeymoon or before we had kids? We would have never appreciated it the way we did.

In the Cozumel Port. (Our ship is on the left.)

I’ll probably write about it several times, because honestly too much happened to keep it all in one post and my mother in law is going to want to scrapbook it for us so really I’m doing all of this for posterity. There were highlights (too many to name) lowlights (three I can think of) and all sorts of stuff in between. But while it’s fresh, here’s what we did on our first ever seven day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Legend.

our boat. she was a good boat.

Day 1 – Get on the boat! Dude, I’m not sure if it’s in the manual that cruise ships are supposed to be tacky, BUT WHOA WITH THE TACKY! It was wonderful! So much hot pink and gold and mirrors and SHIREEN! THERE’S FIBER OPTIC LIGHTS EVERYWHERE! Getting our bearings was a joke and if you want to see crazy? First day buffet on a cruise. *shakes head* If you’ve never been on a cruise and have any type of anxiety issue? Muster Drill is ship speak for “panic inducing.” There has to be a better way of performing muster drills because that was pretty much the worst thing anyone could have done to me on my first day of vacation. I recovered with a nap. It helped tremendously.

cody's offical cruise uniform. (well, life uniform. let's be honest.)

Day 2- ALL DAY ON A BOAT! One of the first things we saw? Dolphins off of our balcony. Cody went to the gym, I went to the “Adults Only” area of the ship. First speedo sighting was immediate. Wow! People are really comfortable with their bodies, I’m both comforted and horrified. We make friends with a couple from Texas named Linda and Larry who have been married for 40 years. They remain our only friends throughout the cruise. I really like Larry because he liked us and he didn’t seem to like much (except for coffee and helicopters.) We nap again. Because obviously.

Day 3- Cozumel! We dock in Cozumel and have to get off on the lowest level of the ship. It’s announced that the gangway will be closing in 15 minutes for an hour so get down there now if we want off the boat! We get to the bottom level and BOOM. Gangway closed. We’re absolutely surrounded by people with no personal space issues and I have a bit of a muster drill moment until some fool starts shouting at everyone to move up then everyone packs in tighter and I’m convinced that I’m never going on a cruise again and I also seriously consider drinking, heavily. The doors finally open and I bust free of ALL THE PEOPLE and Cody and I are headed to a private beach with all we can drink beverages (SO MANY PINA COLADAS!) the most amazing lunch and our own little straw hut. Mexican food in Mexico convinces me that all is right with the world, we swim, we relax, we drink more fruity frozen beverages, we head back to the ship happy, and then we nap.

happy cozumel beach toes.

I swear he had more fun than this.

Cozumel.

Cozumel.

Day 4- Belize! Hey, we’re in Belize. NO BIG DEAL. A catamaran picks us up to go snorkeling, more specifically a catamaran picks us up to take us to the MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN to go snorkeling. This is where I aside and say that I DO NOT LIKE THE OPEN OCEAN. But Cody convinces me to try new things so I agree to get tossed off a boat in the middle of the ocean. Once in the ocean I go into full snorkel business mode. SWIMSWIMBREATHESWIMSWIM. I had to consciously tell myself to stop and enjoy what was around me. I got kicked in the head twice, lose Cody and convince myself that I am not meant for snorkeling but snorkel my heart out to prove to Cody that I can do hard things and make the money we spent worthwhile. We get back to the boat and are taken to a private island where my faith is again restored in vacations and the country of Belize. Turns out the water was a little rougher because of a storm so perhaps I shouldn’t write off snorkeling in its entirety just yet.  Belize is really pretty. Tourists on catamarans who are offered unlimited rum punch are not so pretty. We get back to the ship: we nap. (I also fell down a flight of stairs this day, but more on that later.)

our ship from our tender boat in Belize.

getting ready to snorkel in Belize.

Belize.

the dock on our private island in Belize, again, no big deal.

Tiny little private island in Belize.

Day 5 – Roatan, Honduras! WE LIKE HONDURAS! Lots of mountains and a shipwreck and so many flowers and it’s so pretty and everyone is so friendly and we hang out on a beach and swim and snorkel some more. I realize that I like snorkeling as long as it isn’t in rough water and I spend nearly three hours face down in the water making friends with my Honduran fish friends. I’m also slightly smug because I am better at snorkeling than Cody. He says it’s because snorkel masks don’t fit his strong brow bone, I say sure of course that’s why. We don’t get to spend nearly enough time on Roatan but we are smitten. Cody picks out a really cool hand carved souvenir and we head back to the boat to (surprise!) nap. Bad news? I realize I failed to reapply adequate sunscreen to my rear end during my second two hours of snorkeling. Ow is the understatement of the century.  Naps are had by all.

Our ship in Roatan as seen from the magical beach chair.

Roatan, Honduras. SO PRETTY.

on a chairlift over the ocean in Honduras. NO BIG DEAL.

Day 6 – Grand Cayman! Our expectations are pretty high after such a lovely day in Honduras, we load up on a bus that drives on the wrong side of the road (for us anyway) and head to another catamaran to be taken out to the open ocean and dumped in again. First stop? Stingray sandbar. THIS NEEDS TO BE ON EVERYONE’S LIFE LIST. Standing in the middle of the ocean in perfectly clear, perfectly warm and perfectly blue water on perfectly white soft sand as enormous stingrays come up and nuzzle you? Amazing. We were then taken a few thousand feet further out where we were dumped off the boat and allowed to snorkel in the most spectacularly clear, warm water with the most amazing coral gardens and fish. I am officially a snorkeler. When we get back to port we drink coconut water from a coconut, eat Caribbean meat patties and eat our body weight in gelato. Kiss kiss Grand Cayman, it’s been real. We don’t nap today because apparently it only takes 6 days on a real vacation to catch up on sleep. (!!)

Stingray Sandbar in Grand Cayman

swimming with stingrays WHAT?

we had no lime for our coconut.

Day 7 – Today (yesterday.)  Headed back to Tampa. It’s really almost over. It has been AMAZING. I’m so thankful that we were able to finally do this and truly appreciate it. That guy I married, gosh he’s a good one (he’s also coming back with two hickies, WHOOPS AND YAY!) There’s no one else I’d rather troll buffets at midnight or suffer muster drills with. We’re both coming back a little pinker in places, but the bags under our eyes have faded and we both miss our girls horribly.

happily exhausted.

Tomorrow (today) we wake up in Tampa with phone and data service. We’ll board a plane back to Indianapolis and we’ll be snuggled up with our babies before bedtime. We’re happier and even more in love than we were a week ago, and that’s good news for everyone (except my backside, but really, more on that later.)